Quotes I like:

“Not all those who wander are lost.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Very Crappy Christmas






Well, of all the things you might wish for from jolly old St. Nick, a sewage back up probably wasn't one of them.

I went to visit my daughter and her family for the holidays. The live in the country and have a septic tank rather than being connected to city water and sewer.  I have never fully understood how septic tanks work. I know the basics, things that go down the drains in your house wind up in the septic tank and somehow they work themselves out from there.  It is one of those mysterious things in houses that, when working, require no thought and when not, require panic on my part.

While we were in the midst of enjoying all the usual pre-Christmas preparations including planning our Christmas Eve dinner, my daughter decided to do a load of laundry.  Upon entering the basement, she noticed a lot of water on the floor. Unfortunately, it wasn't just water. There were, um, other things floating around in the water. Ugh. She came upstairs to announce to her husband that there was a problem in the basement and he proceeded to take a look and try to fix it. I have to say that his value in doing this went up quite a bit in my book. I would have taken one look and called for an air strike. He tried to clean up the mess and determine the cause of the problem and decided he needed to clear the line to the septic tank. Not having a plumbing snake, he went to borrow one from family nearby.  Upon his return, snaking of the line commenced, but the problem remained.  In the meantime, we were all told under NO circumstances to use the toilets or to run ANY water whatsoever in the house.  I began to have thoughts of a worse Christmas than when the Grinch visited Whoville.

About 3:00 PM, it was decided that professional help was needed and we made numerous calls to local plumbing contractors. As you might imagine, these companies were all closed for the holidays. While emergency plumbing service might be readily available in a big city, local plumbers in a rural area apparently don't work on holidays.

I was beginning to think that we would have to find hotel rooms for the long weekend and have Chinese food for dinner a la "A Christmas Story". I had visions of Chinese waiters singing FA RA RA RA LA to us while we ate roast duck. I dashed off a quick note to Santa requesting a plumber for Christmas and including a provision that if he could supply one, I'd forgo all other gifts.

Time was dragging on as it only can when its Christmas eve and you have a basement full of raw sewage. Repeated calls to plumbers were becoming fruitless when a true Christmas miracle occurred. One of the plumbers called us back to say he would come out.  I was ready to sing the Hallelujah Chorus about this time and at 7:00 PM our savior appeared to cleared the drain.  We proceeded to cook dinner knowing that we would be able to wash up afterwards and joyfully danced around celebrating the vision of a crap-free future.

It took about an hour and half, but finally the wonderful plumber ascended from the basement announcing that he was finished and all was well in septic tank world.  We would have idolized him and gazed fondly on him pronouncing him a true man among men, but some how his countenance, covered with suspicious brown speckles all over, was a bit tarnished.  My son in law, ever grateful that someone else handled the problem, gladly paid the double time rate charged and in his appreciation gave the plumber a box of chocolates for his troubles on a holiday eve.

Now instead of visions of sugar plums, I had visions of that plumber driving home raiding the box of candy with those brown speckled hands. Ewwww. But he did save Christmas for us and I sent up a little thank you the man upstairs and also the one who drives the sleigh with eight tiny reindeer.

I hope your holiday was truly wonderful and did not involve plumbing disasters of any kind.


Monday, December 21, 2015

The Year I was Very Bad


When my daughter was quite small, before she could read, she and I celebrated a Christmas alone. I was recently separated, we had moved into a new place and I was trying as hard as I could to make a nice holiday for her.  This would be the first Christmas we were ever alone just the two of us.

For weeks prior to Christmas, I had purchased toys and gifts for her and hidden them in the attic of our house in anticipation of Christmas morning.  Being a single mother was a challenge as money was tight, but I had carefully planned how to spend what I could and still get her the special things she wanted that year.

We bought a tree at a local Christmas tree stand and brought it home and decorated it.  On Christmas eve, she carefully hung her stocking up after I assured her that Santa would know how to find her in our new home.  We set out the traditional milk and cookies for Santa along with carrots for his reindeer and I tucked her into bed where I hoped visions of sugarplums would dance in her head.

