Category Archives: Just for Fun

KIDS, CAMERAS, AND COATED ASPIRIN

Occasionally, I drop an allergy pill or a low-dose aspirin while filling my weekly medicine boxes.

Like any responsible grandparent of young grandchildren, I assiduously search for the renegade pill.  I sweep the area, use a flashlight to look under furniture and appliances, and vacuum the whole room, even going so far as to dig through the disgusting crud inside the sweeper bag in search of that tiny, round object. No pill.

But, let my adorable, angelic, toddling granddaughter enter the house, and before I can even pick her up and cover her face with kisses,  she spots that lost pill and makes a beeline for it, her mouth already open to eat it.

The same is true of a missing sewing needle, earring, or dried up green pea hiding behind a kitchen table leg.

How does this happen? Do kids have an as-yet undiscovered magnetic aptitude that pulls them to things they aren’t supposed to have?

In 1986 Dan and I were given a “free” (ha) trip to Hawaii. Lara was 7 at the time and Ryan was 4.

Shortly before we were to leave, Dan and I had strewn our house with suitcases, camera equipment, shoes, and clothes we would take on our trip.

Which of those things attracted our kids?

Dan’s brand new, $400 Canon AE-1 camera, of course.

In a feat requiring mechanical ability neither of them should have had, they unattached (broke off) the little metal doohickey (a technical term) on top of the camera that the flash apparatus was supposed to slide into.

On another occasion, Lara opened a bottle of Wite-Out (remember that stuff?) and painted her doll’s face with it. I don’t know where that doll is today, but I guarantee you those white stripes are still on her face.

She also got into my jewelry box, selected, and thoroughly chewed up (yes, with her teeth) the only nice gold necklace I owned.

Her brother opened a bottle of red nail polish and painted our bedroom wallpaper with it. He also broke the windshield in his dad’s truck as he sat inside it one particularly boring, sunny day, and popped open a spring-loaded umbrella he found under the seat.

Dan and I had bought the most popular toys of the day for those kids.

But what kid wants to play with toys when there are expensive cameras, bottles of Wite-Out, and spring-loaded umbrellas to play with?

Perhaps parents should hide toys inside jewelry boxes and camera cases, underneath the seats of their automobiles, and behind refrigerators and couches.

Those parents could then showcase forbidden things like cameras, nail polish, and gold necklaces, inviting kids to investigate them.

Maybe the kids would push past those oh-so-obvious non-kid items to search out the toys secreted away in unlikely places.

But, probably not.

Reverse psychology rarely works with kids.

I tried it more than once.

“One of these days,” I said to my seven-year-old, “you’ll be big enough to help Mommy pick green beans, but you’re still too little for such an important job. I guess I’ll have to pick the beans by myself.”

The named seven-year-old, of course, ignored me and continued fashioning a laser sword out of a hot dog roasting skewer and a full roll of aluminum foil.

Kid experiences like these are what cause old parents to sit in rocking chairs on their front porches, drooling, and picking fuzz balls off old, holey sweaters.

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The Great Brush Off

Many nights I delay going to bed because I don’t want to brush my teeth.

I have my pajamas on, the house is locked up, I’m finished reading or watching television or playing Letter Garden on my tablet, and Dan has been snoring for half an hour. But I look around for something else to do so I can put off brushing my teeth.

I’ve never grown out of a childlike hatred of teeth brushing. I am a diligent brusher and flosser. Twice a day, every day. But I don’t like it.

I even bought a new electric toothbrush. It is a Quip brush, and I love it. Well, I love it as much as I can love a toothbrush. It’s kind of like loving a certain kind of scouring pad. I wish I had no need for one, but since I do, this is the one I want.

The minute I turn this toothbrush on, it starts tracking my brushing time. It beeps at 30-second intervals. After the fourth beep, I have brushed for a full two minutes, the brush turns itself off, and I am finished.

My teeth feel cleaner since I’ve been using this brush. The company sends me a new toothbrush head every three months, so I don’t need to remember to buy one. Everything about this brush is good.

Still, when the only thing left for me to do before going to bed is brush my teeth, I dawdle.

Going to bed without brushing is not an option.

