Sunday, April 29, 2012

Zipping Thru Z's


  Zeke contemplated the finale, 
Zig-zagging through A to Y.
Zealous in pursuit of letter Z,
Zany images appeared before his eyes.

Zebras viewing humans behind bars,
Zoos displaying "Don't feed mankind" signs.
Zebus with hump reduction scars,
Zounds abounds with nonsensical finds.

Zeppelin transporting all the hosts.
Zooming in on those with incompletes.
Zenith Zoysia sprouting along the coast,
Zeke's a hero who knows zero about defeat.

Zip-lining across the World Wide Web,
Zombies in Zoot suits swooping in for clues.
Zeus' Zodiac fleet descends upon his bed,
Zonked out on Z-Pak waging war as he snoozed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yearning For Yesteryear

A recent episode of Mad Men took place at a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge. This brought back memories of childhood vacations. Our dad was vice president and comptroller for a large corporation that had a plant in Newark, Delaware. We spent many summers driving from Chicago to Newark at the Howard Johnson's where we enjoyed leisurely days at the pool, while our dad went to work.

 Afterward, he would go swimming with us, have races, and take me for rides on his back. Our mom would be sunbathing, and occasionally walk in the water up to her knees.  We were warned not to get her hair wet under any circumstances. Children who accidentally splashed her were never seen again.

Our dad also delighted in going out for dessert with us for hot fudge sundaes, or the flavor of the month special at HoJo's.  Hot apple pie ala mode with chocolate ice cream was also a favorite he shared with my brother. We never made a visit without going to a barbecue hosted by his associate's family who became dear friends.

The only downside were the long drives to and fro. I suffered from motion sickness, and never failed to have my dad pull over several times throughout the trip. In the meantime, my brother would be quietly turning blue with his legs crossed, and tears streaming down his face. All because he didn't want to ask our dad to make anymore unscheduled stops.

Our last vacation to Delaware was when I was fourteen years old. As an added bonus we drove on to a resort in the Catskill Mountains. It was a cleaner version of the one in Dirty Dancing. By day my brother and dad played a lot of tennis, in addition to swimming and playing volleyball with us. By night we went to see shows, or went dancing in a lounge with a live band. As always the vacation went by all too quickly.

Although our dad didn't feel well, he insisted on driving straight home like he always did. Mom suggested spending the night in a motel, or at the very least she would drive, but he wouldn't hear of it. Dad drove through the night, dropped me off at home, and headed to the hospital with my mom and brother.

It wasn't until the next day that I found out Dad had a heart attack, along with latent malaria which he must have contracted in the Navy. Mom assured us he would be fine, so I didn't worry. My brother was smart enough to know better. This was Dad's second out of three heart attacks, and he was only 46 years old. 

One of our last family trips was when I was a high school sophomore, and my brother was a college freshman. My brother fixed me up with his friend who needed a date for an NROTC formal. I could've taken the bus to Wisconsin, but Dad offered to have us stay at a hotel, and make a fun weekend out of it.

My dad probably wasn't feeling well at the time, but he never complained. He was so proud of my brother and delighted in visiting the beautiful campus, because he never went away to school. He also loved when my brother joined a frat, as he was president of his fraternity.

 I had a great time at the Naval ROTC Ball, which my dad took pleasure in having been a Naval officer. More importantly, I enjoyed the family time that we shared. Sadly, I didn't realize how precious it was. Although he didn't say it often, these special family outings were our dad's way of showing how much he loved us.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Socrates and his wives (Wikipedia)

Socrates' young wife Xanthippe was best known as a "shrew and a nagging wife." The Romans reported that Socrates knew he was marrying a "hag," but did so to "practice his patience." also cited an incident where Xanthippe was so enraged at Socrates that she threw a bucket of "washing water" on him. The philosopher then replied, "After thunder comes rain."

Other reports said that one of the reasons Xanthippe was known for having an explosive temper was that Socrates didn't collect money for his philosophy teachings. This made it difficult for them to raise their three boys.

Some interesting facts about Xanthippe from Wikipedia include: She was the only person to have ever won an argument with Socrates, and the origin of her name. Xanthippe means "blond horse from the Greek xanthos (blond) and hippos (horse)."

Xanthippe was the inspiration for Katherina in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, as well as, a character in  the Edgar Allan Poe poem "An Accrostic." Poe intentionally changed the X to a Z in her name for "Zantippe." No one is certain of when the rumors about Xanthippe began; though her contemporaries regarded her as a "devoted wife and mother."

Recently, The Wall Street Journal featured an article entitled, "Meet The Marriage Killer: It's More Common Than Adultery and Potentially As Toxic, So Why Is It So Hard To Stop Nagging?" It all began when a woman put a Post-it note in her husband's sandwich at work. It said, "Be in Aisle 10 of  Home Depot tonight at 6:00 pm." Her husband was annoyed at first, but his wife thought that this was a fun and creative way to remind him about their kitchen remodeling project. She was trying to give him a gentle nudge, before it escalated into a raging argument.