That evening, once she was sound asleep in bed, I pulled the attic steps down from the ceiling and crept up to retrieve the gifts I had hidden.  Most of that night I spent wrapping presents, tying on ribbons and bows and carefully placing them under the tree.  I think it was about 5:00 am when I finally laid my head down on my pillow to sleep.  Not too much later a very excited little girl awoke me with cries of "Santa's been here!". I pulled my bleary eyed self out of bed and we made our way into the living room to the wondrous sight of a beautifully light tree with brightly colored packages arrayed underneath it.

She quickly set to work pulling package after package out from under the tree.  She had to keep asking me to read the tags to her so she would know who the gifts were for. (Of course they were all for her).  Eventually she exhausted the pile and turned to me with a very odd expression on her face.
Looking strangely at me she declared in a solemn voice:  "Mommy, you must have been awfully bad this year, Santa didn't leave you anything!".  I was thunderstruck when I realized that I had failed to put any gifts under the tree for myself. I guess I thought she wouldn't notice and then I felt terrible as I wondered what awful things she might be thinking I could have done to warrant not receiving any gifts.  I felt as low as George Bailey standing on that bridge.  I managed to cover by suggesting that Santa just forgot me. An already sad Christmas was made even sadder by my small child full of the wonder of the holiday and fear that her mother was, actually, fallible.

There would be many more Christmases, wonderful memories and very happy times to come, but that year was particularly poignant. I have never forgotten that morning and you can bet the next Christmas I remembered to put some gifts under the tree for myself.

Wishing you the joy and wonder of a small child this holiday season! I hope you behaved yourself and that there will be gifts for you from Santa.

The 20%





Whether you are part of the 99% or the 1%, if you were born into the "Boomer" generation, there is a good chance you either are, or soon will, be part of the 20%.  In the next fifteen years, Americans over the age of 65 will reach 20% of the population.  The Boomer Generation is aging a rate of 10,000 people turning 65 every day.

I'm not sure why this is big news. We called well in advance to let everyone know we were coming. Yet when we show up at the door, we are met with surprise and, even disappointment. I have heard constant bellyaching that we are going to bankrupt social security.  I have to wonder how this is considering that I have personally paid about a million dollars of my salary and my employer's share of my salary into the system but have yet to remove one red cent.

Apparently, we are also bankrupting medicare.  Again, having worked for a good long time, I have contributed toward medicare.  And as I previously pointed out, we 'boomers' were not a surprise. Heck we've been creating havoc since the end of World War II.  By now I would expect that the so called experts employed by the government could do some fairly simple math to figure out how much needed to be set aside to allow the wave of boomers to collect their social security, which they and I PAID into.

I wonder what the next complaint about the boomer generation will be? I can only imagine a headline like:

       "Elderly population dying at an increased rate-shortage of caskets and cemetery plots".  



Thursday, December 10, 2015

7 Reasons to Have Sex--according to a women's magazine


I recently read an article from a women's magazine titled "7 Secret Reasons we have sex with someone".  Since I could only think of one good reason I decided I'd better read the article and gain some insight. I thought perhaps I could be enlightened, but I doubted the article was geared to the, ahem, older generation. Anyway here are the reasons they gave:

1.  You're ovulating.  This would not include me as I stopped doing this quite some time ago, so I can disregard this reason.

2.  His Kisses Taste Weird.  Seriously, this was reason #2.  Supposedly everyone is attracted to their "opposite" in the genetics department and that is why someone else tastes weird. I, for one, will not be having sex with anyone who tastes weird.  I will be heading for the door giving the backward wave described to me by a male friend who had a bad Internet dating experience wherein the lady practically flew away from him at the end of the date and waved back over her shoulder, never looking back, while making headway to her vehicle.

3.  You're on the Pill.  See reason #1. Also doesn't concern me -can skip this one.

4.  He Whispered in your Right Ear.  Evidently women are more receptive to a man whispering in their right ear as opposed to their left ear.  Heck at this point in time any of my ears are the "right" ear. Just give me a try. And be sure to speak loudly enough.

5.  He touched you (anywhere).  Ok this is either very oooogy or weird.  You meet a total stranger who somehow touches you and you follow him to bed?  Are women totally brainless now? 

