Category Archives: Humorous Column

Early, antique, faux, reality check Jackie

Okay, I’m a little steamed right now. In fact, I’m downright angry right now. Why? Well, if you’re still reading this far, I’ll tell you: I just read an article from a so-called “decorating expert” about all of the things you shouldn’t have in your house because they are just “tacky” and I fit just about every category she didn’t like.

So, just for her, I took a picture of what my living room looked like this morning. It shows every bit of my early, antique, faux, reality Jackie look and if that decorator were to see it, she would undoubtedly light it on fire!

For one thing, my pictures are not quality, they are things my family makes and the prints (not originals) that I saw and liked, so I bought them. My furniture, according to her standards, is too bulky, mismatched and in some cases, loudly printed. I have taken care of that with the comforters hanging off of much of the furniture and the pillows I set in the mostly unused chair, in case we are watching something boring on television (like a home decorating show) and we want to take a nap instead. I have furniture that is from the 1950s, the 1990s and some ultra-modern stuff from this century. I don’t put rugs down (except for that crooked one the dog always slides on) because I am messy and rugs pick up dirt and smells quickly.

I also have no color scheme and my lighting comes from mis-matched lamps that allow me to see what I’m reading or sewing in the evenings. I had no idea that there was such a thing as too much lighting or “appalling” lamps. Now that I know that, I will turn on my too-bright lamp, so that you will be able to see my face, which just doesn’t care.

I have a cupboard in the corner containing all of the mugs I have collected in my travels. They are all there, but I put them there, so I could look at them and remember, with some fondness, when I traveled to those places. If the decorator does not wish to look at them, she should probably not look in that corner!

However, if she turns to look in the other corner, she’s going to see the copy of the Lord’s Prayer that I have hanging there. No, I do not believe my house is a chapel, but I also don’t believe you get to tell me whether I hang up religious quotes in my house or the latest quotes from the stock market.

By now you’ve figured out that I have a problem with decorators. People who want to use them are most welcome to do so and I have seen many a beautiful home which has been decorated by them. However, if I want to hang up wallpaper with fake books on it, I think that’s my prerogative and no skin off the decorator’s nose.

I feel so much better for having got that off my chest and now, I’m going to go get a cup of coffee, sit down in one of my mismatched chairs and probably leave whatever book I’m reading on the mismatched end table beside me! Happy decorating!

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Jump for the sky

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My daughter posted on Tik Tok the other day about her lack of belief in people who react strongly when surprised. She said any jumpiness she has is because of me, her mother, and MY jumpiness. She says people can look me in the eye and say “Boo” and I will jump. This, of course, is not quite accurate, but I was startled enough by her post to decide to address it.

While it’s true that I am a little jumpy, I take issue with the fact that someone who looks me in the eye and says “Boo” can make me jump. This is not true. They do not have to go through the effort to look me in the eye. Just say “Boo” from anywhere in a 20-foot radius and I will hit the sky.

I know that I’ve always been like this and I also know that people tend to use someone else’s jumpiness to entertain themselves. My husband and I had not been married very long when he discovered that I was a very jumpy individual. He exploited this in a way that he somehow instinctively knew he could get away with then. He was a new bridegroom. I was too much in love to kill him so early on.

So, he would come into the bathroom during my peaceful showers and throw a cup of water on me. He soon discovered that it didn’t have to be cold (although he preferred that), just any cup of water would cause me to jump a foot off the shower floor and shriek.

He also found that hiding around corners and barking like a dog (we didn’t have a dog then) would cause the desired jumpy reaction. He continued that until one day, he tried to bark at me and discovered that it was his mother coming around the corner. My mother-in-law is a very mild woman and that is the only time I heard her give him the “I brought you into this world and I can take you out” speech. It ended the barking.

Over the years he has learned that only a new bridegroom gets away with scaring his wife and things for us have settled down. Not so with others.

