Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It’s that time of the year, so it’s not my fault!

Ghosts, goblins and bumps in the night. Yes, it’s that time of the year again when scary things happen…. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong and the month isn’t even half over!

The only good thing that can be said for this October is there is not a Friday the 13th! The last time that happened, I woke up to a flat tire on my car. That, in itself isn’t so bad, however, I had just purchased a can of Fix-a-Flat the night before. But, I woke up an hour later than usual – through no fault of my own of course. Someone or something had reset my alarm clock during the night!

You see, there is this ghost, or poltergeist, a troll, a goblin or some other supernatural creature that seems to follow me where ever I live. This entity, creature or critter always manages to create problems for me when I least need them.

Even when I’m not at home this “being” follows and taunts me. For example, when I’m out shopping at “Wally World” (my dear little boy coined that phrase when he was two years old – he confused Wal-Mart with Disney World as he thought all toys and games were made by Mickey and Goofy. (Sometimes I even thought he was made by Mickey and Goofy) and since then everyone else has just followed his lead) this little voice begins whispering in my ear, “Buy chocolate, buy chocolate, buy chocolate,” over and over and over.

I’ve even stopped and looked around, staring at shoppers all around me and then thoroughly embarrassed myself by asking if they were speaking to me. Their faces looking at me with blank stares slowly morphing into a “she’s weird” look as they shake their heads and continue pushing their grocery carts.

And, of course there is all that “trick or treat” candy on the shelves. Shelves and shelves of vibrantly colored, orange, black, red, umber and gold packages of Halloween candy tempting me. My will power is bad enough as it is – I don’t need any assistance thank you very much.

But, then someone…. Or should I say some THING forces my hands and arms toward the shelves… I am not in control … those hands reach out and grab two, three … no wait… FOUR bags of Halloween candy and put them in my grocery cart. “Hey,” my mind shouts, “This is not fair!”

It’s not until I get home and begin unloading my groceries that I realize I bought two bags of Brach’s Bridge Mix as well and one of them is empty! I look at my hands and there are the remains of chocolate crèmes, chocolate covered almonds and chocolate covered raisons all over them! This is a really evil little demon!

Generally, throughout the year, this evil little critter manages to leave me alone … for the most part… unless he’s putting rocks the size of footballs in the middle of the freeway for me to run over with my car while I’m dressed in rodeo clown attire, but I digress and that’s another story!

But when it comes to the month of October and the week of Halloween, my life suddenly begins an intimate relationship with Murphy’s Law.

Take the other night for example. My telephone rang, usually my BFF calling to check on me, or it’s a general sales call for an unknown and unwanted product (I have got to remember to put my name on the Do-Not-Call Register – but then it would be awfully quiet around here).

Anyway, I answered this particular call even though I didn’t recognize the number. A strong, husky, yet smooth male voice was on the other end asking me out to dinner and dancing. I immediately began sorting – in my mind – through my closet for the appropriate outfit and shoes to wear for this glorious evening out as the male voice continued discussing the dinner plans.

My mind was racing away to an evening of enchantment when it came to a screeching halt. What did he just say? Wait, that’s not my name. Why did he call me by another name?

I quickly and very diplomatically reminded him of whom he was speaking. “What?” said the prince quickly losing his charm, “Oh my! I have the wrong number – you’re not my fiancé!

Well, there you have it – a perfectly good evening down the drain because some guy punched the wrong buttons. I do wonder though if we couldn’t have worked something out?

Nope, Murphy has nothing on me at this time of the year. I had to buy five pairs of panty hose last week. And I gotta tell you… I absolutely hate those things – you do know they were invented by a man – a “man” also invented the girdle (thank God we no longer have to wear those) and the brassiere. Anything and everything to hold us back, push us up or rein us in!

So the first pair got torn when I ran into an open drawer… again, not my fault, my little demon was working his tail off. The second pair I snagged with a broken fingernail. Time to get a manicure!

The third and fourth pairs were both attacked (one at a time) by my sweet, but elderly cat, Sweet Pea. She loves to grab at my legs when I’m leaving the house. I think she thinks she can hold me and keep me from leaving…. I’m taking away her “lap.”

This week, the light bulbs in the bathroom upstairs, the kitchen downstairs and the loft/den all decided to go out at the same time. I climbed on the bathroom cabinet to put a new bulb in the socket and lost my balance, poked a hole in the wall with my foot and broke the towel rack as I tried to stop my fall.

Try explaining to the landlord how you managed to put a hole in wall above the commode!

I don’t know what’s in store for the rest of the month, I can only hope that my little demon, that little creature/critter/devil stops with the chocolate.

But then, next month is Thanksgiving with such tantalizing goodies in the stores like pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and chocolate turkeys! Then there is the really dangerous month of December – chocolate Santas, chocolate reindeer, chocolate pie, chocolate cake - followed by New Years Eve with food, chocolate and more chocolate everywhere! Need I say more?

I think I need an exorcist!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

High School Reunions – the Real Melting Pot!

Ahhhh. Autumn is in the air. Crisp, cool days, football and bowls of chili – well, maybe a little north of Houston, Texas that is. It’s still a sweltering 90 degrees and crisp is an adjective we in the south use for burnt toast. And, we only eat chili during the two weeks in February when winter hits the Gulf Coast. But, we still have football!

Most schools, colleges and universities have what they like to refer to as an “alumni game.” That’s when everyone who ever went to that school is allowed to show up, sort of like a class reunion for everybody – no matter what year you graduated (or didn’t graduate, but at least attended for one semester).

My high school has the garden variety of reunions – every five years and we even ask the year before and the year after to attend.

For those of us who have been to a few (“few” can mean as little as three or as many as seven depending on your age… I’ve *ahem* been to only one or two… well maybe three or four if you don’t count the ones I might have missed) it’s another major milestone in our lives.

That first reunion is like a big party – similar to the ones we attended while still in high school. After all, five years is nearly yesterday to a 23 year-old (only two years past legal drinking age and still wet behind the ears). For those young enough to remember their first reunion, it’s the gathering of college elites, college dropouts and college wannabes or those who couldn’t care less!

And, some of the “kids” come in with wallets bulging with photos of their babies, most still in diapers, all of them talking about how little Ashley or Joshua will be the next Einstein or Ralph Waldo Emerson, all the while talking about the 12, 24 or 56 hours of labor giving birth to the little darlings and of course the biggest discussion was diaper choice…. Paper, plastic or cloth!

The second and third reunions are a little more, how do I say this?.... complex…I didn’t make it to my first two, but I made an all-out effort to be at the third one. Have you ever tried to lose 30 pounds in three weeks?

Listen, we’ve all seen the commercials where the girl is going back to her 10th - or maybe her 20th – reunion and she’s worried about her hair color. I was more worried about taking the (ex) husband.

At the first reunion, most of the married couples were those we knew in high school who were headed for the alter the minute the last school bell rang. But those (of us) who moved far away brought home some really good examples of cross-cultural diversity (the word “cultural” is used very loosely here).

Example number one: The super smart fellow who made A’s in chemistry, physics and atom smashing, but flunked etiquette and physical education, yet in he walks with a surfer girl from San Diego…. Legs up to here, flowing blond hair and a vocabulary of 10 words.

Example number two: The cheerleader – the one who dated the quarterback of the football team – in she walks with what looks like a Japanese Sumo wrestler – no vocabulary – just a lot of grunts.

