Sleep facts…for anyone awake

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Jackie Wells-Fauth

I read an hilarious article the other day on little-known facts about sleep. The article interested me because I hadn’t written it and I am the utmost authority on sleep, I’m certain of that! However, I selected a few of the “facts” that were given in the article to which I have added a few thoughts of my own.

First, they (no I don’t know what organization put this article out) gave us two medical terms for sleep issues. The first term was dysania. Now, apparently if you have dysania, that is why you do not want to get out of bed in the morning. FINALLY! There is a medical term for this! I can call work and say, “Yeah, I need to take a sick day because my dysania is acting up.” All right, all right, the article said this was intended to describe someone who could not get out of bed for days, but give me enough chocolate and books and I can make that work!

Now, the other term was somniphobia. This was described as the fear of sleep. I am relieved to tell you that I do not have somniphobia. Sleep is my friend any time of the day…except bedtime. Oh wait, maybe that is what they are talking about? I need to do more research on this one.

Then, we moved on to statements on sleep, and as I go through all of these, I ask you to remember that you should not believe everything you read on the Internet, but I was tired, so I didn’t do any fact checking.

First, I learned that the body emits (for want of a better term) an anti-diuretic hormone while you sleep that keeps you from peeing in your sleep. However, this little hormone is not working that well for me as it shuts down at least twice a night, taps me on the shoulder and says, “All done working, get up and go pee in the bathroom.” I figure when it stops waking me up to say it’s not working, that is when I will have a real problem!

Another fact I found interesting was that if you believe you slept well, even if you haven’t, it will improve your performance! I could lie all day about how great I slept last night and it wouldn’t do anything for my performance during the day. I would look in the mirror and see the bags under my eyes, the drooping shoulders and the shuffling feet and I would KNOW I was a liar!

Fact number three: A good sleep improves your memory. I’m sure this is true, but I sleep so poorly that I can’t really test this out. Unless you count the fact that the opposite is true. I slept poorly last night and so today, when I looked at my notes on this article, I saw that I had written down “sleep, sex, eating.” I have no memory of why I wrote that, and I kind of wish I did! I’ll try to get that good night’s sleep and improved memory tonight and get back to you on that one!

I learned that working out before bed is not good–no worries there, I don’t work out at all!. Also, high altitudes can damage sleep quality–which explains why we don’t all stretch out in the trees at bedtime. Kind of feel bad for the birds, though. I know, I know, this fact was referring to trying to sleep on a plane, but since I don’t think I have the nerve to wake up the person in the seat in front of me, who is pretty much stretched out in my lap and say, “Did you know high altitudes damage sleep quality?”, I will use this fact any way I wish!

According to the article, nightmares aren’t all about fear. Says who? The big bad monsters that people my nightmares are pretty scary! In addition, we, as adults, take little naps throughout the day without even realizing it. This explains so much about my college economics classes!

There followed some random factoids that were not helpful at all. For instance, the longest a person has gone without sleep is 11days–that just makes me tired. Also, ducks sleep with one eye open and one part of their brains awake. I can beat that–I can sleep with both eyes open and no part of my brain awake!

The final fact, and hang on for this one, is that bears don’t poop during hibernation. And wouldn’t the spring awakening be rather unpleasant if they did?

Hope I didn’t put you to sleep without my lovely little sleep facts. I’ll leave you to do the research on their authenticity on your own! Goodnight!

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The grandchildren factor

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It’s been a hectic week. While things are always busy, this week took on special significance because of what I like to call the “grandchildren factor.” And while things in my house are never particularly organized, the “grandchildren factor” definitely adds to the chaos.

As my husband was returning from a day at work, I heard the entry door open and close and then, a lot of loud clumping and some very inventive curses.

“Problem?” I asked, not getting up from my chair.

“Yeah, I tripped over a bunch of boxes; where did these all come from?” he came in, still trying to kick one off of his foot.

“The grandchildren collected them. They want to build something,” I answered.

“Build something? What will they do with it after they build it?” he persisted.

“They will set it up in the back entryway for you to trip over,” I answered. “It’s only a week’s visit; deal with it.”

In fact, the “grandchildren factor” contributes to a lot of things. I make boxed meals and frozen pizzas because the grandchildren “love” those and they think grilled chicken and broccoli is, and I quote, “Gross.”

