Gentle Humor

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

Category: Home Life (Page 1 of 3)

Be Yourself – What a Bunch of Nonsense

When you were a teenager, did a grownup ever say to you, “Just be yourself?” To me this was exactly like them telling you to “Go look it up in the dictionary.”

How would you find the right spelling of a word in a place that requires you to know the right spelling of the word to find it? Grownups never had an answer for that, because they had never actually cracked a dictionary themselves, unless they were English teachers. Why couldn’t they at least give us a hint – a couple of letters – to get us started?

I could have used a hint about being myself as a teenager. When I was being myself and, say, flipping someone with a rubber band because that’s the kind of person I was deep inside, someone would get mad at me. Maybe it was because I was so good at it – I could hit someone in the chest with a resounding “thwack” at thirty feet. I finally realized it was a skill I shouldn’t practice on human targets.

Same thing with hitting people with snowballs, especially when the snow went down their shirt. So even though my “self” wanted badly to cream others with rubber bands and snowballs, I had to deny myself or risk getting a shovel full of snow in the face. Which actually happened to me last winter.

Let me tell you about it. I’ve got this cranky neighbor who was shoveling snow one day as I was walking my dog up the street. I playfully threw a snowball at him from about eight feet away that hit him in the leg. He happened to have a shovelful of snow ready to sling it to the wayside, and instead heaved it at me as if to say, “I’m a jerk and don’t you forget it next time you come around here with your playful BS.”

The snow hit me right in the face, and since I wasn’t expecting it and had my mouth open, it went down my throat and clogged my windpipe. I couldn’t breathe. It was quite frightening. I got my throat unclogged eventually by coughing forcefully like a three-pack-a-day smoker. Then gulping in the cold air caused a whole ton of new coughing. I have to admit I played this up a little once I realized I wasn’t going to die. It was a dirty trick to hoist a whole shovelful of snow in exchange for one measly snowball.

Here was a guy being himself (a jerk), and causing misery all the way around. It cost him a a lot of blubbering pleas for forgiveness and a bottle of wine he brought to my house later by way of penance.

I don’t think anyone should tell kids to be themselves. Tell them to be nice. If they don’t know what nice is, spell it out for them. “Don’t hit people in the chest with rubber bands, even if you are the best rubber band shooter in the whole universe. Plus don’t strangle people with snow.”

If you want to know the truth, I still don’t know who my “self” is, but I know I like the parts of me that are kind and sweet and considerate, and see the fun in life. So I’m glad that self is starting to win out over my other self which is ornery, mean, and spiteful and will cough a few minutes longer than necessary to make a jerk feel guilty.

In conclusion, thanks to my dear friend, Google, I never have to pick up a dictionary again. Not that I ever did before. A dictionary is like a First Aid kit. It’s good to have around but you never, ever want to actually use it. Although, who knows, you might find your “self” in there. It’s one place I haven’t looked.

Kiss My Glass

I won some really pretty wine glasses at a bunko game. There were four in the box and each had a different color and design. I found out where they came from and was thrilled to get another box at a great price.

I’ve had them a couple of years, and every time I use them I have to wipe them off – they get this little film on them. Does some filmy fog creep in there during the night? Some nasty little vermin spreading a dull cloud over my favorite glasses?

Many’s the time someone has dropped by and I’ve offered them a neighborly glass of wine. I reach for these first because they are front and center and they’re so pretty. I’ll pull one out and am appalled when I start to pour the wine. If the person doesn’t see the glass, I grab a towel and wipe it clean. If they do see it, I make a joke, “Well, you can tell my husband washed this one. Men, they don’t pay attention to detail. Ha Ha.” Then I scramble to find a “clean” glass.

I just washed these glasses a few days ago, and I noticed that they are fogged up again. There is something in these glasses – some chemical – that makes them film up like someone didn’t rinse the soap off.

Who in the heck makes a product like that? What was the conversation like in that manufacturing plant?

First day: “Pretty nice set of glasses we designed here, Bob. Ladies are gonna love ‘em. We’ll make a whole bunch of these.”

