Monthly Archives: July 2015

Substitute Husband Needed

My husband left the country for two weeks, leaving his very spoiled wife to fend for herself. I am the first to admit that my husband does more around the house than I do. He keeps this place running and no one feels his absence more than me.

Sometime after he left, my daughter and I took off to spend a day at the lake. We spent the day floating around, swimming with our dogs and soaking up the sun. For reasons unknown to me, the sun zaps more energy from my body than any workout ever could. That particular day it was 99 degrees in the city, but the lake had a really nice breeze going. Just to give you some perspective, the breeze blew these bubbles with no assistance from me…

 

We came home in the afternoon and, despite my energy being stolen by the sun, I showered, did my hair, put on make up and went to the grocery store. When I pulled into my driveway, I noticed that our grass was somewhere around knee high – a criminal offense in the suburbs.

I tried my hardest to think of a reason that would prevent me from mowing the lawn. The truth is, the only excuse I had was not wanting to waste a shower and a good hair day. But I didn’t want my husband to come home after a 12 hour flight and find the yard up to his eyeballs – along with a citation – so I headed outside to find the grass cutting machine – I mean, the lawn mower.

The last time I cut the grass was when he was overseas in 2005.  TEN years ago! But, it’s like riding a bike… you don’t forget how to do it, or why you haven’t done it in 10 years. To distract and entertain myself, I wrote this song in my head while mowing. Think West Side Story

I felt pretty, oh so pretty
Now I’m red and I’m covered in sweat
And I haven’t even started on the back yard yet.
I felt pretty, oh so pretty
My hair and my makeup were WOW
But I envy any girl who isn’t me right now.

This is me before and after the grass cutting adventure.

My husband is a good man who deserves a pretty wife with makeup, great hair and non-calloused hands… not the scary, sweaty chick on the right. So, I think I’ll hire a substitute husband for the rest of the time that he’s gone. A pinch hitter, second string, B team, Jr. Varsity, understudy, rental husband… you get the idea. The pay isn’t great and the benefits are even more lacking, but my husband deserves a happy wife, right? I’m doing it for you, Sweet Pea!

Then I can spend more time on things like this…

 

Not Dead Yet

When we were kids, my youngest sister, Patty became anemic. If you’re not familiar with anemia, it’s an iron deficiency that leaves a person pale, weak, tired and easily short of breath.  I suppose we weren’t eating properly at the time. I don’t know why Patty was the only one affected, but wow was she affected!

Patty was so tired that she was having trouble walking home from the bus stop after school every day. Our other sister, Sherry, would go home every day, get on her bicycle, and go back to pick up Patty at the bus stop. This went on for quite some time before our mother found out about it. She must have been working extra which would explain why she didn’t know about it as well as why Patty was not getting enough iron in her diet.

Patty on the left, Sherry on the right, me in the middle

One winter day, Sherry wasn’t at the bus stop, so Patty started walking toward home. The walk became too much for her and she sat down on the curb to wait for her ride. While waiting, she fell asleep, in someone’s yard with her coat pulled over her head.

The mom, at the house where my sister was passed out on the lawn, looked out her window and thought something had been thrown into her yard. She walked outside to find that a child had been hit by a car and left there on the side of the road – or so she thought.

That poor woman! Can you imagine the horror she was experiencing in that moment? She had no idea what she would find when she lifted that coat. Whose child was under there? Was she alive or dead? She must have been so relieved to find that my sister was only sleeping. That relief was probably quickly followed by confusion as to why a little girl – a stranger – was sleeping in her yard.

Or maybe she experienced my favorite mother emotion… “Mom anger” for being put in that situation in the first place.  How many of us have been “worried sick” about our children only to find them perfectly safe and then yell at them for being perfectly safe? “Do you have any idea how worried I was?!”

Obviously, this was the day my mother found out about my sister’s lethargy. After she took her to the doctor and got a diagnosis of anemia, we started eating a lot better. They say every cloud has a silver lining. If the cloud was my little sister’s anemia and the silver lining was better groceries… then thanks for taking one for the team, Patty!