The “grandchildren factor” means that you find things in the bathtub that were never intended to be in the house (and some of them send you screaming from the room because they MOVED) and you find that your best china basket is now the home of some “really cool rocks.” If the smallest grandchild is here, there is unrolled and unraveled yarn in every corner of the main floor, and many of the refrigerator magnets have been removed and pitched off the deck. The yarn art is good, though, because after I’ve run after grandchildren for a week, I’m ready to just veg out in a chair, rewinding yarn balls!

The “grandchildren factor” is responsible for weird things. Strange smears and marks appear on the windows, doors and mirrors, some of which must be chiseled off. There is a paper trail of snack packages from the pantry closet to the bedroom and I’m not sure the refrigerator door will ever recover from so much opening and closing in a week.

The toothpaste roller disappeared from my toothpaste tube on the second day of their visit and I discovered it on their travel tube of toothpaste because it was “cool.” My crystal swans were rearranged, because if you put one forward and one backward and put them on either side of my round “Teacher of the Year” award, it spells SOS in crystal. Perhaps this was a sign!

The “grandchildren factor” has an opposite side, too. Never is there so much conversation at the dinner table as when they are here. We have riveting discussions about what would happen if you were in space and you had to poop, or how much pee it would take to fill a water glass. Dinner chatter has never been more interesting and becomes very dull after they are gone.

It is impossible to keep enough books on the bedside tables when they are here, because they plow through them. I have always loved this aspect of the “grandchildren factor”, but I suspect part of it is a ploy to keep from going to sleep too early. They love to do artwork to decorate our home, and since they have my artistic skill (I don’t have any), I have many Picasso-like paintings and chalk works.

This week, the younger grandson presented his grandfather with a picture. “Do you like it, Grandpa? It’s your lawn mower tractor.”

“Oh, that’s very nice,” Grandpa said, twisting and turning the picture looking for “up”.

“I want you to put this in your office, Grandpa,” declared the young Michelangelo.

Grandpa thought for a minute and then agreed, but before he took it, he had the artist sign it. “Because,” he explained to me quietly, afterwards, “I don’t want anyone to think I drew it and then brought it to the office.”

It may sound as if I don’t enjoy the “grandchildren factor,” but you would be wrong. When my boys are too old to come and visit for a week or two in the summer, I will be sad. However, the end of the “grandchildren factor” will also end the week following their visit being the “grandparent factor,” where we just sit in the wild shambles of our house and stare at each other!

Enjoy the grandchildren; they grow up even faster than the children did!

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My home away from home?

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I’ve spent the last few days on the road, and that has brought for me a renewed appreciation for those inns of the weary traveler. Of course, I mean the hotels and motels who strive to provide a world wanderer with a night’s rest.

In my years of partaking of the institution, I think I’ve seen every kind there is…from the perfect setting for a perfect night’s rest all the way down to one step up from a card-board box on the sidewalk. The first motel I remember being in was in a small town in the midwest, named cleverly with words beginning with the first three letters of the alphabet..abc. My mother contended that it really should have been called the Already Been Chewed motel (abc), instead. To add insult to injury, after a night in which we battled spiders living in the shower, rain leaking in through the windows and a smell in the carpet that we not only could not identify, but didn’t really want to, we drove past the other motel in the small town which had definitely not already been chewed!

My most memorable motel might have been one I stayed at with my aunt and grandmother. My grandmother had volunteered to get the motel for the night, but she kept teasing us that it was going to be a “flop-house.” My aunt and I agreed that she had succeeded, since the toilet was in a closet, the air conditioning was loud but not cold and my aunt and I spent the night in a bed that we had shoved against the door, because we discovered to our dismay that more than one door apparently opened with the same key.

There have been some lovely rooms rented by us over the years, but it seems like we are always in the room next to the barking dog, the late-night partiers or the enthusiastic newly-weds, if you follow my meaning. One night was spent in a room directly over the hotel’s conference room, where a wedding reception was in full swing, complete with a very good and very loud mariachi band.

