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

Category: Holidays Page 1 of 4

Happy Birthday, America!

Sticky post

It’s our 244th birthday! Ever since July 4, 1776 we’ve spent money buying explosives that light up the sky for several nights, booming so loud that old curse when they go to bed at 8:30 and dogs to bark continuously and pee on the floor. 

On the actual holiday, we gorge ourselves on fried chicken, potato salad, and white sheet cakes with strawberries and blueberries and Cool Whip to make the Stars and Stripes that our bellies refuse to digest, stretching our American elastic waistbands beyond their endurance.

We are a good country, formed on sound principles written in the Declaration of Independence – that revered document we celebrate every July 4. The most famous quote says that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Our country seems like a mess right now with all the protests. We’ve been here before, but my hope is that after this year is we don’t go back again. I hope we will all remember that pursuing happiness can’t happen when you are angry. No matter what side of a political fence you’re on, if you hate others because of the color of their skin or the nation they came from, you cannot pursue happiness. Hate makes you angry. 

Go ahead, think about that for a minute. Has your child (or you, when you were a child) ever had a hissy fit, slammed a door, and shouted, “I hate you?” Are they smiling and happy? No, they’d kick you in the shin if they could get away with it. Now think about that same child looking into your eyes and saying, “I love you.” That’s happiness right there. It’s dang near impossible to find happiness when you’re angry – and pretty easy to be happy when you love someone.

It’s that simple – if we want to pursue happiness, we have to love each other. I know this goes against what you may have been taught by your angry parents, uncles, aunts, teachers, bosses etc., but it is the truth. And the truth will set you free – give you Liberty, and that will give you Life, and free you up to pursue Happiness.

Those old guys were pretty smart back in 1776. 

The video below was sent to me by my 93 year old friend, Pearl. Another very smart person. It’s a short version of a 1985 documentary where a teacher does an experiment in discrimination. It’s only 6 minutes long and well worth watching. The link to the full documentary is below that – it’s about an hour long. Happy 4th of July everyone!

https://www.pbs.org/video/frontline-class-divided/

That’s About the Size of It

There were many facets to my father, and not all of them sparkled. The parts of my dad that glowed didn’t outshine his flaws, but they made the journey with him brighter. 

My dad as a young man after eating a SweeTart
My dad as a young man after eating a SweeTart

Gene Patterson was born in 1923. He told us stories of his early years, gathering scrap metal for a penny a pound, near-death experiences flying down a long steep road in a homemade soapbox car with no brakes, hoping a car didn’t come through the intersection at the bottom, skinny dipping in the creek with his friends. In the Navy during WWII he got tattoos – a Navy anchor with a swirly ribbon around it and I think a rose with Mother underneath. That faded red and blue ink on his white-gravy skin were enough to keep me from ever getting branded with ink.

He courted and married Momma in Kingsport, Tennessee, and us kids came right away. Both of my parents were stubborn and independent, which may be why he became a union electrician and worked out of town, only coming home for periodic visits. Momma let us run wild, but when he was home he kept a tight ship, and we resented it, except for his first evening home when he often brought us something exotic like white chocolate. Plus he’d always bring his loose change jar full of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. I’d sit on the floor and stack them into little paper rolls and got to spend them on anything I wanted – usually candy. I don’t know what he gave to my brother, maybe folding money.

The next day, on Saturday, he’d ask me to go to Kroger’s and get something. I’d protest and want to just go to Kabool’s grocery down the street, but he insisted it had to come from Kroger’s, which was about a mile away. Back then I ran everywhere, so I dashed off, got whatever it was and ran home. I’d burst through the door to our little house, tromp to the kitchen, push the screen door open and look in the backyard – nobody around. I’d run to the bedrooms and see my parent’s door closed. I flung the door open and they’d be scrambling into their clothes. I never could figure out why they were taking a nap in the middle of the day.

A Fish Tale for Mother’s Day

This goldfish will be 15 years old next month (June, 2020), if he lives that long…

Have I got a fish tale to tell you. Friday morning I got up around 7 and found our 14 year old goldfish at the bottom of the tank, his fins clamped close, his eyes cloudy, his tail ragged – all very bad omens for a fish. I turned his light on and sprinkled food in the water like I always do. The flakes swirled around him like snow but he didn’t move. Didn’t even twitch. In almost 15 years of life, this fish has always wiggled and splashed and opened his mouth wide to snatch at the food – it’s actually kind of cute the way he carries on. I knew something was seriously wrong. The fish is like me – it lives to eat.

I went to Google right away and of course everyone said the problem was dirty tank water. Goldfish eat a lot and excrete a lot, and ammonia builds up, and nitrites and nitrates. It’s what causes most goldfish to go belly up a few days after your daughter brings one home in a little plastic bag all excited crying, “Look what I won, Mommy, look what I won!” Which is how we ended up with this fish in 2005. 

Father’s Day 2019

Father’s Day Fish Slippers

It’s Father’s Day, and my daughter sent her dad a pair of fish slippers. Thankfully my husband’s sense of humor got passed down to our kids.

Easter Craziness

This Sunday is Easter, and I observe the usual traditions from my childhood, plus things that other moms have done that sounded like they were better moms than me. That’s how the Easter Scavenger Hunt got started.

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.

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.

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.

Page 1 of 4

Copyright © 2020 by Suzanne Olsen