I came back to my reunion with a guy whose major terminology consisted of, “Hey, woman, whar’s the vittles?” or, “Me and Bubba’s goin’ out to do us some huntin’… keep the fahr burnin’ and chop some more wood for the pile.”

So, there I was with the Neanderthal cowboy trying to keep a (very) low profile. One of my former classmates came over and introduced himself to us and began to tell us about his latest money-making venture. Apparently, he had become quite wealthy since leaving school – at least that was the impression he imparted.

Ol’ Hoss looked up at him and said, “Wahl boy, have ya ever bin in a Turkish prison?”

Former classmate and his spouse ever-so-quickly turned and fled, tripping over several chairs as they made their excuses – something about checking on little Poopsie who was boarded at the vet clinic in Albuquerque.

Lassoing old Paint, I hightailed it out of there, hoping no one would remember who I was with when the next reunion came around. “Hey,” said the Bubba clone, “That wahr jist a lil’ ol’ rednick hewmer. Thay jist don’ preshate funny stuff.”

I tried to explain the difference between Midwesterners and rednecks hoping he would understand if I used only one-syllable words. Needless to say, I undid the ropes that bound us together not long after that and have attended every subsequent reunion …. Alone!!!

The next reunion was a blast! I was single, free and unencumbered. Watch out everyone, I’m about to hit town! Besides the fact that I had lost 230 pounds…. 200 of which formerly belonged to Old Hop Along.

The third and fourth reunions are when you find out that the boy you had a mad crush on for three years in high school but were too afraid to speak to because he was really, really, Really popular, had a secret crush on you at the same time!

I can’t begin to tell you how many times that has happened to me. The reason I can’t tell you is…. Oh never mind…. But it DID happen!

Anyway, these reunions are the ones where everyone’s career is set and flourishing and everyone wants to know what mutual funds and how many T-Bills you have in your portfolio.

My portfolio consisted of a $25 savings bond my brother sent me when my daughter was born. Do they still make those???

This last reunion was just as much fun as the previous two. And, at this reunion, the main topic of discussion was where are you retiring? When did you retire and how is the golf game now that you have time to play every day?

Wallets also are bulging again… this time with photos of grandchildren, great grandchildren and furbabies. Yes, many of us now have furbabies since the children have left home…. For some reason, our need to continue parenting just never ends!

I refuse to bring photos of my grandkids…. With 12 little moppets, I need a wheelbarrow to carry them! Instead, I brought one of the little angels with me… she was the “family grandchild representative” – and she handled her job very capably!

Next reunion? I’ll probably still be single, (happily of course) and ready to party until at least 10 pm!


Friday, October 2, 2009

Milestones – A Sad but True Fact of Life

This year both of my children reached milestone birthdays. My daughter turned 40 in March and my son, my little baby boy, turned 35 in August. I called both children – one lives out of the city, and the other lives out of the state, and wished them a very happy birthday, and of course, made sure they knew they were getting closer to my age!

I’ve been sitting here thinking that at any moment I’m going to get all sappy and begin crying as I remember the times I shared with my little ones. My children have grown and gone – left the house – left the building and left mom behind. The only thing I can think of now that they have reached these milestones, is how much older I am.

I certainly don’t feel older than 40 or even 35. Although, I am beginning to show my age somewhat. I have a few more wrinkles and my crow’s feet are beginning to sprout wings and my hands – well, I just tell everyone I had freckles when I was younger and they never went away. A little fib or two never hurt anyone.

I asked my daughter how it feels to be 40. Does it feel any different than being in her 30’s?

“Mom,” darling daughter replies, “I don’t have time for this. I have to get the kids to football/baseball/basketball/cheerleading practice and I’m running late because my boss threw a huge project on my desk at 10 minutes to five and wants it done before I leave the office, then I have to pick up hubby from the airport where he’s returning from a work conference, then we have to stop by the mechanic and pick up his car, go by the cleaners, stop at the grocery store and get one or two of the kids to the tutor.”

I called my wonderful little boy to wish him a happy birthday too, and I posed nearly the same question to him as well – how does it feel to be 35?

“Mom, he implored, “I’m busy. I’m headed out of town for a new project and I’ve got three new men to train, so I have to develop their training, work on the project, make sure they know what they are doing, then I have to get home in two days, take the boys to football practice, make sure wife has some time to herself and that she and the girls can all get to the next birthday party/church social/school meeting/dance classes and then I need to mow our two acres, work on the fence, take the dogs to the vet…….”

He was still talking as his cell signal slowly faded away.

So much for a “rite of passage” into the middle of their lives.

I remember one of my “rites of passage” into the adult world. Newly married, I had just turned 21 (yes, I’m not too old or senile to remember that far back!) I didn’t go out drinking as so many new 21 year-olds are wont to do… no, hubby and I went out for a nice dinner at a reasonably priced restaurant. Hubby was just slightly younger than moi… he was not yet 20 and both of us looked like we were teenagers still in high school. I proudly showed the waiter my ID for the glass of white wine I was hoping to taste. The waiter looked at me, looked at the ID, looked at dear new hubby and laughed out loud.

I asked what he found so funny, and he said, “You and this ID.” He was laughing and coughing so hard I thought he was going to pop a vein.

“You kids,” he exhaled, “You kids are just so cute, do your parents know you’re here?”

So much for turning 21 and trying on my new legal status! And, no, I didn’t get to taste my first glass of wine that night. I still don’t look my age, at least that’s what people tell me when I tell them I have 12 grandchildren, but I do get served a glass of wine when I want one.

So many young people today don’t think they ever will age including my children. Yet, both of them have finally realized that the years are starting to go by just a little faster, and as their children turn to full-fledged teenagers, they look at me and finally, with great reluctance realize they truly are catching up with Mom!

Tripping your way to the podium (Part II)

Tripping your way to the podium (Part II)

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Monday, September 7, 2009


You’ve seen the bumper sticker that says, “If I had known how much fun grandchildren were, I’d of had them first!”

Well, it is absolutely true! And not just for the obvious reasons! Of course, there is the all inclusive, “spoil and go” methodology, which is my favorite!

But, while that may help us exact “revenge” on our grown children, the other reasons are a little more subtle but, oh, so very effective!

I remember when the beautiful little girl I carried for nine months in a swollen and stretched belly, became a mother to the first of her four children. This was my turn to watch the metamorphosis from a surprising and delightful vantage point.

It was my turn to watch as this lovely young body (on scale of one to 10 – she was indeed a 10) grow to that of a small elephant. She was so happy – glowing with the radiance of first pregnancy. Little did she realize that in six months she would be standing, naked in front of her full-length mirror and with horror exclaim, “Oh my gosh, I look like a backward humped back whale!”

The whale look, of course, came after she had been initiated into the pregnancy process. The first thing dear daughter noticed was the growth of her bosoms. She had always been a charter member of the IBTC club (ask me if you’re not sure what this means).

When she was four months pregnant, she excitedly and with great pride, said, “Look mom, cleavage!!”

She did have a little trouble dealing with the pain of growing her new breasts, but as I lovingly explained to her – that was nothing compared with the pain of having three baby teeth grinding and gnawing during feeding time. Oh, and then there is the pain (and total humiliation in a bikini) of stretch marks – but that of course comes “after” the new arrival, no need to even think about it now.

