Suzanne Olsen's Humor Blog - I don't offend some of the people most of the time

Author: Suzanne Olsen Page 1 of 45

Food Is the Boss of Me

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I think about food all the time. Here’s an example. The anniversary of my marriage to my wonderful and ornery husband was a couple of weekends ago. To celebrate we went to the beach – not to sit with our toes in the sand or stroll hand in hand listening to the ocean waves. No, my husband wanted to go away from the beach and drive two hours on twisty, gravel, muddy logging roads so we could hike two miles to see waterfalls and wildlife and such. 

And see them we did. But the whole time, all I could think about was lunch. We left our motel around 8 in the morning, drove forever then started our hike. By 10:30 I was checking my watch – an hour and a half until I could eat. An hour later I checked my watch again. 10:48. What??? This went on at regular intervals, until around 11:30, when I started checking every couple minutes. Then I said, “I’m going to have lunch.”

“Must be 12 o’clock,” my husband said.

It was. I fight eating until the noon hour, and then until dinnertime because I want to eat all day long. Someone I worked with once told me they put out a cigarette on their break and immediately craved the next one, miserable because they’d have to wait until the next break to have it. That’s the way I am with food. Even when I proclaim, in misery, “I’m stuffed,” I still want a little something sweet; a little something salty. I’ve been told by lots of people that I eat more than anyone they’ve ever known.

I have to do three things to stay within the normal range of my body mass index (BMI). (1) I only eat at mealtimes – three times a day, and (2) I only eat healthy food (there are occasional exceptions to these two – I am human, after all). (3) is the one I don’t ever break: I never buy the next size up. Otherwise, with my appetite, I would always be the star of “The Biggest Loser.”

At straight-up noon I unzipped my fanny pack and ate my pumpkin seeds (for protein), a bunch of carrots (for Vitamin A), a lot of celery (for some crunch and filler), and two small mandarin oranges (for dessert). It was a lot of food, but all of it served my body’s needs for nutrition. I figure my mouth is like a car’s gas tank. I want to put the stuff in there that will my body run well. Good food is good fuel. I want my belly’s gas tank to give me a body that can get out of a chair without struggling.

Because of my three eating rules, I can eat like a horse and still wear the size 8-10 I’ve been wearing for decades. When I get above my ideal weight (always at Christmas because of sweets and party foods), my jeans get tight and uncomfortable (no stretchy pants for me – I need good old-fashioned Levis that let me know I’m not eating healthy). After those extra pounds slowly (way too slowly) melt off, I’ll be able to eat a few more fun things every now and then, like chips – man oh man I do love salt and vinegar potato chips. I hardly ever buy them, otherwise they’d be scarfed on the drive home from the grocery store.

Happy Easter, Everyone!

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It’s Easter Sunday. For those of you who only know Easter as a day for bunnies and chocolate, I’ll try to explain origin of Easter. 

It started with the Jews. They were all the time sacrificing bulls and lambs to God in order to atone for their sins. It sounds barbaric, but there’s some logic to it. If you’ve done something wrong, like stole your neighbor’s plow, you ought to be held accountable. You know good and well you shouldn’t have taken his plow. When you feel guilty enough, or you get caught, you’d take a lamb to the High Priest to be sacrificed – the lamb died for your sins. It was a high price to pay back then, so it served as a deterrent for stealing as well as a way to relieve your guilt.

Unless you’re a psychopath, most humans will eventually feel guilt for hurting another person – maybe not until they’re on their deathbed, but sooner or later they’ll say, “I regret that I…” or “I wish I hadn’t…” If a person is forced to publically admit their crime and give up a lamb for what they’d done, they wouldn’t have to carry all that guilt on their shoulders for years. It’s genius, really. Instant justice so people could get on with their lives. Maybe they’d stop being jerks too.

Which brings me to Easter. The Jews, around 2,000 years ago, had gone through a lot of rulers who set bad examples, and they’d done a LOT of misbehaving. They worshipped other gods, sinister gods that wanted them to have sex with temple prostitutes or sacrifice their own children. I’m not saying all Jews went astray because there were always good people in the Bible and some (called prophets) tried to tell others how wrong these things were. Unfortunately, they usually got killed.