Sometimes I persuade myself to brush BEFORE I put on my pajamas, lock the doors, finish watching TV, and tell Dan goodnight. When I follow this plan, going to bed is easy. I press the off button on the remote or the tablet, or close the book, and I’m done.

But when I follow that plan, I delay putting on my pajamas, locking the doors, finishing my TV watching, and telling Dan goodnight because, again, that toothbrushing step stands in my way.

Some nights Dan gets up to go to the bathroom or to get a drink and sees me wearing my pajamas and sitting idly in my recliner at midnight.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

“Nothing,” I say.

“Then why don’t you go to bed?” he asks.

“I’m not ready yet,” I say.

He shrugs his shoulders, the same way he does when I tell him all the bills in my wallet must be turned the same way, in ascending value order, with all the Presidents’ heads facing up.

I see commercials claiming that chewing Orbit gum strengthens the teeth, chewing Trident gum helps prevent cavities, and chewing Mentos Pure White Sweet Mint gum whitens the teeth. Maybe I could just pop a threesome of these chewing gums into my mouth twice a day and make toothbrushing redundant.

But, I cringe at the thought of answering my dentist’s question: “Have you been brushing twice a day?” with “No, but I’ve been chewing lots of gum.”

It is getting late. Now that I’ve finished writing this blog post for the week, there really is nothing else for me to do.

I will give up, brush my teeth, and head for bed.

I won’t go to sleep though. I’ll lie awake, looking at the ceiling and dreading the coming of morning when, once again, I must brush my teeth.

YES, DEAR

Many people believe that in prehistoric times, men were hunters and women were gatherers.

Even today, in my wifely role, I consider myself to be the gatherer.

More than anything else, I gather information.

And it’s a good thing.

Were it not for me, Dan would be clueless about some very important facts about our grandchildren: their shoe sizes, for example; how many teeth the older ones have lost and how many new teeth the baby one has cut. He probably wouldn’t even know their birthstones.

Fortunately for him, he has me to keep him informed. Of course, being the gatherer I am, I also share information about our neighbors and friends.

But information doesn’t seem to be as important to Dan as it is to me. In fact, sometimes I suspect he isn’t even listening when I try to update him.

I can imagine Dan and me in the hunter/gatherer community of the Stone Age. He would be returning from a two-day hunt with the men after I had stayed in our cave community with the other women.

Upon his return, I would be eager to talk, and we would have a conversation something like the one below.

DAN = OOG; DEBBIE = AWK

AWK:    Hey, Oog, welcome home! Nice-looking deer you’ve got slung over your shoulders.

OOG:    Hey.

AWK:    Say, did you and the guys talk much on your trip?

OOG:    No, Awk. We were hunting.

AWK:   I know you were hunting, but I was hoping Cermook told you about the fight he and his wife had last week.

OOG:    They had a fight?

AWK:    You know they did. I told you about it. I heard them screaming at each other that night I was outside throwing rocks at the moon with the grandkids.

OOG:    You threw rocks at the moon with the grandkids?

AWK:   Of course! We always throw rocks at the moon when one of them makes the honor roll, and Kzu made the honor roll last semester.

OOG:    Kzu made the honor roll?

AWK:    You know he did. Snok made the honor roll, too.

OOG:    Who’s Snok?

AWK:    My niece.

OOG:    You have a niece?!

AWK:    So, what else did you guys do on your trip besides hunt?

OOG:    Nothing.

AWK:    Well, I kept busy here. I finally finished the necklace I’ve been working on. Remember? The one I made by stringing pine cones on grape vines?

OOG:    You’ve been working on a necklace?

AWK:   I would love to know what they were fighting about.

OOG:    Who?

AWK:   Cermook and his wife.

OOG:    They had a fight?

AWK:    I heard they fought because Cermook didn’t get a very warm welcome from his wife the last time he came home from a hunting trip.

OOG:    Hmmm.

AWK:    Don’t you want to know why Cermook didn’t get a very warm welcome from his wife the last time he came home from a hunting trip?

OOG:    Who didn’t give Cermook a warm welcome?

AWK:    His wife!

OOG:    Cermook’s married?!