Third day, “Hmmm, boys, these glasses got a little coating on them like they’re dirty, better wash ‘em before you box ‘em up.”

Fifth day: “You can’t even see through these glasses. How the hell many did we make like this? EIGHTY-TWO BILLION!!!??? What the hell’s the matter with them? Are they fit to drink out of?”

Seventh day: “Okay, here’s what you do. Ship ‘em straight to the discount stores. At least we won’t have to take a 100% loss on ’em. I’d like to know whose brilliant idea it was to make these friggin’ things anyway. What did you say? Oh, shut up, will ya and get these sons of bitches out of my sight.”

I bet it happened just like that and you and I, the innocent consumers, purchased these products in good faith expecting that we’ve gotten a great deal and some real value for our discount store money, and then look what happens.

My daughter is a science whiz – wants to be a physicist – and she says there’s some chemical in the glass that is causing them to oxidize with the air. Since they have to be stored on the planet Earth where we are surrounded by AIR, I suppose there’s nothing I can do about it. Unless I move to Mars. But then no one would come visit to offer a glass of wine to, so what good would that do me?

The sad thing is it’s taken me two years to figure out that it’s not my husband’s lousy washing that’s causing these ugly glasses.

I wonder if I can return them to the store for a refund after two years? Probably not. Maybe I’ll donate them to my daughter’s chemistry class so they can experiment on them, because now I’m too chicken to drink out of ‘em.

Laundry Mat Memories

I’m at the laundry mat right now washing some quilts in those big huge machines. I love those things. They spin around and make cool whirring sounds. If you put a plastic action figure in there, you can see the blur of him spinning around through the glass door and imagine how dizzy he’s getting.

I have some good memories of laundry mats – being there with my brother or friends, running around pushing each other in the rolling carts, doing laps around the washing machines in the middle, little hellions taking the corners on two wheels, listening to the old folks grumble about “out-of-control kids these days.”

My brother and I had the responsibility of doing laundry when we were growing up. Like everyone else in our modest neighborhood, our family only had one car, and my dad worked a couple of states away so he came home about once a month, leaving us without a vehicle most of the time. Which was fine since the grocery store, school, church and everything else was within a couple of blocks.

But the laundry mat was about six blocks away, and we had to carry the laundry basket full of clothes, one of us on each side. I kind of liked going to the laundry mat, but my brother was in middle school and it was NOT cool to be walking down the street carrying a basket piled high with clothes, especially with your little sister.

We’d wait until we had nothing clean to wear, so the laundry basket had clothes mounded about two feet above it, held in place by a sheet draped over and tucked firmly into the sides. It looked like we were carrying a fresh grave.

We made the trip under the cover of darkness. In those days kids got to go anywhere, day or night. It was safe in our little East Tennessee town. People didn’t lock their doors, and crime was unheard of.

We both grabbed a handle and headed down the street. Whoever saw car lights would yell, “CAR!” and we’d drop the basket on the sidewalk and dive into the bushes so they wouldn’t see us. I am laughing as I type this because now I can see that basket from a driver’s perspective. What did people think when they saw the abandoned basket sitting on the sidewalk? Did they see us scramble into the bushes and wonder what we were up to?

My brother was pretty popular in school. Girls called him all the time. His reputation would have been absolutely ruined if those cars held kids he knew who would rat him out the next day at school.

When it came time to cross the busy, four-lane street, we lurked in the shadows until it was clear both ways for a good distance, then we’d run like crazy. Since I was almost four years younger, I didn’t run as fast, so the basket would get askew and sometimes tip over. Laundry gushed into the street in a ragged trail. We scrambled to get it back into the basket. My brother would dart his head back and forth, urging me to hurry up before a car came and saw him in the street with his little sister surrounded by dirty underwear.

Once the clothes were washed, we’d make a game of folding the sheets. He’d grab the corners on one end, and I’d get the other ends, then we’d take a couple of giant steps toward each other like we were dancing at some fancy ball, lifting the corners up and down in a silly fanfare. We’d connect the corners and he’d hold them while I picked up the corners at the fold, and we’d step apart, then move back together with the same flouncing moves. It was just foolishness to entertain ourselves, and we giggled like idiots.