 Afterward, I asked my husband if he would prefer this method to nagging. He thought about it for a moment and replied, "I would much rather be married to a blond horse than bite into a Post-it note sandwich any day."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Wrong Number

Once upon a time before there was Caller ID, a young man named Stuart would call our house and ask to speak to Bonnie. I would tell him that there was no one here by that name, say goodbye and hang up. A week later he called again and we had the same conversation. My mom overheard us talking and said, "Would it kill you to be Bonnie?"

I was 23-years-old, still living at home, and on the verge of becoming an old maid. "No, I'm not gonna pretend to be someone else. We don't even know anything about this guy except that his name is Stuart, and he doesn't know how to dial a phone. To which my mom replied, "Well, he seems nice."

This was at a period in my life when I was working at a job that I loved, but I was in between boyfriends; while my mother and grandmother both had steady beaus of their own. Hence, my grandma hatched her own plan.

My grandma decided that she was going to fix me up with her friend's grandson that she met in passing on the bus. She never met the grandson, and barely knew the grandmother, but what did I have to lose? I thanked her and told her that I wasn't interested. Although that didn't stop her from handing out my phone number.

He called a few days later, and we laughed about how funny the situation was. The fact that our grandmothers were desperately trying to fix us up, was hard not to find amusing, Since our conversation went so well, we agreed to go out on a date.

I remember that we went to see the movie This Is Spinal Tap, and out for a nice dinner afterward. It was a fun evening, but we parted friends. We fulfilled our promises to our grandmothers, who may have sat on opposite ends of the bus from that point on, and nothing more.

My mom waited up for me to find out how our date went. I told her that we had a good time, but that I wasn't interested in going out with him again. Then she said that she had a feeling we weren't going to hit it off, but not to worry. Before I could question why Mom announced, "Stuart called again, and I told him my Bonnie would call him back tomorrow."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Visitors

Visiting Versailles on his Vespa,
Versace clad with favorite boy in tow.
Van heading right in their direction,
Vladie didn't feel a thing from his throw.

Veins pumping full of medications,
Valium surging through the mighty drip.
Vaccines wouldn't really make a difference,
Valleys high and low were on his trip.

Vilmer still reported missing,
Villagers searched throughout the land.
Venom plagued his inner being,
Variable fates for his right hand man.

Veronica pleaded his forgiveness,
Vixen swore she couldn't see a thing.
Valor was something that he stood for,
Velcro kept him seated atop a doughnut ring.

Voice muted as he tried to whisper,
Vanquished of the sounds that dripped like honey.
Victoriously recovered whole but fractured,
Ventriloquist smiled as words flowed from his dummy.


Monday, April 23, 2012


         As Ursula was getting ready for school, her mother told her to bring an umbrella, because the forecast called for rain. Ursula always carried a heavy backpack to high school, and had no desire to increase her load. Taking no chances, her mother handed her an umbrella as she walked out the door.

On her way home the sky looked foreboding, but Ursula still thought she'd have time to pick up some art supplies before she headed home. Moments later, she felt someone walking too closely behind her, but was relieved that it was a familiar face. Brody was also walking into town, and suggested that they make a stop along the way.

He needed to pick up his wallet at home, so Ursula agreed to keep him company. She offered to wait outside, but he insisted that she come in for a minute. Since she had known him from their  grammar school days she decided to go inside. Brody disappeared into another room, and came out smelling like he was wearing his dad's aftershave. He was also trying to move to the  rhythm of the romantic music he put on.

Ursula couldn't help but giggle, and this made Brody very angry. He threw her on the couch and started wrestling with her.  Fortunately her umbrella was nearby, so she hit him with it and quickly ran out.

She was pretty shaken, but still decided to head over to the art supply store which was only a few blocks away. After Ursula called her mom to tell her that she was running late, an elderly woman asked her for the time. Before Ursula could look at her watch, she absconded with her cell phone.

 When Ursula demanded it back she cried, "What are you gonna do, beat up an old lady?" Then she grabbed the woman, but she stuck out her cane in defense. Thus Ursula countered with her umbrella. The old woman held up her purse as a shield, and started poking Ursula with her cane. Ursula protected herself with her backpack, and knocked her purse out of her hand. Before she could reach in to grab her phone, the old lady tried to bite her, and her teeth fell out. While she was looking for her dentures in the pouring rain, Ursula retrieved her phone,

Consequently she couldn't open up her umbrella, so she threw it in the trash, and ran home amidst the thunder and lightning. When her mother saw that Ursula was soaked to the bone she said, "So you left the umbrella in your locker when I told you it was going to rain. See what happens when you don't listen to your mother?"                                                    

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Tripping Over T's


Trolling for treats,
Tricks that fuel desires.
Turn up the heat,
Thrust wood into the fire.

Tortured by guilt,
Traumatized by pleasure.
Torn from foundations built,
Trusted vows so treasured.

Tender tongues transpire,
Traveling to uncharted places.
Tasting new flavors never tires,
Traces drizzled on content faces.