AWK:   By the way, I helped Sontaag deliver her baby while you men were away.

OOG:    Sontaag was pregnant?

AWK:   Didn’t her husband talk about that on your hunting trip?

OOG:    No.

AWK:   Men! He probably hadn’t even noticed she was pregnant.

OOG:    Who hadn’t noticed who was pregnant?

AWK:   Forget it. Get cleaned up and take me down to Rocky’s Rhino Roadhouse for supper. That’ll give me a chance to show off my new necklace.

OOG:    You have a new necklace?

AWK:    Haven’t you been listening to me?

OOG:    Yes, dear.

RING! RING!

When I was a kid, I didn’t spend much time looking for lost things. When I couldn’t find something, I just asked Mom where it was. She always knew.

Today I would have to include looking for lost items if I composed a list of how I spend most of my time: cleaning the house, running errands, preparing and cleaning up meals, and looking for lost things.

Top among the things I look for is my phone. Despite having had a cell phone for years, I still have not established an assigned resting place for it. Sometimes I want to attach a cord to the thing and fasten it to the wall.

Surely, a universal method for finding lost phones exists. If it doesn’t, here are some ideas that might work.

Remember those lamps that were turned on and off with a clap of the hands? What a waste of energy. No one forgets where the on/off button on a lamp is located. It never moves. Now having a phone that rings when I clap my hands? That would be useful.

When my hairdresser was cutting my hair last week, she asked whose music I like to listen to. I told her I love to listen to Neil Diamond. She turned her face away from me and toward a table and said, “Alexa, play Neil Diamond.” Instantly, the soft tones of Sweet Caroline filled the room.

That was handy, but how much more helpful it would be if I could ask, “Alexa, where is my phone?” and hear her respond with, “You left it in the car when you drove to the post office.” I would pay big money for a machine that could do that.

Or, why couldn’t the phone come with a “finder” programmed to locate the phone. I could walk through the house waving the finder in the air. Sooner or later, it would sense the presence of the phone and beep, kind of like using a remote-control device to find your car in a parking lot.

Oh, wait. Using this method, I would need a finder for the finder.

Or, why couldn’t a phone be programmed to beep every 15 minutes, like a grandfather clock that announces 9:00 o’clock, 9:15, 9:30, 9:45, 10:00 o’clock? Or it could flash a bright light at 15-minute intervals.

Or, it could be like one of those round, flat vacuum cleaners that randomly moves through the house all day. Upon entering the front door, I could simply drop the phone, which would then scoot from room to room. Sooner or later, our paths would cross, and I could snag it then.

I have considered tying some brightly colored object, like a beach towel, to my phone. Surely even on a quick survey of the house my eyes would spot that. But it would be unhandy to carry in my purse.

I’ve even thought about getting a second phone, so I could use it to call the number of the lost phone and make it ring. But then, I would be looking for two phones.

I never thought I would say this, but why can’t a phone be like a cranky baby? Every time I set it down, it would scream until I picked it up again.

I’m sure if I got online I could buy some fancy mechanism that would keep track of my phone for me. But I can’t do that today. I’ve lost my credit card.

I must have laid it down with my phone somewhere.

PECKED TO DEATH

So far today I have spilled a full glass of water on the paper calendar on my kitchen island, washed a Kleenex with a load of dark-colored clothes, and broken a leaf on my African violet, and it isn’t yet noon.

An occasional clogged toilet or chipped windshield can be tolerated. But having to endure a long stretch of such aggravations can cause even the most stalwart person to crack.

According to https://definithing.com, experiencing this steady stream of small, seemingly inconsequential or minor nuisances which build up over a prolonged time and which, eventually, take their toll and exact a heavy price is like being pecked to death by a chicken.

Continuing the chicken analogy and assuming the instigators of such mischief are indeed barnyard fowl, allow me to describe some of their characteristics.

First, their number is legion and their singular goal in life is to frustrate. Often their assaults are launched in secret, which means sometimes I am unaware I have even been pecked.

For example, everyone in the restaurant except me knows I am dragging toilet paper from the sole of one shoe, or everyone at church except me is aware that I entered the sanctuary carrying under my arm, not my Bible, but a giant book of wallpaper samples.

