Gentle Humor

I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Category: Holidays (Page 1 of 3)

Shedding Some Light on Christmas Part 2

Electric Outlet Deep in the Bushes

Here’s the outlet deep in the bushes. Notice cord leading away toward the house – spiders not visible (camera shy)

I didn’t get my lights put up yet as planned (see Part 1), which means that I’ve had all this time to dread going outside and stinging lights which, if history repeats itself, will burn out as soon as I’ve arranged them. And spiders.

You’d think self-respecting spiders would have gone somewhere like Hawaii for the winter rather than loitering around here in freezing, rainy Oregon, especially since all their prey was smart enough to skedaddle already.

These are hearty, hungry spiders in the shrubs and low hanging branches where the Christmas lights go. They have beefy muscles to keep warm, and thick hair that sheds the rain. They are the WWE wrestlers of the spider world.

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Shedding Some Light on Christmas

In the spirit of the holiday season, tonight I’m going to risk my life on a rickety ladder pulling giant red bins off the top shelves in the garage to get to the Christmas lights. They’re stacked so high I have to rope myself off like a mountain climber lest I fall to my death on the concrete floor. Here in Oregon it has been dry for 2 days, and according to the weatherman, we’ve got one day left before the rain comes back and pours until July – I have to use this window of opportunity to get those outside lights done!

If I survive getting all ten monstrous bins down without breaking something (on me – who cares about the bins), I’ll dig through them all until I find the one with the lights that mostly don’t work. I’ve purchased replacement strings every year for the last ten years, but by New Year’s Day, only forty percent of the lights will still be twinkling. They will either go out individually or malfunction in thirds – 1/3 of the string will be lit and 2/3’s won’t.

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Voting Against Premature Christmas Music

I just finished voting, and what a relief – not that I’m done with making important candidate and constitutional decisions that will affect policies for years to come, but that I live in Oregon and we have mail-in ballots.

Unlike most of you reading this, I don’t have to wait in a long line, produce some kind of photo ID, or even go out in the rain. I can sit in my nice comfy home and mail in my ballot or jump in my car and drop it off at drive-up boxes all over Portland. Think what you want about rainy Oregon, our voting process tips the happiness scale a whole bunch in this state’s favor.

You might say, “But can’t people cheat easier if they don’t have to show up at the polls?” And I’d have to answer that I guess there are plenty of ways for people to cheat while voting, no matter how they do it. Creative connivers will always dream up schemes to circumvent decency and get what they want. But do you seriously think those states requiring photo IDs will not end up getting people with forged or illegal ID’s? Cheating will occur there as well.

All in all, though, I believe the ability to vote is a very lucky thing. Even if we vote for the wrong person, even if some of the people cheat, even if people are too lazy or disillusioned to vote, at least we all have the choice.

One thing we don’t have any choice about, though, is having to listen to Christmas music in stores on election day. It’s criminal!!! Does a home improvement store really need to blast out Christmas music as early as Election Day, which is November 2nd for all my foreign readers? Are we really going to forget that we have to buy holiday lights and tree stands and decorations? We haven’t even dragged the decorations out of the attic yet, so how do we know if we need new strings of lights? Well, we WILL, of course, because those strings of lights only last a season before a section of them goes out. But still, I’m capable of knowing I need to buy this stuff without holiday music blaring while I’m still shopping for grass fertilizer. I hate being put out of the Christmas mood two months ahead of time.

I think I’m going to gather signatures for a petition to outlaw Christmas music in all public and private buildings until the day after Thanksgiving. I bet every shopper in Oregon will sign it. I’d love to have that in Oregon’s constitution because, honestly, there really ought to be a law against it.

Stuff I’m Thankful for

We just got through with Thanksgiving and I forgot to mention things I’m thankful for.

First, I’m thankful that I can end sentences with infinitives and no one seems to mind. In college composition classes you would have had to write: “These are the things for which I am thankful,” because it isn’t proper English to say, “These are the things I’m thankful for.” But when you’re writing humor, you can do anything you want, even going so far as to split infinitives – which used to make the nuns at my grade school mad as toothless beavers. Here’s an example of a split infinitive if you don’t know what I’m talking about: “I needed to briskly go to the bathroom or I was going to whiz my britches, and yet there was a line as long as the Baltimore tunnel.”