If it isn’t noise, it is sometimes the hints that not everyone in the establishment is after the same thing you are…a good night’s sleep. I was in a hotel room once where the door at the bottom was so bent in that I could see the light of the street lamp outside and I was fairly certain that with very little effort, I could have made a drug purchase. Then, there was the night I spent in a motel that was little more than a line-up of cells along a sidewalk and where a very friendly gentleman passed along the line, knocking on every door, inviting us to his party. He got enough takers so that the party spilled into the parking lot and eventually, some police were invited to wrap up the festivities.

Then, there are the things inside the motel room. You know there is a problem when you don’t want to walk on the carpet with your bare feet, or where you only want to step into the shower after you have thoroughly sprayed it with disinfectant. To say nothing of the thrill of checking the mattress for those charming little livestock that sometimes move in and knowing that you missed something if you wake up the following morning with unexplained bites all over you!

Smells are a particular problem for me. If I smell strong cleaners, it makes my eyes water, but neither do I want to smell some of things those cleaners are eliminating…if they can. I stayed one night in a motel room so filled with cleaning odors that I couldn’t take it…so I opened windows and doors and aired it out. That was when I could smell the odor the cleaning odors had been masking, and in the end, I decided I preferred having my eyes water from cleaner as opposed to wondering exactly what had died in the corner by the bed!

I have always been a big fan of the reality show “Haunted Hotels,” mostly because I had never encountered anything remotely suspicious. But my most recent trip seems to have brought out the worst in the spirit world. In our first hotel, there was a reading lamp in one corner that kept blinking on and off; it was particularly bad when anyone tried to sit down in the chair in the corner to read. The rest of the lights worked fine, just that one would flicker and go on and off. Finally, we unplugged it because it kind of unnerved us and as soon as we did, the lamp over the bed began the flickering and blinking. It might have been faulty wiring, but it seemed rather intentional.

While I’ve never awakened to a spectral being trying to pull off my covers or floating over my head, I did wake up in the dead (pardon the expression) of the night to a small green light, which seemed to float back and forth over the bed. I would make a fine ghost-hunter because my reaction was to cover my head with the blankets and try to go back to sleep! That was enough spooky stuff for my whole lifetime.

As I said at the beginning of this rant, I have stayed in many fine, clean, quiet, un-haunted hotels in my life, but of course, the ones that have stuck in my memory have been the odd ones. May you find that all of your accommodations are truly, your home away from home.

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That’s the way I roll….

Some of the most amusing things I read on social media are those little questionnaires: which way do you roll your toilet paper, or how do you fold your towels? These are questions intended for people who actually participate in that activity known as housework.

For myself, a lot of times, my toilet paper rolls whatever way I manage to unthinkingly put it on. For anyone supposing because of the above picture that I roll the toilet paper under, think again. That just happens to be this application of toilet paper. It is just as likely that my toilet paper will roll sideways, because it’s sitting on the bathroom counter since I was too lazy to put it on the little roller thing!

As for towels, please. The space where I keep my towels in the cupboard is usually filled with extra shampoo or toothpaste because I haven’t folded the towels lately, they just come directly out of the laundry basket and we are just grateful that they are clean. People who fold their towels into quarters or thirds, or even worse, ROLL them up, are so far beyond my capabilities, I probably wouldn’t be allowed in their bathrooms.

It’s the same for so many other things in my house. I don’t take cookies from their packages and put them in a cookie jar. For one thing, I’m usually too busy stuffing them in my mouth, so they seldom last long enough for an actual location in a cookie jar. Coffee doesn’t ever make it out of its plastic container until it goes in the coffee pot, so I’ve never used that canister in the fancy sets that is marked “Coffee.” As for the “Tea” canister, I filled that with water and used it to root some plant clippings. Before you ask, yes, they are still in the “Tea” canister, and I may get around to putting them in a pot..someday.

I never decorate my counters with fancy little soaps and I have found that scented candles were invented so youth groups would have something to use as a fundraiser. Generally I keep those candles around so that during power outages, my house will smell like French Vanilla because I had to light something and I don’t have a container to hold my ordinary candles, either. So, I can find those fat jars the scented candles are in while it’s dark and even though they make me sneeze, I’ll have to make do with them.