Tumbleweeds

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My brother just called – he’s on his way to Texas and saw a tumbleweed blowing across the road. “It reminded me of that tumbleweed I sent you when I was a Coke spy. Remember it?”

Of course I remembered it. I had just flunked out of college after two years of courting Jack Daniels rather than going to class. To pay my half of the rent I worked as a waitress – a little smug because who needed college anyway since I made more in tips than a lot of college graduates earn. I was living the life, having a lot of fun, but sometimes nagged by that vague sense of despair from not having any direction in life.

This is what a tumbleweed looks like.

Then a box arrived – a big box, from my brother. He’d gotten a job with the Coca-Cola company in Atlanta as part of an elite team of high-achieving college graduates hired to enforce trademark rules in restaurants across the country. The company gave these college VIP’s a new car, good salary, an expense account, and lots of other perks and sent them out to American cities large and small. Their job? Go into eating establishments and say, “Can I have a burger and fries and a Coca-Cola?” When the waitress brought their beverage, they sneaked a sample of it with a syringe, labeled it and later typed up a report, such as, “I ordered a burger and fries and a Coca-Cola from a slim 5’4” waitress with blond hair in a beehive hairdo wearing a name tag that said, ‘Mabel.’ She brought a beverage to me at 12:42 pm” and so on, describing the interaction, restaurant, and all other facts about the encounter. The Coke spy labeled the beverage and mailed it to Atlanta, where it was analyzed. If the waitress served a Pepsi or RC or some other brand, Atlanta sent them a letter saying they could not substitute cola beverages. They had to say, “We don’t have Coca-Cola, is Pepsi okay?” Later, another Coke spy would return to the same place, and eventually, if the restaurant didn’t comply, they’d get sued and my brother flew to Atlanta to testify. The company was trying to keep people from using the word “Coke” as a generic word for cola. In other words, they wanted “Coke” to be a Coke, not a Pepsi, not a Shasta. I think it’s called trademark infringement.

America – It’s Time to Get Strong!

The American immune system is not a lean, mean, fighting machine. It is soft. It is flabby. It is housed in a muffin-top, beach-ball belly, existing on Cheetos, deep-fried Twinkies, mashed potatoes and gravy, and bacon-wrapped bacon. It doesn’t get any exercise except walking to the kitchen for a cold beer and a bag of chips because clicking through 988 channels of reruns makes a body hungry.

You may ask, “what is an immune system anyway?” Without getting too technical, it’s the boxers and street fighters and soldiers in your body – the guys that fight corona viruses and flus and bacterias when they invade your body to make you sick.

When a virus goes up your nose, instead of standing at attention and shouting a battle cry, America’s immune system lights up a cigarette, leans against a wall and says, “Sup?”

We need basic training for our bodies. We don’t want overweight and out of shape immune systems huffing and puffing on the battlefield, we want soldiers that can drop and give us 50.

We’ve been hearing a lot about compromised people with diabetes and heart disease. They might say, “These things run in my family.” That is absolutely true. Often it’s yo momma who introduced you to unhealthy lifestyle habits, just like her momma did to her.  Those yummy comfort foods she fed you tastes good, and it’s cheap. It wasn’t so bad in the past, when people worked hard and had to carry water up from the creek, build fences, walk to the barnyard to feed the chickens, they could burn off all that cheap creamed corn, potatoes and gravy, bread and butter and apple pie.

Now we eat the same cheap stuff, along with modern-day chips of all kinds – but now we’ve got nothing to do but watch TV. There’s no nutrition in that stuff, it’s just handy and tasty. It’s the same food we give to livestock. How do you fatten up cattle before they go to market? Corn and other cheap grains. They get fat because it’s not their natural food so they keep eating, trying to get nutrition that isn’t there. It’s just calories. A cow will eat itself to death on corn if you let it – it’s stomach will literally burst. I know this for a fact because when we were kids, my brother didn’t latch the door to the feed shed at my grandfather’s farm, and one of the milk cows got in there, Pet was her name, and ate corn all night and her stomach burst and she died. She ate herself to death.

We’re eating ourselves to death, too. The human body is hollering, “Hey, you! We need some food that’s got vitamins and minerals in it! We’re hungry for something healthy!” But all you hear is the “hungry” part, and you grab a bag of potato chips. Your body keeps pleading, so you grab some buttered popcorn and a Pepsi.