I’m happy to say that my sister is alive and well. She hasn’t been found dead in anyone’s yard since that day. She was healthy enough to have three beautiful babies and spends all of her time taking care of other people – grandparents, grandchildren and everyone in between.

 

In the same order – all grown up

 

The Good Ol’ Days of Excess

I was making banana pudding and scraping the bowl the way my grandmother taught me – and by that, I mean that I scraped it clean.  When Grandma bakes a cake, there is nothing to lick from the bowl, beaters or spoon. All of the cake mix goes into the cake.

As I scraped this bowl, it occurred to me that most of us probably grew up with parents or grandparents who lived through World War II and possibly, depending on your age, The Depression. They taught us about conserving money and resources, repurposing, recycling and not wasting anything.

Our elders told us stories of lean times in American history. Times of sacrifice and war rations.

I grew up in a time of excess and disposable products.

I imagine my future grandchildren and wonder what I’ll tell them about my good old days. Maybe I’ll tell them how we recycled cassette tapes by putting scotch tape over the tabs and recorded new music on them after we’d grown tired of the original.

I could regale them with tales of how I once got two extra photographs from a disposable camera.

The greatest generation can tell us of American sacrifice during World War II. Americans went without many necessities so that those things could go to the war effort. I can tell my grandchildren that we were at war for over a decade in two different countries and, except for those who were directly involved, it had little effect on the average American. As a matter of fact, we had so much extra that we were fighting a national obesity problem!

When I wasted food as a child my mother told me there were children starving in other parts of the world. I didn’t understand why I had to eat something I didn’t want just because another kid was hungry. I asked if we could just send it to them.

My generation, and those that have followed, know very little of hunger, sacrifice, or not having enough.  If we repurposed anything it wasn’t out of necessity… it was a Pinterest project!

What will we tell our descendants about life during our good ol’ days?

I supposed the best we can do is tell them about the dark days before the internet and cell phones. The days before cable and remote controls. The days when fast food restaurants didn’t have play areas or toys in the kids’ meals. They didn’t even have kids’ meals. Hmm, I guess we did suffer and sacrifice a little, huh? (wink)

 

Blog Shorts

Some thoughts don’t warrant an entire blog post. Here are a few of those…

If you’re going to rant on social media about the stupidity of others, make sure you don’t out yourself. Posting “Your a idiot” tends to expose the secret that you’re the idiot.

People say marry for love the first time, money the second. I say marry for money the first time. Then you’ll have half of his money when you marry the one you love in the second round.

If the redhead on Gilligan’s Island had been named Gertrude, instead of Ginger, would we refer to redheads as Gerties? or Trudies?

Will someone please write a new article about how to look thin in pictures? I’m so tired of the lean-on-back-leg, bend-front-leg, hand-on-hip pose in every photo that has been taken the last two years. It’s doubly annoying when there are two in the photo. I call it “chicken wings,” a friend calls it “tea cups.”

Schadenfreude is a German word to describe that happy feeling you get when something bad happens to someone else. Germans are known for their lack of emotions. If a stoic bunch like the Germans have a word solely dedicated to this emotion, then it must be normal. Don’t feel guilty about it.

I’m so glad to know that my conditioner is gluten free. I hope it’s also cholesterol free.

 

Has anyone else noticed that fast food service has worsened dramatically since the debate began over a $15 minimum wage? It seems that saying “no cheese” is now a guarantee that I’ll be scraping a melted, processed, orange square off of an otherwise perfectly good burger. Ordering unsweet tea assures I’ll be getting sweet tea (what if I was diabetic?) And asking them to hold the sour cream means I’m getting a taco double dipped in a sour cream coating.

And speaking of food service… why is it legal for restaurants to pay their employees less than half of the minimum wage and expect customers to make up the rest? What if every career field worked this way? “Thanks for putting out my house fire. How much do I owe you?” What would you tip your surgeon after a life-saving surgery? What’s 20% of that? And why do we tip on the price of the food instead of the time spent? The server’s workload is the same whether I order steak or mac and cheese.
Ok, maybe this one does need a full blog post! And yes, I do tip.