In this example, briskly is an adverb and it should not come between the infinitive “to” and the verb “go.” You can get away with it in your own blog where there’s not a nun around to slap your hand with a ruler, and for that I am also thankful.

I’m thankful for gas stations that fill you up without making you get out of the car. We just went to Seattle and in Washington you have to pump your own gas. I didn’t mind pumping my own when I lived in Tennessee, but now that I’ve been spoiled, it’s a nuisance – I always get gas on my shoes – at least one drop leaks out of the nozzle before I can whip it back into place. So I’m thankful Oregon charges the same for our gas and I don’t have to get out in the freezing rain to fill ‘er up.

Another thing I’m thankful for is that I put up some of my outside lights last night when it was dry, because right now it’s raining like a cow pissin’ on a flat rock.

I’m thankful for the above saying, which was handed down to me from my dad.

I’m especially thankful that I didn’t gain much more than five pounds during the gorge-fest I had on Thanksgiving Day – and every two hours after the dinner with all the leftovers.

Finally, I’m thankful for you, my faithful readers, who put up with my foolishness and come back for more. You are the best fans I can ever think of, and I’m so grateful that you continue to boldly go down that path of humor with me, even when sometimes I’m about as funny as a cockroach in a Rueben sandwich. Which could have been really ugly except as my mouth was traveling toward that thick sandwich I spied a spindly leg between layers of corned beef. I’m really thankful that I did not take a bite and discover half a cockroach, if you catch my drift.

And now I bet you’re thankful I’m not going to expose you to any more disgusting stories – at least not for now.

Reasons I’m Thankful

At Thanksgiving dinner we were requested by our hostess to say something we were thankful about. I said I was thankful I got to go skiing earlier in the day, and to my credit I did NOT say I was also thankful that I got to do something fun with my family instead of spending days cleaning, shopping, and cooking the feast.

My gynecologist turned me on to skiing on Thanksgiving. He was looking at me through the stirrups, making idol chitchat about how he and his sons have been going to the mountain for years because there are no crowds and no lift lines. “When we get home, my wife has a big turkey feast waiting for us,” he said as he, well, uh, never mind.

I wonder what it would be like to be the wife of a gynecologist?

Since he told me that about skiing, I’ve made it my life’s goal to get invited out for Thanksgiving rather than spending it in the kitchen slaving. I’ve been able to do it for the last two years, and with any luck, I can keep this tradition going.

But scamming Thanksgiving dinner is not today’s topic. Nope, getting out of cooking and cleaning is wonderful, but I want to devote this space to some of the things I’m thankful for. Let me share my little list.

I’m thankful that my kids no longer rely on me to drive them around. Oh Lord am I thankful for that.
I’m thankful that, in spite of how much they appear to bumble, the politicians I voted for are trying hard to make life better for me personally and for others.

Speaking of others, I’m thankful I live in a country that wants to take care of our poor even when some of them seem to be taking advantage. I would hate to live in a third world country where the poor line the streets like wax paper and no one pays any attention to them. If I didn’t have to pay taxes, that would be great, but I love knowing our poor aren’t nearly as poor as the poor in the rest of the world.

When you get right down to it, I’m actually thankful I pay taxes, because I like nice schools and roads, public buildings and museums, decent subsidized clinics where suffering people can find relief, and public housing for people who couldn’t afford to live anywhere else. I hate that there are selfish people who take advantage of my taxes (shame on you), but I’m very happy that children born to poor families get the opportunity to be educated in spite of their circumstances.

I’m thankful for my dog who is excited when I walk in the door even if I’ve just gone out to the mailbox.

I’m thankful for TV. Yes there are so many awful programs (Jerry Springer to name a few), but I like finding free movies to watch so I can float away from reality like a soapy bubble out of a plastic wand. I’m especially thankful for The Big Bang Theory.