I once whacked my boss in the face for appearing in a doorway where I was not expecting him. He wasn’t terribly pleased, but it seems his wife was also a jumpy person, so he understood. My children liked to wait for me in unusual places: in the bushes, in large containers, in cupboards and then, when I actually registered that they were there, they would say “Hi” or something and I would throw whatever I was holding into the air, emitting the requisite scream.

Being jumpy for a teacher can be even worse. Students will leap into the room or bang on the side of the door, or sneak up behind me and they get the hoped-for response. Some have been hit or lambasted with books or papers, but that does not seem to slow them down. I recently had a new administrator tap me on the shoulder from behind and he received a fist to his shoulder for his trouble.

My jumpiness when people are around is nothing compared to my reactions when I am working late in the school building. It’s dark through most of the building and even my desperate singing to the radio does not alleviate all of my jumpiness.

The worst reaction ever was when I was ready to turn off the lights in my room and head for home. As soon as I doused the lights, I became aware that someone was crouching on the floor; I could feel their presence on my leg. I reacted instantly: I screamed and kicked that person soundly, even following them as they tried to get away. Then, I hit the wall light switch and discovered that I had very ably drop-kicked my large trash can across the room. Serves it right. Never rub up against a jumpy woman in the dark. That trash can has learned its lesson and now does its best to stand over in the corner, making itself small whenever I walk by! Sometimes it pays to be jumpy!

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Ask the two and a half year old…

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It’s been a while since I wrote a blog, but I have been experiencing the unpleasant aspects of growing old. A lot of knee and shoulder pain have been occupying a great deal of my time and attention. Since this is the time of year I don’t spend much of my time traveling anyway, I haven’t really considered how I might look to the outside world, but a visit from my grandsons took care of that.

I went from days of my physical therapist spending her time and effort to make me contort myself into positions that she assured me were better for me: Me: But Kayla, I can’t bend my leg like that–Kayla: Sure you can–let me just add this weight to help you. I advanced from that to at least two of the three grandsons visiting and finding that dear old Grandma is a little under the weather.

Now, Grandma usually has some kind of fancy meal for when they arrive. This time they got hamburgers and chips–because Grandma couldn’t do much cooking. They ate without complaining, but before and during the meal, I got lots of hugs (unprompted, which is unusual) from the middle child and the oldest, unbidden, loaded the dishwasher, insisting that “I can bend over a lot easier than you, Grandma, I’ll do it.”

Walking around, using a walking stick for balance and trying to get by with a clumsy gait, I think, at least the older two gave me a lot sympathy. The youngest, not having seen me for several months, was not too receptive. He clung to Daddy and Grandpa and tended to give Grandma and her clutzy walking a wide berth. He responded when questioned, but when you are two and a half, you either are interested in something or you’re not.

I had a little better success when I put on Curious George–a perennial favorite show. He watched with rapt attention, even when his oldest brother–a fan from way back–complained about the quality of the artwork–he remembered it as being better. I tried to explain that a different television can change things, but I was an old woman on a crutch–what did I know?

I was moving around the house, making sure everybody had all of their things, when I noticed the two and a half year old, squatting a little and grunting. “Oh, oh, he’s trying to fill his pants,” I thought. I was incorrect. Watching him more closely as I followed him down the hall, I realized he was simply bending his knees slightly and walking in a slow, ponderous way which was kind of familiar to me. Then, I heard him, grunting with every step just as I was doing. This, then, was the 2 1/2 year old’s perception of what I looked was not flattering.

So, while I struggle to recover from all of my problems, I must face the fact that my oldest grandson is more helpful and considerate, the middle grandson believes I’ll be cured if he just gives me a little extra lovin’, and for the youngest grandson, my physical struggles are an opportunity for him to do a little mimicry and provide me with a mirror to see my own physical presence. I think it’s time to do the job and recover, if only to prove to the youngest that he is not quite correct in how Grandma normally appears!

