Sunday, December 4, 2011

Automatons: A Magpie Tale

Lunch, George Tooker, 1964, Columbus Museum of Art

Day after day they go to the cafeteria, bringing the remnants of last night's dinner.  The worker bees bend over their food intent on little other than consuming the meal that will sustain them through the next four hours until the clock signals quitting time.  Nothing ever changes nor do they expect it to.  The days blend into one another as time marches on.

It would only take one person to look up, to smile, to start a conversation, to open up the drab world and bring in the light.  But that would mean taking a risk.

Instead they opt for anonymity while sitting shoulder to shoulder.  Automatons at the automat.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Willow over at Life at Willow Manor  has been providing inspiration for bloggers with her photo prompts on a site called Magpie Tales.  Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this week.  You'll be glad you did! 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I'm a Fun Person... Really!

I went to the doctor for my biennial physical last week.  All things considered, I'm in pretty good shape. 

Blood pressure = good
Cholesterol = good
Diabetes = none
Weight = not good, but on a downward turn since my last visit
EKG = normal
PPD = negative
Flu Shot = injected

I could balance on one foot, walk a straight line, touch my fingers to my nose without looking.

Yeah... not bad at all.

However, I started feeling a little discouraged when my internist stated rather than asked... "You're not sexually active, are you?" 

Excuse me?  Is it that obvious that I've lost my allure?  Don't I look like a fun person? 

How insulting!

So when he came to the part about asking me, in compliance with the New York State Health Department policy, "Would you like a test for HIV?"

Well, I had to redeem my self-esteem somehow...

I said, "Sure!"

Oh yeah!  Those folks down at the lab were going to think I'm one wild and crazy woman!  They probably took one look at me and no doubt had me pegged for a slutty intravenous drug using degenerate.  Good times!  Good times!

Geesh... the lengths I have to do these days to convince people I'm not all washed up! 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

On a more serious note...  get tested!

And just in case there was ever any doubt... I'm HIV negative.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Zen of Working With Very Small People

For the past month I've been working with very small people.  We're talking seriously small people.  So small they don't even talk yet.  At least not in any manner discernible to the average adult.  These wee ones are just beginning to experiment with the spoken word.  Lately, the most frequently used word in our classroom is "woof!" 

Most people wouldn't last an hour in this situation, let alone eight hours a day, five days a week.  It takes a hardy soul to keep from running out screaming.  Already I've had several colleagues ask how I get through the day without shooting myself.  (Of course, the answer to that is simple... guns are outside toys and not allowed at the Home for Wayward Wee Ones.) 

The key to survival is to attain a zen-like state in which you contemplate everything these small people do with a kind of wonder and reverence.  Their babbling becomes quite conversational if you listen closely.  I often wonder if it's a secret language that babies understand perfectly.  And their persistence in learning to do all the simple tasks of life that we take for granted is rather astounding when you stop to think about it.  Some successes may seem mundane while others are truly exquisite...

We have a long, low easel in our classroom on which paper is always available for exploring different media. Three of the children worked together over the course of several days to create this combination of watercolor, tempera and crayon.

I have no idea how long I'll be working with these four wee ones, aged 11-14 months old, but I'm trying to make the best of the time I have with them.  It's a physically exhausting job but there is a peace that comes when they are finally asleep with the lights turned down low and quiet music on in the background.  Rocking a small child to sleep can be a form of meditation when you match your breathing to the back and forth movement of the chair.  It certainly gives me time to think about what I want to do next with my life... 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Catching Up is Hard to Do

Blogging is a funny thing.  You get on a roll and all is blissful as you exchange banter back and forth with other like-minded people out there in cyberspace.  But woe betide you if you stray from the path for any length of time. 

After awhile people start to wonder if you've broken a limb or something and start sending condolence cards.  The longer you go between posts, the fewer and farther between the inquiries become until one day you wake up alone in the dark, with no one to make you laugh or snort Dr Pepper out your nose. 

So, you begin the long trek back to your cyber-friends.  And a long trek it is.  Do you have any idea how long it takes to catch up on a blog roll that has some fifty people... or more?    Catching up is hard to do.  I'm working on it, but I keep finding myself channeling Neil Sedaka as I work my way back...