This lack of system really doesn’t bother me a lot, but I suppose others might become annoyed if they need pencils and there are none in the holder or they would like to borrow some scissors and I have to call out the National Guard to locate some. For myself, I figure that a certain portion of my day should be spent in aimless searching and when I use the toilet, I kind of like the thrill of finding out how I roll on the toilet paper issue that day.

Having a system can be helpful sometimes, though. I have been putting my socks in a particular drawer in my dresser for the last two years and I have become stymied by the number of socks that either disappear completely, or worse, come back with only one from a pair. Imagine my surprise, then, when I happened to pull out a drawer I don’t normally use and discovered that my husband has been diligently putting my socks, paired and single, in that drawer, because I neglected to mention that I changed residence on my socks! It’s a great day for my socks, though, many lonely singles have been reunited and they have all discovered they are in a very large family.

When people post things on social media about how they store their magazines (what, piled on the floor by my chair doesn’t work?) or what they do to contain all of those plastic grocery sacks (I cram them in a small cupboard and then laugh when someone opens it and they spring out and attack), I simply move on to something else. Odd as it may seem, I have my own system and so far, it’s working pretty well–except for the massive amount of socks, that is.

So you all can fold your towels in threes or fours and make sure that paper towel roll is running the same way every week, but I don’t answer those surveys, because somehow, they just don’t seem to like the way I roll!

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Tangled in the Halls of Ivy

Jackie Wells-Fauth

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I like to think I was a fairly good college student in my day. I signed up to attend a school not far from my home and with a remarkably small campus–just the way I wanted it. And when I signed up for school there, I imagine they asked for my high school records and I had to fill out certain health and financial papers to boot. I just don’t remember it clearly…it was a long time ago!

It seemed easy. I packed my minimal suitcase, filled with a few clothes, an alarm clock and a few dozen pencils and I sailed right into the post-secondary halls of my learning experience. Freshman year is always tricky, but beyond that, I didn’t give how I got there, another thought. That college diploma arrived just when it was supposed to, I packed up my less-than minimalist belongings, threw the alarm clock out an upper story window and went out into the world of teaching. Simple, right?

Now, I’ve taught for 30 years and in that time, I have had to take classes to keep my certification together and apart from the fact that I have had to learn how to use an online-classroom format, I have managed pretty well. Until now, that is.

It was time. I needed that re-certification and I was about to embark on taking some classes to accomplish this. I decided that I would try a different in-state university because I had never tried that school and they had a class or two on their summer roster that looked interesting.

I contacted the school, asking for guidance, since they no longer have one of those handy catalogues that you can hold in your hands and refer back to over and over. My e-mail: “I am interested in taking a class being offered at your university this summer. How do I proceed to sign up for it?” Their e-mail: “You are too late for summer classes (this was the beginning of May) and you must go to this link (link provided) and fill out an application to attend our university. We are so excited to have you attend!”

Oh well, perhaps I would do better with a fall selection anyway. I went to the link and filled out the application to join their university students and everything was fine, until it asked me to check the degree I was pursuing. I wasn’t pursuing a degree, but it would not allow me to say that, nor was there any place to explain what I really wanted. I selected non-specific and entered.

Next step: “Send us $28 in application fee and your high school transcript.” Now, the money wasn’t so bad, except I never remembered having to do that before. The high school transcript seemed a tad ridiculous. So I wrote a rather tongue in cheek e-mail: “Since I have a college degree (naming the in-state university) and I have been teaching for 30 years and all I want is a class for recertification, can we assume that I graduated from high school?” Their reply: “All applicants are required to submit not only an official high school transcript, but also indicate any dual credit classes they took. Admission applications will not be considered without this.”

Feeling like a 40-year alumni on a foolish mission, I contacted my high school, which thank fortune, was still in operation. They kindly chipped my transcript off the cave wall and sent it in, with the caveat that since they didn’t start dual credit classes until 20 years after I graduated, I probably didn’t have any.

Problem solved! I received notice that I was admitted! I got an e-mail from a lady saying I should call with any questions. I called. She was on maternity leave. While I was wondering what to do next, I received a new student packet in the mail containing fun things like a school mascot sticker. They didn’t say where I should stick that, but I had a suggestion. This fun packet also informed me that I would not be able to sign up for classes until I had filled out my federal financial assistance application (signed by my parents or guardians) and my immunization record.