6.  You are wearing red.  Seems guys are attracted to women in red. Go figure.  Ok, so this one I can use--I will now go out and buy everything I can find in red. Do you think this counts:

7.  And Lastly:  You Got Scared. According to the article if you meet a guy while your heart is racing (like maybe because he is holding a knife to your throat) your brain can be tricked into thinking that you are all hot and bothered instead of plain old terrified.  They recommend that you take a date to horror movie as this will make couples bond better.  Right.

I have now learned that in order to get a man into my bed I simply need to take some extra hormones, dress all in red and chase him around with a knife like Michael Myers in "Halloween". Can't imagine why he wouldn't immediately fall in love with me! Sigh!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Winner, Winner, Turkey Dinner




I suppose all families have stories which become tradition to re-tell every holiday.  This is my annual telling of the year of the great turkey fail:

I was a young bride and decided to host Thanksgiving for both sets of parents. This would be my first time hosting Thanksgiving and I wanted everything to be perfect.  My parents and in-laws traveled from a distance to our house and I had shopped and cooked and baked, making everything from scratch.

The dinner was coming together nicely and the turkey was roasting in the oven.  My then-husband was in the living room entertaining the parents while I worked in the kitchen.  Part way through the roasting of the turkey, I noticed that instead of the wonderful and delicious smell of turkey wafting through the house, a strange chemical odor was emanating from the oven.  I checked the turkey and it appeared to be fine. I thought maybe there was residue from oven cleaner burning off, but I had not cleaned the oven lately so that wasn't the problem.  I checked everything in the oven to try to ascertain the source of the strange odor- with no luck.  I finally stuck my head out of the kitchen door and sweetly asked my husband to come into the kitchen. I explained the strange smell to him and asked whether he knew what the problem could be.  He inquired, " did you wash the roasting pan before you used it?"  I told him that I had not as I had simply retrieved it from the kitchen cabinet and it should have been clean from the last time it was used.  He then informed me that he had used it the last time he changed the oil in the car to drain the old oil into. About this time, my hair was standing on end and I questioned why he had used my roasting pan for car repairs and why he had put a dirty pan back into the cabinet. He said "I thought you would wash it before you used it. I did wipe it out."  OMG, I now had turkey cooking in 10W30 motor oil.

I had to take the turkey out of the oven, toss it in the trash, and then explain to the parents why we now had to go out to eat dinner. I was so embarrassed.

Fast forward to many years later and one morning while I was driving to work and listening to the morning radio show, the DJ's announced a contest for the craziest Thanksgiving turkey story. Of course I had to call in and relate the year of the motor oil turkey.  They agreed that I had the winning story and asked whether I was still married to that husband (no). I won $100 for the story.

So, now every year on Thanksgiving I gather the family around, young and old alike, and re-tell the, now traditional, Thanksgiving turkey story.

I hope your holiday is wonderful and does not contain any traces of motor oil!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!


I was recently visiting my sister when I noticed her lamp grinning at me in preparation for Halloween!  Have a very Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Spanx---no thanks




                              

 

                                     Spanx? No Thanx.


                                                            File:ClaverieCorset2.jpg

Recently I was enjoying an evening with a few friends at a local establishment when the subject of Spanx came up.  I think it was when we decided that it is wiser to go shopping before imbibing rather than after as drunken shopping can produce unwanted results, i.e. 'why did I buy these purple shoes?'  Or in the case of one of my friends who found she had purchased a pair of the body sculpting Spanx following a few drinks.

For anyone who has been living under a rock, or who is perhaps a male creature who has stumbled upon this blog, Spanx are the new version of a woman's corset.  They are designed out of some type of man made stretchy material intended to squish a woman's body into a more desirable shape. Unfortunately, the material's holding power (relative to putting 20 lbs of stuff into a 5 lb sack) makes putting on a pair of these almost impossible.  My friend admitted that she tried to put them on once but couldn't actually manage to shove herself into them.  I told her that she should consider herself lucky since I did once manage to get into a pair. Putting on a pair included lying on the bed kicking my legs into the air and then standing and jumping up and down while pulling on the top of the Spanx until I was able to wrest them onto my body. I think I qualified for Mexican wrestling by the time I was through.