Funny how we were so worried about what people thought on the dark streets, but we didn’t care a bit about the opinions of the crowd in the laundry mat.

We loaded those folded clothes and started the trek back home. Usually there was less traffic, but we’d still have to abandon the basket and take cover several times. I wonder why no one ever stopped to check out the laundry basket full of clothes just sitting there. Maybe they thought that basket must have had a darn good reason for being there, and it was none of their business. Those were innocent times. No thugs or gangs or opportunists were cruising around looking to steal people’s clothes.

Somehow we managed to do this chore week after week completely on the sly. Eventually we got a washing machine and our laundry mat days were over, much to our delight.

If you ever decide to investigate a laundry basket full of clothes abandoned on the sidewalk, I bet you’ll find some kids trying to maintain the facade of being cool by taking cover in the bushes close by.

My Exciting Life

So much has been going on, I’m going to have to do this in little bullets to touch on everything.

First, there is a mosquito buzzing around my head. I have swatted him two or three times but he is persistent. He harbors a do-or-die attitude.

Second, my stomach is rumbling so loud it’s like an earthquake has set off a tsunami in there. I went to our neighborhood picnic yesterday and, as usual, I sampled everything – twice – and since there was so much food, I think I MAY have over-indulged. The next day after a buffet I’m always starving because I stretch my stomach from the size of something the size of a stomach – grapefruit? cantaloupe? – to the size of a hot air balloon. My stomach “thinks” it’s hungry even though it received enough food yesterday to get me through the winter. I am going to have to stop eating like this.

MeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee – the mosquito just buzzed my head again.

Third, before the gorge fest, I saw South Pacific, the Broadway Across America revival of the original 1949 play, at the Keller Auditorium in Portland. What a fantastic show. See it if you get the chance. Crazy how something over a half a century old is still so funny and so timely today. It won ten Tony Awards back in the day, and 7 in this revival. It won my own personal award for Best Bang for the Buck, too.

Fourth, I went to church yesterday and there was a little girl there with either her grandfather or older father, or older uncle or circus ringmaster or perfect stranger. There really is no way of knowing WHO he was, but let’s assume, for the purposes of this story, that he was a husband – a very thin, pale man about 7 feet tall with sparse hair, thin lips, and a light tan shirt and pants. He looked like an anemic deliveryman from a horror movie, except kindly. Whoever he was, he doted on the child and let her dance in the aisle. She was between 2 or 3 in a little flowery sundress that flowed out while she twirled.

I kept wondering how far she would go – knowing that when you give a child an inch she’s gonna take a mile. Soon she was up to the space between the pews and the altar. He had followed her up there, squatting on his heels at intervals, I guess so he wouldn’t block anyone’s view of her or the altar. I can’t squat like that. He was all the way down with his rear end resting on his heels. I could get down that far, but I’d topple over backwards and lay there like a squirming beetle until two stout men hoisted me on my feet.

MeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee (frickin mosquito)

Of course this little girl kept moving further away and then coming back, like a duckling swimming out, then in, then further out, then in, then further out still until a big mouth bass jumps up and snatches it underwater. Sorry, my imagination just goes where it will – I give it an inch and you see what happens.

All the while the man squatted. Finally she was in front of the priest as he was delivering the sermon, twirling like a ballerina. I glanced at the people in the congregation, and everyone was watching the child with grumpy looks on their faces. No one was amused. We’ve all seen twirling children before. Twirling children are a dime a dozen in a Catholic church. We wanted somersaults and cartwheels.

Finally, the man arose on legs like springs, scooped up the little girl and took her completely out of the church. I found this interesting, because she wasn’t protesting. Why not just stay there, standing with her or sitting, taking in the service? And then it occurred to me that he didn’t WANT to be there, and was probably being forced by his wife, so he hatched a diabolical scheme to embarrass her to death by squatting in the aisle like a giant albino peasant while the child distracted everyone, including the priest who was too polite to say anything, so that he could have an excuse to leave. The man, not the priest. Try to keep up.