Now, that will be tricky. I don’t have a need for federal financial assistance, as I only plan to take a couple classes. And as for my immunization records, I have two objections: a)I don’t plan to set foot on their campus and b) I am not immunized for most childhood diseases because I went the hard way and just had the diseases!

Finally, finally, I was able to contact someone other than the lady on maternity leave. I spent five minutes talking to this real live person and he made an astounding discovery: I was filed under the wrong admissions program! It only took me two months and a lot of aggravation to get someone there to understand that. He very generously told me that I would not have to re-apply or pay another application fee; they would make sure I was transferred to the correct program and he will be contacting me to let me know when that is done and I can at last sign up for the classes I want.

Now, I’m making an even bet with myself as to whether I get this information first, or if I get my on-campus mailbox number and the name of my dorm roommate for the fall. Ah, college life!

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Ode to a shoe…

This morning, I participated in a very strange ritual at my house. My husband came up to me, placed my hand over my heart, then covered his heart with one hand while holding the above shoes in the other. Solemnly, he intoned, “Dear Lord, we are here to pay tribute to these faithful shoes, which have been with me for so many years.”

I wish I could tell you that I made this up, but I didn’t. I wish I could tell you that I’ve never participated in a ceremony like this, but I can’t. In my house, when my husband throws away clothes of any kind, it is a state event bigger than a visit from the Queen. To paraphrase the great Augustus McCray from Lonesome Dove, Roy is “not one to give up on a garment, just ’cause it’s got a little age on it.”

I included a picture of the shoes in question (and yes, those are the ones) because it would be impossible to describe just how bad they had to get before he would throw them away. In fact, his son-in-law had to point out that it is possible that some of his back issues might stem from the fact that these shoes have the outsides of the sole worn completely away, forcing him to walk like a cowboy with a chaps rash!

Now, I understand the desire to not waste clothing. I, myself, have two dresses that have (one or the other) appeared at every wedding, funeral and graduation for the last several years. But I am completely outdone by my husband when it comes to clinging to clothing. This man has garments which pre-date our marriage and that, my friends, was some years ago!

His favorite everyday jacket is a so-called “ski” jacket–he doesn’t ski–that he bought while still in college. The colors have faded from what I assume was a vibrant red and blue to a washed out orange and aqua blend. In addition, so much of the shoulder seams have broken out that it looks like he’s wearing fringe down his arms. But, any suggestion I have made that perhaps it’s time to put that jacket out to a well-deserved retirement, he points out that the zipper still works and the holes in the pockets are not too big!

I admit that I have resorted to criminal behavior on occasion. He had a pair of khaki trousers that were on the knife edge of developing holes in both pockets from his wallet and comb. When I, containing my glee as best I could, pointed out that it was time to get rid of those khakis, he looked at the pockets and said, “Maybe Mom could make new ones.” Now, his mother is a fine seamstress, but I have no doubt she has mended things for him that she privately thought deserved a trip to the rag bag.

But, back to my criminal behavior; when he threatened to force his mother to resuscitate those pants, I admit, I panicked a little and lost my head. The next day, when the sorry-looking pants came through the wash, I may have hooked my fingers in the pockets and ripped them up. Don’t let this information out, however, because I blamed it on the washing machine–it likes to eat perfectly good khakis, you know!

It is just possible that I may have made certain garments “disappear” in the past. If he wears a shirt until I can hold it up and see through it, I figure it’s time for it to take a trip to garbage happy land. I can usually not use his old t-shirts for dust rags because there is not enough of them left and there are socks which should be mercifully dealt with, using the “kerosene and a lit match” approach.

Now, in spite of all my complaints, he always looks well-dressed and appropriate when he is planning to leave the house, but some of the squirrels and rabbits who have seen him walking around in the yard have been so traumatized that they won’t come back. (I realize this is probably a good thing). In the meantime, I will continue to monitor the clothes, do my best to make the old stuff disappear, and yes, continue to participate in ceremonies like the one this morning!

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Environmentally lacking

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Everyday, during my devotional times, I pray for the environment of our earth. And I sincerely mean it, too. I would like to see more ecologically friendly behavior in the world, to try and clean up our beleaguered planet. I want this even more because I have heard from many sources that it is us, the Baby Boomers, who have critically impacted the environment.