Don't take your love away from me
Don't you leave my blog in misery
If you go then I'll be blue
'Cause catching up is hard to do

Remember when you read me, right?
And you laughed at me all through the night
Think of all that we've been through
Catching Up Is Hard To Do

They say that catching up is hard to do
Now I know, I know that it's true
Don't say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were catching up again

I beg of you, don't say goodbye
Can't we give our blogs another try
Come on baby, let's start a new
'Cause catching up is hard to do

It may take me awhile, but I promise I'll catch up as soon as I can!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Stuck: A Magpie Tale

Stuck in the mud
Wheels spinning
The more you try
The farther you sink 
Until you're totally immobilized 

Spring turns to summer 
And summer turns to fall
Rust begins to form
Yet you keep on fighting it

Sooner or later
It's best to give in
Get out of the truck
And walk back into town
Before winter closes in on you
And you're stuck there forever

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Willow over at Life at Willow Manor  has been providing inspiration for bloggers with her photo prompts on a site called Magpie Tales.  Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this week.  You'll be glad you did! 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So, as you may have surmised from my extended silence, life has not been exactly peachy keen at Boom Boom's house.  But then, the way my life has been going for the past several years, I guess it's not all that surprising.  It seems the term SNAFU was created just for me.  The WWII acronym for Situation Normal: All Fucked Up describes my life perfectly.

Take last Sunday, for example.  Late in the day I decided it was time to do some laundry to prepare for the week ahead.  However, I wasn't counting on encountering the water that seeped into the basement after the afternoon deluge.  Situation Normal.  I figured I'd simply mop things up and go on with my task.  Things were going well until I slipped in the water and wrenched my back.  Severe pain.  All fucked up.

But, having just gone to the chiropractor, I actually remembered the exercises to get my herniated disc back where it's supposed to be.  All I needed was a glass of wine and some ibuprofen to get back on track.  Plus an ice pack thrown in for good measure.  Situation normal.   With all necessary medical equipment in hand I settled into my recliner.  Only to spill the glass of wine all over the end table.  Wine everywhere.  Puppy frantically trying to lap up wine and my back too stiff to reach something to mop up wine.  All fucked up. 

But wait... all was not lost... I noticed tissues next to chair.  Situation normal.  As I began throwing tissues on wine dripping off table, the puppy saw them as extra bonus treat.  Puppy began chewing on wine-soaked tissues.  All fucked up. 

And so began another week in the exciting life of Boom Boom.

Yeah, SNAFU is a pretty apt description of my life these days.  *sigh*

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Unimaginable Terror: A Magpie Tale

The photo on the flea market table

struck terror into her heart.

The piercing eyes,

the eerie nimbus created by back-lighting,

the white line descending from her eye like a milky tear.


Unimaginable fear.

The thought that in the end

the remnants of one's life

would be relegated to strangers

for a dollar ninety-nine

on a flea market table.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Willow over at Life at Willow Manor  has been providing inspiration for bloggers with her photo prompts on a site called Magpie Tales.  Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this week.  You'll be glad you did! 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Have a New Man in My Life!

Well, a new puppy, anyway... 

How are things going after the first week?
Most importantly, Henry learned from day one that the potty is outside
 He sleeps through the night in his puppy cave, (as opposed to a man cave,) in the kitchen.
He met the vet, weighed in at 6.1 pounds and got a clean bill of health.

He won the hearts of many, including the 50-odd children at the Home for Wayward Wee Ones.
(He did not try to eat the Wee Ones, but patiently let them maul pet him.)

Here are just a few of Henry's new human friends...

As well as new canine and feline friends....

 Henry worked on learning what is and what is NOT a chew toy...

He found cozy places to snooze after his outings...

And he spent some serious quality time on my lap... 

What's not to love?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Moving on to Bigger and Better Things

Today marks the first anniversary of my mom's send-off, which started the year from hell.  Dead mom, dead dog, dead aunt, dead father-out-law, broken leg, five months with no income due to broken leg... enough said!   For a review of the highlights:

We're on a roll now, planning on living life in as grand a manner as is possible on the small stipend I receive for my labors at the home for wayward wee ones.  And so far it's going well.  Vlad graduated summa cum laude from college last month and this month we're welcoming a new addition to the family.   

 Vlad & Henry... My favorite boys!

Yeah... I'd say life is pretty damn good right now...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ear Piercing for Dummies

I am not one for body art or piercings.  I've seen some fabulous body art over the years, but it's just not for me.  And although I do have one hole in each earlobe, nobody's touching my tongue, my nose, my navel, or even my outer conch cartilage with a needle.  I'm far too squeamish! 

Back in the 60's ear piercing was only just coming into vogue with the teen set in Iowa.  And unless your were from some exotic country, the only thing you pierced was your ears.  There weren't earring stands in the Mall where you could easily get your ears done.  Hell, there wasn't even a Mall!  So that left either going to a doctor to have it done (if you could find one who would do it) or stabbing yourself in the ear. 