I’m thankful for laptops and comforters and chocolate chips and sunny days.

Now I’m going to give YOU something to be thankful about. I’m going to end this sentimental romp down Pollyanna lane and jump into something I’m very, very thankful for. A warm bed piled with heirloom quilts my Grandma Wheeler patched together. Now that right there is definitely something to be thankful about.

Musings on Freedom

Happy 4th of July. I hope it is warm and sunny at your picnic because it is FREEZING here in Portland with no sun to be found anywhere. We are getting ready to go to a barbecue and I’m bundling up in socks and long underwear.

I should probably wax poetic about freedom, but what I really want to talk about is the new priest at our church – and the old woman’s handbag. Can I squeeze it all in? I’ll give it a try.

I’m thankful for our freedom here in America. I am very thankful for our government, our highways and parks and schools and public buildings that our freedom (and taxes) allow us to enjoy.

Pressing on to our next stop, the new priest – I really like him. He’s from Washington DC, well-educated and well-spoken, and FUNNY. He told a story about a preacher who was teaching a group of pre-schoolers about the freedom they have as Christians. “Now I’ve told you all that you are free in Jesus. So everyone who is free, raise your hand.” All the kids raised their hands but one. He was grinning from ear to ear. “I just told you that everyone in this room has the freedom of Jesus, so everyone who is free, raise your hand.” Again the one did not raise his hand. The preacher went over and asked him, “Johnny, I just said everyone in this room was free, so why aren’t you raising your hand?” The little boy grinned real big and said, “I used to be free until yesterday, and then I turned four.”

The congregation laughed at this and several other jokes and asides. I didn’t drift off to sleep even once. I think I’m going to like Father Charles very much.

On to our final stop, the old woman’s purse. During Mass, when we got up to go to communion, I went out into the aisle, received communion and went back to my pew from the other end. I saw my purse right there, which threw me completely off, since I then noticed that my purse was where I left it, down at the other end of the pew. Whoa! I felt like I was in a parking lot trying to get into my car, and then noticing my actual car a row away.

These two purses are run-of-the-mill black and white department store purses – not Coach or Prada. Mine was not very expensive, but it is practical and goes with everything and I’ve been quite pleased with it. Until today. Once I saw that someone else had my exact purse, I wanted to see who it was. I settled myself in the pew and watched the people filing in.

Oh my gosh! This very elderly woman with tight curly white hair, and elastic waist pants, baggy button up shirt, old woman orthotic shoes, etc. – she was the one who had the same exact purse as me.

Now I’ve got to get rid of the purse. I carry the same one until it falls apart or I get really tired of it. Luckily I was getting tired of this one. If you think I’m being petty, that’s your prerogative.

After all, it is a free country.

Remember What Memorial Day Is About

I got an email from a friend this morning that reminded me what today was all about. I am copying some of it here. I don’t know the copywrite laws on duplicating emails but I hope I’m not breaking them. When you are thinking about your appliance sales and barbecues today, please take a moment to reflect on why the word “Memorial” comes from the word “memory,” and remember the brave men and women who gave their lives so that I could write this blog and you could read it.



It is
the VETERAN,
not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.

It is
the VETERAN,
not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.

It is
the VETERAN,
not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is
the VETERAN,
not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is
the VETERAN,
not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the
VETERAN who
salutes the Flag.

Finding the Perfect Card

My brother’s birthday is tomorrow and I forgot to buy him a card. So I went to look in the box of cards I bought just for this contingency. A neighbor of mine years ago gave me the idea – she used to buy cards on sale so she’d have a card on hand for anything that came up.

I thought it was a good plan, so I went to Hallmark and bought some cards that I thought were pretty funny. I also picked up a bundle of cards when my girlfriend dragged me to a garage sale.

I still have most of these cards, even though this was years ago. The garage sale ones were pathetic. Here are some of the sayings (you’ll notice a couple are based on very old commercials):

“How do you spell relief?” (open) “J-A-N-U-A-R-Y! Happy Holidays!”