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I baked some cookies…

In every family, there is a code sentence that always signals trouble. For some families it’s “sit down, we need to talk.” In other families, it comes with, “you won’t believe what I’m going to tell you now.” In our household, everyone knows there is trouble when I say, “I baked some cookies.”

I will apologize in advance to those women out there who love to cook, and some of those are in my own family. I apologize because for myself, I can think of no greater punishment than having to cook…I’m pretty poor at it and I’m okay with that. In addition, I never and I mean NEVER cook anything for the pure pleasure of it. But when things are at their worst, I bake cookies.

When Roy and I began traveling life’s highway together, he was unaware of this. It took five months into the marriage for him to stumble out of the bedroom one night, wipe the sleep out of his eyes and say, “It’s two o’clock in the morning, what are you doing?”

“I’m baking cookies,” I reply as I spoon some more dough on the cookie sheet. “Why, am I disturbing you?”

“Not you, just when the timer goes off,” he replied dryly. “Why are you baking cookies now. Come to think of it, I didn’t know you COULD bake cookies.”

“I don’t make cookies except in extreme circumstances,” I answered.

“And 2:00 in the morning is extreme because…” he prompted.

“I can’t sleep and it seems like a dangerous time of night to go for a walk in my pajamas and slippers,” I replied, sliding another batch into the oven. “You go on back to sleep, I’ll try to catch the timer before it goes off.”

From that point on, he adjusted to the fact that when his wife goes into the kitchen on purpose and bakes cookies, something major is wrong.

The time I hit the garage door with his fancy car, I baked a lot of cookies. Then there was the time that all the plumbing in the house was leaking. It was hard to do much washing up, when every pipe was leaking, but I made a batch of cookies anyway. Every time one of the children had an illness, I stewed and fretted and baked cookies. For all I know, they faked illness just to score a chocolate chip cookie! For the most part, I had them convinced that Oreos came from an old family recipe handed down from my grandmother, so when freshly baked cookies appeared in the house they were stymied!

So, today, on day two of the blocked in by the snow days, I got out the old mixer and a bag of flour and set to work making cookies. Roy came home and sniffed the air, and stopped dead in the doorway. “Oh god, let me see, uh, you’re leaving me?”

”Of course not, don’t be ridiculous, why would you say that?” I handed him three cookies, fresh out of the oven.

“You’re not leaving me. Did you wreck the car? Run over the dog? Chop a hole in the deck with the snow shovel?” His concern over why I was baking didn’t stop him from downing the cookies and hooking a couple more.

“I didn’t do anything. Nothing is bothering me. I’m just fine and so is the dog. However, it was a long, slow day, so I decided to bake some cookies. Can’t a person just bake some cookies?”

“I suppose so, but it’s never happened around here before. Cookies normally come with a side of milk and a major disaster. So, I wondered, why the sudden influx of fresh-baking?” he still couldn’t quite believe it.

“Honestly, that’s so insulting. You act like I never cook anything, and that’s just not so,” I said, and he finally relaxed and headed for the living room. A moment’s silence and then he asked, “What happened to my good recliner? I was going to take a nap.”

“About that,” I said, coming in with a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. “I was gonna mention that. But first, here, I baked some cookies….”

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All hail the weather rat

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Now, I have reconciled myself to the fact that we have a day entirely devoted to predicting the weather that has nothing to do with meteorologists. I have even reconciled myself to the fact that we have chosen a glorified rat as our spokesperson. I’ve even endured the replaying of Groundhog Day so many times I feel like I’m living the movie. All of this just adds up to the facts of life.

What I don’t think I can reconcile myself to is the fact that the back-stabbing little rat keeps predicting six more weeks of winter. Just the other day, on the edge of my seat, I observed yet another “prognostication” from the furry little rodent stating that we get six more weeks of winter and why? Because the little wimp saw his shadow!

What stymies me the most about this situation is that there is an entire cult following on this tradition. I was curious enough about it to research its beginning. I found that in Germany, Feb. 2 is Badger Day and a badger coming out of the hole in fine weather determines whether there will be four more weeks of winter.