My older sister used some "auto piercers" so she could attach colorful appendages to her lobes.  Basically, they were sharp metal rings that would gradually squeeze their way through the ears.  Too painful for too long!  My parents thought she was nuts and I agreed. 

But when I was in the ninth grade, I decided it would up my "cool" factor to have pierced ears.  The thought of a needle working its way through my tender ear flesh creeped me out, but the longing to be "cool" was a strong one.  For some reason, I figured my parents wouldn't let me have my ears pierced, though, so I took matters into my own hands.  Or rather, my friend Nancy Pilmer took matters into her hands.  I thought Nancy was cool because not only did she have pierced ears... she'd been to California!  Groovy!  Nancy convinced me that with a cork from a bottle of wine, a sewing needle, some matches to sterilize the needle, and some string, she could bring me into the 60's before the 70's rolled around.  All we needed was a place to do it. 

Where to go, where to go?  We needed somewhere with water so we could keep things "sterile".   Our houses weren't viable surgical sites because someone might catch us in the act.  Doing it at school was also "unsafe".  Besides, we didn't have that much time between classes and lighting matches in the bathroom might give the wrong idea. 

So, we ended up in the bathroom of our neighborhood grocery store.  Yep... the pristine public bathroom.  All we had to do was grab a chunk of ice from the freezer section to numb my ears and we were in business.  After a half hour of hemming and hawing on my part, I offered up my lobes to Nancy.  Within a few minutes the deed was done.  I was now cool.  I had ears with string in them! 

By the end of the week, my ears were so inflamed with infection that my science teacher noticed and insisted I go to the school nurse.  She, in turn, called my parents.  With my long hair, they still hadn't noticed the oozing holes in my ears.  After they told me what an idiot I was, they got me a pair of earrings and made me clean my ears with hydrogen peroxide every day until the infection cleared up.

After a few more weeks my ears became infected again... this time because of the cheap earrings.  It turns out I'm allergic to most metals and can only use sterling silver or gold earrings.  Plus the holes in my ears are off center and one's kind of droopy.  But I succeeded in my quest for coolness!  So what if I nearly died from blood poisoning?  Details, details....

Let's just say I wasn't the sharpest needle in the pin cushion back then. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


Ever have one of those days when you feel like a total loser?  When you figure you might as well beat everyone else to the punch and laugh at yourself first?  I’ve had plenty and I’ve written about most of them.  Still, one of the best stories I’ve ever heard came from a Unitarian Universalist minister, Martha Munson. 

Martha was vacationing in Westport, Connecticut one summer and happened to stop in at an ice cream parlor. Who should be sitting there at the counter, drinking a cup of coffee, but Paul Newman.  (Yes, that one...  the late, great actor.)

Not wanting to be branded a gawking tourist, Martha casually ordered her ice cream to go, paid, got her change from the cashier and turned toward the door, giving a quick smile to Mr. Newman who actually smiled back with those incredible blue eyes!  She was the epitome of cool.

Or so she thought. 

As she stood out on the sidewalk, she realized she was still holding the change the cashier had given her but was without the ice cream cone.  What to do?  Should she just walk away?  Should she go back in and admit she was too star-struck to pick up her cone?

What the hell… she might as well go back for the ice cream.  So what if he thought she was silly?

Martha stepped up to the counter waiting for the server to notice her, all the while hoping Paul Newman wouldn’t notice her.  No such luck.

Without missing a beat and without even turning toward her, Mr. Newman addressed her with four short words that would forever haunt her…

“It’s in your purse.”


Some days you wish you'd just stayed in bed!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Homemade is still best!

No matter how you cut it, homemade cards from your child are still the best...

Thanks, Vlad!
Love you!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Beautiful Stories: A Magpie Tale

From the time she was a little girl, she loved books.  There weren't many books written specifically for children back then.  The first book she ever owned, that was hers alone, she won in a contest at school.  She pored over the pages of Edith Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare, savoring each word, each illustration.  It introduced her to the intriguing world of the bard and it was her most treasured possession.

From that point on, she was never without a book.  When she established her own home, she found five feet of shelf space to accommodate the Harvard Classics.  She became a "regular" at the local library, carrying home stacks of books each week.  When children came along, she read them A.A. Milne at bedtime until they could recite "James James Morrison Morrison..." by heart.  That one small volume created a safe haven for banishing bad dreams.  She taught her children that books could take them anywhere and teach them anything.

