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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Up To My Eyeballs In Candy Wrappers










The Prologue:

Or Why I Should Never Write A Blog On Halloween:

I am lying on a couch in the psychiatrist's office digging for the deep seeded rational reasons for my deeply rooted long suffering obsession with chocolate. Dredging down into my past, my vastly distant past, I think I hear supernatural voices whispering. Yes. Yes, I say. My brothers. This is their fault. I am dressed in a tiara and a flowing cape. I am a princess. My eldest brother is dressed as Baby Huey. He has on long underwear, a bonnet and an enormous diaper. My other brother is dressed as a hobo, a stick resting on his shoulder with a kerchief tied at the end. We are trick or treating. They lead and I follow. Down the alleys, door to door, up the steps and down. 

Back in the day, when we carried a grocery sack in one hand and a can for UNICEF in the other. Back in the day when we knew all of our neighbors, and they made us come in for a visit. When they made homemade treats of caramel apples, popcorn balls, cookies, cupcakes and more. Our parents NEVER went with us, as we were kept on a tight rope two blocks North, South, East and West of our home. Still, by the end of the night the bags were full. 

Not for long, The minute we walked through the door, my brothers would pull me into their bedroom and empty out the contents of all three sacks to sort. Into piles. I was too young. And too tired to recognize their criminal intent. Three piles. Guess who ended up with the candy apples and the popcorn balls and the jawbreakers the size of your fist? Me.

But I had youth on my side and I promised to get even. So, on the night, the Hallowed night when they were no longer young enough to knock on doors, I did. And to insure against looters, I ate the contents of my bag, on the way home. All of it. 

I was very very animated, gooey and sticky fingered and very very very sick. But the damage was done. The tricks, the treats, the sweets linger on my tongue to this very day. So much so that when it was my turn to answer the knock at the door in my very own home, I made sure I bought candy I would never ever eat. 


The boxes of Dots, the bubble pops, the Tootsie Rolls,

the anti-chocolate sweets. 

However, times do change and now we live in a neighborhood where throngs of kids we have never seen plus some that shave and can drive a car, come lurking at night carrying pillowcases. 

Pillowcases! No more homemade treats and they sneer and threaten if you don't have the GOOD stuff. But I kept my oath. Until this year. I made the mistake of taking my husband with me when I bought the candy and before I could say Boo!, we owned a cart full of oversized bags of...of...
Kit Kats...M&M's...Almond Joys...Baby Ruths and Snicker snicker snicker...Milky Ways and Mars Bars...Twix and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and and and...I opened the bags, I emptied the contents into the kettle...I paused in hallowed reverence...oh...I'll have just one...

And then...andthenandthenandthenandthenandthen...

My spine is tingling. My hands are quivering. I am typing about 450wpm fueled on high octane one hundred proof chocolate. The floor at my feet is a sea of discarded candy wrappers. The adorable black kettle with purple stockinged witchy feet sticking out from empty. 
Here next to me and NOT where it SHOULD BE...

Next to the front door, ready and waiting for the little goblins and ghouls parading down the street.
The porch light is OUT.

My desk light is on and I am wearing a pair of glittery pink flamingo sunglasses and my pajamas. I am both glittery and jittery at the same time. It is my fault. I accept all the blame. If we have a power failure I am sure that if I stick my big toe in the socket, I can power the entire electrical grid across town. 

I am wired. 


I should be ashamed. 

I am grinning and I have chocolate stuck in my teeth. Hee. 




I have out my calculator and am assessing the damage and by my calculations, the snack size candies have one tenth the calories of a full size bar so I have truly only consumed vision must be getting blurry from all the sugar as there are a bunch of numerals in a rather long string...

3,245,968 calories.

Oh well, that just means about 2,349,762 extra laps in the pool and about twelve years on the Atkins Plan...

...until I am a mere apparition of my former self. 



Control Of Self...

We ALL lose it once in awhile.

What flips your switch?

While you ponder that question, I need an intervention.

Just before eyes closed and the coming of sleep,

I'll just sit here in my Flamingo sunglasses and see what's on the radio…


Chapter 15: The Yard Yetis Gardeners Tale...
...the story continues.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Am In Love With The Man In the Mirror







Standing inches apart, our reflections, like our married lives, side by side. 