Luckily my beautiful, glowing young daughter (she has aged some since the birth of her fourth child) was spared (for this first pregnancy anyway) the incessant indigestion of beginning pregnancies, but she did get all of the morning sickness – not just in the morning either, which isn’t such a bad thing when you can get out of cooking for the next four months!

When pregnant with said daughter, I tried to go into my fifth month with what my daughter called the “burping urpies,” but the father of this child told me I was “stretching” it…. He had NO clue!!

After surviving the indigestion and the morning sickness came the next, almost fun, stage of pregnancy – buying maternity clothing.

Oh, the memories…. when I was pregnant with this lovely young creature about which I am writing (I will never admit my age…even when her oldest graduates from college!!) the only “large” clothing for pregnant ladies were tent-shaped frocks, like the kind you take camping – pup tents. Probably made for the birthing of puppies! The manufacturers of these wonderful size-less dresses – I use that term loosely (pun intended) must have used actual canvas and painted flowers on it.

Thank goodness I wasn’t having multiples – the tents would have come from the military – large enough for a battalion.

The best, or worst, thing about maternity clothing is that it never wears out. It can be passed from expectant mother to expectant mother. Or, from mother to daughter and probably even on to a granddaughter. And, in the event there are no daughters it can be used to wrap the outdoor pipes in winter or as birthing blankets for those puppies I mentioned earlier.

So, by the time the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy rolls around, so is the babe within. Daughter, whose husband was in the military (I will refer to him simply as “he-who-impregnated-my-daughter-without-my-express-permission-and-he-who-will-suffer-until-the-day-he-dies-or-he-hollers-uncle-whichever-comes-first) were at a dinner party with umpteen officers and their wives. As she was sitting there, her tummy began rolling – much like the motion of the ocean during a hurricane – nearly pulling her off the chair.

The child she was carrying, my future grandson, was just changing position in order to get his mother to change hers – who knew this would continue for the next 18 years? Already, the child had her number.

Every time daughter ate brussell sprouts, my impending grandson would kick her right in the middle of her belly button. At two years old, he just threw them at the cat… he’s still doing that today at nearly 17!

Daughter also was trying to take a couple of classes during this pregnancy. Sitting in a lecture class, the unborn boy had the hiccups. Her belly began making peculiar jumps and bounces and all she could do, as the rest of her body bobbed merrily along, was pretend she was listening to music no one else could hear (and this was before Ipods!)

As her belly grew with my soon-to-be eight-pound grandson, daughter found that it became a magnet for everything she ate and a lot of what she didn’t. The distance between the plate and her mouth had increased by at least 12 inches. Spaghetti was a real trip – literally!

Cooking also was a new experience while pregnant for her. Of course, cooking had been a new experience for her after she grew up and left home – talk about boiling water – but I digress. As she would try to reach the back burners on the stove, or reach the back of the refrigerator, it was like climbing Mount Everest – the bulge was never ending.

I remember once when I was carrying sweet daughter I managed to dump an entire casserole on my belly and it didn’t even fall off. I walked around the entire house shouting, “Look dear, no hands!”

I have to admit, having grandchildren is so much more fun and a lot easier! As my daughter and son experienced the coming of each of their children, I must say, I also enjoyed the process immensely! And I got to enjoy their pregnancies the way I always wanted to enjoy mine – sans the morning sickness, the indigestion, the kicking and hiccups, and most of all no tents to hide the big belly!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Forget Godzilla or King Kong: Mom and Dad are invading!

Do you embarrass your kids? Do they harbor a base fear that they may run into you at the mall? Do you make them squirm with trepidation when they bring a boy/girl friend home for a visit?

If that’s the case, tell your kids to get ready for the most frightening time of their lives! We are invading their school/college campuses!

We’re heeeeeeere!!! We, your parents, mom & dad, even grandma and grandpa are sitting next to you in your chemistry class, your history class, your English class and yes, even in your physical education classes!

We are the ones with the gray hair – caused no doubt by our very own college bound children – and we’re the ones who hated the idea that bell-bottom pants are back in style! We threw them out more than 30 years ago!

You can see us all over the campus at schools across the country. We are the weird-looking people wearing high heels with backpacks, although some of us wear tennis shoes with arch supports and Dr. Scholl’s corn removers.

Our numbers are increasing – in fact, we are the fastest growing age group attending college today! According to the Association for Nontraditional Students in Higher Education (
ANTSHE), students who are over 25 make up 47 percent of the new and returning student population on many of today's college campuses. Kind of scary isn’t it?

No, we’re not checking up on you kids – or trying to make your lives miserable – although that is a side benefit worthy of consideration.

We are here to learn! And are we ever learning! We have learned that Ben Gay works really well on sore shoulder muscles from carrying that darn backpack filled with books given to us by professors half our age! We have learned that Scooters make wonderful transportation across a crowded campus… and of course, learning how to drive in between hand-holding college sweethearts – one of those “benefits” I mentioned earlier. Oh, and don’t forget, being late to class is always forgivable if you walk with a cane!

However, there are some things we can do much better than our college age children. We are good at standing in line at the bookstore while hordes of screaming, yelling and crying kids/teenagers/children surround us. We’ve had lots of practice – remember standing in line at the grocery store while you, our wonderful, little children screamed for toys/candy/ice cream? It’s the same thing!

And yet, there are some things we know nothing whatsoever about – yes, this is an admission of total ignorance. So, can someone tell me why some young men can be seen with nose rings? Kind of reminds me of the old bull in the pasture with the large ring through his nose – it was used to “keep him in his place.” Wait, maybe the girlfriend put it there… in that case, hmmmm, not a bad idea!

I’m sorry, but I still don’t get all the body piercings… noses, eyebrows, lips and who knows where else they have placed those things. The only time I ever used safety pins in public was to hold up my poodle skirt when the buttons popped off!

And what’s with the combat boots and clunky shoes? When I was a young adult, the pointier the toe, the better. We wouldn’t be caught dead wearing “old lady” shoes. So what if today we all have hammer toes, need foot surgery and are often seen wearing a podiatry shoe? Wasn’t it worth it to be in style?

Talk about being in style. I can remember being in the cool group if we even owned a television set. Today, it’s streaming video on their I-phones and Blackberrys.

Yet, there are advantages to being an older student. For one thing, when the professors, those same ones who are half our age, begin taking about the 1960s, civil rights, JFK, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the Black Panthers, Woodstock or the first man on the moon, WE were there. We lived it.

And, we are making history again. We are starting a trend that is growing bigger every year with more and more adults attending college – either returning for second, third or fourth degrees or even some of us for the very first time.

So, don’t be embarrassed when you see mom sitting next to you in the class room, she may be a veritable fountain of information!

She also carries aspirin, hand sterilizer, Band-Aids, tweezers, needle and thread, and safety pins! And, she just might be able to give you a few pointers on clothes or accessories to match your purple hair!


Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School

It’s the first day of school for six of my grandchildren. Four others began their school last week. All the moms and dads are excited about, 1) the new schools clothes, 2) the sports the kids will participate in, 3) the days of peace and quiet and 4) spending quality time with each other, their own work and of course being able to fold laundry without “little” helping hands!

They also are “anxious” about 1) paying for all those new school clothes, 2) the sports the kids will participate in, 3) too much peace and quiet, and 4) nobody to help do the laundry or take out the garbage!!

I have some friends whose children just started kindergarten and first grade…. The beginning of a very long journey! I remember when the father of six of my grandkids started his first day at school.

