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

Category: Home Life Page 1 of 4

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.

Social distancing from my kitchen

I have social distanced from activities, family and friends, stores, but what I really need to do is social distance myself from the kitchen. Being home all the time is causing my appetite to surge like a Space X rocket. 

I blame it on boredom. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to do – clean closets, yard work and all that, but it’s not fun. Used to be, back in January, or Pre-C, I’d spend my time going out – you know, with friends and family, volunteering, shopping, book club meetings, luncheons. I’d style my hair and look at all my clothes, get exasperated because I didn’t have anything to wear, start combining my sad glad rags to try and get a new look, create a pile of discards on the floor that I’d hang back up later. After much time and energy I’d leave my house, finally happy to be seen in public.

It gave me something to do. First thing most mornings: walk with a friend wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Then back home, shower, change into nicer jeans and top. Blow dry and hairspray my hair, put on makeup, pick out different shoes – not the muddy ones from the walk. Later, for the evening adventure, try on several outfits, shoes, necklaces, scarves. Hang the rejects back up. Re-do my hair and makeup. Maybe give myself a pedicure.

Now, with just my husband and me here alone, unless I have a Zoom meeting, I dress in baggy, somewhat clean clothes in the morning, let my drab hair hang limp, never wear makeup.

I have nothing to do but eat.

Shelley the Wonderdog

Shelley would have been 20 years old this August – a little Yorkie Poo, about six pounds. What a life she had! We got her in October, 2000 while my husband was on his annual two-week guys’ boating trip. He didn’t want a dog, so the kids and I had to get her while he was gone.

My son was 11 and my daughter 6 when we drove with two of his friends for an hour to Albany, Oregon to meet a woman who had Yorkie Poo puppies for sale. The puppies, the woman told me on the phone, were supposed to be full-bred Yorkshire Terriers, but a rogue poodle down the street had an intimate encounter with her Yorkie, so the puppies were misfits in the woman’s eyes. In ours, they were the cutest things on earth.

Three black puppies were in a large cage in the back of her SUV, one was eager and came right over to us, one hung back in the corner. The third one eased over to us after a little while. My daughter and I wanted them all. My son said, “Let’s take the middle one. He’s not shy but he’s not aggressive either.” He turned out to be a she, which was perfect.

Resting after being chased.
Resting after being chased.

On the trip home we debated about a name, most of which ended in an “e” sound: Blackie, Yorkie, Lovey. After a couple thousand names were thrown out, Matt, one of the friends, said Shelley. We all got quiet. Hmmmm. Shelley. It seemed like an odd name for a dog, but it had potential. For a few minutes we compared it to other names, but Shelley fit her.

She ended up being my dog, though the kids played with her constantly when they were home, and fought over whose bed she’d sleep in. My daughter carried her to bed first, then my son came in and stole her a little later when he went to bed. If my daughter wasn’t asleep yet I’d hear, “Mo-om, Chris is taking Shelley. Make him stop.” I’d go in to referee and find them with all four hands on the dog, tugging her in each other’s direction.

Shelley trying to get Scott's attention.
Shelley trying to get Scott’s attention. My husband grew to love her too.

DIY Projects (or Am I Crazy?)

Like many of you, I’ve been passing the time doing projects I’ve put off for a long time. The video shows what I’ve done. The narrative below reveals the challenges (screw-ups) that befell me doing them.

Projects I’ve been working on

I get inspired to do most of my “Do It Yourself” projects because I’m cheap.  I wanted to update our guest room comforter but couldn’t find anything I liked. I guess that’s not strictly true. I found things I like, but to afford them I would have to sell one, and maybe two, of my vital internal organs. 

Being fond of my kidneys and such, and what with extra time on my hands, and since the fabric store is about the only thing open, I decided to make the comforter. Theoretically, it’s pretty easy to do. It’s basically like making a sandwich. You take a top hunk of fabric and a bottom hunk of fabric (the bread), and you put some batting in between (the cheese). Sew them together and wallah, you’ve got a tasty comforter!

Like any recipe the problem comes in the execution. How big a hunk of fabric? How thick should that batting be? Too thick and it’ll be hard to get in my mouth.

Did I go too far with the sandwich analogy? I’m trying to say, in a clever way, that when I sew it’s always a recipe for misery. After much searching I finally found a nice cotton fabric at Joann’s I liked but they only had one yard left. It takes five to six yards to make a comforter with 45” wide fabric. I bought their one yard and ordered more online and, because I lack the most basic measuring skills, I didn’t order enough. When I went online to order more, it was sold out. From a financial standpoint, I was into this fabric too deep to scrap it and look for something else – I didn’t even get it on sale! So I pieced fragments together to make the back of the comforter – it’s the Frankenstein side.  

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.

Torturing Your Husband with Back Seat Driving

This conversation is pretty much verbatim how I abused my poor husband when we met friends for a late dinner out of town. I was tired and he wasn’t getting me back to the motel quick enough. We had our little dog in the car with us. I’ve written it like a movie script – it’s pretty easy to figure out who’s talking (I’m the spiteful nag).

You missed the exit.

No, I think it’s this next one.

Our Family Vacation

Sunset at the Sheraton waiting for the manta rays to come to the spotlights.

Whew! Just got home from a week’s vacation and I’m absolutely worn out. I’m not sure whether we’re cheap and want to get our “money’s worth” out of a vacation, or we’re afraid that we’ll strangle each other if we don’t schedule up every second with body-draining activity.  Our family vacations are like running a marathon: get an early start, stay on the move all day, then collapse into bed at night in a body wrung out like a dishrag.

Our Sweet Momma

Photo of our sweet momma when she was young.

My momma was sweet – that’s a great gift to have in a mother.

I grew up in East Tennessee, where the summers were hotter than a half f…..ed fox in a forest fire, as my dad used to say. He was in the Navy and literally cussed like a sailor.

A Pig Stye that Seldom Meets the Eye

Closet stuffed to overflowing

When we have people over, I like my house to be cosmetically clean. Even though my house may look spotless, never open a cabinet or a closet door – cardboard boxes and volleyballs and unopened junk mail will waterfall out and bury you.

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.

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Copyright © 2020 by Suzanne Olsen