And in my head, the lyrics of a Beatles song looping over and over...

Will you still need me?...Will you still feed me?...When I'm...

Well, you know the rest, but the number is not that important. In marriage, whether for ten or twenty or more, occasions arise with a need to keep score. 

To wonder how many more we are good for...

Which reminds me of the or used?


The new ones come with a limited warranty. A promise that if anything goes wrong in the first few years, any damage or undue repairs will be reimbursed. Very little out of pocket expense. Limited risk. An oath, a vow, certified certainty. For the short term. The dings and the dents, the balding of the tires, the scratches and the spills can be fixed up, smoothed over and repainted. At no cost to the owner, as the odometer spins on and on and on.

The used car sits on the lot, the service record and the obvious flaws on display to the naked eye. Yet, as we walk the perimeter and kick the tires, we know that the possibility exists that something rotten may be hiding under the hood. This car has a history, for sure, but it is not our history, it is not guaranteed to be accurate, and it comes with a much more limited warranty and with even greater risk of failure. 

Or does it?

Once, many years ago, we bought a brand new car. The odometer read exactly 53 miles, the warranty tucked in the glove compartment, not a scratch or a dent to be seen, as the backhoe on the back road slid into reverse and turned my car into an abused and used vehicle in about twenty seconds. My car sat innocently in Park. Sitting patiently and perfectly still. Until. Bam!

Or the day, the beautiful sunlit, cloudless and windless blissful sky blue morn, when a tree limb the size of a Paul Bunyan toothpick, landed on the roof of my dearly loved and devoutly used Jeep. 

Blam! The warranty in the glove compartment shriveled in out-of-date horror. 

So..what do new and used cars have to do with marital celebrations?

This letter, as I said in the opening line,

is intended for the man in the mirror.

The man that I married, the man that married me, quite some time ago, back when we both signed on to something new, sealed the deal with a warranty, an oath and a vow, and our signatures on the wedding certificate. 

My husband is a quiet man. Not prone to chatter as I am. Over the years, we have had our share of silences, but never ever about cars. 

Actually, my secret to breaking any silence, is to reach into the glove compartment for the owner's manual and to ask in a soft breathy voice,

"Why are these Warning lights flashing?"

If I lay my hand on his chest I can feel his heart begin to race and see the flush rise in his cheeks. 
It is good to know, after all these years spent together, that I am still able to make his heart race at the sight of me

Because, as I stand here, looking at the man in the mirror, I see the sight of me and know that I am long past the warranty stage as is he. The wear and tear of the odometer spinning down the miles. The worn tread on the tires, the minor scratches and dents, the fine lines of daily living. The sagging seats and the age spots on the upholstery that come with taking kids along for the ride. 

I reach into his pocket to find OUR service history. The chronicle of a life of service to and for each other. There are pages and pages of regular and faithful maintenance, plus a few rather startling and serious causes for alarm. Serious costs for serious and potentially dangerous damage. But at the bottom of each page, gently noted in his careful hand and mine, are the words...

All debts paid in full. 

Mutually forgiven. 

So to the question at hand...

Will you still need me? Will you still want me? When I'm old and gray?

Will you still see me? Will you still heal me?

Will you sing my blues away?

Now that I'm older, not in my prime?

Will you want for more?

We both reach for our reading glasses and squint at the fine print at the bottom of the warranty and smile...

For Better or Worse.

For Richer or Poorer. 

For New and For Used. 

As the song says...

Mine Forever More

You are Mine...forever more...

Even when I'm...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Twizzlers and Tunes and Tacky Motels








When my kids were little, packing for a road trip was eazzy-peezy. Two suitcases. A pillow. A blanket. A road atlas. (Used only to hold over my head as we ran in the rain to the Rest Area bathrooms.) Plus a list of the tackiest and least expensive motels right next to the highway. Thus saving gas money and the need to stop for directions which we would never do except in case of an emergency and there always was one, but not the kind that required a trip to the ER. More along the lines of a Twizzler stuck up someone's nose or disasters of that particular ilk. 

We did not have a movie theater in our fake-wood-paneled mini-van. We did not have high tech car seats with safety straps.

We kept our children safely in their seats by leaning over the headrest and yelling,

"Do I have to come back there?"