                     

However, it turned out that putting them on is nothing compared to taking them off.  I found this out when I arrived home from my important evening out and couldn't get out of the damn things.  No amount of kicking or jumping did the trick.  I tried every way possible to peel those suckers off, but was only able to get them down to the point where I couldn't walk as they became lodged between my hips and my knees.  I ended up waddling around my home looking for a way out.  I finally took a pair of scissors to them and cut $55 worth of spandex or lycra or whatever they are made of off my poor body. Thank goodness I hadn't come home with a date who wanted to get intimate since he would have lost patience and left by the time I managed to get out of my Spanx.  "Uh, hang on, almost there, no wait just a bit more, oh damn stuck again, hang on........."

We had all heard Oprah extolling the virtues of Spanx and wondered how she was able to fit her, um sizable, frame into them and decided that Oprah, with all her money, could afford dressers whose job it is to put her into her Spanx. We then wondered how women who are not in Oprah's tax bracket could manage to get into and out of their Spanx.  I suggested that we could start a service to help these poor women out when they find themselves stuck in their Spanx.  We could be the Spanx removal crew, available for a small fee and on short notice.  I suggested that we obtain our own uniforms for Spanx removal which would look something like this:

                 

We would have to add protective eye covering since unleashing fat under pressure could be dangerous -- look out she's gonna blow!!  Oh and don't call us if you have a husband, boyfriend or other being is amorously awaiting the removal of your Spanx. We can't guarantee that the time needed to remove the offending Spanx wouldn't outlast the interest of said being.

Our advice-- "Just step away from the Spanx".


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

El Faro

                            

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Tragedy struck recently when the container ship, El Faro, whose home port was Jacksonville, Florida, was lost at sea in hurricane Joaquin.  As a sailor and captain, my heart goes out to the families of the lost crew.  While sea duty on ships is generally safe, we are reminded on these occasions of the ferociousness of nature.  Also, this weekend marks the running of the annual Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race. I was aboard one of the schooners three years ago for this race, and unfortunately, it was the only year that a crew member was lost in the history of the race. We experienced a huge wind increase on the first evening on board and during the effort to reduce sail, one of the crew members of another ship fell overboard and drowned. 

People wonder why ships are caught out in hurricanes.  It is a common belief that ships are safer out at sea during a storm than caught in port.  Ships can maneuver around a storm, but being stuck in port on a collision course with a hurricane can mean loss of the ship.  Many years ago I took a sailing vacation on a tall ship, the Fantome, sailing around the Bahama islands.  It was a wonderful excursion and cemented my love of sailing.  Years later, this lovely ship was lost along with all its crew and staff in hurricane Mitch. In anticipation of the storm,  Fantome did pull into port and off loaded her passengers, but chose to return to the sea with the idea of outrunning the storm. Unfortunately, the track of the hurricane changed from what was predicted and that beautiful ship and her wonderful crew were lost forever. All that was found was a life ring from the boat. And, initially, that was what was found from El Faro.

There will be an investigation and a lot of speculation as to how the commercial cargo ship ran afoul of the hurricane, at some point there will be an outcome and blame will be laid somewhere. However, the outcome will not bring back those lost lives nor provide comfort to families who lost loved and cherished members and who never got a chance for a last goodbye, a final hug or a last look.
Men and women will always answer the call of the sea. For those with saltwater in their veins, the pull of the ocean is strong. Some will make sailing a career and some will pursue the passion through sport. No matter how one goes out on a vast body of water and what can be a small boat, there is always a chance that they won't return.

I hope there is some comfort to the families that those who were lost were doing something they loved.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Who writes these things?



I'm sure many of you have seen the new Subaru commercial (you can catch it on youtube).  The ad depicts a father cleaning out the family car and putting things he finds in the car into a box. As he finds things in the car, they invoke memories of his daughter starting with a crayon which reminds him of when she was little.