Treading waves once more,
Tempted for a life sub par.
Trembling as he opens the back door,
Trapped with her hand in the cookie jar.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Scared Stiff After Surgery

Hospital : Four surgeons looking down, low angle view

In April of 2009, my mom went in for a spinal fusion after years of suffering from spinal stenosis. Afterward, the surgeon told us that it was a success, and said that we could see our mom in the recovery room. She was very groggy, but we were so relieved that she was doing well. Little did we know what lie ahead. 

The next day my mom was progressing as expected. She seemed tired, so I suggested that she take a nap while I went for a walk. Two hours later my mom was still fast asleep. I tried gently nudging her, but she wouldn't wake up. I immediately called for the attending doctor, and he also had no luck arousing her. When I told him that he had to do something he blurted out, "I've never seen anything like this before!" Then he stormed out of the room.

In a panic I called the nurse's station and asked them to page her surgeon.  In the meantime, the nurse walked into the room, and began taking her blood pressure. As soon as she tightened the cuff, my mom's eyes opened wide. She never did like the pinching sensation. I wanted to wrap my arms around the nurse, but she was too busy asking my mom questions. Her responses were gibberish, and my heart started racing again.

My mom had an MRI of her brain to rule out a possible stroke. As the day went on, her speech would be fine one minute, and incoherent the next. I decided to stay overnight, because I wanted to stay close to my mom, and I also wanted to meet with her surgeon who started rounds between 7:00 and 8:00 am to discuss her care.

Fortunately, the results of her MRI were negative, and the x-rays showed that my mom was healing properly. I told the surgeon about the attending physician's negligence on the previous day, and another doctor was assigned to her case.

 Although we went back and forth with several specialists during her hospital stay, we think that her periods of deep sleep followed by slurred speech were a result of a very powerful combination of pain medications. As they gradually lowered her dosage we saw more glimpses of the mother we knew and loved.

The best example occurred late one day when my mother drifted into another deep sleep. A different nurse was in her room at the time, and she tried another technique. She applied a few cold washcloths to my mom's head. This worked immediately, and my mom was so upset that she threw it right back at the nurse.  My brother and I found this extremely amusing which only annoyed her more. Mom exclaimed, "You let her put those wet washcloths on my hair! What is wrong with you?" Then she flung the remaining washcloths at us.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Rituals of Getting Ready


Since there have been a few complaints about the amount of time it takes me to get ready, I was shocked when I read these statistics. An article in the November 2011 Telegraph reported that men, "Spent 81 minutes a day on personal grooming, including cleansing, toning, and moisturizing, shaving, styling hair and choosing clothes." While women accomplished all of the above in only 75 minutes.

I found this incredibly difficult to believe when I've witnessed the grooming rituals of my two boys ages 23, and 20. I'll never forget when I walked in on my older son a few years ago while he was shaving in the dark. My younger son is usually clean shaven, but he sports a full neck beard in between haircuts. This beard can only be seen from the back of his neck which gives the illusion of a Chia Pet. If it's too much trouble for one to turn on the light, and the other one is not the least bit fazed by unruly neck hair, then I don't think they're going to be concerned about "cleansing, toning and moisturizing."

As for me, I couldn't possibly accomplish all of those tasks in only 75 minutes. The ordeal of shaving my legs takes up almost the entire time alone. After I'm done shaving them in the shower, I have to check for all of the places that I missed. Consequently, no matter how long I wait for my deodorant to dry, I always end up with streaks on my clothes. Sometimes I wonder who is this toddler that I have to keep cleaning up after, and it's me.

The next steps involve bouncing from different mirrors in different lights to help create the natural look. The older I get the longer it takes to pass for presentable. By this time I'm exhausted and have to take a break from the rigors of getting ready.

Though my grandma was fast on her feet and worked until her place of business closed down when she was 85 years old, I take after my mom who didn't exactly shake herself off and run out the door. I would watch with my mouth wide open as my mom would take great care in teasing her red curls, while alternating between spraying , coughing and puffing on her cigarette. This was after she had applied her false eyelashes and flawless makeup.

One day when my brother was waiting for my mom to drop him off at a party, he couldn't imagine what was taking her so long. Then he exclaimed, "I look exactly the same way when I get up in the morning, as I do when I'm going to a wedding." To which my mom calmly looked him over and without missing a beat replied, "You're right, but I wouldn't brag about it."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ode to "Q"

Questionable intentions were brought by he,
Quartet gently playing in the corner.
Qualifying his earnest pedigree,
Quick to satisfy his plea for her honor.  

Qualms from other gentlemen,
Quarreling over the prize.
Quiet as their majesty walked in,
Quaint appearances were much to surmise.

Quibbling over the princess's hand,
Queries from great distances away.
Quotient of suitable purveyors of the land,
Quintuplets soon lined up for their say.

Quarantine began after draining their cups,
Quagmire like no kingdom had seen.
Quilts were gathered to cover up,
Quirky King was really a Queen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Periodic Pesky Pimples



Some sneak up on you in the middle of the night, while others throb invisibly on your chins for days. The result is the same, and just when you were finally feeling comfortable in your own skin, you turn into an awkward adolescent with globs of Clearasil spread unevenly over your face.