He was so cute in his little-boy suit. Yes, I put him in a suit, sans tie, so that he would make a good impression on his new teacher. As I walked him into the classroom, all the other children began to snicker as only five-year-olds can do. Really, it was outright laughter… son threw off his jacket dropping it squarely in the middle of the floor much like he did at home.

His sweet teacher picked it up and handed it to me asking me if I had an extra pair of sneakers in the car that son could wear. She then assured me he would have grass and gravel marks on his slacks to make him fit right in with the class!

I left the classroom, OK, pushed out the door by said son an hour later. I had tried to sit inconspicuously in a student seat at the back of the room. How does a mother sit inconspicuously in one of those really, really, really small chairs? How does a mother get out of one of those small chairs without taking it with her attached to her, unfortunately, large hiney?

I stood outside the classroom door for the next 15 minutes or so watching my little boy acclimate himself to his classroom, his new friends and his teacher. He was so cute as he announced to the class that he had to go to the bathroom. Then he ran up and hugged his new teacher! On his way to the restroom, he opened the classroom door and said very emphatically, “Mommy, you can GO HOME now!”

Today, five of that very son’s kids start school for the first time… they have all been homeschooled up to this point and are beginning the exciting adventure of public school. The eldest is beginning eighth grade where she is already nearly an academic grade ahead of everyone else. No, I’m not bragging… it is a simple fact – she’s the smartest one of all the kids and of course she is the brightest new student in the new school – at least according this grandma!

Where did the years go? How can my son now be MY age? And his big sister is even older! Her oldest is starting his junior year in high school. Next year, he will be graduating and then off to college!

I’m too young for this!!!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Operator, is something wrong with my line?

I got the biggest surprise of my life last week. After working all day and doing volunteer work half the night, I came home to a blinking answering machine. It was blinking because someone had left me a message.

That was a mystery in itself, yet the real surprise was the person who left the message. Although, I must admit, he has called me several times, much to my chagrin as I always have had to say, “No son, I don’t have any money to loan you.”

This time was different, however. After arriving home around midnight, the message said to call him ASAP. No matter how late it was, he wanted me to call – it was urgent! Of course, my first thought was something is wrong with the children. After all he only has six of the little darlings and so far each one has made a minimum of three trips to the emergency room for various bumps, bruises and childhood illnesses.

I even entertained the idea that there might be a problem with his father (the ex), but I don’t think he would bother me with something that trivial.

I dialed his number knowing that I would wake him and my daughter-in-law, but he said it was urgent. Besides, it’s kind of fun waking them up –especially since the youngest of the six precious children finally fell asleep.

The phone rang just a few short rings (shorter than I expected) and dear son answered with a sleepy “hullo”.

“Hi there, sweetie,” I said gaily with a lilt in my voice. “What’s the problem? Is something wrong?”

My son, the fastest mouth in the West, the smart-aleck of the 21st century, the biggest clown of the decade and the all around horse’s butt of the 90’s and beyond said, “Mom, I was worried about you. I haven’t heard from you in weeks and I just wanted to make sure you were OK.”

Stunned silence on my end. I was in shock. I was completely flabbergasted and bewildered. I answered with a, “Well of course I’m OK”. After all I spoke to the boy only last month.

To hear this from the son who couldn’t wait to get away from his mother is an event that should be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records under the category of “sons who have called their mothers because they care” – a category that probably has very few entries!

This is the boy who would complain because I attended all of his after-school functions, begging me to “please stay home this time”.

This is the same son who wrote one letter in a year, 12 whole months, while stationed in Japan during his brief stint in the Navy. This is the son, who upon returning to the States, finally called me – two months later.

Does this mean he’s growing up at last? Does this mean he is being affected by the fatherhood of five children? Is he finally becoming that responsible, caring, compassionate son I’ve always dreamed about? John-Boy, where are you (for those of you who remember Walton’s Mountain)?

I have a feeling, however, that next week, or even tomorrow, my son will be back to normal. But until that time, I’m going to bask in the glowing knowledge that, if only for a moment, he really does care about his mom.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Searching for Mr. Right Includes Wrong Turns!

Well, here it is, the weekend is one day away…. tomorrow is Friday - again, another Saturday is coming and then of course Sunday, the proverbial day of rest. Yet by the time Sunday is here, I’ll be so rested, Monday will seem like a cake-walk.

While everyone else (my female friends that is) are out having an evening on the town with a male companion, I’ll be sitting at home watching my telephone. No, I don’t mean my television, well, actually, I’ll be watching that too, but with one eye on the phone.

It’s like the old proverb – a watched pot never boils – well, I want you to know, a watched telephone never rings. If it does, it’s probably one of the cable companies wanting to know about my weekend television habits (how do they know I'm home alone???), or the proverbial tele-sales computer voices with a list of questions that have nothing to do with anything I'm remotely interested in…. does kind of pass the time though.

During my days at University, back in the '90s, I met this really cute, younger guy on campus. He was absolutely adorable. He started to flirt with me and I thought I should be honest and tell him I was a grandmother. His response? ….. He liked older women.

Older women? He was younger than my daughter!! The poor boy followed me all over campus that day like a little, lost puppy. I began to feel sorry for him and actually thought, for a brief moment, that he might be fun to take home and keep for a pet!

Not long after my encounter with puppy-eyes, I saw an older friend of mine at a gala event. He informed me he had a new girlfriend. My “friend” was about 67 years old at the time (pretty darn old in my opinion) and his new girlfriend was 25. I asked him what did they find to talk about. “Talk?” he said, “She don’t talk, but she sure communicates good lyin’ down.”

The following evening, I found myself at what once was considered a rather nice nightclub catering to the "slightly" older generation. I walked in and was immediately accosted by several gentlemen – one almost ran over my foot with his wheelchair.

Another gentleman took 10 minutes just to say, “Hi honey,” all the while wiping the drool away from the corners of his mouth - must have been caused by the false teeth that somehow had a mind of their own! And the other gentleman, well, let’s put it this way – it’s a good thing he had arthritis because he let his fingers do the walking.

However, the music was nice and the place had a distinct ambiance – along the coat rack was a rack for canes, and the coatroom had numbered wheelchairs. I was told the local geriatricians even had a nickname for the club – “Menopause Manor”.

I did meet a rather nice man about my age, salt and pepper hair, nice build, incredibly charming, owned his own business and drove a really cool sports car. Wow, I thought, a “real” man – until I found out about the others. There was a lady friend in Dallas, one in Atlanta, one in Mexico City and then there was The Wife!

Oh well, just my luck; they’re too young, too old or too attached.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Grow Up and Act Your Age!

How many times have you asked your children, “when are you going to grow up and act your age?” Yes, I’ve uttered those same words time and time again to my kids only to be looked at with eyes rolling, a shrug, a deep sigh and the sound of feet leaving you standing alone in the middle of a room.

Well, somehow the tables were turned. It was after the (ex) hubby decided to search for a more fulfilling life -- one with a much younger woman. I decided I would fulfill my life as well and enrolled in college.

It was during my son’s senior year in high school. I started off with a bang – got straight As the first semester and dear son was horrified. “Geez, mom, why’d you do that? Are you trying to embarrass me?” I told a couple of his teachers who also were my friends, that son and I were studying together – paybacks are hell!

Darling son was never known for his academic achievements; his claim to fame was his famous mooning episode from the back window of the school bus.