I know this to be true. I know this, because while I am praying for a better environment, I am usually in my car, driving 30 miles to work. While I cannot presently do anything about the commute to work, I do appreciate the irony of burning fossil fuels while praying for environmental miracles from the Almighty.

I know there are other ways for me to do a better job in the environment. I have gotten rid of nearly all chemical cleaners, I only have reusable water bottles and I pick up trash in ditches, while avoiding the throwing of anything out the windows of my car. There are some things I am less good at, however, and I am here to confess them to you.

Let us consider the subject of paper towels. Yes, I know it is not good to use a lot of paper towels, but in the last week, I have used over a roll of paper towels and in some cases, like wiping up dog piddle from a nervous visiting dog, I feel I am more than justified. I don’t have to keep rags around that have cleaned up dog mess–paper towels can be thrown out. However, I also used them to wipe my hands fifty times, cover food in the microwave at least 25 times and wipe kitchen counters more often than I would care to admit. Ever since the video on what is in the average kitchen dish cloth or sponge was played for me, I have nightmares about what I am smearing on my counters, while wiping them off, so I use paper towels.

I had a friend some years ago who would hang up paper towels if the only thing on them was water and then re-use them. I tried this for about two hours one day and then I realized if I keep re-using them, I have the same problem as the evil dishrag. What to do, what to do!

I also have trouble with recycling. Is that bottle I just emptied one that can be recycled and if so, where can I take it? Do I put aluminum cans in with the tins used for tuna and vegetables? Which paper products are recyclable, is it just boxes, or could I include some old printer paper? It’s so confusing, so I finally decided that if it isn’t me burning rubber tires, spreading black smoke into the environment, then I am okay.

I have taken a serious look at cleaners in my house and since I’m not exactly a fanatical housekeeper, it doesn’t pain me too much to get rid of them. A friend advised that I use vinegar as my main cleaning agent and so I stocked up on a number of bottles. I sprayed it, wiped it, scrubbed it and ran it down the drain. I don’t know if the house is any cleaner, but the vinegar smell that hits you when you walk in my front door will drop you to your knees.

I turn lights off when I’m not using them, although I admit I’ve gone back to turning on the kitchen light when I get a drink in the middle of the night, ever since I tried to pour myself a drink of water and took a big swallow of vinegar instead! I don’t think the environment will come crashing down if I turn on the light long enough to distinguish the water from the vinegar. On a related note, vinegar spit all over you counter makes a pretty awful mess, especially if you leave it until the next day to clean up.

I don’t own any cows, I plant trees whenever possible and I never use an aerosol can for any reason. So, I feel entitled to use garbage bags as opposed to wrapping garbage in newspapers. I own several grocery bags that I routinely forget to take with me to the grocery store, but the intent is there, as I cram a new selection of plastic grocery sacks into the door where the rest are stored.

I recycle magazines and read newspapers online. I properly dispose of old paint cans and I always remember to pick up all papers from the grounds in the park. These things I do gladly as I try to make up for the Baby Boomer’s generation which hurt our environment so. And as for my morning prayers about the environment and the 30 mile car-ride; I hear electric cars are becoming a big thing. I’ll get one as soon as I have plug-in for it in my garage!

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Character assassination

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No, this is not an article about what people say about my fabulous life and how they blow my trips to the Caribbean and my relationships with unbelievably rich men all out of proportion. For one thing, I don’t have an interesting enough life for that kind of character assassination. No, my complaint goes much deeper.

When I protest character assassination, I am talking about the way all of these entertainment series kill off the characters on the shows that I love the best. How can they take perfectly wonderful, loveable people who are doing no more harm than your average mockingbird, and kill them off? (Didn’t get that reference? Read To Kill a Mockingbird; it’ll be good for your soul.)

Looking back, I realize that this began a long time ago, when I first began to read and enjoy books. Who could read Gone With the Wind and not cry buckets of tears when the beautiful-souled Melanie Hamilton Wilkes bowed out in the last pages? She should have lived forever, but did she? Oh, no, it was much more important that she perish, so we could all wonder, like Scarlett, how we would go on without her?