It was continued in this country by the Pennsylvania Dutch, who adapted to a groundhog as the weatherman of choice and they decided to add two more weeks. So, while a badger, sunbathing in Germany on Feb. 2 means four more weeks of winter, a groundhog in Pennsylvania, wandering out of its hole on Feb. 2, predicts SIX more weeks of winter. That’s great; four weeks wasn’t enough, let’s punish ourselves with six!

The official ceremony takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. They do it up right, complete with all night parties, a whole council in tuxedoes and their loving little rat…Punxsutawney Phil. I have to tell you before we go any further, that I will never be in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania on Feb. 2, dressed in a tuxedo so I can help drag a groundhog with too much influence out of its hole to tell me the chances for an early spring…or not!

This winter may have put me in the wrong frame of mind for this beloved holiday. Since November, we have had nothing but winter. We have endured snow, ice, blizzards, cold temperatures and did I mention the mountains of snow, week after week for months now. As I am driving to work through the latest ground blizzards, I do not want to hear that there is a creature with the unprepossessing name of “groundhog” who has the nerve to tell me I’ve got six more weeks of this. No! I refuse, groundhog!

If we absolutely have to have this prediction made, can’t it be done by scientists, meteorologists, ect.? Heck, I’d even take a prediction by the badger–he only predicts four more weeks! So perhaps we need to drive to Pennsylvania and nail the groundhog’s door shut, or put laxative in his tea (that would distract him), or something to put an end to this frustrating holiday.

For those of you who feel I am overreacting, I invite you to come to visit me and look out upon my front yard. Oh, wait, my front yard is not visible because of all the “winter” piled up out there. So, if next year, I am not the first one in line to pat Punxsutawney Phil on his furry little head for ruining my day, and possibly my season, you will understand. However, if you hear that somebody punched the little rat in his protruding, weather-predicting teeth, just pretend you don’t know me. Have a nice Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, any February holiday except Groundhog Day!

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Cooking is not one of my life skills

I believe the title of this blog says it all. I have never in my life claimed to be, aspired to be or imagined myself to be a cook. I have many fine skills, it’s just that cooking is not one of those. And I am really okay with that, but the rest of the world seems to think I should be in a fine state of panic about my inability with a saucepan.

Please! When I was but a child of 8, I managed to set the kitchen curtains of my parents’ home ablaze because I wanted to make myself some french fries. I started there and I have never looked back. In the kitchen, my primary skill is fire and most things I touch with it are not the better for the effort. If I were an elemental witch, I would be the witch of fire and earth because my food either tastes burnt or like dirt!

I believe if you check back somewhere in my distant past you will find that I told the sad tale of meeting my husband when he, as a professional fireman, showed up to quench the polish sausage I had planned for my supper. After that misadventure, we were brought together under less traumatic circumstances and discovered we had met before over a scorched pan and a sausage burnt beyond recognition.

I always tell this story and then I add: “And he married me anyway, knowing full well I couldn’t cook.” There is no argument to this and I assumed when we made the match that my lack of culinary arts skills was not a hindrance for him. However, after years of having to silently chew the burnt offerings or the underdone potatoes or the hard-as-rock cookies, he has been known to grumble from time to time. However, since my answer is inevitably an invitation for him to take over meal preparation, he always backs down because, you see, he is no more fond of the kitchen than I.

That brings us to the pan I have featured in the picture section of this article. That pan is a wonder. I boil stuff in it and fry stuff in it and I have been known to bake stuff in it. That’s why it came as such a shock to me when someone saw the pan and remarked, “Oh neat, a stove-top wok. Do you do a lot of stir fry?”