The more she read, the more she dreamed of seeing the world.  She finally realized that dream in her middle years, bringing back mementos that would trigger a memory here, a story to be told there.  It always came back to the stories.
In the end, books became her last refuge.  Her world became smaller as her hearing faded.  When she could no longer follow conversations, she was left with her books.  They never failed her.  Through them her life remained rich and as always, full of beautiful stories.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
Willow over at Life at Willow Manor  has been providing inspiration for bloggers with her photo prompts on a site called Magpie Tales.  Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this week.  You'll be glad you did! 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Save Bacon's bacon!

Yes, I'm afraid it's true.  Someone has taken Bacon hostage and refuses to release him until a ransom is paid.  Won't you please help?

Think about it.  What would your life be like without Bacon?  An LT sandwich just doesn't cut the mustard.  Eggs will die of loneliness.  Social Security will be bankrupted by all the extra seniors living past their expiration date. 

Even the smallest donation... just a mere dollar... can help save Bacon's bacon.  Can't you find a dollar for a friend? 

A Polaroid of Bacon arrived at the Tribal Blogs office just today.  I warn you... it's not a pretty sight.  But I feel I must show it to you to point out the urgency of Bacon's situation.

Horrible, just horrible!  I had to look away the first time I saw it.  Osama Bin Laden's death mask is nothing compared to this!

So I ask you again, won't you help?  Please give generously and give often.   Thank you on behalf of Bacon lovers everywhere!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Queen and I (a short history of my television viewing)

Last week there seemed to be a lot of hoopla about a royal wedding.  I usually start my day with coffee and the Today Show, so I caught the last bit of the ceremony during my morning ablutions.  I suppose to commemorate this historic event I should have had my morning coffee out of the cup my sister sent me to commemorate my birth.

My first outing as a baby was to go to my grandparents' house on June 2, 1953 so my parents could watch the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on television.  I was 8 days old.

Televisions were in shorter supply in those days and my parents couldn't afford one.  My grandparent's black and white set sported a whopping 9 inch screen.  You had to sit up pretty close to be able to distinguish the images on that television.  TVs just weren't as fancy back then but not for wont of trying as evidenced in this cartoon from 1953:

Back then watching a show was a one shot deal.  No pausing the DVR or rewinding to catch something you missed.  Watching the coronation of the Queen on television was considered THE event in 1953.

Odds are I missed the entire thing since I spent my time back then sleeping, crying, eating and eliminating what I ate.  This time around I missed most of the royal event again for the same reasons.  (Minus the crying.)

Guess when it comes right down to it, things don't really change all that much after all...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Mating Habits of Squirrels (Reprise)

My friend Jayne just introduced me to a blogger who is definitely a kindred spirit, Anne Dickens.  Anne's most recent post is titled, "Sacre Bleu - I got caught spanking dog food in a sex spot."  With a title like that, what's not to love?  Her tale of dealing with unwanted house guests reminded me of a post I did a while back.  So, without further ado....

I've lived in the same house for 25 years.  Before I became a homeowner, however, I had my fair share of "adventures in renting."

In college I lived in an apartment over a bank.  Being above the bank made us feel really super-duper safe and secure.  We figured any burglars would be far more interested in the vaults beneath our apartment than in our meager belongings.  Another advantage was that the apartment backed up to a popular pub.  We could sit out on the roof on warm nights and listen to the bands that played on weekends for free... no cover charge up where we were!  It also provided us with a prime view of the guys who were coming out into the alley to relieve themselves.  (We were not impressed!)

After college I moved to Colorado.  (Remember "The Worst Camping Trip Ever?")  There we found a wonderful apartment.  The price couldn't be beat!  Perhaps because the last tenant was an old woman who expired in the apartment in the middle of August... only to be found two weeks later.  We could feel her presence whenever we passed the stain she left on the floor in the parlor.  She also left a distinctive odor, which we later learned was from the powder the funeral home spread around to cover up the other telltale signs of human decay.  Strangely, our friends never liked coming to our house for dinner.  I wonder why?  This resulted in many free meals at their house, so we didn't mind too much.  (Perhaps this was when my cat lady tendencies began.)

The best apartment we ever had was a clean, bright second floor palace with two bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen with a dishwasher, pantry and beautiful porch.  Now that was luxury living as far as we were concerned!  No one had died there, so it always smelled as fresh as a spring breeze!  The only downside was that we had to share a driveway with "The Crack," who owned the house next door.  He earned this moniker from the neighbors because of the low riding pants he wore to do lawn work.  His lawn was pristine... the talk of the neighborhood.  He was so proud!  There was never a blade of grass out of place and he was vigilant in brushing up any intruding leaves into a small dustpan.  "The Crack" also lined the driveway with symmetrical rocks that he painted bright white.  (Touching them up frequently when they became even slightly dingy.)  In winter he carefully shoveled each snowflake into a beautifully rounded bank of show on either side of the drive.  He even cleared a perfect half circle of pavement into the street to prevent the snow from being tracked into the driveway by car tires.  

