Category Archives: Humor

Laugh Everlasting

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buffett

My friend Jeanette would have turned 54 today.

Professionally, Jeanette devoted her life to being a Catholic Educator. When she died suddenly in May, she was finishing her 32nd year with the Diocese.

She was a Teacher, Coach, and Principal. Her commitment to her students extended beyond the school bell. I don’t think she missed a School or Parish function.  If students were at risk for missing school, she’d been known to pick them up on her way to work.

While she was serious about education,  I have no doubt she made learning fun. Jeanette was all about fun. She was born the third of five children in a close family that truly enjoys each other and life. She adored her nieces and nephew, and loved making things fun for them.

She loved road trips, the Purdue Boilermakers, Jimmy Buffett, tanning poolside, and theme parties. She was game for anything, and celebrating everything.

As I looked through the photo boards on display at the funeral home, I was amazed at all the good times I had forgotten about over the last four decades. Thanks to her (and her family’s) consistent picture taking, her joy and love of  life was well documented.

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30th Birthdays in Vegas

One thing was obvious:  She made everything an event.

Jeanette also loved a good laugh, and she certainly had the most memorable and distinctive one.

Her laugh began with a deep and throaty “oh-ho-ho-my-hy-gosh” and ended with a high pitched “hee-hee-hee” covering the entire range of the vocal scale in between. It was loud, musical, joyful and infectious.

When necessary, Jeanette had a good poker face. She could initiate and carry out harmless, but hilarious practical jokes, and no one laughed harder than she did at the result.

I enjoyed the sound of her laugh for 40 years. Usually she was laughing with me, but frequently she was laughing at me.

If something awful or embarrassing happened, Jeanette was the perfect person to tell. While she always had a sympathetic ear, she often had no control over that laugh. She’d easily find the humor in every blunder, fumble and stumble.

She was able to do this because life is a mixture of emotions. Happy and sad, tragic and ridiculous are not always mutually exclusive. I experienced this phenomenon the day of Jeanette’s funeral.

Her beautiful Funeral Mass was held at the parish where she was Principal. It was an area of town I wasn’t familiar with – especially since I hadn’t lived there for most of my adult life.

Funeral processions are treated with a special kind of reverence in my hometown. Cars, (including those traveling in the opposite direction) pull to the side of the road to let a funeral procession pass. I’ve seen men stand with a hand over their heart, folks bow their heads in prayer, and Catholic school children kneel on the playground.

As I tearfully departed the church parking lot, my friend Nancy was following in the car behind me. Nancy’s 50-year friendship with Jeanette began at the age of 3, when her family moved into a house three doors from Jeanette’s family.

Under the direction of the funeral home personnel and with police escorts, our cars with headlights on and hazard lights flashing, moved slowly but steadily along. Nancy and I were on the phone, talking safely, hands-free as we drove. Nothing look familiar to either of us.

As we passed through an intersection, the gentleman in the SUV in front of me suddenly turned off his hazard lights, and then quickly sped off. I looked ahead at an empty street.  Wait, where is Jeanette’s hearse? The limo? The family cars? 

I realized the front of the funeral procession must have turned right and for some reason the gentleman in the SUV in front of me had bailed out of the procession and gone straight.  Did he have to get back to the office? Did he have diarrhea? What happened?

I didn’t have time to ponder this.

“OH NO!!” I screamed to Nancy, as I realized I was now the lead car in a runaway funeral procession…and I didn’t know the way to the Catholic Cemetery.

Nancy began to laugh.

“It’s not funny!” I yelled.

“Where are the police escorts?” I continued.

Anxiety set in. “Nancy, I can’t be the lead car, I don’t know where we are!”

I was so rattled I couldn’t Google Map it.

Nancy,  had suddenly turned into Jeanette. She was laughing so hard she could barely speak. She managed to utter “They turned right. Just turn right as soon as you can.”

I was beyond horrified. I looked in my rearview mirror at the long line of headlights and flashing hazards behind me. I was sweating.

I took the next right.

After two more turns, and by the Grace of God, we made it to the cemetery.

Unfortunately, we arrived before the front of the funeral procession, causing a bit of a traffic jam, and additional challenge for the police.

Unbeknownst to me, the police were managing two funeral processions arriving simultaneously at the cemetery, and my runaway procession created an unexpected third group, on a street partially closed due to road construction.

Thankfully, despite the entire debacle we were there to lay Jeanette to rest.

Later that afternoon, we considered that maybe the funeral fiasco was heaven sent from Jeanette, for one last laugh. Whether she was responsible or not, I had no doubt she was laughing.

The thought of not hearing her laugh again made me sad.

But now I don’t think there was a last laugh.

Because somehow, I still hear her laugh so clearly.

While Jeanette is so dearly missed by so many today, I hope she is being remembered with all sorts of proper celebrations.

Her laugh is now eternal, and oh, how full of joy and fun Heaven must be today.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Bean!

xo

 

 

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Words With Friends

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words with friends

Warning:  This post is contains words I find annoying, disturbing and/or disgusting.  If you are offended by language, this post is not for you!

 

 

 

 

It began with the constant use of the F word during the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Once I tuned into it, I heard it everywhere and bristled each time.