(Two frogs on a wedding cake) “Two words come to mind on this momentous occasion.” (open) “You fools!”

“How about…” (open) “…a nooner?”

“Double your pleasure, double your fun…” (open) “run your paycheck through the copy machine!”

“Meet me later….” (open) “in your birthday suit?”

Who bought those cards in the first place? Or have they just made the rounds from garage sale to garage sale, picking up new bad cards along the way like snow tires pick up gravel?

The Hallmark cards are funny, but now that I own them, I have a hard time giving them to actual people I know. Many are about aging, and when I think of a friend opening them and reading the message, it seems a little cruel, so even though I love them and laugh each time I read them, I haven’t been able to pass them on. Here’s a sampler:

“You aren’t getting old” (open) “Hell, you were old last year.”

“Don’t let them tell you what people your age can and can’t do!” (open) “That’s what your knees are for.”

“It appears that sucking in your gut like that…” (open) “has blown the hair off the top of your head.”

If someone is really bald, AND has a gut, could I make fun of them by giving them a card pointing this out? Sure, we’d all get a laugh, but it’s a cruel joke on the birthday girl.

At what age does humor about aches and pain turn into a vicious reminder that you are getting old and it’s all downhill from here? People like me who have a sense of humor can see that this is tongue in cheek, but can the one being honored on his birthday? I’d much rather get a card that talks about getting old as being like fine wine – comparing aging to a process in which a sweet, juicy grape is turned into a dry, fermented beverage that’s one step away from being vinegar.

Wait a minute, no I wouldn’t. I DO NOT want to be reminded that I’m “getting older” on my birthday. I want to pretend it’s just another day and I will continue to be immortal. The aches in my joints are temporary inconveniences that WILL NOT be worse tomorrow.

So once again, I’m going to leave those “old” cards in the card box and go buy a new one that will tell my brother how much I appreciate him even though he used to beat me within an inch of my life when we were kids. I hope Hallmark has one that says that – and I’m betting they will.

Easter Feaster

Yes, I know, I know. I’m behind. I’ll get caught up in the next day or two because I’m almost at half a year of blog posts. Yippee!

Ready for my excuses for missing a couple of posts? Sure you are. We had a slew of people over for Easter. What a joy! I stayed up until 3 am Saturday night tying little plaid ribbons around napkins and putting together Easter baskets for my ungrateful, way too old children. What is the cutoff for this kind of stuff? Will I be making them baskets when I’m in the nursing home?

I made little clues for a scavenger hunt for my daughter (my son has lost interest). I usually make each clue a little narratives like, “look in a place where your dad snores.” That’s a good one, because she’d have to look in the bed, on the couch, on the other couch, in the La Z Boy, at the kitchen table, and in the bathtub.

At 3:00 I wasn’t in the mood for writing little novels, so here were my clues: “Brrrr.” “Kick it,” “Shelley’s perch,” “Dad’s perch.” I made 14 of them and taped them all over the place. She’d go to the one that said, “Shelley’s perch” and then she’d find another one hidden there that said, “Brrrr” and she’d go look in all the refrigerators and freezers and found the next one that said, “Kick it.”

“Is it on the dog?” she asked.

“Kick the poor little sweet dog?????” I asked. “And it’s Easter morning!”

This one she could not get. She looked all over the house for balls or kickable objects. Then she looked all around my son’s drum set. “I can’t find it,” she whimpered.

“What’s the clue?” her dad asked.

“Kick it.”

“Did you look on the dog?”

“Enough!!!” I said. “It’s a device that kicks things.”

She roamed through the house again. “Is it a hula hoop?” “Is it a book?” “Is it the sewing machine?”

“It’s a DEVICE in the BONUS ROOM that kicks things.”

“We’re going to be late for church.”

“It’s a GAME in the bonus room that kicks things.”

She went out there and looked around, completely stumped.

“A GAME!  A DEVICE!”

“Oh, the foosball table,” she finally said when I clumped my coffee mug down on it.