Things were fine until we committed the supreme faux pas when we tried to be neighborly by doing the shoveling ourselves one morning.  Our intrepid neighbor was horrified by our crude, randomly placed piles of snow!  From that point on "The Crack" got up way before the crack of dawn to assure we would never attempt to shovel ever again!  

The following spring, we nearly drove him into an asylum when we installed a basketball hoop on our garage... he even insisted we were to blame for his mother's demise because we played basketball "all over the driveway!"  Horrors!  When we bought our house we were sorry to leave that apartment, but not sorry to see the back of "The Crack" as we drove away for the last time.

The most memorable abode, though, was the garret apartment we rented from a little man of middle-eastern heritage.  He was by far the most peculiar landlord we had.  His English was somewhat sketchy, as was his expertise in the area of rental properties.  

There was no heat in the apartment other than what came up through one small vent.  In the winter we rigged up an army surplus parachute over a mattress on the floor.  By entering this makeshift tent and tucking the parachute under the edges of the mattress, the warmth of our breath raised the temperature inside to a balmy 58 degrees!  Time to break out the bathing costumes!

The issue of heat was minor however, compared to the new pets we acquired with the apartment. In addition to the usual mice, we periodically entertained squirrels that crawled in under the eaves in the storage space. They frolicked merrily around the apartment as we chased them about.  I'm sure we amused them greatly.  Calls to the landlord to assist in their removal were met with cold disbelief.  Finally, the little man decided to act on our request for help in removing the furry tailed intruders.  He came over late at night and squeezed into the tiny crawl space above the low ceilings to capture the little rascals.  It wasn't long before his foot came crashing through the ceiling as a squirrel escaped his grasp!  As drywall dust came down on his head he beamed with pride as he told us he had chased the squirrels away.  

The next day he returned to fix the problem for good... by attaching sheet metal over the eaves with duct tape.  Now that's a sure way to keep squirrels out permanently.  Needless to say, we weren't too surprised when a few weeks later a squirrel once again found its way into our apartment.  The funny little man was not amused when we called him with the news.  Not believing that a squirrel could have penetrated his security measures, he came over to verify its existence.  He conceded that a squirrel was indeed in the apartment, but he could not accept that his fine sheet metal and duct tape solution had failed.  Rather, with great seriousness, he filled us in on an important bit of information...

It was obvious to him that the previous squirrel had laid an egg when it was in our apartment and the current squirrel was its progeny!  So that explains it!

What could we possibly say to that?  We more or less gave up on the landlord providing any useful assistance.  Not long afterward we turned in our keys to the garret and became "The Crack's" neighbors.  We left without cluing in the old landlord to the actual mating habits and reproductive cycle of squirrels.  He's probably still chasing them!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nope... No Bodies Here

After my last post, I thought it would behoove me to survey my current abode for possible missing persons who have expired.  There were lots of places to look.

What the.....? 

Who did that to my house?  Some one must have broken in and thrown a bunch of crap in my sun room while I was laid up at Shamra's house with my broken leg.  It looks like someone tossed the place about a bit.

Everybody needs a place to park their stuff when they get home from work, but this had gotten just a tad bit ridiculous!  Good news, though.  After a week of ruthless jettisoning of useless stuff, I now have a sun room again.

Amazing what you can accomplish when you tear yourself away from the computer for a day or two.  No dead bodies and no indications that an insane person lives here.

Now... about that attic...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Smell Dead People!

My friend Michelle, over at The Surly Writer, has been looking for a new apartment.  The mention of apartment searches brought back memories of the apartment I had years ago in Colorado.

My ex and I had decided to move to Canon City to look for work, since his sister lived there and said we could easily find something.  No job prospects, but we were young and the idea of living near the mountains was very appealing.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.  So one September, we loaded up the old Fiat sedan and made the drive from Iowa to Colorado.   

First things first, as soon as we arrived we started looking for an apartment.  We looked at a few, but they seemed kind of expensive, what with not having jobs and all.  Then we spotted the ad in the paper. 

For Rent:  Half house, garage.  $95/month.

Score!  We called and made an appointment to see the place, hoping nobody else had snatched up this bargain before us.  The person on the other end of the line seemed overly glad to hear from us.  We wondered why, but didn't think too much about it. 