Female.”

Hearing “female candidate” I envisioned a cartoon uterus in a pantsuit and sensible heels, a stylish scarf fashioned out of her fallopian tubes, and her ovaries tucked safely in her pockets.

Ridiculous, I know. But,  “male candidate” wasn’t used with the same frequency, if at all.

“Female” is clinical.

Unless you’re employed in the field of animal husbandry, issuing an A.P.B. for an alleged perpetrator, transporting a patient, or working in the coroner’s office – skip the word female. It refers to genitalia.

I prefer “woman” as it encompasses the entirety of a human being.

While I was busy cringing at the F word, the tape of Trump using the P word surfaced.

Ick. Ick. Ick.

For the love of hoo-hoo’s, vajayjays and vajeens everywhere, wasn’t that word left back in the junior high boys’ locker room?

Guess not.

The misogynistic and absurd bragging (among other things) spurred a protest of the new U.S. President. On January 21, 2017,  200,000 women gathered in D.C.  sporting their functional, yet cleverly named pink Pussy hats.

Meow. I get it –  giving the word a different kind of power. Even with those darling little ears on top – I preferred kitty cat hats.

The cringe factor of these words brought to mind a recent girls’ trip where our mutual dislike of “moist” resulted in a conversation about all sorts of awful words.

Just the mere reference to something unappealing like “pustule,” “seeping,” “oozing,” and “ointment” causes cringey feelings. No visual aid necessary.

One friend hates the word “pimple,” and her husband hates the word, “fester.” It’s no wonder these perfectly suited soul mates have enjoyed nearly 30 years of wedded bliss!

Another friend confessed that any labia reference, either major or minor – made her uncomfortable.

We all agreed “scrotum” hits the ears wrong every time.

Coincidentally, one friend was on a run of making her own almond milk and almond hummus. She shared how her teenagers groaned in protest every time she referenced the necessary tool which is key to the process: a “nut bag.”

35 years ago, this same friend was a horrified teenager when her mother signaled the end of a day of shopping by announcing in a department store, “Well, it’s time to go, I’ve shot my wad!” 

Another friend mentioned the word “grundle.” I admit, I had to Google it. It sounded like something out of a Harry Potter novel. Nope. Lemme just say….T’aint what it is.

Of course “smegma” (just for you Madge), “girth” and “lube” are all included on the the repeat offender list. I apologize for typing those.

Some words sound worse than their actual definition, like “chickpea,” “uranus” and “penal” for instance. “Clematis” clearly sounds like a lady part and not a lovely flowering vine.

Personally, I hate the terrible imagery that comes to mind when I hear “blow-out,” and “brain-fart.

While we’re on the subject – I propose we nix the crass “anal-retentive” or “anal” in favor of the more genteel “particular.

It isn’t only anatomical terms and descriptors of unpleasant things that are bothersome.

Mothers can all agree on a mutual disdain for “not me” and “sucks.”

Men are bugged by a words of a different sort.

They seem to have a strong dislike for the apathetic “whatever” and the snippish “fine.” They also lose patience with the incorrect use of “literally,” the often used, but nonexistent “irregardless,” and the redundant “very unique.”

Just mention corporate conference call speak and watch the eyes roll:

We don’t need to think outside the boxregroup, or tag up later. Please, just table it ALL. At the end of the day, we’ve had enough of moving forward. We have fully penetrated and are saturated with equitable outcomessolutions-based everything, and win-win situations.

Yep, there definitely seems to be a “disconnect” here

Words can be so terribly overused that they lose their meaning. Have you noticed practically everything is described as “amazing” on a daily basis. Hey, I realize my generation did the same thing to “awesome,” but we used it more comically, and less earnestly.

The moment I heard a lovely wedding gown described as “badass,” I knew the word had lost its impact. Remember when that only applied to bikers, rockers, and the military?

I realize decorum and manners have waned in favor of an air of familiarity in our increasingly casual society.

This is never more evident than when a server or clerk addresses a group of women as “you guys” or even in Southern California as “dudes.”

Look, I’m not expecting to hear “Madames.”

“Ladies” or at the very least, “folks” would be a refreshing return to the service standards I was taught.

Do you think I’m too easily offended, or being a ball buster?

OUCH!

I don’t even have a pair, and that really makes me wince!

 

 

Manic Mondays & Fashion Faux Pas

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Manic Monday wasn’t just a 1985 hit for The Bangles.

It’s a real thing. It occurs after the weekend knocks us out of the groove. As we try to slog through the early Monday morning routine, the result can be chaos:  Forgotten gym clothes, lunch money, homework, and signed permission slips. No gas in the car.

A niece of mine was only 4 years old when Manic Monday was in the Top 40. She mistakenly thought Susanna Hoffs was singing, “Just another man naked Monday” Understandable, innocent and adorable.

Thankfully, nudity hasn’t been an issue for for me, but a Manic Monday can result in a fashion faux pas or wardrobe malfunction.

One lovely Spring morning, I wore a brand new purple cardigan embellished with a ruffle down the front. I felt so smartly dressed all day.  I returned home and pulled in the garage. As I removed my seatbelt, it caught the edge of something. What is that? I thought.