You can’t have good soldiers unless you give them the food they need. I didn’t say “want,” because we all “want” unhealthy food. It’s tasty! Our bodies become addicted to sweets and starches. How many times have you said, “I’m not even hungry but I want a little something sweet (or salty)?”

Breaking an addiction isn’t easy, but it can be done. You’ve got to retrain your mouth to like carrots and broccoli and other vegetables. Hey, quit making that barf face! Why do you think healthy people eat these things? Do you see them gagging when they eat salads? No. They love ’em. Their mouths have been trained to like the taste, just like you were trained to like sweet tea even though it gags me because it’s so fricking sweet. Talk about a barf face!

While you’re at it, send your body to basic training. You don’t have to march up and down saying, “hep, deda-hep” or whatever those boot camp marchers repeat on TV – just stroll around the block to start out. Look at people’s flowers, listen to the birds sing, make fun of the paint on someone’s house.

You’ve got to repeat this mantra: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If your body is in bad shape, it’s because of you. Not your momma. Not your daddy. Not your genes. Your momma may have raised you to be unhealthy because that’s all she knew, and all your brothers and sisters and cousins might be unhealthy, but once you leave home, it’s all on you

Get rid of these excuses:

-“I don’t like vegetables.” (Your momma probably didn’t like vegetables either unless they were floating in bacon grease or butter or gravy or starchy stuff like potatoes and corn.)

-“Diabetes and high blood pressure and heart disease run in my family.” (That might be true, but look at them – do they have unhealthy habits, too?)

“My doctor says it’s genetic.” (Your doctor has also told you to eat right and exercise.)

Now stand up and do something. Walk around the block, up steps, down escalators. Bend over and pick up things rather than letting they lie there. Do you own housework. Quit parking in the handicap space. Walk through the mall even if you’re not going to buy anything. Do your own yard work, mop your own floors. Build up to a couple of blocks and eventually a couple of miles a day. If it makes your joints sore, are you carrying two suitcases full of body fat everywhere you go? Bad eating habits can do that to you.

Find a make-your-body-happy way to eat that makes you strong – I recommend eating the South Beach or Mediterranean way because they’re not weird diets to lose weight. You want something you can do the rest of your life, not just something to drop pounds. You’ll lose weight eating this way in the long run, but that’s not what we’re after. A leaner body is just a nice side effect of getting healthy. Your check-ups with the doctor will get better – lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, so you may be able to get rid of some of the prescriptions you’re taking to treat your unhealthy lifestyle. Remember, the stronger you are, the stronger your fighting team will be.

The way you eat can be an addiction. No one was born to be an alcoholic, a smoker, or a food addict. You may have been brought up in a family with all of those things happening, and you may have generations of addicts in your bloodline, but you are the one who reaches for a bottle, a smoke, or a bag of chips.

Even healthy people want these foods – they’re tasty! The people who make this stuff and advertise it on TV have spent decades figuring out exactly what it takes to make you keep buying their products. Healthy people love potatoes and gravy and chips and dips the same as you do. But they learn how to eat well because they want to be, well, healthy. That’s why people who love to smoke quit smoking, and people who love to drink stop drinking. Unhealthy eaters change because they don’t want to be dependent on doctors and prescriptions for heart disease and diabetes – that “pound of cure” I was talking about, or they don’t like how it makes them look and feel and limits what they can do.

All addictions rob you of your strength and make your body weaker. It’s not about how you look on the outside. It’s about being strong! Next time germs invade, your immune system will stand up tall and say, “Oh, no. Hell no. Not in this house!” I’m not saying you’ll never get sick. But if you do, you may not get as sick. Your soldiers will beat up on those germs and eventually they’ll run off, holding their hands over their bottoms as you pelt them with all your healthy ammo. If nothing else, you’ll look and feel better. You can do this. Start today!!

America’s Bodies and Immune Systems. The strong. The proud. The free! 