Daughter dear, a few years older than her little brother, was quite proud of my efforts until one fateful night. Because I was now a “college person” I wanted to try out my new single, college wings and have some fun on the town.

Daughter phones mom a little after midnight and doesn’t get an answer. Guess who’s in trouble now? I didn’t know I had a curfew. “Mom, says she, “Act your age; you’re not a kid, so don’t act like one!”

Hey, I was just out with some of the other kids from school. Unfortunately, some of these “kids” had gone to high school with my kids. My son informed me that dancing the night away with his friends was not the way a grown woman should act, especially his own mother. “But son,” I explained with a slight whine in my voice, “they asked me to go and I couldn’t say no”.

For some reason, his friends and a few of my daughter’s, thought it was cool to have “mom” (not theirs of course) hanging out with them!

In my quest to find a fun activity at college, and one that fit in with my age, I tried the college pool. I used to be a pretty good swimmer in high school; I even won a few awards, but when I walked in to the pool area the only person close to my age was the coach.

So, there I am, in the pool with gorgeous hunks of male college muscle and of course thin, young, thin, tanned, young, thin coeds. Did I mention they were young and thin? Yes there I am, - ALL of me, my shriveled cellulite, bleached stretch marks and worn wrinkles – exposed for all the world to see. Even though I stayed under water for as long as I could, I still had to come up for air sometime!

While all that exercise was great, all the running, swimming, tennis and racquet ball made this slightly older body feel and look pretty good, what about the other exercise? The one all my new friends do on a one-on-one basis? Yes, I’m talking about the great sport of dating!

I began to seriously enter the dating scene and what did I get? A lecture from darling daughter about safe sex. Didn’t we have this conversation several years ago? I clearly remember discussing the birds and bees with her. Yes she agreed, we did talk about birds and bees – blue birds, red birds and the stork. Come to think of it, I may have left something out of that particular discussion.

My son was in shock. Dating? Not his mother, he proclaimed. That stuff is for young people, not someone “your age”.

What can I say, I was in college and wasn’t I supposed to act like a college kid? I enjoyed going to parties, complaining about too much homework, watching TV when I should be studying and I even liked the exercise.

So how come I kept hearing “When are you going to grow up and act your age?”


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Feel the Burn!

Back several years ago, I decided to do something healthy for myself. I took the plunge and became a full-fledged member of a health club. This club was the kind where you see strapping young men with muscle shirts – and the muscles in them – and curvaceous women scantily clad in thong leotards, which of course no self respecting woman over the age of …… let me rephrase that…. MY age…. Would dare try to wear!

Joining the health club was a no option choice. I worked in an office where cakes, candy, donuts and potlucks were a way of life. All that good food gave my body an extra dimension – one I was not too happy about.

So despite the grumbling over the cost, the idea of embarrassing myself in front of scads of gorgeous shaped young bodies and actually having to do some real exercise, I bit the bullet and wrote the check.

The first item on the club policy’s list was to have the club’s physician conduct a fitness test to ensure I was healthy enough to spend my money on some dumb-bells. I filled out all the forms, answered all the questions – except how old I was and how much I weighed.

The physician, with his stony face, informed me he needed to have ALL the information in order to assess my training needs. He made it sound like I was enrolling in obedience class.

So, glaring at him, I wrote down some numbers in the age and weight brackets just as he asked, daring him to say another word.

He said another word all right. He looked at me, handed the forms back and said “I want the CORRECT numbers. I don’t know what made him think they weren’t the right ones.

He then put me on a Lifecycle machine and told me to keep the RPMs at 80 mph. First I had to get the pedals moving…. And sitting on that seat….well, now I understand why they call it a “banana” seat! I was lucky to be able to get the darn thing going at all much less at 80 mph. Then he set it on level four, which must be for the guys out there on the gym floor playing with those big, round manhole covers.

I pedaled up longer, higher, steeper hills then the cyclists on the Tour de France. Every couple of minutes the doctor would look at me through the glass window separating us, nod and give me a little smile – I think it was a smirk. I grinned back at him realizing the glass window was probably bullet proof.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, he came into the “how fit are we” room and said “Ok you’re finished.” How right he was! I toppled off the machine and with rubbery legs and a sore bottom, wobbled back to his desk and sat down – gingerly!

He then handed me a list of all the exercises I needed to put this body back in shape, along with the repetitions and the number of days each week I was supposed to do them.

The list was nearly two pages long!

He sent me – list in hand – to the main workout area where the receptionist called for THE TRAINER.

Each brand new member gets their own individual trainer for the first few workouts to show him, or her in my case, the ropes. (I would loved to have shown that doctor some rope.)

Over walked a huge, muscular, big hunk of a man. Did I mention he was huge? This was my trainer? At that moment, I began looking for the nearest exit. This man looked like he could single-handedly lift a house off its foundation! Before I knew it, he grabbed my hand and shook it like it was attached to one of those WW whatever wrestlers. Thank goodness I’m ambidextrous and can write with my left hand.

He started me on the exercycle – the twin to the Lifecycle and said I would have to start with this machine each time I came to the gym as it would warm up my leg muscles. Not that they weren’t already warm. By the time I finished this part of the exercise program, my leg muscles definitely were warmed up – they were burning, as was my behind – again – with another of those skinny banana seats! Why do they not put seats on those bikes that would accommodate behinds like mine?

Then he started me on the other machines, rather, they started on me. I did leg presses, leg lifts, shoulder lifts, tricep pulls, bicep pulls, abdominal crunches and last but definitely not least the Butt Blaster. That is one machine that does exactly what it says.

By the time I was finished with my routine, I was finished. My trainer, Mr. Big Hunk, (did I mention he was huge?) was grinning ear to ear as he helped me crawl my way to the treadmill informing me that I had another 20 minutes to go – walking briskly at four – count ‘em – four mph (that miles per hour for all you non athletic types).

He did take pity on me when I gave him a sad, pathetic look and lowered the speed to 3.5 mph.

Two full hours after I arrived at the gym, I carefully waddled and limped my way out to my car. Why do they call it a “health club” when you are in so much pain afterwards?

I sat in my car, with its nice full, cushiony, soft seat and headed home. When I arrived home, I cautiously put one foot on the concrete driveway, picked up my other foot with both hands transferring it to the driveway as well, and putting all my weight on the door, slithered down the side of the car. As I sat there, I ruminated on why I was doing this to myself. Stumbling and staggering, I made it to the front door holding on to anything I could grab and once in the house, I collapsed on the couch and passed out!

One full week after joining the “club” and working out semi-faithfully, I could walk out of the gym standing upright with just a slight rubbery wiggle to my legs.

I started to feel pretty good and I thought I noticed a difference in my hips and waist and even my derriere – thanks to the Butt Blaster.

I told all my friends how wonderful working out was and how great I felt afterward. I had a kind of superior feeling when I mentioned it to them especially when they were sitting on their sofas in front of the television.

I was off lifting those weights, pumping that iron and crunching those abs and maybe, someday, I would have Buns of Steel!

Fast forward to several years later…. The only iron I’m pumping is my daily intake of iron tablets, my abs can be found somewhere near my waist wherever that has gone and my buns can best be compared to hamburger buns – soft and doughy!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Opportunities Happen When You Least Expect Them

It’s called serendipity by many people. It can be called coincidence by some. I chose to call it an “opportunity” that happened when I least expected it!

As my good friend Bonnie, a
life coach, knows, I have been lamenting about my weight – yet not really doing anything to lose these unwanted pounds. (No, this isn’t a diet story…. But it could become one eventually!)