I realized my new sweater still had the size tape running along the front. I ran to a mirror, and took in the full view. From just below my left shoulder, it went over my left breast right down to my stomach. A string of evenly spaced scarlet L’s, .

I mentally reviewed my day, the five sales appointments, all the customers I had spoken with. No one had mentioned a word. I’m pretty sure I would have preferred someone seeing something and saying something. Or would I?

A friend went line dancing at a cowboy bar in brand new jeans. She was feelin’ like a fine filly… until her dance pardner spotted the Size 8   8    8    8   8  tape running the length of her thigh – and ripped it right off her leg. In the middle of the dance floor. He twirled it above his head, lasso-style. Clearly, a do-si-don’t.

What could be worse than forgetting to remove the size tag from new duds? I’ll tell you what.

Polka dot blouse. Nude pumps with a bow. I was channeling my inner Chanel. However since I’m more Costco than Coco, rather than the Chanel Boutique, my blouse was from Old Navy.  Again after a full day of appointments, I arrived home to discover I had violated Coco’s cardinal rule: I was over-accessorized. I failed to remove one item.  I should have kept the  pearls, and ditched the price tag. Seriously, how did I not see or feel this big piece of navy cardboard hanging from the underarm of my featherweight, sheer blouse?

Tag on Blouse

Wardrobe malfunctions are the worst when they occur on the days we want to look our most professional.

It is a proven fact, that I will not spill a drop of coffee out of a to-go cup, until the Monday I wear a white blouse while I am out of town and five minutes from an appointment. Yep, that is the day I will get that dang Starbucks lid/cup combo that mysteriously drips, no matter what you do, or how many napkins you wrap around it.

My friend Pat paired a sharp navy blue suit (skirt and jacket) with navy blue pumps for an important meeting at work. As she sat down in the conference room and crossed her legs, she realized her shoes didn’t match…each other. Not only were the shoes different styles, they were different colors. One was navy blue and the other one was black. One of these things is not like the other!

My sister’s most famous wardrobe malfunction involved shape wear. You can read about it here. She is usually right on trend and sometimes even fashion forward – like the time she was ahead of the “wire-free” bra trend…when one underwire worked its way out of her bra, and like one of those creepy serpent necklaces, snaked its way up her décolletage and right out the top of her sweater.

Photo: Pinterest.com

Photo: Pinterest.com

In regards to her bustline at this point? Again, one of these things was not like the other.

Long before my Mother was officially diagnosed with dementia, she had begun to make uncharacteristic wardrobe and accessory choices. The  colorful, oversized tote she carried to my stepdad’s funeral had gone unnoticed until one of my brothers was shocked to spot it during the service, and asked “Mother….. are you carrying a beach bag?” Everyone within earshot tried to stifle inappropriate giggles. On the bright side, at least her shoes didn’t match her purse.

Men can suffer fashion faux pas, too. Even at funerals.

A family member attended a funeral during the week between Christmas and New Years.  He grabbed his wool coat out of the closet in a rush to get out of the house. The coat felt uncomfortably snug over his suit, but the Polar Vortex prevented him from taking it off. Only when walking into church did he realize he was wearing his wife’s coat. Surely the mourners at Mass must have smiled at the dapper gentleman…..and his festive rhinestone candy cane pin.

Photo Courtesy: vintagevixen etsy.com

Photo Courtesy: vintagevixen
etsy.com

Just last week, Tara Wood of Love Morning Wood, shared a photo on her Facebook page of her OOTD fashion faux pas.

Courtesy of Tara Wood Lovemorningwood.com

Photo courtesy of Tara Wood

She was dressed for a day of running errands. While, I think she is wearing cute rolled up boyfriend jeans, I am positive that is an adhesive nursing pad attached to the bottom of those darling gold sandals. It may look like Tara really stepped in it this time, but mark by word: by next summer this wardrobe malfunction will be reinvented and show up on a clever life hack list:

Travel Life Hack #7 Keep Summer feet clean at the airport by securing (2) adhesive nursing pads on each bare foot before going through TSA checkpoint. Once you get through the body scanner, discard the pads and put your summer kicks back on those clean tootsies!

These goofs are entertaining reminders that we are all just human. Or maybe we’re all trendsetters.

What else would explain brightly colored bra straps exposed, tights worn as pants (without coverage of the critical zone) and the long past its prime…pants on the ground?

Happy Monday!

I Don’t Speak The Language

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My native tongue is English, but after 25 years in Southern California, I understand Spanish, and can speak enough to get by. I also know a few sushi bars worth of Japanese.

But….I have a mental block and I will never be able to speak, read or write…..Captcha.

I am confronted with my lack of fluency on an almost daily basis.  As I navigate the cyber world, entering my username and password is not sufficient for some websites. Some sites want to verify that I am a human, not a robot or computer.

The verification process begins like this:

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Alright, I’m going to guess that is…… offknol MID.

Captcha says, “Nope. Try again.”

Then I get this one:

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OK, this seems more difficult. Is that….tobanu usual?

Captcha says, “Haha that’s hilarious, but no.”