One morning I discovered a leftover lemon pie weeping pitifully on my kitchen cabinet top, when I know I put the pie into the refrigerator the night before. A box of my husband’s favorite cereal mysteriously disappeared from the pantry.

Of course I believe these chicken-launched attacks happen more often to me than to anyone else, but my friends assure me that is not so.

Recently a good friend searched for hours for her missing TV remote control. Finally she found it inside a desk drawer where she never puts anything except her address book.

Other friends have mentioned finding car keys, phones, and garage door openers in places where no sane person would ever put them.

You must admit you have also been a victim of these birds’ antics. Haven’t you noticed that your windshield wipers break only during rainstorms, your flashlight batteries die just as the power goes out, and your missing electric bill turns up on the day after it was due to be paid?

Chickens, I tell you.

Realizing these pesky birds consider nothing off limits, I am now afraid to post this piece on my website. Will it appear riddled with misspelled words and run-on sentences? Will commas have been replaced with exclamation marks? Will my readers shockingly find the word panty in the paragraph where I typed pantry?

Growing up, when my friends and I played tag and one of us wanted temporary immunity (to go to the bathroom, for instance, or more often to set some kid straight on the rules of the game), that child called out, “Tick-a-lock, tick-a-lock all the way around!” This expression was accompanied by a circular motion of the arms and was recognized as the official symbol for “Stop! You can’t tag me!”

If you encounter me one day mumbling nonsense syllables and making circular motions with my arms, don’t overreact. Know that I am merely declaring myself off limits to chicken attacks.

Don’t laugh. Do you have a better idea for stopping the madness?

 

A COMEDY OF ERRORS

It had been a frustrating few days

They weren’t bad days because I have few days that can be legitimately cataloged as bad, and I am thankful.

On Monday I wrote a check for the wrong amount of money and had to straighten out that mess.

On Tuesday I caught my foot in the strap of my purse and fell out of my car right onto the Kroger parking lot.

Then yesterday I prepared to mail four stacks of paper to four family members.

I separated the papers, folded them, and placed them inside four 6” x 9” envelopes.

These envelopes had metal fasteners. Since I know the Postal Service does not like those closures, I placed wide packing tape over the backs to seal the envelopes and cover up the metal brads.

As I picked up the four envelopes, I discovered one was lighter than the other three. This meant I had accidentally left something out of that envelope.

I reopened it and found I had indeed failed to include two papers. Using my keen sense of deduction, I concluded one of the other envelopes contained two extra papers.

Using great care, I tore open the other envelopes, messing up the packing tape and damaging the flaps in several places. I found the two papers I needed, corrected my error, and resealed the envelopes, trying to patch the torn spots.

Then I added stick-on return address labels and postage stamps. (I keep on hand the special 68-cent stamps I routinely use for these mailings.) Finally, I wrote addresses on each envelope.

As I headed out the door to take the envelopes to the mailbox, I realized I had written each address upside down, so when the mailing address was readable, the postage stamp was affixed to the lower left corner of the envelope and the return address label was in the lower right corner.

The driver of the mail truck waved at me as she drove past my house.

In a wretched mood, I drove to the post office and mailed my mutilated envelopes. Then I swung by the store to pick up mint chocolate chip ice cream, the one thing guaranteed to make me feel better.

I brooded over my growing list of mess-ups as I roamed the ice cream aisle. By the time I got home from the store, I was in a major funk.

I put my ice cream in the freezer and lay down on my bed, not to pout or to have a pity party really, but just to decompress. My thoughts ran along these lines.

This constant flow of stupid mistakes is killing me. I am a beaten woman and can’t take it anymore. I’m never getting out of this bed.

Of course, I knew I would get out of bed because I refuse to spend the remainder of my life lying on sheets that never get washed. Not to mention with teeth that never get brushed or hair roots that never get touched up.

And then, of course, there were other reasons to get up: the grandchildren and brownies and springtime and another season of Victoria to watch on Netflix and an Easter dress someone would have to wear.

From my bed, I called out to Dan in a weak, mournful voice.

“If you will bring me a dish of the mint chocolate chip ice cream I bought today, I think I might be able to get up and face the world again.”

