Wednesday, November 21, 2007


This isn't mine, it's a passalong, but I agree with it 100%! (I did a search for the author, but didn't find one. Whoever you are, AMEN!)

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can and quickly. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an "eggnog-aholic" or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it!!!! Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand-alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello???

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, pumpkin and mincemeat - have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips: Start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO what a ride!"

Monday, November 12, 2007

Penguin Turkey Tails

My youngest son, Michael, loves to decorate for the holidays. Halloween was all cobwebs in the trees and fright masks on our porch bear. Once Halloween was over, we went looking for thanksgiving decorations. Know what? They are sorely lacking, at least in our neck of the woods.
But that didn't stop us, no, sir. In our search we found some little penguin yard stakes, the kind that light up. We bought them, took them home, and set them up in our front yard. Michael got busy and taped long colored feathers to their black and white behinds. Ta-da! Their turkey disguise is complete. Once Thanksgiving is over, we'll pluck their tail feathers and voila! We'll be all ready for Christmas.
Gobble, gobble, Ho-Ho-Ho!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

By Gum! Bazooka to the rescue!

I don't know about your house, but around here, tape is a luxury. Trying to find some when you need it is like looking for gold in the Mississippi River. Sometimes, though, you really, really need tape, and nothing else will do. "Hold still, Junior, and let me staple this note to your forehead."
Bob and I are headed out for a craft fair, and our teenage sons are staying home to take care of our pets, watch movies, and eat absolutely everything in the house. Since I'm the family's designated rabbit tender (no one else wants the little long-eared darlings), it wasn't too surprising when my 16-year-old admitted that he doesn't even remember we have pet rabbits until he's outside and sees their hutch. So I had to post a list of the things the boys needed to do while I was gone. I couldn't have my Netherland Dwarfs shrink away to nothing. So I wrote a list to tape on the door, but WHERE WAS THE TAPE? I looked in several places, everywhere, in fact, except the place where the tape was. What could I do? Staples don't work on a metal door, and I couldn't think of another place obvious enough for the all important note.
But then, just as I was about to scrawl the essential reminders on the wall in lipstick, I saw the bowl of old Halloween candy sitting on the refrigerator. What was this? Bazooka bubble gum? Oh, yeah!
I chewed a piece until it was pliable, then pulled it apart and glued the two upper corners of the note to the front door. Not only is the note in plain sight, it has a natural teenage attractant smell. I mean, what kid can resist bubble gum? (No, I don't expect there to be any leftover Halloween candy on our return.)
Hm. I wonder if rabbits like bubble gum?

Monday, November 5, 2007

May I Sit Here?

I was only looking for some human company at a craft fair when I carried my bowl of soup to an empty table, then glanced at the next table where a lady was filling foam bowls with soup from a quart jar for her two sons. I had opted to buy a single bowl of soup, not only to help the fund-raising dance troop that was selling it, but to help my empty stomach as well. "May I sit with you?" I asked the woman.

She looked up, her blue eyes round with surprise. Then her face softened into a slightly crooked smile. "Certainly," she said. "I'm Kathy."

"Thank you. I'm Shirley." I set my soup and breadsticks down and pulled up a chair. Just then, her husband, Kerry, came to the table with a loaf of bread from the food counter. I introduced myself. The first thing he said was, "Would you like some bread?"

I indicated my stiff breadsticks, which didn't look nearly as fresh and nice as his thick fluffy slices. "I've already got some," I said. As I ate, I found that if I dipped my breadsticks in my soup, they were more palatable and really quite filling.

My dinner companions and I talked about where we were from, how we enjoyed the craft fair, and what we did. I never expected Kerry to make me cry. As a home health nurse, he told me of a 106 year old man he'd taken care of for eleven years. "You get attached to them," Kerry said. "It's hard to see them go." His voice wobbled, and he picked up a napkin and dabbed his eyes. He went on to mention a pair of brothers with muscular dystrophy. "They depend on me," he said. "I get them up, get them washed, dressed, and fed. They can't do any of that for themselves. The older brother, well, when he turned 20, he said to his mother, 'I'm not a teenager any more, Mom.' That made her cry, because neither of her sons were expected to live past 20."

"How old is he now?" I asked.

"Twenty Four. He likes to listen to music. It's all he can do to push the button." Kerry made his hand into a claw shape. "He gets as close to the stereo as he can, then he reaches out and pushes at that button as many times as it takes to turn the stereo on." Kerry made jabbing motions with his clawed hand, then shook his head. "He loves music. He's an amazing kid."

I stared into Kerry's eyes. "I'm so glad you care so much for them. They're lucky to have you."

Kerry's eyes filled with tears that escaped his eyes as he said, "I'm lucky to work with them. I love my job. It's just so hard, because I get attached to them."

Things were getting misty, and I blinked. Things seemed so much clearer now. For the past few weeks, I'd bemoaned many facets of my life, a life that now bloomed as a spectacularly blessed one. What a selfish outlook I'd been harboring. Then along came this saintly man, caring for people who would die without help for the simplest tasks, things that I took for granted every morning. I blinked again and said, "You make such a difference in the world. And you've just told me what I desperately needed to hear. Thank you for letting me sit by you."

I placed my hand over his in farewell, said goodbye to his wife and sons, and, walking on my own legs, my flexible hands obeying every signal from my brain, I went to throw my soup bowl away.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Big Red Riding Hood

I admit it, even though some people (those with little imagination, I'm sure) look at me funny. I just love Halloween. I can't help it. I love dressing up, I love decorating with pumpkins and funny faced ghosts and old used crime scene tape (from our police officer son.) I laughed when two of our sons laid on the grass and outlined one another with white spray paint. Now don't give me the blood, gore, or slashers. That's not Halloween, that's horror.
Last year, I dressed as a baked potato. This year, I pulled out a long, red cloak that my cousin, Judi, made for me a few years ago. When I first saw the hem dragging on the ground, I told her she should shorten it.
"Oh, no," she said. "Long and sweeping is much cooler."
She was right. I once wore it to Hogle Zoo, and a guy from a group of bikers against child abuse sang that Little Red Riding Hood song, complete with wolf howl, as I walked down the sidewalk. When I walk free of anyone within ten yards of me, I'm safe. If I try to join a group moving down a hallway, inevitably, someone steps on the flowing him of my cape and threatens to garrote me. Very fitting for Halloween, I'm sure, but not my style.
I carried a basket covered with a cloth. Many people guessed I was Little Red Riding Hood. Close. I was Big Red Riding Hood, off to visit my grandchildren. I handed out several goodies as I went to work at the Alternative High School, and later at the elementary school Halloween parade.
I just love Halloween. Maybe it's the candy.