Next up, The captcha generator is sure I’ll get it this time:

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Yep, clearly it is erpackl certain!

Captcha, the a-hole, says “Wrong again, loser!”

Next up – THIS looks fairly simple:

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I’ve got it! It says: has tidelec.

“Hmmm….perhaps, but not likely.”

At this point, I usually just close my iPad.

I know I could opt for the audio version, but what is the fun in that? Isn’t that cheating?

What happened to just asking me questions I can understand….and even answer?

Questions like:

What street did you live on as a child?

What was the name of your 5th grade teacher?

In what city did your parents meet?

What was the model of your first car?

This Captcha nonsense reminds of those autostereograms that were popular in the 90’s. You know –  those prints that were a jumble of a bunch of different colored dots and squiggles that you were supposed to stare at and then a 3-D image would appear. I could never see the hidden image. Ever.

Magiceye.com

Magiceye.com

It must be a brain thing. Or maybe I’m less creative, and more black and white than I previously thought.

Then, one day while surfin’ the net, I was once again asked to verify that I was a human, not a robot or computer.

This window popped up:

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Woohoo! I made the correct selections. Not to brag, but I’m pretty sure I could have identified them in Japanese, too.

The next time I was required to verify my humanity, this window popped up:

IMG_0253Dessert. Of course I nailed it.

However, my single favorite challenge to prove my humanity was this:

IMG_0254Whew! Thankfully, they thoughtfully provided that sample image.

I look forward to the possibility that internet security will eventually improve, and Captcha will become a lost language. I fear I am too old to learn yet another new language.

Until then, I will pride myself on still being multi-lingual. I’m completely fluent in food and dog or, as fancy folks say, cuisine and canine.

Halloween Hotness

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When did Halloween become so……..s-e-x-y?

I mean sooooo sexy that in comparison, the vixen Elvira seems a bit buttoned-up.

Elvira Pic

Sure we’ve had naughty school girls, girl scouts, French maids, Playboy bunnies, cat women and lady devils in red body suits, but this year, the sexy costume selection is out of control.

Last month, I visited a Halloween store with my favorite 15-year old. It was during spirit week at her high school. As we browsed through the store, we accidentally found ourselves in the “ADULT” section.  Believe me, it was most definitely frightening.

We made a hasty retreat, quickly found our two cans of “Ariel Red” hair spray paint for Disney day, and got the heck OUTTA THERE!!

After leaving the store, we discussed costume ideas. I was curious what was popular with the high school crowd this year. I enjoyed hearing the fun/scary/cute ideas my favorite 15-year old and her friends were considering.

There was not one sexy thing on the list. Whew!

We discussed that overtly sexy halloween costumes were tacky,  and had even become sort of cliche.

Apparently, not everyone agrees.

Last week, I stumbled upon Yandy.com. There were pages and pages of sexy costumes. Even though I wasn’t in the market for one of these silly get-ups, I couldn’t bring myself to quit looking.

Oh, I get the sexy costume phenomenon – an excuse to unleash your alter ego in the spirit of  Halloween. I realize this is a trend, but I still don’t fully understand it.

Then I discovered that costume manufacturers are now making sexy costume versions of things that shouldn’t be the least bit sexy. This hit me as just plain weird. I couldn’t quit laughing.

I’ve done the footwork for you. For your enlightenment, Here is just a sampling of the weirdness:

Socks. Monkees. Sock Monkeys...None of which are sexy.

Socks. Monkeys. Sock Monkeys…None started out sexy.. unless you are a plushy (but that’s another story)

 

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Is nothing sacred? O'Toodles.....If you sex up Mickey, you are a big Mouskatool.

Is nothing sacred? O’Toodles…..If you dare to sex up Mickey, lemme be the first to say…. You are a giant  Mouskatool.

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Imagine if Ronald had worn HIS  pants this tight. Scary Clown, indeed.

Imagine if Ronald had worn HIS pants this tight. His name would have been on a registered offender list, for sure, Scary Clown, indeed.

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Oh Dear...I can just see the Seven Dwarves blowin' up social media with up skirt photos.

Oh Dear… those seven rascally dwarves will be blowin’ up social media with up-skirt photos.

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If you touch her tentacles, do you have to pee on your foot?

If you touch her tentacles, do you have to pee on your foot?

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Stay away from her...she'll take your quarters and run.

Stay away from her…she’ll take your quarters and run.

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Hijacking the kiddie characters and making them sexy is disturbing to me. I shudder to think of the trampy turn that Anna, Elsa, Sofia, Amber and Doc McStuffins could take. And poor Tinkerbell. Wait, Tink is already a bit sassy, isn’t she?

The oddest trend is food costumes that have taken a sexy turn.

Forget the traditionally sexy food, like chocolate covered strawberries, champagne, oysters and sushi.

Apparently fast food is what is really HOT!

Who knew? Greasy burgers don’t make you fat. They make you P.H.A.T.

 

Ummm....sorry, but I must ask..Where's the beef?

Ummm….sorry, but I feel compelled to ask..Where’s the beef?

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There it is, but frankly I prefer a bigger, juicier patty.