The apartment was perfect!  Lovely old brick building downtown,  with a living room, parlor, kitchen and a bathroom on the first floor, (which would be perfect for a darkroom for the photographer ex.)  Upstairs were three bedrooms and another bathroom.  Plus a private back yard and garage.  We'd take it!

We couldn't resist asking the question, though... why were they offering the apartment so cheaply?  Did it have heat?  Did the roof leak?  Were the neighbors loud?

No, no problems with any of those things.  There was just the small issue of the smell in the parlor.  Well, we had to confess we did notice an odd aroma.  In the interest of full disclosure, the landlord told us the sad story of the previous tenant.  An older lady.  Who died.  In August.  With the windows closed.  Whose acquaintances didn't realize they hadn't heard from her until about two weeks later.

Ah... that explained it.  It also explained the strange stain on the oak floor in the parlor, which she had used for her bedroom.  The stain in the shape of a body.

Turns out the lady left a bit of herself in the apartment.  Which was kind of off-putting to all the other prospective tenants.  But, since the ex's father was a medical examiner, we were used to weird stuff like that.  Didn't bother us in the least.  A contraire!  We thought it made for scintillating dinner conversation with guests!

Strangely though, my sister-in-law and her husband never wanted to come to our house for those scintillating dinner conversations.  They were happy to have dinner with us... just not at our house.  And when my sister, her boyfriend and my mom came to visit, the boyfriend was none to happy about having to sleep in the parlor.  Geesh!  What's with these people?

Some people are just so picky about where they eat and sleep! 

So, Michelle, I think I know where you can find an apartment... cheap!  And the smell's probably long gone by this time!  Score!

Friday, March 25, 2011

We've Been Robbed!

Those who've been around here awhile know that I'm a bit of a clutter hound.  Hence the moniker, "Cat Lady Without Cats".  I haven't reached epic hoarder proportions, but I've come close a few times in my life.  So, when I turned on the television this week to watch The Middle, it was like they were filming my life.

The episode opened with the beleaguered Heck family crammed in the car while "enjoying" a spring break family road trip.  Frankie Heck's cell phone rings and it's the neighbor, telling them they've been robbed!  Horrors!  Immediate change of plans!  "Go directly home, do not pass go, do not collect $200!"

They burst into their home, where the neighbor explains how she arrived to take their mail in for them and saw the chaos left by the robbers.  Shocked faces on all the Hecks!

But wait... their eyes begin to shift back and forth toward each other.  The neighbor is thanked profusely and ushered out the door.

Nothing is missing!  The house is exactly as they left it!

Ridiculous premise, you say?  Not so!

Been there, done that!

Twenty five years ago, we had just moved into our house and were in the process of fixing the place up.  The living room was filled with ladders, tools, the odd beer can here and there, papers covering the floors.  Our temporary "lounge" on the second floor consisted of a futon on the floor, a television, more discarded newspapers, and pop cans.

One day after work, we came home to find a side window smashed in and the back door open.  Two policemen responded to our call for help.  As they walked through the house, inspecting the premises for signs of illicit entry, one of the officers asked...

"So, they toss the place about a bit?"

Dead silence.

Yeaaahhhhh.... the burglars did this to our house!  That's what happened.  On the bright side, nothing much was taken, probably because the burglars couldn't find anything.

So, I can relate perfectly to the Heck Family.  They're my kind of people. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Where it's AT!

Mark Zuckerberg is not the only social network maven out there.  If you're a blogger and you want to be where it's at, come on over and hang with the cool kids at Tribal Blogs.  Jen Brown from Redhead Ranting is the genius behind this group.

Jen has worked tirelessly to make Tribal Blogs an active social network.  (Jen has even configured a swell Tribal Blogs toolbar that you can download for quick and easy access to the site.)  This is the place where you can get blogging tips, share ideas for posts, network, get into some heavy tech talk, engage in some serious discussions and just plain have fun

The chat room at Tribal Blogs is a great place to network with bloggers in real time.  In fact, the Tribal Blogs Saturday Night Slumber Party that is a staple of the chat room has become one of my favorite places to be.  It's a wild and crazy barrage of mixed up conversations as multiple fingers fly over the keyboards.  Hilarity abounds, interspersed with periods of thoughtful, compassionate conversation. Sometimes there are even prizes!  Last night at the Slumber Party, Meleah of Momma Mia, Mea Culpa won a free ticket to the Tribal Blogs Conference.  Here's a real time photo of her getting the good news:

Oh, yeah!  Winning!