Stove-top wok. I had no idea. Keep in mind, my idea of stir fry is a bag of frozen vegetables with some left-over meat, soaked in a bottle of teriyaki sauce. I don’t need a special pan just to make that! As I was cutting the evening’s boiled potatoes in it tonight, I told it, “We don’t need fancy titles or elegant trimmings. We’re real, you and I and we’ll get along fine.”

Apparently, the stove-top wok didn’t like my little pep talk, because when I had cooked the potatoes and mashed them, they had the consistency of stringy cheese or wallpaper paste. Roy didn’t complain, though, he choose to look on the bright side.

“Are those potatoes okay?” I asked looking with concern at the swipe of potatoes hanging from his chin like a surrender flag.

“Oh, they are just fine,” he said, if somewhat grimly. “They are much better than last week’s, with the little chunks of underdone potato hidden throughout the dish.”

Way to look on the bright side I say, because my cooking doesn’t improve with compliments. Come to think of it, my cooking doesn’t get a lot of compliments, and there is good reason.

I troll through Facebook and I watch every single one of those cooking videos, and I laugh because there is no way it would come out that way for me! I have never yet tried one of their recipes, they look so good, I just don’t have the heart to show them how they could be ruined! Likewise with recipes in magazines. I tried one once for chicken-fried steak and my husband, after two bites, tossed the plate aside and swore he could taste cinnamon and sewing machine oil in the meat. I only spilled a little, he shouldn’t have been so picky!

It is my plan, as I head to retirement, to take on more complicated cooking tasks, because I’ll have time to really devote to it. The trouble will come, of course, when I discover you can’t read a book on the deck and stir the béarnaise sauce in your evening concoction at the same time. The béarnaise sauce is going to lose, I can tell you right now!

Well, I have now shared with you another chapter in the sad tale of Jackie’s cooking adventures. While I have no recipes to share at this time, I have thought of a fine logo for my efforts. I figure a cloud of black smoke billowing out of the stove while a firetruck clangs around the corner should just about do it!

In the meantime, come over anytime for a meal. My stove-top wok makes a heck of a good pancake…if you don’t mind well done!

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Teaching the old dog

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There’s a saying out there from when I was young, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” It never meant much to me back in my youth (a long time ago), but now that I have achieved a few years, I understand it much better. I have a terrible time figuring out new programs on a computer, I don’t know how to load “apps” on my telephone and when I pick up the mult-numbers of remotes for my television, I break into a cold sweat.

However, I found out this week, that I CAN learn new things. I had to do two things I have not tried before: constructing a small desk and conveying a purchase code from my account to my daughter. These may not seem like much to the young of the world, but to an old dog like me, they present a massive achievement.

“I ordered another small desk to add to my workspace,” I informed my husband one night.

“Fine, as long as you don’t need it too soon, because I’m at my busy time at work,” he said as he dashed for the door.

“I’ll put it together myself,” I was offended. “I’m not helpless, I can follow directions and construct things.”

“This is news to me,” he scoffed. “But if you’re so good at it, why don’t you finish putting together that stand lamp in the living room.”

“It IS put together!”

“It bends so much in the middle, it looks like it’s bowing,” and out the door he went.

Boy, that really revved me up! When that desk came, in about four million pieces, I was determined to get it together myself and then hide the one million pieces that I had no idea what to do with.

It was tough, and I wanted to give up. I was too old to learn how to do this. The fact that my ten-year-old grandson could do it in a half hour was not helpful to me, because he was miles away and he would have wanted too much money to keep his mouth shut about it to his grandfather.

I dived in. During the first hour, I opened that plastic package they send with all the screws and nuts and bolts in it, too roughly, and small metallic items went flying every direction and many of them were lost forever in the rug. I put the shelves on twice, once upside down and once right side up. Then, I decided it was time for the old dog to take a break. I don’t drink alcohol, but I sat in the living room and toasted the bowing lamp with my glass of soda.

Then, my daughter called. She needed a purchase code from my Amazon account. “If you need me to, I can get on a video call with you and help you through it.” This was just insulting! I could do it myself! And after about an hour and several abortive attempts, I was able to send her the image she was looking for.