Oh, there’s the beef, but frankly I prefer a bigger, juicier patty. Wait, maybe I’m just used to looking at own my beef patty.

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Oh....and here's your side of fries with that.

Oh….and here’s your side of fries with that. Shouldn’t she see a doctor if she has steam arising from that region?

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Naturally, there is a marked difference between costumes for men and women.

Tacos for the ladies...

Tacos for the the senoritas….

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vs. Crunchy tacos for the señor!

vs. Crunchy tacos for the señores! You know when he farts, he’ll say it was the beans, right?

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Pizza by the slice...

Pizza by the slice….

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Double crust or double standard?

Double pepperoni or double standard?

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Perhaps my favorite…the ultimate in Midwestern sexy…

Corn on the cob...wonder if she is GMO free?

Definitely sweet corn…sure she looks good, but  is she certified GMO free?

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If you got a chuckle out of this, you’re welcome.

If I’ve helped you find the perfect costume, shame on you.

 

 

Shrinkage

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It seems devious downsizing is getting out of control.

Sure, we all made the switch from a half-gallon of ice cream to a 1.5 quart carton of ice cream without a problem, and it certainly hasn’t affected the collective bottom line of America.

But it seems to be happening everywhere.

Without notice, many standard one pound packages are shrinking to 13 ounces and even 12 ounces. Coffee, peanut butter, breakfast cereal, and pasta are just a few of the commonly used products that are quietly being downsized.

Last week, I bought what I thought was an 8 oz. package of mozzarella cheese. When I went to use it in a recipe, I realized it was only 6 oz.

Quit trying to sneak this past us.

We need some warning.

Marketing departments could put their spin on it:

NEW – Convenient Carton!

NEW – Space Saving Size!

INTRODUCING – Economy Pack!

This sneaky downsizing is detrimental to our tried and true recipes from our Grandmothers, Mothers and Aunts.

For decades, family favorites have been made with ingredients measured in cans, packages, boxes and cartons. There is no mention of ounces in many of these recipes.

It makes me cringe to think of the potential for holiday dinner disasters.

The kitchen isn’t the only problem area.

There is shrinkage in the bedroom, too.

My mom’s bed-making instructions from decades ago still ring in my head. They included making sure the flat sheet was even on both sides, and hung to the bottom of the box springs. I realize modern mattresses are thicker, but some top sheets today barely cover the sides of the mattress.

Hello, Martha? Now what?

Shrinkage has hit the bathroom, too.

Recently, I put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder and noticed the positively roomy fit.

It just didn’t look right.

The roll slid back and forth.

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I grabbed the cardboard core I had just removed from the holder, and compared it to the new roll.

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Seriously?

What were they thinking in the boardroom the day THIS decision was made?

What sort of research did the design department do in order to determine just how low they could go?

Whether you are a scruncher or a folder, this is dangerous territory.

I like to  get-in-and-get-out-quickly, but I realize some folks swear they do their best thinking on the throne.

I’m pretty sure that in the history of throne thinkers, no one ever pondered….squeezed the Charmin, and thought…Gosh, if only the toilet paper squares just weren’t so darn big….

How ironic that our toilet paper is shrinking while the collective American bottom line is growing.

Shrinkage isn’t just happening around the house.

I picked up the August issue of O Magazine at the airport.

What happened to my beloved Oprah?

photo

 

Some serious digital waist-whittling had occurred.

OK – in all honestly, if I had my own magazine, and my best gal pal was my Editor At Large, I might expect her to make me look fabulous on the cover, too. I’m pretty sure this is covered in the official Girlfriend Code.

But here’s the thing:  Oprah preaches authenticity, and self-love, .

We’ve faithfully followed skinny Oprah, full-size Oprah, and bonus-size Oprah.

Any size Oprah is equally loved, admired and respected by her followers.

At 60 years of age, and after countless A-HA moments, why would she agree to the false, digitally down-sized cover girl Oprah?

C’mon, Oprah, I thought, as I boarded the plane with her.

Then, I was hit with yet another example of downsizing.

Airline seats are shrinking to a mere 17″ wide.

The new “Slimline” seats which allow airlines to squeeze another row of seats into the Coach section are so shallow they feel more like jump seats.

The seat back pocket is now too small to hold a water bottle, iPad or even my O Magazine.

Of course, with 4 inches less leg room, that pocket is not accessible anyway.

These new planes are equipped with Wifi, but there isn’t enough room to open your laptop…and actually see it.

Not that Oprah has to worry about flying commercial, or putting sheets on her own bed, but….

Maybe she can include the best toilet paper on the 2014 edition of The 0 List, or Oprah’s Favorite Things.

If there is a bigger, better, more luxurious option for the throne,  I’m confident the Queen’s team can find it.

 

The Biggest Aftershock

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Swatting fliesThis is embarrassing to admit: I’ve had flies.

We are usually pretty free of flying insects in this area. We don’t have screen doors, and we leave our doors open most of the time.

It was raining the day the flies arrived. Our doors and windows were closed.

It started out looking like an episode of Hoarders:  Gigantic flies clinging to the ceiling, walls, and patio doors.