Jen's latest accomplishment is organizing  Tribal Blogs Conference 2011, to be held June 23-25  in beautiful Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The featured speakers include Jen, Margaret Andrews from Nanny Goats In Panties, Kathy Frederick from The Junk Drawer and Rodney Lacroix (Moooooog) from Mental Poo.

So, if you're looking for a new place to call home, come on over to Tribal Blogs.   Then you'll always have somewhere to be on a Saturday night!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Paddy's Day Carnival!

I went to a great St. Paddy's Day parade a couple of weeks ago.  My friend Julie took a bunch of pictures of the best costumes we saw.

There was this antennae-wearing "babe":                                         A not-so-little "leprechaun":

The best costume in the "Senior" category:

And then there were these guys in the "Miscellaneous" category, having a blast with Audrey....
(You will note, they are wearing tasteful green bras to honor the occasion.)

Wait.... this wasn't the St. Patrick's Day parade?

It was the Mardi Gras wine tour?

Oh, crap!

Well, in my defense, they did say it was the St. Patrick's Day Carnival and they have a big carnival for Mardi Gras.  You can't blame a girl for getting a little confused.  Besides, after you drink enough, they all kinda blend into another... 

I don't care what you call it... just get out there and have a good time today!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

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Be sure to stop by Humor Bloggers Dot Com to see who else is participating in the carnival today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Trials and Tribulations of a Cat Lady's Sister

Today is my sister's birthday.  60 years ago she entered the world as Number 1 Daughter.  The first two years of her life were pure bliss and life was good... until one day her parents brought home a new baby.   Her world was shattered.  Suddenly there was a crying, annoying sibling taking up her beloved parents' time.  

As the years went on, the younger sibling continued to put a crimp in her plans.  Number 1 Daughter was neat and orderly.  Her bed was always made, her toys neatly arranged on her shelves and her clothes put away tidily.  Not so, her younger sister.  It was sheer torture to have to live with a budding Cat Lady.

All through high school, Number 1 Daughter was doomed to share a room with a hoarder.  At one point she went to the parents in tears, insisting that the only solution was to have E-Z-Way Refuse Service back their truck up to the bedroom window and shovel out all the sister's crap.  Needless to say, it was not a match made in heaven. 

Of course, Number 1 Daughter did get her revenge on occasion.  Saturday was cleaning day at the Larew house.  While my brother and I were kept busy doing all the chores, my older sister was busy making beautiful charts and graphs of what needed to be done and the schedule for doing them.   Fools!  We were fools!

It's amazing how sisters end up on opposite ends of the neatness spectrum.  Lord knows my older sister suffered severely because of my lack of order.  The day Number 1 Daughter left for college was perhaps the happiest day of her life.  She was free!  No more sharing a room with a slob! 

So on this, my sister's birthday, I offer this heartfelt apology....

Annie... I'm sorry I was born a slob!
It was never within my power to learn your tidy ways.
I regret the angst I caused you.
I love you, but I could never live with you!

Then again, when push comes to shove...  who's the one with the cat?

Happy Birthday, Annie!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Greasy Saturday...or... Jimmy Big Balls

I know it's Mardi Gras or Greasy Tuesday, but I started the celebration early on Saturday.  I got together with four other women to take in the Cayuga Lake Mardi Gras Wine Tour.   Upstate New York is known for the Finger Lakes, which are in turn known for their wineries.  Seems the hills between the lakes are perfect for vineyards.  Throughout the year the wineries host special events to lure people out.  (Like we needed an excuse to go drink wine.) 

Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. we managed to get to eleven different wineries.  You've gotta start early if you're going to get your money's worth!  But we weren't just slinging back the wine...  we were also partaking of the Mardi Gras tastings at each winery.  The offerings included everything from jambalaya to bread pudding slathered in maple syrup vodka.  Yes, you read that correctly... maple syrup vodka!  That packs a punch, especially at the end of a day of drinking! 

Picking up beads at each winery was another part of the fun.  And we didn't even have to show our boobs to get them!  Here's my array of beads, less the boobs.....

I definitely scored on the mask and crown beads! 

As we approached the Thirsty Owl Winery, a woman who was just leaving told us to be sure to look for "Jimmy Big Balls".    Well look we did, checking the guys out up and down.  Ahem... 

We found Jimmy behind the bar and he was a delight.  Not because of the big balls he sported around his neck, but because he serenaded us as he poured our wine.  At one point everyone at the bar was swaying back and forth, belting out the tunes along with Jimmy in between belting back the wine.