Anyway, he never came back into the church, so I think my theory is right on target, that he was a husband looking for an exit.

Oh my gosh, I just got a rumbly in my tumbly that is a 7.9 on the Richter scale. On top of that, my husband kept giving the dog ribs he barbecued for the neighborhood picnic, and she’s sitting beside me passing gas that’s causing my eyes to water. I’m being dive-bombed, asphyxiated, and tsunamied here. My stories are going to have to wait until things settle down. Aughhh – I can’t BREATHE!

MeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeee

Salt in the Wound

I went with my daughter to see Salt. It’s a pretty good movie, full of suspense. When the movie was over my daughter says, “I think Angela Jolie is crazy.”

“Crazy?” I said.

“Yeah, crazy. She’s always playing these parts where she gets beat up and stuff.”

It’s true. She got whaled on in Salt, and in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and in those Tomb Raider movies. She’s like the women’s action hero. She’s TYPECAST.

Which I think is a shame because she’s a good actress as far as I can tell.

But you didn’t come here for my musings about Angelina Jolie, did you? Because I have other pressing things to talk about, i.e. why I went to the movie with my daughter in the first place. The reason is that we went to church yesterday morning, and she came out of the house wearing a tank top that I felt revealed way too much Catholic boobs. Lest you think it’s just me, every mother I know has this same feeling about our daughters – not that they need to dress more conservatively at church – they need to cover up more all the time.

Oh my gosh, I sound like such a MOTHER! I’m sure all the moms back in the day were beside themselves fretting about our mini skirts.

My daughter thought I was an idiot and freak for mentioning her tank top – AGAIN, which made me defensive and her mad. Being a teenager, her anger turns immediately into rage and then it’s just a teeny tiny baby step to sobbing, breathless tears.

I had to walk a very fine line to keep her from reaching that point, which in turn made me angry that I couldn’t tell her flat out that I don’t want the old men at church lusting at her cleavage.

I couldn’t help myself and said it anyway, which then made her call me a pervert. It was not going well, and I shut up.

When we got to church, I noticed that every teenage girl in the place had on the same tank top and revealing the same amount of cleavage, and that my daughter would not have stood out in a lineup of American girls imitating Britney Spears. However, I couldn’t tell her this because she wasn’t speaking to me.

She continued not speaking to me for most of the day. I mentioned on the way home from church that I wanted to see Salt. She didn’t reply. In general, she will only consent to go ANYWHERE with me if she has absolutely no other prospects on the horizon, including being beaten with a rubber hose, but it was the best way I could think to try and smooth things over. About 4:00 in the afternoon she came into my office and said, “Salt’s playing at 4:20.”

That’s how we made up, without any apologies, just going to see Angelina Jolie. So I have her to thank for our reconciliation, which is ironic because the movie itself is about tearing things apart.

The movie is set up for a sequel (that’s all I can say without ruining the whole twisted plot), so I hope I can hold my criticizing tongue until Salt II comes out. I wonder what it will be called. Salt and Pepper? When Salt Met Sugar? Ha ha.

DISCLAIMER: If my daughter finds this blog and realizes I’ve been telling the world about her life she will smack me up side the head with a 2 by 4. So I officially deny that I wrote this post or that any of this ever happened. It’s just fiction – like most of my stuff – a figment of my imagination. Honest.

I’ve Become My Grandmother

I have become like my grandmother. We called her Gramps, and I liked just about everything about her except one thing, and that seems to be the thing I imitate.

I could have imitated her cooking and my family would be pleased as punch. Instead I have imitated her most irritating habit. She could NOT go out a door and climb into a vehicle in a single trip. Even if she’d been offered a million bucks to NOT go back in the house, she’d say, “Wait, I just have to run back in and get a grocery sack to hold the money.”

My grandfather, who we called Pops, and I would be in his ancient white Dodge Dart with the motor running, and he’d start grumbling, “that damned old woman,” because she wasn’t getting out of the house quick enough to suit him. He could barely see because he’d gotten lye in his eyes making soap decades earlier, so we had to leave about 45 minutes before church was scheduled to start in order for him to drive 25 miles an hour and get us into town in time – on time being with about twenty minutes to spare.