Did I mention these flies were HUGE? The insect version of an old, military transport plane:  Low flying, lumbering through the air with a loud hum.

These suckers were so slow, you could kill ’em with one swat.

I got my Google on, and discovered we had house-of-horror-flies.

They were coming from SOMETHING DEAD, either very near the house, or INSIDE THE HOUSE.

Oh dear Lord.

Hoarders was now a Stephen King movie.

The flies were in the living room, and the master bedroom directly above it.

Clearly not fans of my cooking, they steered clear of the kitchen.

In an effort to recover the body, we checked the attic, closets, and cabinets. We pressed our ears against the walls and heard nothing.

John, the exterminator paid me a visit.

He walked around the exterior of the house. No signs of any “rodent activity.”

Together, we sniffed through the interior of the house.

Despite being cursed with a sensitive nose, I wasn’t getting even a whiff of anything “off.”

It was unsettling to think something was rotting somewhere in the house.

I wanted to employ chemical warfare, or detonate a bug-bomb in the house.

John said it was futile.

To get rid of the flies, we had to find the body, or once the “food source” was exhausted, the flies would disappear as quickly as they had appeared.

I was disgusted, and on a mission.

The flies arose with the sun, deployed in squadrons of 6-12.

I skipped my Grandmother’s antique gold fly swatter,

The "Gucci" fly swatter retired from active duty.

The “Gucci” fly swatter retired from active duty.

 

and chose a small Aerosoles catalog as my weapon of choice.

My weapon of choice. Casualties were all shoe flies.

My battle-worn weapon. Casualties were all shoe flies.

It had a comfortable grip, adequate range, and didn’t leave any collateral damage.

Each day, I quickly made my morning kill, and then got ready for work.

By late afternoon, I was on the hunt again.

In the evening, just as I climbed into bed, they buzzed around the lamp on my bedside table.

I was going out of my mind.

“That’s it!” I yelled as I threw off the covers, and again armed myself.

After my final round of daily serial killing, I could turn in for the evening.

This became my routine.

I decided it was time to call a varmint hunter, like Elmer Fudd; but effective.

Then on Friday night, a 5.1 earthquake hit.

I heard the quake coming, and then our house shook for a very long 20 seconds.

We swayed for a few more minutes. The commentary from the neighbors echoed the TV news anchors:

 It’s still going.

We’re still moving.

Outside, in the dark, the house appeared fine. The pool water was eerily sloshing about.

There wasn’t much else to see.

I forgot about the flies. I was bracing for aftershocks.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny.

The previous night’s excitement had given way to a quiet morning.

Suddenly, there it was:  A horror in the grass.

This sight rattled me more than the subsequent 4.1 and 3.2 tremors that afternoon.

A mere 10 feet outside the living room doors, lay a medium-sized, grey, furry carcass.

Dental records would have been required to identify the deceased.

Obviously, the body had been moved, and I suspect Mother Nature was an accessory.

Her seismic shift had shaken it loose from somewhere.

But from where?

I don’t need answers. I’m just grateful for my second chance at life.

I realize I narrowly escaped death on Friday night.

Oh, do you think I am being overly dramatic?

Trust me, If I had walked outside during the shaking and been hit with that thing, or stepped on it…

I would have expired on the spot.

Pssst…I’m on PST… So Shhhh…

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On Sunday, at 7:50 p.m. PST, I checked Facebook and saw a status update from my friend, Nancy that read:

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 7.41.23 PM

She was referring to a central character in the CBS drama, The Good Wife. The writers’ decision to kill off Will Gardner was unexpected. It was a stunning plot twist.

It was especially shocking to me, because I live in the Pacific Standard Time zone. It would be another two hours before Will would meet his demise here on the West Coast.

What was Nancy thinking? How could she spoil this? She was pulling Oprah’s old trick: Revealing a crucial plot detail of every book or movie she featured on her show, thereby spoiling it for the rest of us.

Never mind Will Gardner, I wanted to kill Nancy – for just a second. First, I put my caps lock on and yelled at her.

Then I found it hysterically funny. The truth is, I had my DVR programmed and wouldn’t watch it until the following night, anyway.

I thought of all Nancy’s Facebook friends reading her simple, four-word post. I envisioned dozens of people groaning, yelling and swearing because, either they were in a different time zone, or they thought Will was alive and well on their DVRs.

It became tragically funny the next day, when I realized my DVR failed to record The Good Wife.

Of all weeks. I couldn’t believe it.

I sent a text to Nancy, telling her of my misfortune.

She replied with three words: Well, Will died. 

She’s funny, that one.

Sure, television viewing in the PST zone has its benefits. It is fantastic for coverage that airs live: major sporting events, (especially Superbowl Sunday); The Academy Awards; Election Night; and Presidential speeches.

While these events air live in prime time on the East Coast, we don’t even have dinner started here on the West Coast. We can actually stay awake to view these shows in their entirety, and we don’t feel exhausted at work the following morning.

However, it sort of stinks every other day of the year. We might not be the last to know; but we ARE the last to see the show.

AOL was the first problem. Even back when we were still dialing up, logging in meant diverting your eyes away from the headlines on the home screen; for fear of seeing a recap of of your favorite TV show.

