Category Archives: That’s Life


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?”



I want a clean and tidy house.

But as I write that sentence, I am reminded of a theory I accept as truth.

Except in extreme cases which are out of our control, we usually manage to obtain what we want.

We buy a new coat. We pay someone to paint our living room. We learn a new skill.

The common factors in attaining what we want are these: a strong desire to have the thing plus the willingness to do what we must do to have it.

I desire a clean house, but often I am not willing to do what I must do to have it.

My plans for this day were to pick up and put away various displaced items; vacuum all carpets; mop my kitchen floor; and wash, dry, and put away a load of jeans. That sounds like a reasonable list of tasks to accomplish on a Saturday.

It is now 1:10 p.m. So far today I have:

  1. Slept late. (I had not been sleeping well and took a sleep aid last night.)
  2. Gone to visit my grandson and granddaughter.
  3. Written this blog post.

Nothing is wrong with doing those things, other than doing them prevented me from reaching the goals I had set.

I have the desire to see my boring and onerous to-do list accomplished but achieving that goal would have cost me extra sleep, a visit with my grandchildren, and time spent writing.

I elected not to pay the price required to have a clean house.

Tomorrow is Sunday, and the chance that I will choose to pick up, vacuum, mop, and do laundry then is slim. I will instead go to church, visit with my kids and grandkids, do some writing, and take a nap.

Unless I deliberately elect to do something else, those are the things I will automatically do. They are my default settings. I am often shocked to realize I’ve spent hours doing them when it seemed like mere minutes.

Cleaning, mopping, vacuuming, doing laundry, etc. are tasks I must take care of at some time and I will. When I absolutely must.

But I am not drawn toward those tasks. I will not look at a clock and realize I have spent three hours dusting shelves when I had no intention to dust shelves.

I challenge you to determine what your default settings are. Do your findings surprise you?

If, while taking this inventory you discover your true passions are cleaning, vacuuming, mopping, and doing laundry, get in touch with me immediately.


Visit on Friday, March 2, to read my newly published devotional based upon 1 Corinthians 2:12.



Dan and I got into the car this morning to drive to our son’s house.

As he started the engine, Dan looked through the windshield at his workshop that sat directly in front of the car.

“Hmmm,” he said. “That light always looks like it’s on even when it’s off.”

I looked toward the workshop.

“I don’t see a light on,” I said. “The only light I see is a little red indicator light on one of your tools.”

“What are you talking about?” he asked.

“I just said the light in your shop doesn’t appear to me to be on.”

Dan shook his head.

“It never fails to amaze me how often you misunderstand me,” he said.

I braced for the next line.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“Well, I looked at my shop, at the exterior light above the door of my shop to be exact, and said it appeared to be on.”

“Oh,” I said.

“Then,” he continued, “instead of looking at the prominent exterior light above the door, you looked all the way through the window of the shop, all the way to my work table in the back of the shop and saw a tiny red light.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “The way you said I looked ‘all the way through the window’ and ‘all the way to the back of the shop’ sounds accusatory, as if I should have known better.”

“Well,” he said, “Why wouldn’t you have looked at the closest light, the exterior one above the door of the shop?”

“I don’t know why,” I said. “Why didn’t you specify ‘the exterior light above the door of the shop’ when you made your first statement?”

“Because I thought you would know what I was talking about.”

“Well, I didn’t. Obviously, we miscommunicated, but my point is the way you said I looked ‘all the way through the window of the shop’ and ‘all the way to the back of the shop’ indicated to me that you think I was stupid to misunderstand you.”

“For crying out loud! I didn’t mean to indicate I think you are stupid. I don’t think you’re stupid. I simply don’t understand why when I said, ‘the light appears to be on even when it’s off,’ you wouldn’t assume I was talking about the light closest to us. Let’s not talk any more about it.”

“Yes,” I said. “Let’s talk about it a bit more.”

Dan groaned and laid his head on the steering wheel.

“You think this miscommunication is entirely my fault,” I said.

“No, I don’t. It just seems to me you should have understood what I was talking about without me having to explain it.”

“Well, when you realized I had misunderstood, you could have simply said, ‘No, I don’t mean the light inside the shop. I mean the exterior light.’”

“I wish to high heavens I had said that.”

“I wish you had too, but you didn’t. Instead, you emphasized that I missed the obvious and very unreasonably looked all the way into the shop and all the way to the back of the shop.”

“I wish I had never even mentioned that light,” he said, backing out of the drive.

“I wish you hadn’t either,” I said.


Please understand, readers, that I don’t always push my point as hard as I pushed this one, but occasionally I feel I must.

Especially when we are discussing important things. Like workshop lights.


My daughter says the thing she hates most of all is being cold. I believe her. When I ride with her, summer or winter, the temperature inside her car is at least 100 degrees.

What I hate worst is having to look for things.

My history of losing things goes way back. When I was in high school, I loved writing with fountain pens, fine point ones with blue ink. I still do, in fact. Back then, I almost looked forward to doing homework if I had my fountain pen.