On the day before my “opportunity” came to pass, my good friend Richard and I were at a Rodeo event as our alter ego Rodeo Clown personalities. He is a very active person, with his running/walking, working out and kayaking, and he found a kayaking group online in our area. Of course, I was whining (as usual) about not having anyone to walk with or “support” me during my weak attempts at losing weight. He suggested I go online and find a meet-up group.

Following the event, as soon as I got home, still in rodeo clown attire and make up, I sat down at my computer and went online. Now that’s nothing new in itself as I seem to “live” online – but again I digress and that is another whole story!

I found a
meet-up group for walking in my area of town. In fact, they had a walk scheduled in the mall the very next morning at a reasonable hour… 11 am, so, I could sleep late, grab a bite to eat, drink my morning coffee and make the walk. The best part was I could walk in the cool wide spaces of the mall… and everyone knows that Houston is HOT!

The meet-up organizer had said she would be wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt and pink Capri’s, which would make her easy to find. She was – on both counts. We met in front of JC Penny’s and as we began our walk, we of course are asking each other where we live, what we do – all the small talk one does when first meeting a new friend, and here is where the serendipity comes in – and the

Although I didn’t recognize her, I did in fact know her and had met her many times! We went to the same wine bar, participated in the same theatre group and both knew my best friend who is opening a new wine bistro and piano bar as she lost her two previous businesses during Hurricane Ike. It was like we were long lost cousins! We began remembering the good times we had prior to the big storm, talking about what could have happened and what was going to happen in the next few months.

Then, we began talking about what we were doing to “earn our way” through this life. This is where I kind of get chill bumps. For years, I have been a
story teller to children. I then take those stories and write them, hoping that one day I will publish them and maybe earn a tad bit of money to help pay the utilities, etc. But, I had a road block…I simply am not an artist! I can’t draw worth a flip! I am not a graphics person or even know how to use a graphics program. And what I need to make my books really tell their stories is an illustrator. I had no idea how to find someone that could draw a few funny pictures of a turkey.

Last week, I had a brainstorm! I contacted the Art Institute of Houston in hopes that an aspiring student might want to take on this assignment for credit; as you see, I currently am without full time employment, and unable to pay an illustrator what they should rightfully earn. And, I had no success. No phone calls, no e-mails…. Just an empty mailbox.

My walking partner, in her tie-dyed shirt, so reminiscent of the ‘60s, just popped up and said, “I have a friend who is a graphics artist. She currently is not working as she just had a baby. Maybe she could help.”

I just love technology, don’t you? Right then and there, she dialed her friend on her cell phone while walking. Keep in mind, we are moving at a pretty fast pace and doing all this talking, while
opportunity builds!

This lovely young lady, then hands the phone to me and I begin speaking with….. Drum roll here…… my new illustrator for my children’s book! She readily agreed to help out and even sounded very excited about the project! Later that day, she sent me a link to her online portfolio and, oh my gosh, or in text speak O M G!!! Her illustrations are fabulous! They are exactly what I have been seeking!

They were colorful, bright and humorous! They were perfect!

And, now my stories can begin!

Call it coincidence that all these “events” came together, call it serendipity or providence… whatever you call it, it was/is indeed an
opportunity waiting to be discovered!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Bare Breasted Facts of Life – Nah, Don’t Go There

I have now seen it all. During my schooling, entering into my senior year of University, two of my male friends decided I needed to expand my worldly knowledge. They knew I had led a very sheltered life and had not experienced a lot of “life” as they know it.

When you’ve been raising children most of your life, your experiences are somewhat limited, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, friend No. 1 asked if I had ever been to a strip club. “Well of course," I replied with some superiority. I’ve seen the Chippendale guys and even went to Le Bare, the only “girls” club in Houston.” What they didn’t know is I saw them – from under the table with my hands over my eyes, hoping no one I knew would see me in a club where guys strip for girls (another story for another time!)

That wasn’t what he had in mind, however. He and friend No.2 said they were going to take me some place really nice, but with girls. Now, why on earth would I want to see nekkid girls? But the guys insisted and since I was still in school, they considered this a key element in my education process.

So, there we were at this kind of nice place, at least as nice as strip clubs go. We sat at a little table in a dark corner, one male friend on either side of me.

I want you to know, I was the only, fully dressed female in the place. I had just been to the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo and was sitting there in full cowgirl regalia – you know, jeans, boots, hat, the whole nine yards – or enchilada – it had been “Go Tejano” night at RodeoHouston™.

But those girls – you should have seen what they were doing. Some of them must have been double jointed. There was this one young thing that if someone pushed her from behind she would topple over like a set of dominoes – boom, boom. Then she would have bounced all over the floor – look ma, no hands.

Oh, and there was another girl with cellulite on her behind. I could see it from the corner where I was sitting. I excitedly pointed this out to my friends, rather loudly I might add, when all of a sudden I found a hand clamped over my mouth.

Yes, I was able to find something wrong with every dancer in the club. A couple of the girls looked as if they needed to be put out to pasture, and I don’t mean because they were looking too old!

Some of the women looked as if they had bosoms enough to supply an entire nursery. One little girl (I say little only because she was younger and shorter than me) was an acquaintance of male friend No. 1 and was so excited about her newest surgery that she pulled down her stretch-top and ecstatically bounced all around in little circles.

Stupidly, I asked the guys if seeing this much bare skin gets old after a while. They both looked at me as if I was suddenly contagious with a terminal disease!

According to my male friends, this was just another step in furthering my worldly education. I just wonder if my new knowledge will open doors for me.

Nope – I can’t afford the surgery.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Furniture Comes and Goes – Yet Pictures Stay

I was cleaning and rearranging furniture in my small one bedroom apartment after moving to Houston from the country. You know how it is when you’re cleaning house – you start cleaning one area and somehow you end up somewhere else with another huge mess. I started in the living room and kitchen area of my small apartment. You would think in an area that small it wouldn’t be a problem deciding where to put what. I mean, there are only four walls.

The last time I rearranged furniture, I got in a fight with my nine foot couch. Moving that piece of furniture was like trying to push Mount Rushmore through an opening the size of a quarter. I bought that old couch back in 1980 something. The (ex) husband took off to go hunting and left me home with the young’uns – again! And what does one do when the hubby goes off to the deer lease? Why go shopping of course!

My first couch, after raising the kids, the ex, several dogs, a wide variety of cats, one guinea pig and two ferrets was down to the bare wood and springs. So, I decided to have a new one in place when the (ex) hubby returned home.

I found it at a garage sale - of course. The owner said they never sat on it and had kept it in their formal living room. I have a feeling their “formal living room” was probably in another state.

I loaded the monstrosity into the back of the pickup, the kids helped me move the old sofa out and we installed the new one in its place. (Ex) hubby arrived home the next day, tired and weary from a long weekend of hunting and bonding with his buddies and nature – a man’s work is never done.

He sat down to relax and watch some football. Six weeks later, he realized there was something different in the living room. (Someday I’m going to get rid of that old couch too!)

This time, it was the oversized recliner and I that had a problem. I should say the recliner, my cat Sweet Pea and I.

She loves to play hide-and-seek, and she chose the recliner to use as her hiding place. I had to turn the chair upside down, which took some doing – kind of like wresting with a sumo wrestler – all girth and no give. I ended up using a squirt bottle of water to get her out of there. I got to sit in a wet recliner and Sweet Pea had to find another place to hide.