I’m guessing with the proliferation of DVRs in combination with Twitter and Facebook, everyone has at some point been a victim of the stink from a spoiled storyline, or results of a reality competition.

Twitter and Facebook buzz about each episode of American Idol, The Voice, The Biggest Loser, The Amazing Race, Survivor, The Bachelor, and DWTS. 

Traditional media and social media have made spoilers a way of life.

We don’t even have to wait for Superbowl Sunday for the reveal of the clever commercials. They can be seen all over television and websites the week before the game.

News outlets even took all the surprise out of The Winter Olympics. Truly spoiled sports.

I can deal with this.

It is ABC’s Scandal that I worry about.

It is my guilty pleasure. Maybe an obsession.

Partly because of the fantastic writing, and partly because I just wish I could lounge like Olivia Pope: dressed head-to-toe in cream-colored cashmere, while drinking red wine in a balloon goblet, and never spill a drop.

While it is pure fiction, it probably more accurately portrays the happenings in our Nation’s Capitol, than any news coverage.

However, I can’t stay awake to watch it.

Which by the way, begs the question:  Forget Obama, Why can’t President Fitzgerald Grant air at 5:00 p.m. PST?

I DVR Scandal, and then save it for 2 or 3 days, trying to decide when I will sit down and savor the episode.

Each week brings a shocking plot twist, and I could use anti-anxiety meds to get through the episode.

It’s a good thing Nancy doesn’t watch Scandal, because if she “talked” and compromised the security of the contents of my DVR, I would have to call Pope & Associates.

It would be my duty as a good Patriot.

Spoiler alert:

She’d learn about Affordable Healthcare, in the form of free dental work.

From Huck.

Or B6-13.

Who is really working for whom in that show?

Shhhh….don’t tell me.

 

Well-heeled or healed?

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DanskoA few years ago, I was in Chicago for an International Expo. It meant long days standing in an exhibit hall.

I had recently purchased a pair of black patent leather shoes by Dansko. They’re water resistant, non-slip, great for a healthy back and super comfortable.

The Chicago weather was cold and rainy, so my Danskos were the perfect thing to wear.

One of my stylish nieces lives in Chicago. When I walked into her apartment one evening, she stepped back and in the tone a daughter uses only with her mother (and Godmother) said,  “WHAT….are you WEARING?”

I realized she was looking at my shoes.

I tried to sell her on the benefits of Danskos.

She wasn’t buyin’ it.

“Those are…. AWFUL! ….just  TERRIBLE!”

Then she added, “They aren’t even….FEMININE!”

Hey, I was  already wearing black pants and a Land’s End blouse with a company logo, how much more utilitarian could a gal look?

I was comfortable. She was disgusted.

Two months later, I again traveled to the snowy Midwest for Christmas, wearing my Danskos in place of winter boots.

I was immediately scolded: “OK…NOW you’ve crossed over. You’re wearing them ALL the time, aren’t you?”

I had nothing to say for myself. It was true. I had been powerless; seduced by the comfort and practicality of my butchy shoes.

Cited by the entire family fashion police force, I was a victim of officer brutality. Shamed back into cute shoes, I vowed to wear my horrible Danskos only when required for work.

Months later, when warm weather arrived, I dug my Spring collection out of the back of the closet. I wore strappy heels every day for a couple of weeks.

Clearly, fashion sense trumped common sense.

Soon, the pain propelled me to a podiatrist.

The foot doc was passionate about healthy feet. I eyeballed her, and noticed she was sporting a pair of athletic shoes.

She quickly schooled me on the evils of flip flops, all thong-style shoes, ballet flats, and the pitfalls of so-called “comfort” shoes. I sat there mentally sorting the contents of the shoe cubbies in my closet. In my mind, all that remained was athletic shoes and those Danskos – which according to the Doc are great for healthy feet.

Panic set in. I told her about a family wedding just 4 weeks away, and wondered what shoes I would wear. She listened, and then handed me a framed photo of her family taken at a recent, and very fancy wedding.

Her dress was stunning. Her shoes were low in sensibility and high in fabulosity. This Doc possessed the style and elegance that seems to be innate to many Persian women. Perhaps she wasn’t all scrubs and running shoes.

She dispensed this girlfriend medical advice :  “You have to live! Go buy some fabulous shoes. Before you get dressed for the wedding, take 4 ibuprofen. When you arrive at the reception, have a cocktail or glass of wine. Then take 4 ibuprofen with dinner. The next day, put your athletic shoes on and let your feet recover.

I followed the doc’s treatment plan. While my foot made a complete recovery, my style prognosis is bleak.

For many women, buying shoes is an easy way to stay current. Despite figure flaws or shifting shapes, we can always count on finding something cute to fit our feet.

Then we hit middle age, and the sexy foot talk begins:  Bunions, arches, and arthritis. Neuromas and plantar fasciitis.

Suddenly, slipping into something more comfortable means putting in our custom orthotics.

Ironically, the most painful step is admitting you have a problem. Surrendering to rehab is difficult.

I know I’m not the only gal struggling to give their unhealthy addiction to cute shoes, the boot. I hear it from women frequently.