Happy Martian

I made this short animation movie in a Flash class in 2010 as my final project. My instructor must have had a sense of humor because he gave me an A. This thing took many hours and days to make. Recently I’ve been getting alerts from Adobe – the creator of Flash – that Flash Player has some kind of plague now and Adove wants everyone to not only stop using it, but to get it off their computers completely. They came on my computer at all hours with messages like this one: Please remove Flash Player from your computer, then set it on fire, bury it in the backyard in an unmarked grave, and pile some big rocks on it. DO IT RIGHT NOW!!!!

It’s been 10 years since I made this project, and I’ve never done anything with Flash since, but I was worried I wouldn’t be able to watch this little movie again, so I needed to edit it in order to upload it to YouTube, and I couldn’t remember anything about how I made it. So a lot more hours went into revising this, mainly because my old Flash program kept crashing.

Not to get too geeky on you, but when something on your computer just quits, that’s called – in technical terms – stupid, because just about everyone in the world says, “Stupid” computer. Some people say other words too, particularly the one starting with “f.” Anyway, when a stupid program stops working on your stupid computer, it’s really f… I mean, annoying. That’s what Flash kept doing when I tried to export this little animation into a movie I could put on YouTube. Hence the hours and hours of frustration – I’d do one thing but that would break something else.

Finally, after copious notes because I couldn’t remember what I’d done up until the next screw-up, in case I had to start over, I got this little movie exported to a file that YouTube would let me upload.

So here it is for your viewing pleasure. There are lots of nuances – smile turns to frown, stars twinkle, moon waxes – little things. By the way, some snot-nose kid could have probably made this in a couple of hours. That doesn’t diminish any of my ecstatic joy at my own accomplishment!

The Last 12 Months – Not So Bad but Not Good

Covid 19 has shrunk my world, but there is still much joy in it. I’ve replaced the busy-ness of going and doing with staying and un-doing. 

During the day, instead of getting dressed and meeting someone for an activity, I’m home in sweatshirts and loosey-goosey pants and limp hair with that flat spot in the back from sleeping on it, zero make-up, no polish on my toes or shoes on my feet.

Instead of going out, I’m excavating closets and cabinets. I found my old ballet slippers from a class I took in college in the hall closet where my daughter had stashed them years ago. Well, one of them. She probably lost the other and hid the “sole” survivor.

Covid, Disasters, and Friends

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All hell broke loose in Oregon last weekend. We had snow, freezing rain, ice, power outages, and the worst – no TV! You don’t realize how truly alone you are until you’ve lost the internet and TV. My husband’s mom came to our house for two days because her power was out, and while she was here our power went out. We were forced to play Scrabble by candlelight to entertain ourselves, and then she beat me. “The game was rigged!” I whined.

Then we heard that in Texas hell actually did freeze over, bursting people’s water pipes and causing power outages and water shortages. The news was full of tragic stories about couples with four kids having no power or water in a freezing house. Many of them left their homes to stay with relatives or friends. In times of trouble, strangers step up, but it’s easier to call your mom or son or a friend to help. 

Some of us don’t have nearby relatives, and some don’t have friends. It’s hard to make connections when you’re busy all the time, or prefer your own company so you don’t have to share the remote control. It also takes courage to have friends, because there’s always the risk of rejection. They might not invite you to a party, or they choose someone else to go with them to the beach. If you’re busy all the time when they call, they eventually quit calling. Plus you have to be nice to them. That sounds flippant, but really, you can’t insult your friends or do mean things to them because they’ll put up with it for a while but eventually they’ll find a new friend. 

Don’t Answer It!

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When my daughter comes home from college and the land line rings, I yell, “DON”T ANSWER IT!” She always wants to – she thinks it might be her grandmother or somebody. It’s not.

Reminds me of growing up, when we always answered the phone. That was a long time ago, before cell phones and answering machines, in the days when the phone rang and you could count on it being a relative or friend or someone you did business with. During my teenage years back in the days of the dinosaurs, I was either on the phone talking to friends for hours, or I wasn’t in the house.

My dad worked out of town and was only home on intermittent weekends. He was one of those guys who took the newspaper with him into the bathroom when nature called. He’d be in there reading the sports page when the phone rang. Back then, though, there weren’t lying, cheating jerks who wanted to fleece us over the telephone. So when the phone rang, we answered it. Also, because there weren’t answering machines, the phone just kept ringing. Teenage girls figured you were in the bathroom popping zits or something and they’d just let it ring until you got done and answered. Or, if they were lucky, your cute brother would pick up the phone and you could talk to him until he realized it wasn’t one of the girls in his class but some dumb kid.  