Early television shows understood the need to delicately balance evil and danger in the world with the lives of the main characters. After all, Marshall Dillon was a lawman in Dodge for 20 years and never did more than wince from a bullet through the shoulder. He never died in the line of duty. He never married Miss Kitty, either, but that’s a story for another time!

Oh sure, sometimes our favorite characters suffered a loss–for instance, it was always bad luck for a woman to fall in love with a Cartwright–but so what? They survived, buried the hapless woman, dried their tears and spent another week riding the range on the Ponderosa. They didn’t die themselves!

Today, however, for the sake of “realism”, characters in these programs must die. I say, why? It is not necessary for a long-running crime drama to have the sweet, understanding little wife of one of the main detectives die. What was the point of blowing her up in a helicopter–I liked her character better than the rest combined and I never saw it coming. I, like her devastated husband, didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

It was a real shocker then, that I absolutely fell in love with the calm, down-to-earth heir to Downton Abbey, only to have the rug jerked out from under me only three seasons in. I could even see this one coming, as he climbed into that automobile and started driving, I was in front of the television screaming, “No, Matthew! Look out for that truck!” But he didn’t hear me and then he was gone.

It’s been a blood bath ever since. If I fall in love with a character on a show, of course they are going to die. The strong, big-hearted priest, who stepped in front of an arrow to save the young warrior devastated me nearly as much as it did the leader, but he could have been spared the grief if they had just left the poor man alive! And then there is the unconscionable murder of Han Solo by his own son. What are these people thinking????

The latest in this long line of assassinations is the story I have been following about a group of time travelers. I have really come to enjoy it, and I particularly was charmed by the young female time traveler who became the client, then the friend and then the lover of a man who was so sweet and gentle and accepting, that he supported and affirmed everything about the girl. He wasn’t a traveler, though, so two episodes from the end of the series found our young time traveler, sobbing into the lifeless body of the most perfect guy I’ve ever seen—who died being heroic, of course!

Now, someone’s bound to tell me that these character assassinations are due to actor decisions, budget constraints, and dramatic effect, and I will tell you that I simply do not care. They have taken away my trust and although I will continue on with other programs, I’m not sure that I can give my heart to any more of the wonderful characters, because I think the producers of these shows are in my head and they know just how to hurt me. So I say, give me my innocence back–stop the blood bath. And as a matter of safety for you all; never marry a Cartwright!

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The secret life of an accountant

It is not an easy life for my husband, the accountant. He is a meticulous bookkeeper and understands all that audit and taxes stuff so well. What he has not yet figured out is his wife’s accounting system for the household finances.

I found the above pictured records book when I was cleaning out some drawers today. I’m sure it’s something I bought to do a better job of keeping track of my spending, but it apparently didn’t work. I say this because inside this little book are pages lined with neat columns for recording spending and wonderful little pockets to hold receipts, etc. The year on this book is 2016 and if you could look inside the book right now, you would see that all the pages are still fresh and new and have never been marred by something so tacky as…say, financial records!

I always mean well. Sometimes I even get started keeping track…but I always fall apart and the house is littered with these blank little financial record books, which find their way into deep drawers or dark corners, never to be seen again.

So my accountant lives a secret life of shame over his wife’s financial failings. He learned early in the marriage to get me my own checking account, so that the bank wouldn’t think that he, an accountant, couldn’t keep track of his own finances. He disdains checkbooks with duplicate checks, preferring his own method of daily recording, but he has made me a gift of those handy duplicates, so random checks don’t get away from me and louse up my calculations.

He tried to keep my checkbook balanced and reconciled, but eventually, he sought to avoid the monthly argument–“What did you spend $50 at the Wax Waters for?” “Wax Waters? $50? Are you sure that’s my checkbook?” in any way he could. He turned the whole bank reconciliation over to me, declaring that federal tax laws were easier to understand than my scribblings. I make it a point never to ask for his help (because it ages him), but sometimes I spend some sleepless nights wondering how I could have lost $4,000 when I don’t have $4,000 in the whole account, and little stuff like that.

In the first bloom of love, Roy thought we would be able to strategize on a budget and then, get this, actually stick to the budget. He was so young and trusting! After two months, I was in the hole in almost every category and by six months, I was spending the budget in books and shoes for two years after our tenth anniversary!