The first time I saw bottled water, I thought it was the craziest thing I’d ever seen (still do). Never dreamed it would catch on. Recently, I bought a few plastic bottles (the safe kind) and made some homemade water bottles. This was not well received. People want their water with a brand name on the label served in a flimsy, disposable bottle.

My favorite toilet paper added ridges. Yes ridges, like Ruffles potato chips! They advertise it as if they’re proud of it. Stop bragging about your bad decisions and give me back my soft, ridge-free TP!

 

Introverts have become quite trendy lately. I’ve read several articles about introversion but I don’t understand why they can’t explain it without insulting extroverts. They make us sound like Jack Russell Terriers with ADHD.

They’ve cured erectile dysfunction but not breast cancer or ovarian cancer. If they don’t cure cancers that affect women and their lady parts, what are they going to do with all of those erections?

Can’t post of picture of erectile dysfunction!

 

If Being a Lefty is wrong, I Don’t Want To Be Right

I was in a competition in high school that had a talent portion and a speech portion. Having no discernible talent, I knew the speech was my only hope. I decided to write a humorous speech about being left-handed.

 

To put it into context, this was a time when being left-handed was still a novelty but it was after the days of forced right-handedness. I’d heard tales from older southpaws about having their left hands tied to their desks at school so that they had no choice but to write right. By the time I came along, teachers had accepted left-handed students, although some parents had not (hint, hint Daddy).

Lefties make up 10% of the population, but that number increases in the population of IQs above 140. Three of the last four presidents were left-handed. There are many left-handed celebrities, artists, and geniuses that we get to claim for our team.

 

That speech was a long time ago but I said something like this…

There are many negative connotations of the word “left” such as:
You go to a party and no one’s there. Where’d they go? They left.
What are we having for dinner? Leftovers, yuck!
When you say something weird, you’re out in left field.
If you can’t dance, you have two left feet.

In medical terminology, which based in Latin, the right side is represented by the letter D for dominant. The left side is represented by S for sinister!

By contrast, when you give a correct answer, you’re right!
You have rights. Your right hand man has all the right stuff.

I knew nothing of politics back in high school when I delivered that speech. There was no mention of the political left and right then and it shall remain that way now.

Growing up, I was the only lefty in my family; outnumbered 4 to 1. They didn’t know what to do with me, so I learned to do most things right handed and adjusted what I could. There are still some things I can only do right handed.

You’ve probably heard our complaints about spiral notebooks, scissors and jar lids, all made for a right handed world, but there are many advantages to being left-handed. For instance, my bad handwriting gets a pass because people think it’s pretty good “for a lefty.” Apparently, right-handers think it should be as bad as their attempts to write left-handed.

I grew up and had two daughters: one lefty, one righty. I got to pass down my softball glove to my left-handed daughter. And, with a left-handed parent, she was able to learn to do everything the left way, instead of the right way. Now it’s 2 to 2. Fifty percent of my house population is left-handed. One huge benefit… It makes sitting in a restaurant booth pretty simple. No elbow bumping if the lefties sit on the left and the righties on the right.

I’ve enjoyed my life as a lefty. It has made me feel a little bit unique. It’s like being in a special club. We spot each other in public and bond over our left-handedness. We don’t look for other things we have in common. That always seems to be enough. I don’t think I’ve ever met a lefty I didn’t like.


Be Safe Out There

It seems that everywhere you go, there’s a sign saying “DON’T.” We have to be told not to eat the packing. Don’t put the plastic bag over your head. Take the frozen dinner out of the box before cooking. Don’t put the RV on cruise control and walk back to the bathroom. The worst part is that you know someone did these things (and sued) to prompt the warning.

We didn’t have safety when I was a kid. We also didn’t have food allergies, the Internet or medication for hyperactivity. Our mothers didn’t hover over us. And we didn’t have schedules. 