The most fun rearranging furniture I’ve ever had was when I moved everything while (ex) hubby was gone (to the deer lease of course for more – um – bonding). Sometimes he would trip over a table or chair that wasn’t there before and I would hear him swearing all the way out to his truck. Yes, ladies, if you ever want to get back at that man in your life, rearrange the furniture – it works every time.

I finally had almost all of my furniture in the middle of my apartment when I noticed my walls. Well, one wall in particular that is. I have what I call my rogues’ gallery on the big wall in my den.

I have the standard graduation, wedding and group-shot pictures of my children. But I also have some that take a little explaining.

There’s one of my daughter lying out in the sun by our pool, laughing. What you don’t see is my daughter’s best friend doing her best to keep her horse out of the pool. Every time she rode her horse to our house, that animal seemed to think he needed to take a dip.

One of my favorite pictures is my son in his cute little white tuxedo and red cummerbund going to his eighth grade graduation dance. His date, a full head taller than said son, wore a red dress that matched his cummerbund!

Chauffeuring for the evening was none other than his big sister (he thought she would be better than having mom hanging around all night) and she also was instructed to wear red.

That was one of those nights when he begged me to “please stay home this time, Mom.” Are you kidding? Me, stay home and miss this party? Not on your life!!

Oh, I let them get a good head start before I got myself cleaned up and ready to go. I arrived about an hour or so after they did. We spent the rest of the evening playing “catch me if you can.”

He was just so cute in that tuxedo – thank goodness for his taller date – made it easy for me to follow them. I used up two rolls of film that night and then had to borrow from one of the other parents – all of us causing our darlings the same kind of embarrassment.

Then I have a really good picture of son at about two years old sitting in – not on – the commode - only his head and legs can be seen. I use this picture for blackmail purposes.

So, I finally got my furniture rearranged the way I want it this time. I’m sure I’ll change my mind in about three months or so and have to do it all over again. One thing I won’t change - are the pictures on the wall.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

It’s a Bugs World

Do you know that roaches can live for a week without their heads? Do you know they can run three miles an hour? And do you realize there are 5,000 species of roaches?

Well, I know one thing for sure; they all came to my house when the other condos in my complex were sprayed during the annual insect inspection.

And those bugs are smart -- they know just where to go and who’s not using their pantry.

The last time I had any real need to open the pantry was when I dropped a malted milk ball and it rolled under the door.

It was my last one and I don’t believe in wasting good chocolate.

Anyway, this is the week my townhouse is supposed to be de-bugged. That means taking everything out of the cabinets – dishes, pots, pans, food – everything!

Unfortunately, this is one job I now have to do all by myself. At least when my son and his friends were around I never had to clean the pantry. I’m talking two legged garbage disposals here. They could literally devour the complete contents of my pantry in 12 seconds flat.

During the "cleaning out," I found four boxes of partially eaten cereal – each with a different expiration date – all prior to 2001. I think they were supposed to be eater prior to the new century!

Anyway, since I had to empty the cabinets, I figured this was as good a time as any to finally get rid of all those mismatched, chipped and cracked dishes, most of which look like they went through several wars.

Considering the fact they lasted through my marriage, my two kids and all the stray kids they brought home, I’d say they lasted a long, long, long time.

I started with the cups and glasses shelf and found a mug, way in the back, which read “I hate housework.” I’m leaving it on my countertop for future reference.

It had been ages since I’d seen some of those dishes. I’m not even sure where they came from.

I found an old yellow Tupperware bowl that must have had spaghetti in it at one time. I could tell because the yellow was a deeper shade of orange near the bottom.

It was all dented and bent and I kind of looked at it for a minute wondering why on earth -- and then I remembered – back in 1987 or ‘88 one of my daughter’s friends brought it over with her lunch in it -- the day her horse fell in our pool. But that’s another story.

Finally, after all my reminiscing, I got all those dishes pulled off the shelves and out of the cabinets so the exterminators could do their job.

And just because the bugs weren’t running around while I was cleaning, doesn’t mean I couldn’t tell they had been there.

They left little trails of black dots all over the shelves and the only way to remove those dots off is to sand down the wood and repaint it.

And yet, it doesn’t matter how many times you paint over those little speckles, the darn things come right back up through the new coat of paint.

I don’t even know why we try to exterminate these bugs.

You know what I think? I think they’re supernatural.

It’s just like plucking out a gray hair, if you pluck one ten grow back in its place. And it’s the same thing with roaches. Kill one of ‘em and a 100 more appear just for revenge.

They’re the only living creatures to survive through all seven cratonic stages -- they even outlived the dinosaurs. In fact, some female roaches mate once and are pregnant for the rest of their lives.

Maybe that’s where all those little black spots came from. Mama roaches dropping babies everywhere!

When I finally finished cleaning out the pantry and cabinets, I ended up with two trash bags full of mismatched, chipped, cracked and broken dishes.

I even threw away all those little sample envelopes that you get in the mail. I think I must have had about two hundred of them. Also gone are the half-empty boxes of cereal, crackers and croutons.

Putting things back after the exterminators finished was a lot easier than I thought it would be – all I had left were four plates, two bowls, six glasses, a couple pots and pans, three cans of soup and NO BUGS.

Next week I think I’ll clean out my refrigerator, well maybe I’ll do the closets first. No, on second thought I think I’ll just go out of town!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sell Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Garbage

I love sales. There is absolutely nothing that gets my adrenaline up like a sale – especially a garage sale.

Driving down city streets on weekends, I keep my eyes peeled for those almost unreadable signs prominently displayed on street corners, pointing the way to a yard sale.

As I slow to a snail’s crawl to read the directions, I hear the sound of brakes squealing and horns honking wildly. I don’t pay much attention to the chaos behind me. My mind is on the terrific bargains I’m going to find. Have you ever seen the bumper stickers that say, “I brake for garage sales”? I need one of those stickers.

Garage sales are a great way to clothe the kids and the hubby. When I was married to Mr. Ex, I bought almost all of his shirts at yard sales. He never complained. He couldn’t tell the difference between those and the new ones.

I found bicycles for my kids, plants and pictures for the house and once I was really nice and bought my “ex” a four-wheeler for hunting season. It was painted in camouflage green, grey and brown. Attached to this four-wheel, man-toy was a hunting bow, a bow rack and saddle bags, all for only $100.

I was so proud of myself and I just knew my (now ex) hubby would show his appreciation by at least taking me out to dinner. I know, I know – dumb idea. Instead he took me to the deer lease to show off his new toy to his hunting buddies.

Once the kids, dogs, cats and ferrets (and other miscellaneous pets) had their way with the furniture, eating and beating it down to the bare wood, I found a remarkable, never used, gargantuan sofa.

This piece of furniture was nine feet of hideous, yellow, green and cream-colored comfort. Over several years, the couch took on subtle shades of gray cat hair, white dog hair and the stains of teenagers' feeding frenzies.

I tried covering it with sheets, bought the largest sofa cover I could find and finally just piled all my junk boxes on it so I wouldn’t have to look at it.

Four times I moved with that sofa. Each time, I had friends who helped me move and one of them would end up with a hernia. Of course, I don’t use the same friends every time.

The last time the couch moved without me. Son and his wife, who were just starting off their married life with child number one, took it off my hands. I ended up with boxes of “stuff” and nowhere to put them.