My grandmother would come out the back door, step down the first step, turn around and lock the door, step down the second step, close the screen door and make sure it latched, step one foot on the sidewalk, hesitate, look perplexed, arch her eyebrows into a V, roll her eyes skyward slightly like she was pondering something. Then she turned around.

Right at this exact moment, every single Sunday, my grandfather would unleash a string of obscenities that would make any sailor proud. “That damned old woman,” and then start listing every flaw she had, “she comes out the damned door looking like an idiot and forgets some son of a bitching something. Every damn time it’s the same old shit…”

Meantime she’s unlocked the door and disappeared inside. We wait a couple of minutes, me in the back seat snickering at his rage and that delightful cussing, thanking God for the wonderful entertainment He has given me on this fine Sunday morning.

The car is still running, and my grandfather leans his whole body forward, elbows all the way up in the air, and LAYS on the horn with both hands as if he can get it to sound louder and more insistent by putting his whole body into it. Still no Gramps.

“DAMN HER!” he shouts. “DAMN HER TO HELL!” As I’m typing this I am laughing so hard I can barely continue because I can see the empty doorway of that white house, hear the engine knocking, and see the back of my grandfather’s balding head with the wispy white comb-over, the air heavy from his rising blood pressure.

Finally Gramps appears in the doorway, opens the screen door, steps down on the first step, turns and locks the door, steps down on the second step, closes the screen door and latches it, steps down on the sidewalk, hesitates, looks pensive, tilts her eyes up and to the right, and my grandfather LAYS on the horn again. I have tears rolling down my eyes I’m laughing so hard in the back seat. My grandmother scowls at him and waves a dismissive hand toward the ground. He stops the horn and yells at the top of his lungs, even though the windows are rolled up, “COME ON, OLD WOMAN!”

She just looks at him, trying to remember whether she’s forgotten something else. She takes a hesitant step forward, then another. Stops, looks worried. Turns around and heads back toward the steps. I lay down in the back seat with my knees in the air and hold my chest, rocking side to side laughing.

My grandfather bangs the dashboard about six times with his fist as hard as he can. She goes back into the house and comes out a few minutes later with a dime-store see-through scarf thrown rakishly around her neck. Pops has not stopped cussing and ranting since she headed in.

Gramps walks toward the car with determination, head held high and shoulders back as if she is some dignitary with places to go and people to see. She opens the car door, hesitates, looks back toward the house. My grandfather yells, “Get in the car, damn you!” She waves her hand toward the ground again like she’s warding off some pesky child or swooshing at a fly, harrumphs with indignation, and climbs into the car.

“Let’s go then,” she says in a voice that leaves no doubt that she’s disgusted but it’s beneath her, on Sunday morning, to say so.

In the back seat, I’ve laughed and snickered so hard that I’m exhausted, and none of us talks on the way to church except for my grandmother mumbling under her breath, “I just don’t see why…what’s the big hurry…plenty of time…” She’s nearly deaf so she thinks no one hears her.

We get to church twenty minutes early – just like clockwork. My grandfather waits in the car while Gramps and I sit through the long Latin service. I amuse myself by reliving the morning’s entertainment. When church is over, everyone is cordial as if cussing and damning and yelling and horn-blowing hadn’t been going on earlier.

I have enjoyed some belly laughs writing this – my mascara is running. What I’ve described is the habit I’ve picked up from my grandmother. I never climb in the car and leave – I always forget something. Sometimes I get out of the driveway, but I have to go back, turn off the car, grab the keys, unlock the door, run through the house looking for whatever I forgot, and run back outside. The sad thing is that my kids are NOT amused waiting for me in the car. I wish Pops were here to entertain them.

The Too Big Chill

I got a new refrigerator today. It was a very tight fit in the built in space we had for our old refrigerator. I measured the space front to back and knew I had about 32 inches, and this new one was 31.5 so it was perfect.