As this goes on and he finds a hospital bracelet, a corsage and other things.  Each item reminds him of a time in his daughter's life.  Now, may of you may watch this commercial and experience an "awwwww" moment, but I am twisted so instead, I have to ask "How many years has it been since anyone cleaned out that car????"

Seriously, there's at least 13 years of junk in the car.  Some of the things appear to be regular things left in the car, shoes, maps, etc. I'm pretty sure that if this car hasn't been cleaned out in years, there's probably an assortment of fast food wrappers, empty plastic drink bottles, receipts of all kind, unopened mail and a variety of petrified french fries. Well, that's what I THINK would be in the car (not that I personally would ever have any of those things in my car).

So the dad, puts everything in the box and then proceeds to put the box in the back of the car as the daughter comes into the picture, now all grown up, and the dad tosses her the car keys and watches her drive away.

I'm sure she was amazingly thrilled to not only receive an old, worn out car that was filthy but that her dad threw all the junk he picked up into the box and gave it to her.

Really, who writes these commercials? Or is it just me who picks up on the weirdness?

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Crappy Day Haiku

People are dead who shouldn't be

People aren't dead who should be.

Life sucks

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Everything I need to know in life, I learned from detective novels


Early in my formative years, I discovered the detective novel.  I got started reading Nancy Drew, girl detective and the Hardy Boys. Cut my teeth on them and quickly moved up to Raymond Chandler.  I used to go to the library after school every day to read and it was very easy to do so back then as detective novels all carried a miniature symbol of a magnifying glass on their spines.  I basically started at one end of the shelf and worked my way down.  Of course I told my mother I was studying at the library, and in a way I was. I studied the way these hard boiled men handled themselves, wishing I had their self confidence.  I learned a lot from Philip Marlow, Mike Hammer, Travis McGee, Sam Spade and Kinsey Milhone. Here are some of the lessons:

1. People who appear innocent, often are not.  You better check carefully the motives of those around you. People are often not whom they seem to be.  If you're not careful you could wind up being stabbed in the back.

2. The people who appear guilty often are not.  Cases can be built up against the innocent by nefarious characters who are often covering their own tracks.  Be careful whom you trust.

3.  Listen to your gut. Guts are a good indication of something being 'off".  Hard boiled detectives know to go with their gut when confronted with a situation.  If it feels wrong, it probably is.

4.  Take notes and refer to them often when trying to figure out a problem. Often the solution is right in front of you if you just look carefully enough.

5. Keep your wits about you. Don't let anyone get the drop on you. Pay attention to your surroundings and people you are dealing with.  A smart person will always try to stay one step ahead.

6.  Never, but never, go into a dark basement alone.  Or an alley, or abandoned building or old cave.
Never.

7.  Watch your back. Otherwise you could find yourself clunked on the head.

8.  Always maintain your calm. Even when those around you are falling apart, keep your own demeanor intact. Even if you have to slap someone. (Humphrey Bogart was good at this)

9.  Dames and Dudes--often trouble. Fixing other people's problems can be tricky and you are often left holding the bag.

10.  Life on a boat can be really enjoyable--Thanks to Travis McGee!




Saturday, March 28, 2015

Easter and the Annual Peeps Contest



That's right folks!  It's time once again for the annual Peeps Contest!  With Easter fast approaching The Washington Post is sponsoring its' annual contest asking entrants to provide a diorama featuring the popular and dare I say it? delicious marshmallow Peeps.  I am always amazed by what people come up with for these contests and this year was no exception.

I particularly love the one above with the cast of the Muppet Show although it was not the winner of last year's contest. I'm sure the entries for this year's contest will be just as creative. I would love to enter, but am just to lazy to put one together, although I am tempted to create a "Scandal" themed one featuring, of course, Olivia Peep.

I can remember getting Peeps in my Easter basket and that was back when they only came in one color and shape.  Yellow and shaped like little chicks.  Ah, yes! Those wonderful peeps who managed to get stuck to all the plastic grass in the basket rendering them pretty much inedible. Still we managed to peel the grass off and shove them in our mouths.  What better breakfast than sugar covered marshmallow and chocolate bunnies?

Evidently, Peeps are made of stuff that lasts forever.  Hmmmm, makes you wonder about eating them though.