Memories come flooding in from you past. Days spent lying in the sun with tinfoil reflectors to broil the pimples away. Only pimples would turn into sun blisters.  These blisters were crater like formations that multiplied over sections of your  epidermis. You felt fine as long as you didn't laugh, cry or brush your teeth. After you cleared up, you did it all over again. Only you set the cooking timer for a shorter period, and adjusted the setting to bake instead of broil. Of course there were no worries, because we didn't know about skin cancer back then.

There's no rhyme or reason why adult acne flairs up when your skin's too dry, you're under stress, or  you're gorging on greasy food. It can happen for any or none of those reasons due to hormonal imbalances or lack of estrogen. Consequently, they take on a whole new look in middle age which is likened to warts on witches or goiters on goblins. Though it's preferable to part your chin hair on the other side to tone it down. 

Old age acne is the next phase to look forward to. They do not produce puss, have a shorter lifespan, and come with a guarantee not to sprout black hairs. The odds are that you won't be able to see the white or gray ones. Prevalent halitosis will ward off potential onlookers.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Organ Donation: The Greatest Gift


April is Organ Donation Awareness Month, so I've decided to repeat this post from last year's A to Z Challenge.

The Chicago Tribune cover story, Just a Liver Transplant Among Friendly Neighbors, by Michelle Manchir, told how two residents in a suburban subdivision banned together to save their friend who needed a liver transplant. A 41 year old man who was suffering from the same rare liver disease that took Walter Payton's life, was fortunate enough to have one neighbor offer to "remove a portion of the donor's liver and place it in the ill person's body. The liver is the only interior organ that regenerates--typically in about three months."

When the surgeon found scarring on the first woman's liver, another neighbor offered to take her place. Now all three neighbors "share surgery scars above their belly buttons." They are doing well , and the recipient is thankful to both women for risking their lives to save his. According to the recipient, "They really don't act like it's anything special. They're just crazy, wonderful, amazing people."

Both my husband and my brother received organ donations. My husband underwent two cornea transplants, and my brother received a healthy kidney almost seven years ago.

Due to a complicate medical history, my brother was told that he could be on a waiting list for 5-10 years or longer. Fortunately, he received a call a year and a half later on his 47th birthday from the transplant team. He owes his life to a cadaver donor.

Today, my brother is a healthy, energetic 53 year old who often wears his nephews out whether they're lifting weights or playing basketball. He strongly believes that "everyone should be a donor regardless of religious beliefs, because you can save several lives by donating your organs. It's morally wrong to be a recipient and not a donor."

April is Organ Donation Awareness Month, and it's easy to become a donor by checking off the box when you renew your driver's license. or by registering at Our family is extremely grateful for the gifts we've been given, and are proud to pay it forward.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Nosy Neighbors


Remember Gladys Kravits from Bewitched? She was always spying on Darren and his beautiful wife Samantha, who just happened to be a witch. Whenever anything unusual happened, like when the real Benjamin Franklin popped in for a visit, she would let out a loud, nasal pitched scream to her husband, "Abner," as she peered out the window,  At which point he would continue reading his newspaper. Things were never quite as exciting at our house, but she would always find something to stick her nose into.

When our boys were in second grade together, she invited my son over for a playdate. She complimented him on his pants, and asked who the designer was. After he shrugged his shoulders, she asked what size he wore. He was two for two and continued playing with her son. The suspense was killing her, so she reached in his pants to get a closer look at the tag. Then she went about her business.

Later when I asked her why she accosted my son she giggled, "Oh, he didn't seem to mind." I decided to be neighborly and keep the peace, but it didn't last for long.

If she saw me walking with a friend, she would want to know why I was walking with the other woman instead of her. Then she would ask me all kinds of questions about what her husband did for a living, and what kind of activities her children were involved in at school. She was determined to know everything to insure that her son was never going to be left out.

It got to the point where if I saw her coming, I would head in the opposite direction. Though somehow she would always manage to catch up to me even if it was only to take a gander at my shopping cart. "Oh, so you let your kids eat those snacks?  I would never buy those for my children. Oh, I see you bought some generic brands, don't worry I won't tell."

Not only was she competing with me about friends and groceries, but her son started competing with my son at school. Since he couldn't keep up with him academically, he decided to duke it out with him at gym class. My older son held the grammar school record  for pull-ups, and he was determined to beat him. He came very close, but my son won out in the end. I was waiting for his mother to install a pull-up bar in their driveway for our husbands to have a go of it. 

As the boys grew older, we saw each other less often.  I'd still have to endure the occasional jab, "Oh, I think I saw your son earlier. I'm not sure it was him, because he was driving too fast to tell." Then I'd respond by saying something like, "Oh, is your son driving yet, or is he still waiting for his booster seat, so that he could see over the steering wheel?"  Nah, that would have been a cheap shot, and it would've  taken me way too long to get to the punchline. I wonder if it's not too late to install a booby trap in my shopping cart?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Moving Mom

with her grandsons in 2004 

Our retirement community visits were like an outing with Goldilocks:
"Nobody colors their hair at this place."
 "Who needs a rainforest in the atrium when it's much too humid?"  And my mom's top complaint was, "There are too many old people here." Finally, my mom agreed to narrow it down to one place, but our journey was only beginning.