Our children packed lightly for the journey ahead. Each had his own lunch box and tucked inside every toy that would fit. The boys held a strategy session days before the trip, plotting how to get six He-Men with bulging biceps, nine Mutant Ninja Turtles and twelve Hot Wheel cars into their respective boxes. Sometimes, to fit in just one more, they would share their space and swear blood oaths that they would be responsible for their cargo and reasonable on down the road.

Yeah, right. 

Meanwhile, we the adults, the drivers, the chaperones and tour guides, would do rock, paper, scissors to decide how to divide up the driving distance. Who would man up to the wheel, so to speak. I held the Mother Card and played it regularly to avoid driving at all costs. I was needed to mind the children. That meant a lot of yelling and then resting between bouts. Hence the pillow. For my well earned naps

We played a number of games, back in the day. Alphabet games. Even though our children still counted on their fingers, we could fool them into looking for signs that began with the letter "A". Poor babies. Hours and hours of looking. Pointing. Hoping. And me knowing, that the last letter of the alphabet would elude them until we crossed the border into the next state.

Ha! I earned my Mother's badge with that prize. 

Oh, about those nutritious and organic snacks. Yeah, well forget it. That's not what rest stops are for. Instead, bags of Funyuns and Beef Jerky and ice cold bottles of Coke. And of course, more Twizzlers. So what if the interior of the car smelled like a rendering plant?

The kids were in Hog Heaven so why not smell like it too?

Oh, I agree. This was not a trip for beginners. Not a trip for the faint of heart. Not a trip for following the rules of the road. We taught our sons how to pee in the woods. We taught our children that bears would climb in the windows if they left their light on in the cabin after 8PM. We encouraged our children to appreciate the local flora and fauna, like Albert the Bull, a thirty foot high plaster of paris forty-five ton phenom endowed with an equally enormous and exaggerated set of testicles, which, if we stood underneath, made a great Christmas family photo.

We taught our children that Daddy gets crabby after ten, "Are We There YET?" questions and that the Pool Closed Sign does apply to us how about a nice long bath in the rusty tub in our tiny little room with the Air Conditioner that rattles and wheezes like a six-pack-a-day smoker. 

Yes, I do. I look back on those road trips and I see my son with a rabbit fur tucked in his pocket, wearing a cowboy hat and a holster, and my other son with his neatly combed hair and mouth full of braces and I... 


Because somewhere along the road, we made memories. 

We made family memories on those road trips. To Yellowstone. To the Badlands. Even to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota. I tried. I swear I tried to admire a building made of corn. The husk exhibits. The corny corn kernel attractions. 

Anything to get OUT of the car. 

To catch my breath. 

Those days are long gone. Visions in the mist. 

My misty visions.

Now, we have a new grandson and I fear that he will spend his road trips hunkered over a Video Game or his IPhone. Watching movies above the console. The car will be quiet. The ABC Bingo a lost art. The conversation...can you change the channel. I am not sure if anyone will even look out the windows at the scenery anymore. With GPS, the driver will no longer argue with his wife, but with a faceless and nameless voice booming through the surround sound. The granola and gluten-free treats will replace the Twizzlers and the motels pre-reserved through Expedia for a room with a view and WiFi. 

No more tacky tasteless tourist attractions. 

Only educational facilities.

No picnics with the ghost of Buffalo Bill in Cody Wyoming. 

No wide eyed wonder as Devil's Tower looms out of nowhere.


We are going on a road trip soon. 

The thought of it made me sad. 

Then my son called. 

He wants to take HIS son to see Albert, the Bull. 

There is HOPE in this world. 

Some memories are not soon forgotten. 

And be sure to watch for our family Christmas photo this year. 

It's the one with us...

smiling like fools...

underneath a pair of massive plaster of paris testicles.

While chewing on Twizzlers

Life on the road… 

...Is good...

(Special thanks to Albert...

you can visit him and read his story at

Thursday, October 3, 2013

E Is For Eejit And B Is For Bullies







Take your pick and take a seat. Welcome to the brave new world of competitive insulting. The modern era of impressionist artistry. Wild braying brushstrokes of commentary, unleashed, let loose, set free. Where complaining, cracking jokes, wishing others misfortune, and full body slam word witchery is en vogue. 