I got off the bus about 100 yards from my house. One day when I got home from school, I discovered I had lost my pen.

I retraced my steps back to the bus stop to see if I had dropped it while walking home. Sure enough, there it lay, my red fountain pen, completely squashed in the middle of the road. A car had run over it.

That was a sad day, but here is the pathetic part. The exact same event occurred a few weeks later, this time with a blue fountain pen.

I routinely lose my car in parking lots. I try hard to remember where I parked my car before going into a store. Yet invariably, I later wind up pushing my loaded cart up and down parking aisles, frantically pressing the unlock button on my key fob, listening for the familiar beep signaling me that my car is nearby.

Often, I get myself lost.

I grew up in the country and our house was situated on a dirt road. I knew nothing about towns being laid out on grids. Most of our roads had no names. They were referred to in terms that made perfect sense to those of us who lived there. My friend, for example, lived on the dirt road near the old field where Mr. Shelton used to keep his cows.

Therefore, though I’ve lived in a “gridded” town for many years, I don’t trust the people who laid out those grids. To be on the safe side, when I drive to a new place, I turn around and return home by the exact same path.

Recently I picked up my four-year-old grandson from his preschool. I parked in front of the house in which his school is located. When we left, I drove halfway down the block in the same direction, turned my car around using someone’s driveway, and started home using the same route.

My grandson asked, “Grandma, why are you turning around in someone’s driveway?”

I answered, “So we can take the same street out of this neighborhood.”

He said, “Why don’t you just drive to the end of this street, turn right, turn right again, and you’ll get to the street we need?”

“Because that’s too hard,” I said.

Top among the things I look for is my phone. I average making a phone search five times a day.

My kids and grandkids laugh because whenever someone asks, “Where’s Grandma?” the rest of the people in the room join in a chorus of “Looking for her phone.”

I would consider wearing my phone inside a fanny pack except my hips are already wide enough. I carried it inside my bra until one day, while digging through a bin of frozen chicken pieces at the grocery store, I accidentally sent my sister a picture of my chest.

Remembering each time where I laid the phone down is, like making three right turns in an unfamiliar neighborhood, too hard.

If I could pull together all the hours I spend looking for things, say one hour each day, I would have an additional seven hours per week, 30 hours per month, 360+ hours per year to do other, more enjoyable, things.

Like recording a detailed inventory of everything inside my house using a fine-tipped fountain pen with blue ink.


Click It

Dan and I cannot help each other on the computer.

Neither one of us is particularly adept in this area. He knows what he learned from working with pharmacy computers for many years.

I know what 25 years of trial and error, error, error, error and error have taught me. Mostly I know how to use Microsoft Word.

When we try to sync our knowledge of computers, we crash.

We both know how to Google, how to send and receive emails, how to create and save documents, and how to use the scanner and printer attached to our respective computers.

He knows how to upload photos from his camera to his computer, and I know how to upload photos from my iPhone to my computer.

I routinely send my photos to Walgreen’s or some other place to have prints made. I then put the photo prints into albums.

Ordinarily, Dan does not have his photos made into prints.

Last night I sent about 100 Christmas photos to Walgreen’s to have them made into prints.

Shortly after I finished sending them, we discovered that Dan had some Christmas photos on his camera that were different from the Christmas pictures I had on my phone.

“Why don’t you send those to Walgreen’s and have prints made?” I asked him.

“I don’t know how to do that,” he said.

“I can show you. Sit down at your computer for a minute.”

“Oh, you mean ‘why don’t I send these to Walgreen’s and have prints made RIGHT NOW.’”

“You don’t have to do it now, but I’m going in about an hour to pick up my prints. If you send yours now, I can pick up your prints too.”

I should have known by the way Dan grimaced and ran his hand down the back of his head and neck that this was a bad idea.

We positioned two chairs in front of his computer. We sat.

“Go to Walgreen’s photo website,” I said.

In his search window he typed www dot Walgreens dot com.

“No, not that website,” I said. “Their photo website.”

“I’m sure I can get to their photo page through their main Walgreen’s website,” he said.

Sure enough he could, but it seemed like the long way around, to me.

The photo website opened.

“Now scroll down,” I said.

He scrolled.

“No. Wait! Stop! Go back up.”

“You said scroll down.”

“I know I did but you scrolled too far.”

He went back up.

“See where it says prints and enlargements?

“Yes,” he said.

“Well, you want to have prints made, so click where it says prints and enlargements.”

 He clicked on prints and enlargements. A new screen appeared.

“Now, click on prints and enlargements again,” I said.

“Why?” he aked. “I already clicked on prints and enlargements.”

“I know you did,” I said, “but you have to click on it again.”

“Why?” he asked.

“I don’t know why. That’s just what you have to do,” I said.

“Why can’t I just click here where it says upload photos?”

“Oh, okay,” I said. “Sure. Click there.”

He clicked. He was then instructed to select photos.

His computer’s Pictures folder opened.

“Now,” I said, “This is where you go into your Pictures folder and select the pictures you want to have made into prints.”

“My pictures aren’t in my Pictures folder,” he said.