But I always found great bargains – a white wicker chair for only $10 and bar stools for five bucks each. I’m even still using the television set I bought nearly 25 years ago for $50. So, it doesn’t have a remote – it still works and I get my exercise getting up and down to change channels.

Bargain hunting - rather garage sales - are in my blood, and as my son used to tell our friends, “Our house is furnished in early garbage sale”.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Preface to the Beginning

Before I begin my first real blog post, I want to preface these postings by saying that many of these were written while I was actually attending school (the University of Houston) during the mid '90s. In fact, it was because of these "essays" that I was able to finish my schooling and graduate with a Bachelor's degree in journalism. I have to admit, I love humor, so most of what I write hopefully will be somewhat funny, maybe provide a little grin, incite a slight ha-ha, or even provoke a loud guffaw! And, while I do and will write sometimes serious pieces, I hope my readers will enjoy the "trials and tribulations" of a 21st century grandma!!

And, the story begins.................

Care to eat? Got Dinner?

Ever been broke? Sure you have. We all have at one time or another been down to the nitty gritty hoping for that miracle to come into our lives. Except sometimes the miracles aren’t exactly what we had in mind.

I’m broke – down to my last 50 or so dollars. Paid the rent this month, might have enough for one more tank of gas, but like old Mother Hubbard, my cupboard is bare – bare as a bone, empty as balloon with no air – even with air it’s empty. A void in my refrigerator – cold, dreary and my single can of Slim Fast is very lonely. But wait, down in the bottom there’s beer left over from a party long, long ago.

I hate beer; I wouldn’t drink it on my best day let alone on my worst. But there you have it. Lots of cans of beer, one can of Slim Fast and an old piece of dried fish in my freezer. Well, on the bright side, the refrigerator won’t need cleaning for a while.

Yes, looking for a job has been a lot harder than I anticipated. But now that I’m broke, I might finally be able to lose that 20 pounds I’ve gained over the last six months or so – no food in the house, no money to go out and buy food, no more fast food, no more slow food.

But wait, I’m not hungry. In fact I’m full, very, very full. I just returned from a wonderful luncheon I was invited to by some co-volunteers of an organization I (still) belong to. There were two large, long tables set up with cold salads, sweet rolls and pasta on one table and wonderful, tantalizing warm buffet servers stuffed with meats, vegetables and breads on the other table. What a feast. Oh and the desserts, wonderful, simply wonderful.

That was such a nice lunch. Even more bountiful than the one I had yesterday with my former boss from my former company. He called and said, “You’ve been on my mind. How about we do lunch – I’ll buy.” Well, that certainly is an offer I can’t refuse – food has always been my weakest link. So there we are at this fabulous Chinese buffet lunch – the best in town I might add. I went back for seconds, thirds and then of course, the desserts.

Hmmmmm, so far, my idea of losing weight is going the wrong way. I’m broke; I’m supposed to be going hungry. Last week, I had a two-fer day. That is, I had a luncheon in the afternoon and dinner was served at my volunteer meeting that evening. That means I ate twice that day – for free – again, all the food I could eat – OK, stuff in my mouth. And I did. I had chicken that afternoon, and beef and veggies, salad, bread and dessert. That night I had fried catfish, hush puppies, cole slaw and of course – dessert. I still haven’t learned how to say “no” to any and all desserts – especially if they involve chocolate!

This is not working the way it’s supposed to! I’m supposed to be losing weight because my cupboard is empty and my refrigerator is bare. Oh yeah, I almost forgot – Saturday night I had one of those very rare occasions when I have a date. (I had to re-look the word up in the dictionary it has been so long since the last one.) We went to a beautiful, classy steak house. The service was impeccable, the food was beyond description – I had the fish – something about fish, dried or wet – it was melt-in-your-mouth good! Another fabulous meal and of course, dessert!

Before I became unemployed, I ate out regularly. I had lunch, dinner and sometimes I’d even have breakfast. I know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day as some experts have determined. But what do they know? Food has always been in my refrigerator. I had boxes, cans, packages and bowls of ready to fix goodies in my pantry. Ice cream, cookies (ok, cookie dough) and candy abounded in my refrigerator. I was almost glad when the time finally arrived when I could no longer eat all that gooey, chewy, flavorful, tempting food. Finally, I can lose weight, albeit not the way I imagined I would.

But here I am getting ready to go out to eat again. Another invitation by a good friend – dinner at her house, barbecue and all the fixin’s, plus she has chocolate caramel ice cream with vanilla butter cake for dessert.

This being broke thing isn’t so bad. Now all I have to do is find someone to give me all their “too big” clothes.

Eventually I will have to go back to work at a company somewhere in this huge city. And soon my refrigerator will again be full, my pantry will hold untold delights and I will forget I ever dreamt of losing weight.

Thongs, Strings or Straps?

It's official - it's summer in Texas. The days are hot and steamy, girls are wearing short-shorts and halter-tops. Kids are swimming at the beach and you can hear bands with their primitive beats from the lakeside enticing young women and men to jiggle and gyrate to the moving rhythms. The girls and guys are gravitating to the area with beach towels, sun tan lotion and those wonderful little bikinis.

I tried on my bathing suit yesterday to see if it still fit. Yes, it fit all right, only in the wrong places!

So I haven't been exercising like I should. I tried going to a gym last winter in anticipation of summer. However I couldn't pass the entrance exam. You know, you enter wearing a body suit with a strap that disappears somewhere behind you.

The first time I saw one of those contraptions on another female I couldn't believe where they expected me to wear that strap! Years ago we had sandals called thongs… know what a thong is today? They don't go on your feet!

The gym commercials aren't lying either. Those same hard bodies you see on TV are the same ones in the gym. And of course there are big glass windows on the front of the facility so that all the cars and passersby can watch the guys lifting and the gals bending.

I want to know where they hide the soft bodies -- the ones over 35 -- ok, ok, the ones over 40… all right, over 50… with those few extra bulges, they're certainly not in the windows!

The apartment complex I used lived in added a workout room two doors down from my apartment – so convenient! If I woke up early enough I could sneak down there before anyone could see me.

The first morning at the new workout room I worked with weights for my upper arms, did some leg curls to work on the thighs (notice I didn't say 'mine,' I refuse to claim them) and then I hit the stair master.

I slapped that thing as hard as I could and it wouldn't budge. The apartment manager must have seen me because she came running in and told me not to mistreat the equipment. C'mon – who's mistreating whom here?

One week I actually made it to the workout room three times. I stayed for about 15 minutes, long enough to do 10 sit-ups, five minutes on the treadmill and 10 steps on the stair master. As the first bead of sweat dripped down my shirt, I figured I had done quite enough for one day.

I never thought I would have to worry about flabby thighs or a bulging tummy when I was young. And, it's getting harder and harder to lose those few pounds I gain each winter. They keep finding new places to attach themselves and never where I can use them the most. Every time I start losing weight I change bra sizes. I have four different sizes in my drawer – a size for each season.

Not long ago, a male friend, whom I hadn't seen in several months, asked me if I didn't think my hips were bigger than they used to be. Luckily, he was not standing within (h)arms length.

Yes, exercise is wonderful, it can turn a soft, flabby body into a body wracked with pain, sore joints and aching muscles!

If I continue at the pace I'm going I might fit into my bathing suit by Labor Day -- no thongs, strings or straps…. But it will have a nice big “skirt” to hide the cellulite!!