Jimmy Big Balls

At the next winery we got to go down into the bowels of the earth, amongst the huge stainless steel vats of wine to claim our prizes...

 Audrey going incognito.

From there it was back into the light to drink amongst the oak casks at our next stop.

A couple more wineries and we were done for the day.  A good time was had by all...

Now I hear we're supposed to atone for our gluttony by giving up something for lent.  On second thought... I'm pretty much of a heathen, so I think I can skip that part. 

Happy Mardi Gras!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why Now?

How could this happen?  For five months I sat around watching television every day without any seriously good gossip coming to light.  Sure, I got to watch Bill O'Reilly rile up Whoopi and Joy on The View and I saw Congressman Chris Lee take a Craig's List nose dive right out of Washington.  But those were momentary thrills.   It's only now, the week I return to work, that the proverbial shit really hits the fan...

Yes, Charlie Sheen waited until I was back at work to have a manic melt down that makes Tom Cruise look positively mellow.  Damn you, Charlie!  How am I supposed to get my fanatic fan fix if I'm no longer lolling around all day in my pajamas to watch the story develop?

Seriously, how could you do this to me, Charlie?  Did I not care enough about winning?  Was it because your real life treatment of women was cooling my enthusiasm for Two and a Half Men?  Were my veins sadly lacking in tiger blood?  Was my last girls' night soiree not bitchin' enough for you?  And although I'm not a rock star from Mars, I might be from Venus.  Isn't that close enough for you?  I could be high on Charlie Sheen!  But you won't let me.  No, you rejected my attempts at voyeurism by waiting until I was no longer available to worship at the altar of Charlie Sheen.

But that's okay.  I can cure myself of my disappointment.  I can talk myself down, now that I know your secret of success.  I'll just use the power of thought.  I have an amazing brain that's so powerful it would melt your face off.  Forget those loser 12 step programs!  I'll think about it and make it so!   I'll raise my victory sign to my cheek like I'm holding an imaginary giant stogy from your walk-in humidor and tap my fist to my chest and all will be well.

Two Seconds later...

Hey!  It really worked!  I no longer crave news of Charlie Sheen. 

See this hand motion, Charlie?   

At least I still have a job to go to.  

So sorry my life is so much less bitchin’ than yours, Charlie.... I planned it that way.

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Check out Tribal Blogs to see who else is participating in the Charlie Sheen "Rock Star From Mars" Blog Carnival.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Guess Who's Back?

Yes, I realize it's been almost three weeks since I posted and it's been five months since I actually went to *gasp* work, but for once this post is not about me

The real reason I asked you here today is to let you know that those wild and crazy people at Humor Bloggers dot com are back!

Let the party begin!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Echoes of the Past: A Magpie Tale

The symphony is over.  Now, for the walk home.  The rain has stopped and a haze begins to rise from the brick walkway.  Cloaked in the miasma of time, she drifts into thought.

Years ago as a newlywed, she walked down this same path with her husband toward their pied-a-terre near the symphony hall.  Back then, secure on the arm of her husband, she delighted in being cloaked in the mist.  It created a special world just for them.  The echoes of the other theater goers' footsteps faded into the background as they created their own magical space, filled with joy and contentment. 

Tonight the footsteps once again fade away, but not because of the security of being loved.  Most symphony patrons have drifted toward the parking ramp that was built next to the grand theater.  She, alone, walks in the opposite direction toward the faded glory of her apartment building.  Her footsteps on the deteriorating bricks of the walkway echo in the mist to remind her she is alone.  Harry has been gone these twenty years but she is still there, walking the same path.  It's moments like these that she feels him still with her. 

A second set of footsteps begins to echo in the darkness.  For a moment she thinks it might be Harry.  But no, that can't be.  The neighborhood's not what it used to be and her heart begins to race as the footsteps get closer.  Her fingers tighten on the sequined bag that holds her opera glasses and she begins to walk faster.  The sound bounces off the walls of the tall buildings around her, making it impossible to discern the direction of the footsteps.  As her pace quickens, so does the stranger's.  Whoever it might be is gaining on her.

A man emerges from the darkness and her heart skips a beat.  But it's only the aged doorman, stepping out from the apartment building to usher her in from the mist.  He's been watching for her to be sure she gets home safely.  His kindly smile brings her back to her present reality... in which she is alone with her memories.

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Willow over at Life at Willow Manor  has been providing inspiration for bloggers with her photo prompts on a site called Magpie Tales.  Be sure to check out the other fabulous writers participating in Magpie Tales this holiday week.  You'll be glad you did! 
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