My mother lived in the same house for more than forty six years. She raised her family in that house, and stayed until her grandsons carried her out. She had a spinal fusion about three years ago, and moved back home after living with us for about ten months during her recovery. The problem was that her home has several levels, and it was just too much for her to navigate the stairs with a walker. I pleaded with her to move into an apartment, but she kept saying that she was doing just fine.

Last September she suffered a fall. Fortunately, she fell on her nose and didn't have any serious injuries. Then I suggested visiting some assisted living residences, so that she could be in a safe environment and not have to worry about cooking.  After much cajoling, she agreed to move into a lovely place on beautiful grounds that was close to home.

The plan was to have a trial run during a "respite stay" for the month of December, and to officially move in at the beginning of January. We were leaving on a family vacation on December 16, so I felt relieved that she would be in a safe place while we were gone. She kept putting it off, and a few days before we left, she fell again. This happened on the day that my son and I were originally going to move her in, but she decided to postpone it until after we came back. My mother also didn't tell me about her fall until the day before our flight, because she didn't want to "ruin our trip." My brother, and my dearest friend said that they would check in on my mom, so we went as scheduled.

A few days after Christmas when my mom was finally set to move in, I got a call from Life Alert. My mom had fallen again, and this time she couldn't get up. They offered to send the fire department over, but she wouldn't hear of it. Fortunately, our boys were home for winter break so they drove over with me.

En route Life Alert called again to tell us that my mom managed to pull herself up, only to fall a second time. Now she wasn't objecting to having the fire department come out. In the meantime, we called my mom's doctor who agreed that my mom should head over to the ER.

When we arrived at her house the firefighters were just leaving. I asked why they weren't taking her to the hospital, and they told me that she didn't want to go. I pointed out that she clearly needed to go, but they said that they could not take anyone against their will. After I convinced the firefighters to take her, my mom said that she wasn't ready to leave. Since I had my two musclemen with me, I thanked them and said that we would drive her. I didn't want them to have to wait around while I tried to reason with her. BIG mistake.

My mom wanted to pack, change clothes, and freshen up before we left, but there were two problems; she couldn't move, and she was on the second level of the house. She was acting as though she were getting ready for a weekend in the country, instead of going to the hospital. The boys carried her down the stairs, and helped her into her wheelchair. In the rush, I had forgotten to bring the foot rests for the wheelchair, so the boys were holding onto her at one end, while I was walking backwards and holding onto her feet. We finally got her up into my SUV, but the staff at the ER still had a hard time getting her out. Although she's light as a feather, she has the ability to turn herself into a dead weight.

Miraculously, she didn't break anything but was severely dehydrated, which caused concern about her kidneys. My mom went from the hospital, to a nursing home, and eventually made it to the assisted living community in February. I was grateful that our sons were so helpful when we needed them the most, but I should've insisted that the firefighters had taken her instead.

If you asked my mom about her new home she would tell you that the delicious variety of food is only fair, but she would light up if you asked her about the location. Nestled in between her two favorite shopping centers, she's practically down the street from where she used to live, or as she puts it, "I'm just five minutes away from everything I love."  I live about twenty minutes away in case you were wondering.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Life of a Lefty


I didn't choose this life, it chose me. My mom placed the crayon in my right hand, but my left hand took over when I first printed my name. After no one could read it, the crayon was placed back in my right hand again. This kept happening until my mom finally declared me a lefty, lit a cigarette, and left the room. I thought I wrote my name just fine. It wasn't until after I saw how my classmates wrote their names that I knew I was in trouble. 

When it came to sports there was a lot of confusion about which would be my throwing arm, and what batting stance I would take. Through a series of  Ed Nortonesque  twists, turns, and flicks of the wrist, I finally made some decisions. I would throw righty and bat lefty. Of course none of this really mattered, because I still couldn't throw or hit the ball further than the person standing next to me.

As I grew older, my handwriting only got worse. My cursive was once compared to an inmate on Death Row. The insult would have been less devastating if it hadn't been from my English teacher. It also didn't help that when I'd get nervous, my hands would perspire, and I'd have to turn in ink blotted papers, not to mention resembling a one handed Smurf.

Now that cursive writing is practically non-existent, I find myself printing more often. I've actually been told that my printing has improved.  Sometimes I sleep with a notepad by our bed, and scribble notes until the wee hours. Unfortunately, I often have trouble deciphering those notes in the morning.

Consequently, my husband and I were at a meeting for a committee that  reaches out to seniors. Our assignment was to report on what senior programs were available at  local churches and synagogues . The meeting had been postponed several times, so my notes were all shriveled up. When it was my turn to address the group, I referred to my notes about special activities for seniors. Then I stumbled on the last few words when I saw the initials SOT. I tried desperately to remember what SOT stood for, and then my husband glanced over my shoulder and said, "It's not SOT, it's fifty plus."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kutting Kindergarten

When our older son started kindergarten, many parents were having a tough time watching their children start a new chapter in their lives. Since he was attending the afternoon class, he would only be gone for two and a half hours which was the same schedule as preschool. This was a natural progression, so our only concerns were learning our way around the building, and getting the carpool there on time. From our son's point of view, he was just happy to have high bars to hang onto during recess.