She said, “That’s perfect!”

I preened with pride. “I’m a computer genius!” I was sure she would then praise me for figuring it out.

“You also sent me a picture of the cover of The Long Winter,” was her next remark.

“I thought you’d like it,” I lied, “So shut up and enjoy it.” And no, I can’t tell you how I got such a thing in there. The old dog can do a new trick, they just can’t explain it!

But, then I went back to desk assembly and I got done before my husband got home. I conducted him proudly back to the room and showed him the finished product.

After duly admiring it, or at least looking it over, he said, “I thought you were going to put the books shelves on the other way.”

“Well, yes, but those x-thingys weren’t marked very well and I put them on backwards. But this will work.”

“Why isn’t there a nut on this bolt,” was his next remark.

“I can’t find it,” I was not concerned. “It blends in with the rug. Besides, I don’t think all those nuts are the same size.”

“Some nuts are much bigger,” (it took me a while to figure out that zinger). “But this isn’t tight,” and he wiggled one, causing the whole thing to sway like a belly dancer.

“Don’t do that!” I yelled, “I lost that ellen thing and can’t tighten it any more!”

“The allen wrench?” he asked, trying hard not to smirk. “Well, if you’re satisfied with it, I guess it will do fine.”

I was elated. He said it would do fine! The old dog has learned a new trick! If you’re wondering why I didn’t post a picture of my new desk, it’s because I’m waiting until my husband has time to just “smooth over the rough edges.” Maybe if he can tighten some of the bolts, it will lose that tilt and sway it’s got going on right now. But it’s done! And I did it! So see, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks…or at least portions of them!

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New Year, Old hangups

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Hello, everyone and welcome to the new year. Now, I am a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions and I sometimes keep them clear into February, but this year, I think it should be different. We are all supposed to resolve to eat smarter, lose weight, exercise more, be more organized, etc. All of those are good things for some people, but I think I will go in a different direction. I will resolve on things that most would count as frivolous, if not downright…dumb!

Allow me to explain: I don’t want to resolve on new things to do, I want to resolve on continuing the things I like to do now. Is this self-improvement? Maybe not; but it is a whole lot more fun for me. I also will be resolving to cease doing things that I already don’t want to do. That should be easy!

Let’s start with something simple, like M & Ms. Now, the world does not eat enough M & Ms. If they did, everyone would be a whole lot happier. So, I’m going to get bags and bags of M & Ms and resolve to not only eat more myself, but hand out as many of those little round circles of joy to all the crabby people in the world as I can. That’s a good resolution, now, isn’t it?

And if that resolution is not big enough for you, you will appreciate my next one. I resolve not to clean one single closet this entire year. Every year it seems, I resolve to get some closets, drawers, cupboards, etc., cleaned out and pare down the amount of junk I am storing. And every year, I clean one or two, dragging everything out, deciding I can’t get rid of anything and putting it all back. So, this year, I resolve not to clean any closets. I’m not even cleaning the refrigerator unless something in there evolves enough to talk to me!

I also resolve not to go on one single diet. Everyone out there who has ever gone on a diet at New Year’s, lost weight and kept it off for good, raise your hand: just as I thought; one hand raised and that guy is lying. I have tried breadless diets, sugarless diets, keto diets, salad diets, fasting diets and that diet where you eat nothing but Krispee Kreme doughnuts and the same thing happens. If I can stand it long enough to lose weight, that weight creeps right back on as soon as I start eating actual food again. So, I’m to skip the middle man here and resolve to stay the same chubby, fun-loving 120-pound beauty I am today. If you would like to challenge that weight declaration, you’ll have to come and get me and when we check it out, we’re using my scale!

