Category Archives: Just for Fun

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?

 

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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.

A Little Whimsy

Given my tendency to lose things, mishandle situations, and in general come up short, I wonder, if I had been in the sandals of these Bible characters, what I would have said.

If I had been Noah: “The chimpanzees! Where are the chimpanzees? They were hanging in this tree just a minute ago. Shem, go find those chimps, and don’t come home without them!”

If I had been Moses’ mother: “I just saw that jar of pitch yesterday. Miriam, have you been playing in the tar again?”

If I had been David: “I would love to go to the palace and play for the king but I’ve lost my harp. I know I had it in the pasture yesterday but today I can’t find it anywhere. I’m thinking maybe a wolf or bear carried it away.”

If I had been Solomon: “Does anyone know how to create a spreadsheet? How can I be expected to keep tract of all these women? I’ve misplaced twelve just this month!”

If I had been Jael, Heber’s wife: “Where is an extra tent spike when you need one?”

If I had been Gideon: “Where is that fleece?”

If I had been Samson: “I can find a thousand jawbones of donkeys when I don’t need one but now that I do, I can’t put my hand on a single one!”

If I had been Delilah: “Where did I put my scissors?”

If I had been Daniel in Babylon: “Where in the world is that piece of cauliflower? I was saving it for my dessert.”

If I had been Jonah, “What have I done with that listing of ships’ arrivals and departures?”

If I had been John the Baptist: “My mother told me if I didn’t take better care of my clothes one day I would have nothing to wear.”

If I had been Mary in the stable at Bethlehem: “Joseph, have you seen those swaddling clothes? I thought for sure I packed them in the saddle bag before we left home.”

If I had been Peter after Jesus’ death: “I knew I would one day regret throwing away my fishing nets.”

All the Best

I never wish evil for anyone, but sometimes I don’t wish the very best for people. For instance, when some lead-footed driver whizzes past me on the highway, I hope later to see that driver sitting in his car on the side of the road while a police officer writes him a ticket.

I also withhold best wishes from people who appear to be perfect. You’ve seen them: those highly intelligent, exceptionally successful, always confident folks with perfect hair, skin, teeth, and bodies.

I wouldn’t be disappointed to learn that one of these exemplars of perfection flubbed up in some way. I’m not wishing anything bad for them. A stumble when stepping onto the stage to receive an award maybe. A dryer sheet sticking out the neck of a shirt during a public presentation. A burnt piecrust at a family picnic.

Maybe I am displaying a sour-grapes attitude, but why must I be so flawed while other people glide through life with the finesse of an Olympic skater?

I’m tired of being the one who tells her friend she will meet her at Chili’s at 6:00 and then spends half an hour waiting for the friend to show up at Applebee’s. I’m tired of being the one who sprinkles garlic powder instead of cinnamon on top of her apple pie. The one who routinely lets pasta boil over on the stove, erases holes in her checkbook ledger, and searches frantically for her phone while she is talking on it and her glasses while she is wearing them.

I want to know the secret of the non-blunderers. How do they do it? Is it possible they occasionally make mistakes but only in the privacy of their own homes? Do they excel in the art of the cover-up? Have they learned, by watching people like me, how not to do life?

My friends assure me I am no more flawed than most people. They confess to making as many boo boos as I do, and I believe them. Good friends these people are, but paragons of perfection they are not.

Maybe that is why I select them to be my best friends. When one of us confesses to accidentally spraying her hair with Glade air freshener instead of hair spray, we laugh with her. When another shares that she had a Just My Size pantyhose label stuck to the back side of her skirt for an entire workday, we can relate. When I admit to tucking my phone inside my bra so I won’t lose it, one of my friends pipes up with, “What? You too?”

I couldn’t have such conversations with perfect people. They would have nothing to contribute.

If achieving perfection status will cost me the companionship of my imperfect friends, I will pass. Those friends are the people I like best.

Besides, if I join the ranks of the picture-perfect crowd, some knucklehead will be wishing for me split ends, embarrassing hiccups in church, and an angel food cake that caves in on itself in the oven.

What kind of shallow-minded person would wish things like that on anyone?

 

Late Night Learning

Often, late in the evening when my husband is watching a sports program on TV, I indulge in two of my favorite activities: solving murder mysteries and working crossword puzzles.

I get into my pajamas, complete all my pre-bedtime routines, prop up several pillows on my side of the bed, slide between the sheets, and get to work.

I turn to a new page in my crossword puzzle book (a spiral-ringed one, with good paper, not newsprint), pick up my pencil (a sharp one with a good eraser), and turn on the bedroom TV to a pre-recorded episode of Dateline, 20/20, 48 Hours, Forensic Files, or Columbo.

My goal is to fill in the blanks in the crossword puzzle on my lap and identify the guilty party in the murder mystery on TV.

Murder mystery shows notoriously move at a slow rate. Critical scenes are shown and re-shown in order to make sure viewers follow the storyline. It is at these times during the show that I ponder crossword questions.

This pondering has taught me the answers to some hard puzzle questions. For example, I now know:

  • A four-letter word for a West African republic is Mali.
  • A four-letter word for a river in Eastern Europe is Ural.
  • A five letter word for the capital of Morocco is Rabat.
  • A five-letter word for a small Eurasian willow is Osier.

Of course, this knowledge will serve me in the future only: (1) When I am solving other crossword puzzles or (2) If I land a spot as a contestant on Jeopardy.

My watching of murder mysteries has also not been a waste of time. I have learned these important guidelines for successfully committing homicide:

  • Do not take with you to the murder scene your cell phone or any other electronic device associated with your name.
  • Do not drive to the scene in a vehicle equipped with GPS.
  • Shave your entire body and wear a scuba diving suit in order to avoid leaving hair, dandruff, or skin cells at the scene.
  • Study the scene beforehand and locate all security cameras. Disable every one of them.
  • Don’t drive your vehicle on a dirt road when traveling to the murder spot because the pattern of your tire tread can be identified and traced.
  • Don’t drive off-road on your murder route because if you do, some rare weed found in only one location on earth will attach itself to your car’s bumper and nail you as the perp.
  • Never return to the scene of the crime.
  • If a detective interviews you, show no interest in the crime. For goodness sake do NOT try to throw the detective off your scent by suggesting other possible perpetrators or motivations or whacky reasons why the murderer acted as he/she acted.

This information will serve me in the future only if I decide to kill someone. The odds of that happening are about the same as the odds of my being chosen as a Jeopardy contestant.

I recently discovered that Amazon.com offers what may be the perfect puzzle book for me: Crossword Murder, a book that allows readers to solve a crime and complete six crime-related crossword puzzles at the same time. Imagine that!

Utopia can be achieved after all.