I'll never forget our first parent - teacher conference, when his teacher raved about how well he was doing. She said that he was a pleasure in class, and was excelling at writing the alphabet and math. She was sure that he would be reading by the end of the year. After the meeting, we took our son and his little brother out for ice cream to celebrate.

The following spring, it was time for another conference with his kindergarten teacher. As she reiterated how much she enjoyed having him in her class, she paused when she was halfway down the review form. She looked at me with complete seriousness and told me that he was not performing well with a scissors. She was concerned, because he had difficulty keeping up with the other kids during art projects. I don't know how I made it home from that meeting, as I was in complete shock.

My mom was at our house babysitting, so I told her the news and asked her to practice cutting with him, while I gave our younger son a bath. As I was filling up the bathtub with bubbles, wild thoughts were racing through my mind. What if my son who graduated from preschool with honors, had to spend an extra year in kindergarten, because he couldn't  cut it?  Where was Edward Scissorhands when I needed him?

A few days later, his teacher called to tell me how skillful he had become with a scissors. She may have noticed that I was slightly concerned during our conference, when I looked as though I was about to spontaneously combust.

The following year as he began first grade, she began teaching third grade. It would have been nice if he had a warm and nurturing teacher in kindergarten, but maybe she gave him the push he needed to be a cut above the rest.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Junk In The Trunk


People love to collect things, and we've all heard the proverb, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." I kept trying to rationalize this to myself as I was sorting through my mom's basement. I found credit card receipts dating back to the early '70's, as well as my brother's Bar Mitzvah suit from 1971. I made piles for donating, destroying, and disintegrating, and it barely scratched the surface. This made me think about the items that other people didn't want to part with.

One junk pick-up service was asked to haul away some pretty unusual things including:

-Sex dolls made out of chicken wire
-19 truckloads of expired ice cream
-An actual coffin that the owner said was a Halloween prop

What I find most disturbing is that all of that ice cream had to go to waste.

Auto Rental News reported an even stranger list of items left behind in their cars:

-A goat's heart in the wheel well
-A hamster in the glove box, a petrified dead salamander in the center console, a snapping turtle under the passenger seat, and a live chicken that flew out of the trunk.
-A severed human hand
-5 undocumented immigrants were pulled from the trunk of a Chevy Lumina

Only 5 undocumented immigrants? They should have used a Volkswagen.

The award for smuggling the most articles into the smallest trunk goes to a Florida inmate. He packed in 30 items which included:

-17 blue pills
-A cigarette
-6 matches
-A flint
-A syringe
-Lip balm
-A condom
-A receipt from CVS
-A coupon

Too bad it wasn't a "get out of jail free" coupon. Good thing he saved his CVS receipt. I wonder if he knows my mother?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Imbecilic Idiots

Recently, a man was arrested in Florida for calling 911 during an argument with his wife about not giving him enough privacy on Facebook. According to the police deputy, "the husband called 911, because he was upset about his wife sitting next to him and not going to sleep after he gave her eight beers."

The wife told the deputy she "didn't feel like sitting anywhere else" in her mobile home. The deputy added, "He wanted me to make his wife not sit next to him and go to bed like she was supposed to." The Tampa Bay Times also reported that the husband was arrested for "misuse of 911" and sentenced to sixty days in jail.

While searching for other incidents of idiocy, I came across an excerpt from Dr. Orrange's 8 Crazy Stories From The ER:

A morbidly obese man came into the ER with a large abdominal pannus (hanging flap of tissue), exhibiting irritated skin  around the abdomen. During the exam, I lifted the pannus and a turkey sandwich fell from between his folds. The man said it was about a month old, which the smell confirmed.

This next case was found under the "retained objects" category:

A patient came in with a very simple case: a toilet scrubber had become lodged in his rectum. Curiously, he wasn't sure how it got there.

These incidents could have been avoided if the wife pulled up a possum to sit on, and the obese man defrosted his walking refrigerator. The toilet scrubber accident could have happened to anyone.

As Albert Einstein once said, "Only two things in life are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hard of Hearing Husbands

Wife And Husband Watch Tv Show

Husband: What did he say?

Wife: Pause the TV and I'll tell you.

(After the explanation, he plays it back)

Wife: Do you think I'm a liar? Why would I waste more time inventing new dialogue? If you were going to rewind it anyway, then why did you ask me in the first place? If we keep going through this over and over again a sitcom will turn into a drama, and a drama will turn into a mini-series.....

Husband: What?

Has this happened in your home? Is your husband or aged boy toy in denial about hearing loss? Can you listen to all of your next-door neighbors' TV shows with the windows closed? And what about the issue of selective hearing? Does this affect old and young alike?