There were a few other clues that had her scratching her head, but finally she found the basket, I took some pictures, and we both rushed to get ready. She was right, we were late for church and had to stand up through the whole service – me in my heels and her without a coat right by the door where assorted people kept taking fussy children out of or sneaking late into.

It was a great day though, thanks to the company and the feast my husband cooked. I wish you could have seen it! He made enough for a hundred people, and I did my very best to mow through my fair share, but we’ve still got a refrigerator full of leftovers even after giving a ton of it away.

At exactly midnight on Saturday, I grabbed every bag of Easter candy I could find and gorged myself on chocolate. If you’ve never given up sweets for 40 days, you don’t know what sheer joy there is in tasting your first chocolate at 12:01 am on Easter Sunday. What a veritable feast it was. I am so thankful to the Hershey’s company for making all that good stuff.

I was also thankful that the good Lord let me get through Easter Sunday without feeling tired. He even made me hyper! But that could have been the chocolate, no?

My Most Romantic Experience

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d disclose my most romantic experience. This happened with a guy I was getting ready to break up with. He was a lawyer, a bright, fun loving guy on rare occasions, but mostly what he enjoyed doing most while we were together was filling me in on every mundane detail of his legal day. He talked about writing briefs and his boss and numerous phone calls he’d gotten through the day. I concluded that a dog groomer has a more exciting job than his.

He was also living in a place that literally had a path running through the mess to get from room to room. Dishes covered every surface in the kitchen. Note pads, mail, books, and newspapers covered every other surface in the house, and clothes and paraphernalia covered the floors. I knew one other person who lived like this – in her hippie parents’ house. She was embarrassed to have anyone over, but not this guy. He didn’t see anything wrong with his housekeeping.

There were a couple of other reasons I was ready to end our three-month courtship, although I liked his personality when he wasn’t busy reciting lawyerly dribble. Perhaps he picked up on my vibe, because I loved to hike, so he suggested we start at McLeay Park and walk to the Pittock mansion.

It was a sunny, warm summer day, and I was thrilled at the prospect. When we got to Pittock Mansion, we could see the whole city and several mountain peaks in the distance. I had that feeling of happiness that makes every hair follicle, every pore, every sensation crisp and vibrant so that I just wanted to dash around like Julie Andrews on the mountaintop in, “The Sound of Music.”

We walked around, bathing in the sun’s rays and delighting in life. Then he sat down on a bench, and I sat beside him, looking at the view. He reached into his shirt and pulled out a small, leather-bound book. He opened it deliberately and started reading out loud to me – in German. The sounds had a rhythmic cadence that was lyrical and soft, like a verbal caress.

“What are you reading?” I asked.

“German poetry,” he said. He looked down and read some more, and I listened more intently than I would have anything in English. Not knowing the meaning, I had to focus on his voice, his lips moving, the slight variances in his tone as he came to the end of lines, the miniscule rise in energy which meant something in the words was more lively. I was sucked into a vacuum of lazy sun’s warmth, musical words, and his lips moving softly.

After a period of time that could have been seconds or hours, he stopped reading, closed the book slowly, and tucked it back into his shirt. I had little hearts floating out of my chest, and twinkles in my eyes. I felt I had been caressed by words, and that I was the most special woman in the world.

That romantic experience carried me through an extra few days, but alas, reality bitch-slapped me and I knew this relationship was doomed to destruct, despite the poetic dalliance.

I have been wined and dined, I’ve gotten long stem red roses in a box delivered with a large red ribbon, I’ve had a few other tokens of romance that I’ve enjoyed, but none of them held a candle to listening to words I didn’t comprehend on a warm Sunday afternoon. Knowing that he stowed the book secretly with the intention of reading to me made it even more special.

It’s too bad that romance alone isn’t enough to make a good partner, because if that were enough, we’d still be together, and I’d be bored witless and continually digging out of his quagmire of daily debris. Ah, but the memory lingers like dark chocolate covering a creamy caramel center that flows when bitten in half.

Happy Valentines Day!

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Copyright © 2017 by Suzanne Olsen