After a few thousand rings my dad would throw the newspaper down, pull up his pants, clutching them at the waist because he had to return to the bathroom and finish up, and stomp to the phone. He thought that if the phone was ringing all that time, it must be an emergency. He growled, “HELLO!” Either the friend thought to herself, “Oh crap,” and hung up on him, or she said in a mouse’s voice, “Is Suzy there?” He yelled, “NO!” and slammed the phone down.

Superstitions and Ornery Boys on the Ski Slopes

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My superstitious traditions didn’t protect me when I went skiing with my brother last week. I know, I know, superstitions are ridiculous. I’ve stepped on a lot of cracks and never broke my mother’s back. But still…

On Thursday my brother and I headed to the mountain. I like skiing with him because he’s as bad a skier as I am. On the hour and a half ride to get to Timberline, there are two things we always do because, I don’t know about him but for me, I think if I don’t do them something unfortunate might happen on the slopes.

If you’ve never skied, let me assure you, it’s dangerous. You’re going way too fast on snow and ice with your feet strapped to two boards that could turn on you at any minute. One board could go into a track left by a previous skier and follow that line, or you can “catch an edge,” while the other board keeps going straight. You’ve probably seen it happen in cartoons. Usually you can force the wayward ski to behave, but if it won’t, you fall. Which can hurt, but mostly it’s just a LOT of work. Picture a walrus in the Arctic trying to get up on an ice floe, grunting and swaying and bellowing. That’s like one of us struggling back up from a fall, covered in snow like a powdered donut – well, not really, because a walrus is more graceful. Also you can get hit by a beginning snowboarder who’s going too fast and hasn’t learned how to stop yet except to ram into you and flatten you like a steamroller.

That’s the reason traditions/superstitions come into play. We want all the help we can get. The first thing we do, on the way up to the mountain just past the town of Sandy, is salute a metal sculpture. My son started that one when he was just a toddler. On a road trip going toward Mt. Hood he spotted a metal sculpture of a skeleton riding a Harley in someone’s side yard. He shouted, “Skelekos Rider!” because that’s the best he could do at such a tender age. So every time we go on Hwy. 26 and we pass that sculpture, we raise one fist in the air like the man on the Harley and say, “Skelekos Rider!”

This sculpture of a skeleton riding a Harley with his hand raise up is cool in itself, but I liked the old car and tow truck in the background, too. Not to mention the "Harley" sign.
This sculpture of a skeleton riding a Harley with his hand raised up is cool in itself, but when we pulled over to snap this picture, I liked the old car and tow truck in the background, too. Not to mention the “Harley” sign.

Wrestling with a Vitamin Jar

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I got a new jar of multi-vitamins and began the task of opening it this morning. I finally got through obstacle Number 1 – removing the clear plastic wrapper that is molded around the lid and most of the jar. I put my best magnifying glasses on, grabbed a pointy steak knife and, delicately as a surgeon, nosed it at the edge of the plastic repeatedly until I got the tip under it, enough to lift a little edge that I could tear away with my teeth. 

After I wrestled off all that plastic, I pressed down on the child-proof cap with all my might and opened the jar. I found obstacle Number 2 inside. The round white inner seal – held in place with industrial glue so strong you could chain it to a pickup truck, gun the engine and no matter how many horsepower or Hemi’s under the hood, it won’t pull the inner seal off.

Typical vitamin jar inner seal - nearly impossible to remove

The manufacturers like to trick you into believing the seal will come off, so they put a itsy bitsy little tab on the edge of the seal, or, as in this case, they have kindly glued a thin clear strip of plastic that sticks up like a shark’s fin for you to grab onto. I always get suckered into trying. “Maybe this time,” I say to myself with faith and hope, “maybe this time I can tug the inner seal off with my bare hands and brute strength.” Getting a grip on the thin plastic fin is not possible with human fingers – it’s barely enough to pinch. Gripping takes more finger real estate, almost all the way to the first knuckle. The jar designers know this, so they make the fin almost – but not quite – tall enough.

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Copyright © 2021 by Suzanne Olsen