In our household, there is definitely a selective hearing epidemic that has taken over all of the male members. My husband yo-yo's back and forth between not hearing anything, dozing off in the middle of a sentence, to hearing whispers, and complete conversations with friends in noisy restaurants. Of course, he has the uncanny ability to hear all bodily sounds, but fortunately his sense of smell is floundering.

My sons' have inherited my husband's ability to tune me out especially when I ask them to pick up their clothes or straighten out their rooms. All three of them can watch a game on TV, text, and IM at the same time. Though my husband mistakes  IM's for instant meals.

I often worry that my husband may one day drag me down to the guttural gallows, as the volume continues to go up. The other day my brother asked me," What are the two things our mom does better than anyone else at the retirement community? "  Considering that my mom is amongst the youngest of the residents, I thought long and hard about my answer. Two seconds later I replied, " Seeing and hearing!" Well my eyesight isn't as sharp as it used to be, but I'll fight to preserve my exceptional inherent hearing skills.  Even if it means hiding the remote.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Greatest Gym Teacher


Last fall I went to see my best friend's son perform in a play at the same junior high school that we attended. Before the lights went down, I noticed a familiar teacher's name in the program. I asked my friend if she knew who he was, and she suggested that we talk to the principal after the play.

Her son stole the show, and I felt like a proud stage auntie. As a sixth grader, he came across quite cool and confident which were characteristics that his big man on campus character needed. This made me think about how I was anything but confident back in my junior high and grammar school days.

My least favorite class was always gym, but something changed when a new teacher came on the scene in third or fourth grade. His name was Mr. Lawson, and he always encouraged me to feel better about my lack of athletic prowess. He even set-up an after school program to help a handful of us work on our coordination.

He tried so hard to help me from tripping over my untied shoe laces, untangling me from a jump rope, and losing my pants while attempting a somersault on the trampoline.  He even went the extra mile by driving me home from school a few times. Mr. Lawson was more of a manny than a gym teacher to me, and he never lost his patience along the way.

After the play my dear friend introduced me to the principal, and I asked her if the set manager for the play was the same Mr. Lawson who taught at our grammar school over forty years ago. Not only was he my former gym teacher, but his daughter-in-law was in the audience.

I rushed over to tell her how her father-in-law tried so hard to make gym a fun experience, and how he always went out of his way for me. I got pretty choked up as I thought back on all of my stereotypical gym teachers who favored the athletes, and shunned the underdogs. It also didn't help that they took off points if you needed a little extra time in the locker room.

Mr. Lawson's daughter-in-law was very appreciative, and promised to tell him how much he meant to me. I was really hoping that I would've run into him that evening, but maybe it's better that he didn't see me run.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Flying Fickle Finger of Fate


Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was a huge hit from 1968-1973. It was the mod, hippy, psychedelic satiric sketch comedy show that led the way to Saturday Night Live. One of the featured skits had hosts Dan Rowan (on the left) and Dick Martin presenting the Flying Fickle of Fate Award to dubious celebrities and politicians. According to Urban Dictionary, "This perhaps is the first version of 'flipping the bird' on prime time TV.

Some of the actors and politicians who are deserving of the Flying Fickle of Fate Award today may include:

Arnold Schwarzenegger - "I think gay  marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman."

Kim Kardashian - "I hate it when women wear the wrong foundation colour. It might be the worst thing on the planet when they wear their make-up too light."

Donald Trump - "The beauty of me is that I'm very rich."

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In created unique catch phrases that even had Vice President  Richard M. Nixon deadpanning, "Sock it to me." Other popular sayings included "Verrry interesting...but stupid, Here come da judge, and You bet your sweet bippy."

Cast regular Arte Johnson, and contributing writer Coslough Johnson are my dad's first cousins. Coslough changed his name when he became a successful comedy writer, as his real name Howard Johnson was already taken. Because they had both moved to California before I was born, I never had the pleasure of meeting them.

Then my dad suggested that my brother and I write a letter of introduction to my famous cousin.  He sent us back an autographed picture of  his hysterical WWII German Soldier character with the inscription, "So Julie and Kenny, you are my cousins? Verrry interesting...."  I was quite the hit at show 'n tell that week.

Arte Johnson  on Laugh-In

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Putting The You In Eulogy


The other day I had some time to kill, so I thought it might be fun to write my eulogy. My plan was to keep it short and sweet with a few laughs, and meaningful experiences for good measure. I know my brother would be happy to deliver my eulogy, as he gave a hilarious toast at our wedding, not to mention our boys' Bar Mitzvahs. Even my mother-in-law said that my brother's toast was the highlight of her grandson's Bar Mitzvah.

I suspect that my brother has already started writing my eulogy, but I wanted to ensure that at least part of it was about me. Suddenly, I drew a blank. I didn't know where to begin, so I did some research when I happened upon Eulogies Made Easy. This fascinating book by Margaret Marquisi and Rev. Mark Long promises all of the answers to even the most delicate questions. Below are some of the highlights of what Eulogies Made Easy has to offer according to their website.

-How to write a eulogy for someone you were never close with - and how to make the very best of this situation (and still come off as 100% respectful and genuine).