I will make one concession-related resolution regarding my habits, however. I resolve that this year, when someone presents me with a dish that looks as though the cat were sick in a pan (and frequently smells a little like that too), and says, “Try this! I found this recipe in an old copy of ‘Meals to make for those you hate’. Does it need a little salt or something?” I won’t. I resolve that I will NOT try it, no matter the salt content. If I don’t eat things that don’t appeal to me, I might lose a little weight, don’t you think? So, no liver casserole or fried chicken feet for me! Good resolution.

I resolve this year not to lift anything more than five pounds and to never stand when I can sit. I will not take out the garbage unless the Health Department shows up and the dog will have all four legs fall off before I take her for a walk. I will resolve not to make any cupcakes or homemade bread and I will resolve not to hint broadly to all the cooks in my life to let me have some of theirs.

New year’s resolutions have always been tough–keeping them, not making them. Therefore, I will look for resolutions that don’t require a huge commitment of time or dedication. I resolve to leave the snow on the deck and hope everyone thinks I’m going for a beautiful, seasonal scene and they don’t guess the awful truth, which is that I am lazy and not interested in getting a pulled muscle or torn rotator cup, just so my deck is clean. The dog can walk through the snow and I can wait to sit on the deck until the weather warms up, should that ever happen!

I know, I know, by now you are thinking that I am not taking this whole resolution thing very seriously, and you would be right. So, for my final resolution, let me resolve to stop taking life too seriously and maybe have a little fun when I can. Now there is a resolution I can get behind. Happy New Year, all of you!

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The definition of insanity…

A wise man once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. While I agree with this to an extent, I feel the definition of insanity is more likely buying a new television, and expecting the same results as the old one!

It was decided at my house (not by me) that our old television just didn’t have it anymore. The television was now 12 years old and I finally had learned how to use it. I knew which buttons to push for which items and I even learned how to do new stuff, like play DVDs and watch Netflix. I had that television and its controls down and it only took me twelve years.

But my husband, the football fan, decided that he should turn his living room into a giant ESPN scoreboard. All we lack now is the bar and the betting pool. The television is in place.

Small problem: There are now even more remotes to handle and they are even harder to learn. For instance, there are three remotes which currently turn the television on. There are two remotes that will give you the regular cable channels and two others that take care of Netflix. We can no longer play the DVDs–no hookup and no remote.

Here is where the insanity starts. If I turn the television on with this remote, it will not bring up cable, but I can watch Netflix. If I want to adjust the volume, that requires an entirely different remote. However, if I use another remote to turn on the television, you guessed it. There will be cable, but no way to get to Netflix–UNLESS you use a further remote, which will put on Netflix, but throw you off cable.

I was busy trying to make a chart of which remote, used in which order would operate what thing, when Roy came in. He picked up the large black remote and turned on the television.

“Where’s the game?” he asked, staring at the blank screen which stared back at him.

“Is the game on cable? Because for that, you need to turn on the television with the gray remote,” I said, checking the notes.

“Well, why can’t I just switch over?”

“Because, if you hit the wrong button, you put it into some kind of sleep mode and then it takes three other remotes and a few hours to bring it back. What station is your game on?”

By now, he’s sorting through the various remotes like a woman does earrings in a jewelry box. “Well, I think it’s on Prime,” he said, sounding somewhat confused.

“Oh, for that you need this other remote over here. You turn it on with this small black one and you find your Prime station with this small white one,” I said, handing them over. “But if you need to adjust the picture or the volume, then you will have to turn it all off and start again with the large black remote.”

“You’re making this up, right? You just don’t want this new television,” he was very suspicious now.

“Of course not! I love the new television and if I sound like I’ve lost my sanity, that’s because I have discovered that loss of sanity is a requirement to operate this machine.”

He stood and looked at me and the dizzying assortment of remotes and then at the television, still staring blankly at him. Then he left the room.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“To find the old television,” he replied. “Maybe it will allow me to watch the game.”

“Oh, I don’t know. The remotes for that television are now programed to the new one. It will take hours to redo them.” Married couples should do things together. So I think it’s appropriate that we go out of minds together, trying to use the new television, don’t you?