Let me be perfectly clear.

Words hurt. 

I know this for a fact, because, if I use the word idiot, I am usually ALSO smacking myself in the forehead for making a dumb move. i.e. Turning left instead of right. Locking my keys in the car. Tripping over my own shoes, I left by the door so I would not track mud on the carpet and am instead dripping blood on the carpet as my nose is bleeding from where I hit the door frame after tripping over my own shoes. 

I am, however, alone in my own space and there are no witnesses, no reporters, no cameras videotaping, no chance of a guest star appearance on You Tube. No paparazzi chasing me down the street to try and get a glimpse of me getting out of my car. At my age, that process is complicated by my trick knee and no respectable paparazzi has that kind of time nor interest in MY possible wardrobe malfunctions. 

I had a hard time writing the intro to this blog,

as I hate the very words I wrote.

Idiot. Imbecile. Moron. Jerk. 

Most especially, I despise the word stupid

People are not stupid. They may act stupidly. 

People are not morons. They may act like one. 

People are not imbeciles. They may not know any better. 

In the classroom, I told my students there was no such thing as a stupid question. If you don't know the answer, it is smarter to admit it, than to remain clueless. 

My question, then, is why aren't there more people,

to be precise, adults, asking any?

Like...who let all the bullies have a Bully Pulpit?

I thought I heard a rumor that bullying is a very serious matter in our public schools. That children are suffering and we all need to work together to eradicate the meanness, the spite and the vitriol. I think I even heard something about Zero Tolerance. Zero as in NONE. 

Who are the people leading this movement? The smart people in the room? The activists? The responsible caring adults in the schools, the community, the government, the media and in Hollywood?

The adults? The grown ups? The people who know better?

I am inclined, as I sit here in my elder state, to think that perhaps we have some snakes in the grass. And you all know how I feel about snakes. Where they belong. No?

Warning: Graphic Imagery Ahead

To all you snake lovers out there, it is time to avert your eyes, or consider a different blog page, as I am about to slam the myth that snakes make good pets. Owning a snake, petting a snake, taking a snake for a walk in the neighborhood, or sleeping with one at the foot of your bed is lunacy. Snakes belong in the wild. Wild, meaning outdoors, under rocks, in tall grass, wrapped around the uppermost branch of a tree, under the sodden cliffs of a lake, out of sight. My sight. Somewhere I don't have to see them or hear them. Hissing. Coiled at my ankles ready to strike. 

Zoos are permissible caretakers if the cages are clearly marked. 

The sign says Beware!

Anonymous avatar snakes.

A snake in a three piece suit is still a snake, just a snake in disguise.

No Snakes. Not On TV.

No Snakes. Not on the Nightly News.

No Snakes. Not In the Comment Section of the local paper. 

No Snakes. Not on Twitter in a hissy fit of 140 characters or less.

No Snakes. Not On Facebook.

No Snakes. Not On the School Bus. Definitely Not

Yes, snakes deserve their rung on the ecological ladder. But to reach their respective rungs they writhe and slither and coil. If they miss a step they hiss, bare their fangs and strike. 


So who...

Who exactly...

Let the snakes out of the cages!!!

Who exactly...

Is setting the example for the kids on the school bus?

Where did all the grown up Zero Tolerance For Bullying Pest Control Supervisors go?

Where did all the "mean as a snake" code enforcers go to prove their point that bullying is bad?

Snakes On A Plane...scary movie.

Snakes On the Bus...Real Life. 

I overheard a young mother tell her weeping toddler to...
"Use Your Words."

Then, a quiet voice of a small child stating the facts, " I have to pee."

You may laugh. You may scoff and tease.

But there is sheer and utter wisdom in that short succinct sentence. 

I have a need. Please help me. 

It is difficult to ask for help. 

It can be embarrassing. 

I need your help. 

The question? Not stupid at all.

Can you help me please?

A bully, a snake, resorts to humiliation. 

Humiliation is a mighty weapon. 

Never  ever use it. 



Zero. Tolerance. 



I hope you grown ups out there are listening because I was a teacher once and I'm wearing my "Teacher Face" right now and you have just been assigned to "Bus Duty".

The Yard Yetis Gardeners Tale Continues:

Adirondack Chairs