-How to 'burn' your eulogy speech into your brain to have razor-sharp mega-memorization - so virtually no cheat sheets are needed.

-12 coveted tricks on how to avoid crying and breaking down during the speech - but also when and where it's accepted and completely healthy.

-You'll also receive 300 Funeral Poems.

Well, my brother will certainly have his work cut out for him, between the cue cards for crying, the poetry reading, and especially making the speech come off as "100% respectful and genuine."  Hopefully, all of this will be accomplished after many more years of getting to know me better. In the meantime, I've already started contemplating my headstone, which could also double as a festive funeral poem, "She ate, she slept, and after all was through, she made a number two."

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Deadly Door Knobs

As I was getting my mom's house ready to put on the market, I noticed that the lock on one of her door knobs was broken. I purchased a new one at the hardware store when my son noticed a small label on the front of the package. It was a disclosure required by California law that this product may contain small traces of lead which may cause cancer.

Since we live in Illinois, it was advised to wash hands thoroughly after each use. Needless to say, I returned the deadly door knob, and drove to another store to purchase one without any fine print.

This led me to an article about the dangers of antique pewter. It mentioned that the older door knobs, drawer pulls, or any type of hardware could contain almost 15% of lead. It was strongly recommended not to take a chance on putting any pewter objects in a baby's room as infants and small children often wrap their mouths around everything in sight.

This raises some important questions. Do Californians have more of a fighting chance against lead poisoning than the rest of us?  How does this possibly relate to Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group?


We need to join forces, and proceed with closed mouths when we come into contact with anything that may contain lead in it. Then we must put our insecurities on hold, as we become human metal detectors. Hence, when opportunity knocks from that agent or publisher you were waiting for, calmly open the door with a gloved hand.    

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chronic Constipation

A man sitting on the toilet reading a newspaper

It starts with bloating,
While the food is floating,
Round and round, as the cycle begins.

Your system is disrupted,
As your movements are obstructed,
What should go out, is settling back in.

Your mind is turning into mush,
Amidst your stomach wrestling with your tush,
In this bout where nobody wins.

Fiberific fortitude never have your fill,
Metamucil cocktails served on the treadmill,
Omissions are released, though results are nil.

Bound by endless consternation,
From the effects of chronic constipation.
When the toll is taking its course,
Never fear as relief appears in your shorts.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Brutality of Bra Shopping


The last time I needed to buy a new bra, I decided to shop around for a miracle. Of course, I would have gladly settled for even the slightest gravitational pull.

In fifth grade, I was the first girl in my class to wear a bra. I didn't necessarily need one, but I had to wear something underneath a see-thru peasant blouse. When I wore it to school, a group of girls and boys followed me into the girl's bathroom for a closer look. I couldn't believe that the teacher didn't even seem to care. I finally got them to leave, and I never wore that peasant blouse again.  

When I was a preteen, I went for a fitting at a lingerie store. The older sales woman proceeded to throw in her two cents as well as her two hands for every bra that I tried on. I was pushed in, pulled out, tightened, clasped and groped. And she wasn't even on commission

Recently, I wandered into Victoria's Secret when a young girl offered to help me. I told her what I was looking for, and she suggested that I buy the same bra that she was wearing. I mentioned that I was slightly older than she was, and I needed something that essentially had super powers.

The little nineteen-year-old assured me that in all of her experience, she found this to be the perfect-fitting bra for women of all shapes and ages. Needless to say, my husband also enjoyed my delicious little treat from Victoria's Secret, a box of their finest mints, sealed with a kiss.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Angst Misbehaving

crying kid sit on white, jeans cloth - isolated Stock Photo - 9479817
Angst is an uninvited guest that may flare up in a moments notice. Toddlers who are going through the "terrible twos" often undergo fits of rage, as do menopausal women.

It is known that both groups could burst into tears without warning, so we immediately proceed to time-out stations. Children go to these designated safe areas where two-year-olds remain quietly for two minutes, three-year-olds for three minutes and so on.
                                                   Angry : isolated angry young housewife with crossed hands Stock Photo

As for the menopausal woman eruptis, her domestic partner responds by quickly dropping her off at the next exit, and then proceeds to the nearest sports bar. He is instructed to watch his favorite team play for approximately forty five to sixty minutes, until she has cooled off or he has run out of beer nuts. 

When his team loses, years of pent-up angst and frustration come pouring out until he has developed the onset of male menopause eruptis. To counteract his raging mantrum, he walks past the pole dancer and continues down the street to the electronics store.
                                                                  A man grasp his head with his hands and with grimace on his face when something terrible just has happened Stock Photo - 9096941
While exiting the store, he lights a cigarette all a bask in the glow of his deluxe flat screen TV purchase.  After his quick fix, he hurries to pick up his gal at the Trailer Truck & Traif  Stop complete with a 24 Hour Shower Emporium.

They return home refreshed and energized. Like the toddler, the menopausal woman slips under the covers feeling safe and snug in her bed. Only she has the added luxury of being grateful that her shower buddy's beard didn't leave a rash. 

The letter "A" has been brought to you by the A to Z Challenge.