Our playgrounds were concrete. The swing set tilted when we went too high. The metal slide baked in the sun all day. We rode our bikes all day long and our mothers had no idea where we were.
The only time safety was ever mentioned involved looking both ways before crossing the street… which we did by ourselves.
 

We rode in the beds of pickup trucks. We climbed trees. We didn’t use sunscreen.

Once a week the school cafeteria served us peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread… That sandwich was full of peanuts and gluten.
We lay in the grass for hours watching bees float from one clover to another (because we didn’t have lawn services). Or we looked for shapes in the clouds. Or we watched ants march to their hill.
We played kickball in the front yard. Or we rode our bikes around the block to that yard where every kid in the neighborhood gathered. The mom at that house had an endless supply of lemonade… made with sugar.
We may or may not have yelled through the screen door to notify our mothers where we were headed. They didn’t care. They were busy stripping and waxing floors, baking cakes from scratch and cooking supper all afternoon because we didn’t have convenience yet.
We did have bullies back then. They were scary and mean and made us feel bad. But they didn’t have 24 hour access to us via texting and social networks.
Every house had a set of encyclopedias because we didn’t have the Internet. The television was a massive piece of furniture with three channels on it.  We had to be in front of it (but not too close!) when our favorite shows were on. And we had to watch commercials.
We didn’t have seatbelts. Our moms drove station wagons and we rode in the very back which didn’t even have seats, let alone seatbelts.

We didn’t have plastic. Everything came packaged in glass. Our baby shampoo, in a glass bottle, sat on the edge of our porcelain bathtub and somehow we never broke it. We had to beat the bottom of a glass bottle to get ketchup, but we never broke it either.

Somehow we are still here to tell the tales of the world before there was a warning printed on everything.

Today is the 4th of July, which has many safety hazards. Be sure to read those warnings!

The Attic

Welcome to my blog where, hopefully, you can escape from all the recent commotion. I feel like I’ve been to a same-sex wedding, wearing a confederate flag, sitting between Caitlyn Jenner and the Duggar family, pretending to be black, with everyone throwing bibles  at each other and shouting that everyone else is wrong! I’m exhausted and in need of a distraction. [Context: when this was written all of the things listed here were trending heavily in the news.]

There are many ways to escape when life becomes overwhelming. Some numb it with alcohol. Some get lost in a book or movie. Others literally take a hike. A favorite diversion for me is a visit to my grandparents’ house, especially their attic.

My grandparents moved into their house in the early 50s. Then they never threw away anything. Ever. Again. There’s a walk-in attic at the top of the stairs where they store most of their past. A stroll through the attic is a virtual trip through time. Grandpa’s trunk is full of navy uniforms from his years of military service. I imagine them as a young family playing with the croquet set now collecting dust in the corner, along with their personalized bowling balls, Chinese checkers, dominos and puzzles. There are boxes of mason jars stacked as high as my head that my grandmother used for canning fig preserves. A wheelchair serves as a reminder of my great-grandmother.

My father’s train set. His sister’s brownie uniforms. Christmas decorations. Boxes of photos and slides. Seventy years of family history.

The truth is, this entire post should be written in the past tense because recently, my grandmother decided it was time to clear out the clutter. The attic is nearly empty now. I grabbed a few things and brought them to my house (see below). Unfortunately, I didn’t get the mason jars before they were donated. It seems she had no idea how trendy those are right now.

Before The Great Purge, there was a clothes line that stretched a good 20 feet across the attic; holding nearly every dress my grandmother has owned since moving into this house. Six decades of dresses. My favorite was a silver, sleeveless, floor length gown, accessorized with full length gloves. Every time I think about that dress I want to kick myself for not wearing it to my prom. I would have looked fantastic in that dress! Here’s the only picture I’ve ever seen of it…

At first, it was hard to walk into the attic and see so much empty space. But the important thing is…We still have plenty of memories, photos and mementos. Best of all, we still have our grandparents.