I loaded all my food in, and there was plenty – mostly jars. My husband thinks jars are like dollar bills – it’s better to have too many than too few. We have 10 different jars of jelly. Nobody even eats jelly in this house but me – about once a month. There are six jars of horseradish! Eight jars of mustards. Three tubes of wasabi. It took me an eternity to get all that stuff into the new refrigerator because I wiped off all the sticky on the jars. But It sure looked pretty in there when I got done.

This evening, when I went to pull a frying pan out of the drawer, I couldn’t open it because it bumped into the new refrigerator. F-word! So I pulled the refrigerator out and measured it. 31.5” – it should fit. I pushed it back in as far as I could and tried to open the drawer. It hit the refrigerator.

“Uh-oh,” I said. “The refrigerator doesn’t go in deep enough.” My husband pulled it back out and we looked closely. Where the water line comes in, there is a one inch metal protector that added, duh, one inch to the depth. So the refrigerator was actually 32.5” deep. I kind of wish someone had pointed that out in all the stuff I read online during my hours of research.

I called the appliance store and they will take the bohemith back if we pay a 15% re-stocking fee.

There is a very small silver lining in all this, however. When the appliance guys were here, I asked them if they’d move an old freezer out to the driveway because I’d never get my husband to do it. One of them said, “Oh, he’s that kind of guy, huh?” and I said, “Yeah, he’s pretty good with the remote control but he doesn’t want to do too much more than that while he’s home.”

“I’m like that,” the guy says. “I just tell my wife I don’t know how to do something and then she quits asking me.”

“Really?” I said, intrigued.

“Sure, or else I do it wrong and then she thinks I’ll just screw it up if she asks me to do it again.”

“I think that’s EXACTLY what my husband does!” I said. “I ask him to do something and he never manages to do it the way I want him to, even if I give great directions.”

“Yep, he’s doing that on purpose,” he said. “I do it all the time.”

“Do tell,” I said.

“Well, I better not say anything more, I’ve already given away a big guy secret.”

I started thinking about all the times my husband, and for that matter my kids, have whined that they didn’t know how to do something, or say, “But mom, you do it so much better,” and I quit asking them. Now it’s all very clear to me what they’ve been up to.

From now on I’m going to be on the lookout. When somebody around here does a lousy job I’m gong to accept it rather than thinking I need to do it myself next time because I want it “done right.” It’s better to at least get a halfway job than none at all.

I hope I get the same delivery guys when they come to pick up the refrigerator. If I get more insider tips on the conniving behavior of men, I’ll pass them along.

Sad Little Good Memories

Today we got a new refrigerator to replace a refrigerator and separate freezer in our bonus room that are old energy hogs.

I don’t go out to the bonus room much anymore. It’s my daughter’s lair. I swoop in with a vacuum on occasion, so I only look at the carpet. Today as I was rearranging the space for the new refrigerator, I started noticing things that I hadn’t “seen” in a long, long time.

I noticed my son’s snowboard and remembered how my son, daughter, and I used to go up to Skibowl on Fridays when they had cheap night skiing so we could learn to ski. My husband is a good skier, but I learned at the same time my kids did. My daughter was only five years old and had a neon pink one-piece ski suit. Both kids were fearless and zoomed down the hill with me trying to catch up between my constant falls. They looked like cartoons of speeding streaks while I had skis and poles flying through the air. We’d ski until 11:00 at night under sparkling stars, freezing on the excruciatingly slow lifts but having too much fun to go inside.

I saw the skateboard and remembered getting up at 4 am and going to the skate park hauling my son and six of his friends in our old Ford Taurus station wagon. That early, they had the whole place to themselves. My daughter and I would roam around the adjacent pastures with the dog and then fetch French toast sticks at Burger King for everyone. That was before I quit eating there because of their tacky commercials.

I saw my son’s lacrosse stick and remembered tossing that forty pound ball with him, worried that it would miss the tiny little net in my stick and knock me out cold.