A few months ago,  The Laughing Mom grieved the loss of her life in cute shoes.

I was reminded of the conflict between the shoes we want vs. the shoes we need, when I saw the new Sarah Jessica Parker shoe collection at Nordstrom.

First of all, SJP had me at grossgrain ribbon. In a sweet homage to her mother, and the only hair accessories they could afford during SJP’s childhood, the shoes have grossgrain ribbon along the back of the heel.

SJP

The colors are fresh and the styles are elegant.

While the collection is lovely, I have an issue with it.

SJP is celebrating her 49th birthday next week, which means she is middle-aged!

Since she’s one of us, I’m applying some peer pressure: Not to change her style, but to help her sisters born in the 60’s, with ours.

We don’t need more Manolos, Jimmy Choos, or Louboutins for special occasions. The market is saturated.

We need an everyday shoe breakthrough!

Middle-aged gals want to be well-heeled daily, in gorgeous shoes that are healthy for their feet.

I’m tired of buying good-for-my-feet shoes simply because “Well, they aren’t too bad.”

Maybe SJP will step it up with her fall collection, and bring us some beautiful shoes from Italy, that are sensible enough to wear every day.

In the meantime, if you do splurge on a pair of SJP’s dangerously cute kicks for your Spring collection, they may empty your pocketbook a bit.

On the bright side, you’ll have room for that bottle of ibuprofen.*

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* This is not intended as medical advice.  While I studied for my Web, M.D. via Google, I am not a licensed physician. 

The Gift Of The Moment

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IMG_5465Next month, I will be attending the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

This is very cool for me because I have always enjoyed Erma’s writing. It is often heartwarming, always pure comic genius, and timeless. Long before I could relate my personal life experiences to her writing, I thought she was hilarious.

At the age of 50, I have a greater appreciation for her insight and her use of  humor to celebrate the ups, and cope with the downs, of life. Life is short, but some days sure seem long. The ability to see the funny in everyday life is a gift.

Even Erma’s views on the subject of humor were insightful. Some of her more famous quotes about the importance of humor are:

If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.

He who laughs….last.

When humor goes, there goes civilization.

I have a sentimental attachment to her writing, because it reminds me of my Mom. When I was growing up, one of us would often ask the other, “Did you read Erma today?” Together, we laughed about her column, read her books and watched her segments on Good Morning America.

During the summer, we also tuned in at 9:00 a.m. to watch The Phil Donahue Show together. Oh, the education a teen could gain from The Phil Donahue Show back then. It was THE source for information, because he covered all the thought-provoking and juicy topics.

So, Phil and Erma are forever linked together in my mind. Not only because they are former neighbors who had a mutual admiration and affection for each other, but because they were involved in a sort of 1970’s Midwestern love triangle with my mom and me. Nothin’ weird here, this was a triangle of appreciation and adoration.

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We enjoyed Phil, and we loved Erma. Erma and Phil loved and adored each other.

In light of this, it is especially cool for me that Phil Donahue will be the keynote speaker at the The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

During a visit to my hometown over the holidays, I decided to tell my Mom that I had gotten into the workshop. The former version of my Mom would have been so tickled about this. I knew the current version of my Mom, with advanced dementia, would not fully grasp what I was saying. I also knew she would have absolutely no memory of the conversation, just a minute later.

Despite being the subject of a few blog posts, including Sweetie Pie and She’s Such A Doll; she knows nothing about my blog, and has never read a single post.

So, as silly as it may be, I still wanted to share this news with her, and just enjoy the moment. 

One afternoon I sat in her room, reading the Christmas cards she had received. Some included photos or letters. (For anyone who continues to remember nursing home residents with greeting cards, may God Bless you for this kindness.) We passed the cards, photos, and notes back and forth. She was able to fondly recall at least a small detail about each friend or family member.

She was “tracking” fairly well, so I decided to share my news with her. As we chatted, she was lying on her side, atop her bed, like a teenage girl. Her elbow bent, her head propped up in her hand.

“Mom, do you remember reading Erma Bombeck?”

“Oh GAWD, yes. She’s SO funny!”

“Well, do you remember my friend, Terri?”

“Well, of course. How is she?”

I went on to explain in very simple terms, with no details, that Terri and I would both be attending the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio.

I never even got to the part about Phil Donahue.

My Mom sat up, and said, “Really? You’re kidding?”

Wow! Had I really picked the perfect lucid moment?

Then she said, “We should call Grandma! She loves Erma, too!  She’ll go with us!”

Chatting with dementia, the trickster, is sort of what I imagine doing improvisational comedy is like: you never know which direction your partner will go next. You need to be on your toes, open to anything, think quickly, and just go with it.

We both smiled at the idea.

It was a lovely moment.

I went with it.

“Sure, that’s a great idea, Mom!”

As she slowly counted off on her right hand, she said “That’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 of us.”

Yep. Me, Terri, Mom, Grandma….and Erma gettin’ away for the weekend.

Of course, only three of us are actually alive, and only two of us are registered for the workshop.

Yet in some way, I feel like all five us will in fact be there.

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Laughter rises out of tragedy when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.

– Erma Bombeck