In desperation, he tried to establish spending rules like, “If it’s going to cost over $100, let’s discuss it first.” I thought that was reasonable, so I agreed. The trouble is, I never know when it’s going to be over $100, unless I’m buying a house or a car, because I can’t add very well in my head. So the discussion usually ended up being conducted after the purchase was made and at the top of our lungs.

Over the years, we have developed a system that seems to work for us. He puts money aside for large expenditures and manages it very well. I handle purchases for far less money and with far less success at managing it!

So as you can see, the secret life of my accountant is a pretty desperate one, because when it comes to handling finances, opposites apparently do attract! Meanwhile, I’ll go out and buy another financial records and budget calendar book for this year…and no doubt, it will cost more than it should and will end up at the bottom of a convenient drawer! But don’t tell my husband–he probably already knows anyway!

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Space, the final frontier…

Sometimes, you just have to own who you are. You have to admit that you actually enjoy the creamy middle of an Oreo or that you really do laugh at the Flintstones–when secretly watching them–while eating the middles-only out of a bunch of Oreos.

But for me, this is nowhere near my biggest quirk. In fact my quirk, rhymes with quirk–because I have an on-going love affair with Captain Kirk and all things Star Trek! It started with Kirk and the Enterprise on its five-year mission, graduated to Picard and the Next Generation, moved on to Sisko at Deep Space Nine and got flung into the Delta quadrant with Janeway on Voyager. Then, I came home to Captain Archer and the first Enterprise.

Unless you are a giant Star Trek nerd like me, the previous paragraph will make no sense. Suffice it to say that I am addicted to anything which begins, “Space, the final frontier….” If it has to do with Star Trek, I am there for it.

My obsession is very well-known, in particular by my children. They are never at a loss as to what to give me as gift: “Does it have Star Trek on it somewhere? Great, my Mom will love it!” They have given me a wide variety of Star Trek merchandize over the years, and so for this article, I tried to collect and take a picture of all of the Star Trek things they have gifted me, which you see above. You should know that this is not even all of the things I have received, it is just the ones I collected over five minutes of walking through the house.

This collection of Star Trek memorabilia tells you several things about the quirky individual who is me. First, you should know that while I care nothing for mechanics of any kind, I have a schematic of the Star Ship Enterprise hanging prominently on my wall. Second, I have a set of Pez dispensers featuring the heads of the crew of the Next Generation, which has never been opened, even though my grandchildren have suggested it any number of times. Third, I once owned three pairs of Star Trek socks, but because the dog particularly liked the taste of them, I am now down to half that number–one sock from each pair, of course.

Each Christmas, I proudly hang the Federation Star Ship Voyager on my tree and when I am bored at night, I sit down and read my Star Trek book which details the original series, episode by episode and then I watch those episodes on my digitally enhanced set of CDs. I have collections of snow globes and mugs and I have Star Trek features for each of those collections.

My daughter gave me a Star Trek coffee mug for my Mother’s Day present this year, but her instructions were, “Make sure you use it!” How could I possibly do that? It shows the Star Trek crew in relative safety on their ship, but if I fill the cup with hot coffee, they are immediately transported to a strange and alien world. I can’t do that, can I? Besides, the people who made the cup are pretty sure we are none too bright, because on the outside bottom of the cup, it says, “Best results if used from the other end.”

However, since I try to be a good parent, I decided I should use the cup just to suit her. So, I made my morning coffee, poured it in the recommended end and watched the Star Trek crew go where no one has gone before. I then tasted the coffee–and immediately spit it out. The new mug, which was properly washed, made the coffee taste like I’d strained it through the Captain’s communication devise! Plastic or metallic or something!

It’s just as I thought, the cup is meant to be admired, placed in my collection and valued for its Star Trek connection. So, if you don’t mind, I believe I will place it on the shelf along with my genuine Star Trek cold mug and my very lovely lap throw, featuring Spock saying, “Fascinating.”

So now, you know the secrets of my very fine quirk. I do hope my children continue to gift me with memorabilia from all of the Star Trek programs and when we, as a culture, finally do “boldly go where no one has gone before”…well, I’ll be watching from home, surrounded by my space things!

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