I saw the boogie boards and remembered going camping at the beach and playing with the kids in the ice-cold Pacific ocean. We would go in an inch at a time and let that part of us get numb before going a little further. The legs weren’t so bad, but when the water got to my waistline it was SO cold on my back. I didn’t want to go any further but they’d splash me until I was wet enough I might as well dive under the waves.

I looked at my son’s drum set and guitar and remembered the garage band practices and how the walls in the house literally shook from the loud vibrations. I saw the wooden blocks that they used to build roadways and ramps. I noticed the two big bins of Legos and remembered the castles and spaceships they worked hours building, and stepping on those tiny pieces barefoot in the night, silently cursing that Legos were always everywhere.

I saw an old blanket and remembered how they’d would gather every blanket in the house and build elaborate multi-roomed forts, and how they’d make me crawl on the floor and go inside.

Holy crap, it was a tidal wave of memories that knocked me down and left little streams of tears rolling down my cheeks. 

What happened to those fun little people? They used to always be right by my side. We had new adventures every day – building obstacle courses, doing cartwheels in the back yard, playing hide and seek. They disappeared and left their memories to collect dust in the bonus room as thick as the dust under the old refrigerator.

If you are still with me through this soulful trip down memory lane, I can only say that this one little day of boo-hooing is a very small price to pay for years and years of great memories. My kids may not give me the time of day now, but not so long ago they were like little planets orbiting around me, and I was the light of their lives.

Excuse me, it’s midnight and I hear a car door slam. Let me drop EVERYTHING and greet my baby girl who’s all grown up now.

sigh….

Relatively Clean – In Spite of My Family

Recently I wrote about the carpet man moving furniture and discovering multiple messes, and you were probably thinking, “That woman is a pig.” I’m not denying it, but clean IS relative. As the carpet man said, “Your house is immaculate compared to the one I did before I came here.”

He described yellow stains all over the customer’s long white shag carpet, and the guy didn’t have any pets. “When I put the oxidizer on it, urine smell rose up like fog in a swamp. I know pet urine, and that wasn’t no pet urine.”

So I guess I can be proud that my house is not as disgusting as some guy who mistakes a white carpet for a white toilet.

I’d say my house is more neglected than dirty. I like that word – neglected. It sounds like I’ll get around to doing something at some point in the future.  A filthy house implies that the place has crusty dishes and Burger King wrappers scattered like confetti.

Speaking of Burger King, I hate those commercials. Have I mentioned that lately? If so, it won’t hurt to touch on it again. If not, I’m WAY past due. That plastic headed King of Burgers is about the dumbest thing on the planet, and he’s got no personality whatsoever. He just appears in a bedroom or stands around waiting for someone to tip him over in a cow pasture, then rolls down the hill through cow pies wearing that stupid grin. I just don’t get those commercials. They had some other commercials before the King that I can’t recall except that they were insulting and/or tacky. I refuse to go to Burger King anymore because of them.

I bet whoever is doing their ads thinks they are luring in a new sector of the population, but surely ads shouldn’t drive existing customers away.

I worked for one day while I was in college at a Burger King. The floor behind the counter was SO greasy. I guess it was because of the “flame-broiled” burgers the sizzled grease must have risen up into the air and drifted back down on the tile floor. The tennis shoes I wore were Keds with flat, slick soles. The first time I walked behind there I felt like I was on black ice. I had to keep gabbing the counters and other employees so I wouldn’t fall and break my coccyx. To move anywhere, I glided my feet across the floor like I was on roller skates. I was forced to abandon my minimum wage service to the King so as not to risk my life.

I realize this has nothing to do with the tidiness of my house, but I could tie them together given enough time. Segue’s are my specialty! Oh, I know. That Burger King I worked at was actually a clean place. They mopped the floor several times a day, but due to a continual influx of customers, the burgers kept spewing grease on the freshly cleaned floor. A vicious cycle.

It’s like that at my house. If no one ever came through the door, it would be spotless. Instead, I’m over my head in laundry with my daughter changing every couple of hours because she’s a TEENAGER. Nobody in this house can butter a piece of toast without getting crumbs everywhere. The dog rolls in fresh-mowed grass and comes in the house to shake, creating a green area rug that gets tracked through the house. My husband uses the dining room chairs as his coat closet. Friends drop brownie chunks on the floor and step on them, leaving little trails of squashed black doughy stuff as they travel from room to room.