“Sure they are,” I said.

“No, they are not,” he said. “They are in Picasa.”

“Oh,” I said, “then go into Picasa and get the ones you want.”

“How do I do that?” he asked.

“Well, you just find your photos and select the ones you want to have prints made of.”

“I know,” he said. “How do I do that?”

“What do you mean ‘how do I do that?’”

“How do I go into Picasa and select photos?”

“I don’t know, Dan,” I said. “I don’t use Picasa but you do, so just open Picasa, find your photos, and select the ones you want to have prints made of.”

“I understand that, Deb,” he said. “What I am asking is HOW do I do that?”

This is where I made a big mistake. I reached across his chest, clicked his mouse, and opened his Pictures folder.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m opening your Pictures folder.” I said. “Your pictures have to be in there.  That’s where pictures always are. That is why it is called your Pictures folder.”

“My pictures are not in my Pictures folder,” he said. “They’re in Picasa.”

His pictures were not in his Pictures folder.

“All right, Dan,” I said, “show me the Christmas photos on your computer.”

He showed me.

“Now, click on the photos you want to have prints made of,” I said.

“How do I do that?” he asked.

“How do you click?”

“No, I know how to click.”

“Then click,” I said, “on the pictures you want to . . .”

“Deb,” he said.

His face was getting red.

“You are not listening to me.”

“Yes, I am,” I said.

“No, you’re not,” he said. “You are not answering the question I am asking you.”

“Yes, I am,” I said.

“No, you’re not. I feel just like Nicky in that Lucille Ball movie about the long trailer. You’re not making any sense.”

I stood and walked into the hallway.

“I’m going to Walgreen’s now to get my pictures,” I said.

“Thank goodness.”


(From my iPhone)


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.


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.


I’ve been a bit miffed at my pharmacy lately.

Early in the week I received a text advising me to come in for a pneumonia shot. My not-so-young age now renders me more susceptible to this bacterial infection.

I went into the pharmacy and a young technician approached the window to help me. She asked what I needed and I told her. She spent several minutes looking at my “profile” on her computer screen. Finally she asked the pharmacist to help her decide what should be done.

After the pharmacist had studied the screen for a while he said, “You cannot receive your pneumonia injection yet. You need to wait a full year following your first injection before you get your second one.”

I couldn’t remember if or when I had received my first injection, but I took the computer’s word for it when it said I shouldn’t yet have a second one.

A few days later I received another text that read, “We are still holding your pneumonia vaccination for you. Please come in as soon as possible to receive the injection.”

This time instead of going to the pharmacy, I called. A technician answered.

“Tell me again what we said in the text we sent you,” she said.

I told her.

“No,” she said. “We are not holding a pneumonia vaccination for you.”

“But I received a text from you stating that you were holding one.”

“I see no evidence that we sent you a text,” she said.

Now before you jump to the conclusion that I was at the wrong pharmacy, allow me to assure you I was at the right one. I use the same pharmacy for all my medications. This time it is the other party, not I, who is responsible for the confusion.

I am confident the pharmacist will untangle this mess, and I will eventually receive the second pneumonia injection as recommended by the CDC.

I am taking this opportunity, since this is a pharmaceutically-themed article, to address those of you who frequent pharmacies for your prescription medications.

My husband Dan is a retired pharmacist, and the following points are based on conversations I have had with him.

  • Most pharmacists are extremely busy, probably busier today than ever before due to the growing list of federal and state regulations they must follow. They are not allowed to cut corners when filling prescriptions simply because a long line of customers has formed at the counter.
  • Your pharmacist knows much more about prescription drugs than the non-pharmacist person standing in line behind you telling you the pharmacist is giving you bad information.
  • Your pharmacist has no control over your insurance company, who determines how much you will pay for your prescriptions and how often you may have them refilled. Neither can he/she control your ex-spouse, who has stopped paying insurance premiums, thus rendering your children uninsured. No amount of yelling at the pharmacist will change these facts.
  • Please resist embarrassing yourself, pharmacy personnel, and other customers by calling your offending ex-spouse or insurance company on your phone and reading them an expletive-filled riot act while you stand at the pharmacy counter.
  • Do not plan to stop by your pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions on your way out of town for an extended time. Take care of this important pre-travel task ahead of time. Any number of situations may cause the pharmacist not to be able to fill the prescription while you wait. Lamenting that your family is waiting for you in the parking lot in a car packed for vacation will not make a difference.
  • Please comply pleasantly when pharmacy personnel ask to see your ID. They do not make the laws regarding the purchase of certain drugs. They merely enforce them. Yes, you still need to provide ID even if you use the drive-thru window and even if the time is after 10:00 p.m. Dan once had to explain this to an angry drive-thru customer who shouted back, “No one carries their ID with them at night!”

Pharmacists deal with unpleasant people every day. In fact, being forced to deal with those people is one reason my husband retired earlier than he had planned.

Though I am sure you are not such a person, maybe these reminders will help you be a bit more patient with pharmacy personnel.

Sometimes a little patience is just what the doctor ordered.