I heard Dan open the freezer door.

Then I heard him laugh.

“You just think you bought mint chocolate chip ice cream,” he said.

“The only thing in the freezer is a box of rum raisin ice cream. How many scoops do you want?”

FOUL!

The cause of many husband/wife arguments is a failure to communicate clearly.

Below are listed some Golden Rules of Communication. If followed carefully, these rules can prevent spats between partners.

  • Be honest.
  • Ask for clarification.
  • Be kind and consider the other person’s feelings.
  • Keep a cool head.

In sporting events, referees watch closely and call out violations when they occur. Severe penalties often result.

I have invited a virtual referee to examine this recent interaction between Dan and me and call out fouls when he observes them.

Listen (or in this case, watch) for the referee’s whistle.

—————————–

My husband, who is a retired pharmacist, now works two days a week making deliveries for a local auto parts store.

A few weeks ago, Dan returned home early from his delivery work. He was sick, he told me, and he went straight to bed.

I was in the process of getting ready to go out and meet a friend for lunch. Before leaving the house though, I asked Dan if I could get him anything.

Referee whistles: FOUL! You don’t have time to do anything for him. You are in a hurry and should have said so. Failure to be honest.

“Yes,” he moaned from the bed. “Could you run over to CVS and pick me up some medicine?”

I, of course, said I could.

Referee whistles: FOUL! You said what you thought you should say, not what you really meant. Failure to be honest.

 “Thanks,” he said.

“You drove right by CVS on your way home. Why didn’t you stop and get what you needed then?” I asked.

Referee whistles: FOUL! You are not showing respect for Dan’s feelings. Failure to be kind.

“I was too sick,” he said.

“Write down what you want me to get for you from CVS,” I said, tossing him a sticky note pad.

He wrote.

I grabbed the sticky note from him and hurried off.

 Referee whistles: FOUL! You should have made sure the note provided all the information you needed. Failure to ask for clarification.

I entered the store, walked to the over-the-counter meds area, took out Dan’s note, and read it.

I was sharp enough to realize he had not written down the medication’s brand name but rather the active ingredient in that medication.

I was not sharp enough, however, to understand why he would do a dumb thing like that.

Referee whistles: FOUL! Warning! You are losing your cool.

I scanned 5 shelves and scowled at 200 boxes, searching for one that declared in tiny print: active ingredient Loperamide 2 mg.

Referee whistles: FOUL! Second warning! You are losing your cool.

I alternated between looking at the shelves and looking at my watch. At the rate I was going, I would not make it to my lunch date on time.

URGGGGHHH!

Referee whistles: FOUL! You have lost your cool.

 I marched myself over to the pharmacy desk and asked if someone could help me.

“I’ll be right with you,” said a slow-moving girl in a blue jacket.

I didn’t have time to wait on her all day, so I called Dan on the phone.

“Dan,” I said. “Why in the world didn’t you put the brand name of the medicine you wanted on this note?”

Referee whistles: FOUL! You should have used a softer tone of voice. Failure to be kind.

“Because I didn’t want you to buy the brand name. I wanted you to buy the generic. It’ll be cheaper.”

“Did you really think Loperamide 2 mg would mean anything to your wife, who is not a retired pharmacist?”

Referee whistles: FOUL! You should have used a softer tone of voice. Failure to be kind.

“It’s Imodium,” he said.

At that moment the girl from the pharmacy sauntered over to me

“I need this!” I said, flashing the note in front of her eyes.

“That’s Imodium,” she said.

“So I hear.”

I bought the Imodium, drove home, and tossed the CVS sack onto the bed beside Dan.

“Now I’m going to be late meeting Mary Kay for lunch!” I said.

Referee whistles: FOUL! You did not mention your lunch date earlier. You should not have mentioned it now. Failure to play fairly.

“I didn’t know you were getting ready to go out. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” I said. “It’s not a big deal.”

Referee whistles: FOUL! It is a big deal. Failure to be honest.

I replayed this experience in my mind as I drove to meet Mary Kay. Realization dawned. I had learned something during this brief exchange.

The reason why ballgames drag on forever is the fault of those referees with their infernal whistles.