Yes I have nagged, but no one listens and I don’t enforce with the consistency advised in those “natural consequences” books. My husband and dog ignore me flat out. My daughter will do whatever I ask during each nag session, but later in the day she leaves her dirty dishes in the sink and I have to nag anew.

So my house is like Burger King. The continual flow of “customers” is what causes the “grease” that I have to “mop” all day and night. If I didn’t have that to do, I’d have time to keep up on the deep cleaning like clearing the cobwebs and getting a toothbrush into the cracks and hard-to-reach places I was so embarrassed about when the carpet man was here.

I wonder what he told the next customer after he left my house!

Where’s Your Paradise?

I’m thinking the key to life is loving where you are. Where I am, or soon will be, is in the kitchen getting a fistful of chocolate cherry trail mix. Be right back.

It’s gone! I searched everywhere – in the cabinets, on the nightstand, in the bonus room, but it’s disappeared. Doggone it! Thank goodness I found a Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate bar the size of a greeting card that hit the spot. No, I didn’t eat it all, I left a couple of squares to the previous owner so they’d know they hadn’t imagined putting it in the cupboard. After all, I’m a considerate person.

Back to paradise. We were visiting friends over in Central Oregon and the sun was shining the whole time with nary a cloud in the sky. It’s hard to complain about warm sunshine after living in Portland during the incredibly cool summer we’re having (to find out why – SHAMELESS PLUG – get the global warming book I helped write called, Footprint, a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Extinction).

One morning we came out of the dark bedroom to be greeted by glowing sunlight through every window, and our host said, “Another day in paradise!”

Didn’t Jimmy Buffet sing a song about that? Somebody did. Anyway, I got to thinking about it and I concluded **** PROFOUND SAYING ALERT***** that:

PARADISE IS WHERE THE HEART IS

This might sound a whole lot like another saying, “Home is where the heart is,” but that one isn’t centered on the page and in all capital letters. I wonder if I can copyright this saying and get royalties when the world starts using it? Because, you know, paradise is sometimes where the money is, too.

Clear skies and warm sunshine might certainly be part of the formula for paradise, but I’ve had a taste of paradise when I’ve been on the side of Mt. Bachelor in the freezing cold and hit a bump on my skies that should have sent me flailing end over end but I miraculously recovered and flew weightless through the air without breaking a leg. It’s exhilarating.

Something else to ponder: Isn’t the world confusing enough without spelling skies and skies the same way? 

I’ve also been in paradise when my teenage daughter asks me to go to a movie with her. OMG I will drop anything to spend time with either of my kids because they are scattered like my Uncle Vance’s ashes in the trunk of my cousin Nancy’s car. That’s a funny story I’ll try to remember to tell one day.

My kids rarely light near me any longer than it takes them to say, “Mom, you already asked me that.” I’m not so sure I DID ask, and I certainly don’t remember what they said. They make stuff up to drive me crazy. Even so, I love when they’ll forsake their friends and hang out with me, even when I know it’s because none of their friends can do anything right that minute and also I’ll pay for their movie ticket. Still, to me it’s more of a “paradise” to hang out with them than being in the tropics sipping POG and vodka while swinging in a hammock on the beach. I think.

The point is that paradise is in our heads. If it weren’t, then everyone in warm places would be happy, and everyone else would be miserable. That may pan out in some cases, but I have witnessed many, many cranky shop clerks in those little beach stores in Lahaina. In fact, there are few things crankier than a middle-aged Hawaiian woman in a t-shirt shop packed with tourists unfolding the merchandise during the heat of the Maui summer. I’ve heard them mumble, “I got your paradise RIGHT HERE!” and though I’m not sure what that means, they didn’t sound happy.

So, gentle readers, you probably don’t need to look any further than your own back yard for your little patch of paradise. And if you find some money out there, send me some!

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Copyright © 2017 by Suzanne Olsen