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The Case of the Missing Phone

I promise I’ll explain the weird picture in just a moment, but first I must climb upon my soapbox and rant about my favorite topic: the addiction of the human race to the cell phone. The worst thing that could have happened, in my opinion, is for the portable phone (a necessary item, I admit) to be reduced from a cumbersome bag with a telephone inside, to the point where it can be held in the palm of one hand. Add to that the fact that the so-called “cell phone” isn’t so much a telephone anymore as an appendage connected to the hand. This appendage is so amazing because it can do everything except produce your offspring…and I dread the day when they figure that out!

Given that this is how I feel about the cell phone, it is probably surprising to people that I actually do have one. I use it once in a great while to locate Roy when we are in public and separated, but mostly it just sits in the bottom of my purse and runs down its battery…until Roy thinks of it and charges the poor thing! Getting the phone was at the insistence of Roy because I travel 28 miles one way in the country in South Dakota to go to work. I see the sense of it, but for the record, in the time I have had it, I have used it on the road once, and that was not a weather-related call!

The world has not caught up with my bad attitude about phones, since it seems that now, you can’t even make a purchase without giving out personal information.

“That is 30 dollars for the paint and could I get your phone number,” said the young clerk at the hardware store.

“What?” I said, in an unnecessarily loud voice. “Young man, did you just ask me for my phone number?” He was reduced to a flushing, flustered mess and guess what? I was allowed to buy the paint without giving my phone number. Cell phones! Bah! Humbug!

I have never lost the phone, but to be fair, I don’t go looking for it, either. Usually my phone is, as I said, at the bottom of my purse. That is, until this week. And that is when the trouble began.

We have been experiencing a storm, this week, of a size and length that has not occurred in quite some time. As the white stuff piled up outside and the wind began to howl like something out of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Long Winter, Roy and I settled down and resigned ourselves to getting whatever work we could do at home finished. Roy had some hook-up needed whereby he used his cell phone to set it up. However, in the middle of the operation, he needed a second phone to call his co-worker.

“Where’s your phone?” he hollered from the house desk.

“In my purse, where it is always is,” I answered.

“No, it’s not; I’ve looked. It isn’t there,” came the ominous answer. I walked into the dining room to find my purse, looking much as it does in the above picture with my wallet, combs, pens, kleenix and spare cough drops spread everywhere.

“Now I’ve got to put all of that back,” I whined.

“No you don’t, you’ve got receipts in there from Tucker’s Grocery Store,” he replied, still raking through the things he had dumped out as if the phone would magically appear.


“So it hasn’t been Tuckers for five years. You have five-year-old grocery receipts, but no phone. Where is your phone?”

Suddenly, I was talking to Perry Mason, Dick Tracy and NCIS, all rolled into one. I had to search the car, my coat and other winter wraps and my sewing basket. No, I don’t know why I had to search the sewing basket, but the Crime Scene Investigator wouldn’t shut up until I did!

Finally, he did what all who search for a missing cell phone do…he called it with his phone. He got voice mail and we heard no locating ring from it. Now, I don’t have one of those phones that can tell you where it is, so the case of the missing phone was not to be solved. I took some comfort from the fact that, according to what I see on the crime shows, if I’m ever on the run, they won’t be able to “ping” me to find where I am hiding.

Now, between you and me, I am guessing that my phone was probably left at work. There is really no other place it could be, unless, somewhere between the school and my house, it hopped out of my purse on some “suicide mission” and is now buried under four feet of snow. But we are not going to tell the cell phone Nazi that, unless we have to. Right now, suffice it that he is cleaning my closet, my underwear drawer and the kitchen freezer in the hopes of finding the phone. At least, I’m getting some cleaning done and he is well occupied!

In the meantime, I will enjoy the fact that no one can call me and I don’t have to worry about whether the darned thing is charged or not. Happy snow storm to you all and to all–a good night!

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