Coming unzipped.

Coming unzipped.

Last week, my husband Michael and I were putting fresh sheets on the bed.  He held up his pillowcase liner in one hand, a broken zipper head in the other hand, caught my eye, and we both doubled over in laughter.  I leaned over, supporting my upper body on the bed because I was laughing too hard to stand up.  Michael did the same, breaking out in a coughing fit like he does when he laughs uncontrollably.

I guess you had to be there.

Read More

My inner youth has a thrill at the liquor store.

My inner youth has a thrill at the liquor store.

When I look in the mirror lately, there’s a curious older woman looking back.  She has grey hair at the roots, some wrinkles, and two age spots on her cheek.  Oh yeah that's me, I have to remind myself.  

Years ago, before the older woman showed up, when I was well into my 40s, I got carded at a grocery store.  Among the apples, eggs and a family pack of chicken pieces was beer for my husband. It was a day I didn’t have much makeup on, my hair pulled back in a ponytail. I even remember the red shirt I wore.

Read More

As your child is carted away to be cut into: A scene from my memoir.

As your child is carted away to be cut into:  A scene from my memoir.

“I’ve been in those shoes - watching as your child is carted away to be cut into.”  

I wrote that recently in response to a fellow writer’s blog post about her son’s surgery. 

In my case, the carting and cutting happened when my son Matthew was 11.  It was after three years of increasingly odd behaviors and unsettling personality changes that left him, well, not Matthew.  

Read More

Green milk. Eggs and ham optional.

Green milk.  Eggs and ham optional.

When I was little, my mom gave us kids green milk.  Not all the time, of course, just on St. Patrick’s Day.  

My mom is of Irish and German ancestry and my dad’s got Italian blood.  My mom wanted her children - all six of us - to appreciate our Irish heritage.  So on St. Patrick’s day, she put green food coloring in the milk for our morning cereal.

I don’t know about my siblings, but I loved it.  It made the whole day special.  School was more fun and even math was tolerable.  The morning ritual put excitement in the air like a brewing snow storm gives hope for a snow day.   

When I had my own children, I chose to carry on the tradition.

Read More

The element of surprise bit me in the (fill in the blank).

The element of surprise bit me in the (fill in the blank).

I started about five different blog posts this week, but left each one dangling.  I couldn’t get them to gel.  I started writing about the sun in my office, how my husband always breaks zippers, putting green food coloring in milk, do-overs, and believe it or not, all the different words for “butt.”  

Yes, these are all legitimate blog topics and one day you will see the final version.  Well, maybe not the butt one, for reasons explained below, but it’s real, I swear.

Read More

Five words that LISTICLES bring to mind.

Five words that LISTICLES bring to mind.

What's with all the listicles lately!?  You’ve seen them:   

“Ten things to look for in choosing a toilet brush.”   

“Thirteen reasons to avoid walking under ladders.”   

“Nine ways to help your cat overcome his fear of cucumbers.” 

They are EVERYWHERE on FaceBook, online magazines and in the blogosphere

Read More

Five promises to my husband on Super Bowl Sunday.

Five promises to my husband on Super Bowl Sunday.

OK, right off the bat, er, pigskin, let me admit that I’m not a huge sports fan.  

This is how out-of-touch I am with the Super Bowl scene:  as I sat down to write this blog, I had to Google which teams were playing on Sunday.  I know, I know, some of you are incredulous.  I can’t explain how this has happened.  And, yes, I am alive and breathing.  

As a native of Pittsburgh, I would know if the Steelers were playing, but if not, I usually don’t pay attention.  Anyway, in case you don’t already know, it’s the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.  And it’s being played in Houston.  Don’t ask me why. 

Read More

Is that a dog?

Is that a dog?

Years ago, we had new neighbors move in to the upstairs apartment in the house next door.  One Saturday afternoon shortly after the couple had moved in, I saw them out with their dog on the grassy median strip dividing our residential street. The couple was talking with some other neighbors, so I went out to say hi.

After meeting the friendly guy and his girlfriend, with no introductions to their scruffy dog sniffing at my feet, a question formulated in my head:

“Is that a male or female dog?”   

(Because, really, how can you tell without being, y’know, obvious?)

Read More

'The' box in the attic: On writing my memoir.

'The' box in the attic: On writing my memoir.

A few weeks ago, I took a deep breath and got ‘the’ box down from the attic. 

When we first moved into our old house 10 years ago, the attic was infested with spiders.  Spiders are supposed to be good, right?  They eat all the other nasty bugs.  But a bug is a bug and I don’t like any of them, especially when they’re invading my turf.

So I slowly transformed all of our storage from cardboard boxes to plastic bins, having read somewhere that spiders don’t much bother with plastic bins.

But ‘the’ box was still a box.  I have no idea why, with all the sturdy, tightly-lidded Rubbermaid up there, this priceless vault endured as cardboard, slightly mangled, softened, and duct-taped together. 

Well, if I’m honest, I know exactly why.  Avoidance.  

Read More

Breathtaking lessons from a family vacation.

Breathtaking lessons from a family vacation.

I had planned a relaxing family Christmas vacation visiting my parents on the west coast.  Since my Mom and Dad moved out there several years ago, my east coast clan of four have had precious little time with them, and this was our chance to catch up.   All three of my guys - my husband and two sons - were able to take time off from work.  My parents, in their eighties, are in relatively good health, but who knows how long that will continue? 

I was looking forward to a great trip, maybe the last that the six of us would havetogether. 

Then I found out that my sister from Chicago would be visiting as well.  And my brother from Pittsburgh.  And another brother and his family from Charlotte. 

Read More

Can't do it this week. Sorry.

Can't do it this week.  Sorry.

Well, flock, I’m blogging to tell you I’m not going to blog this week.  I just don’t have it in me.  There haven’t been enough functional hours of the day lately for me to be able to write.  Big chunks of time are eaten up by my “not serious” health issues.  

Plus, I’m heading out of town this week to visit my parents.  They can’t wait to heap an overdose of TLC on me, and I can’t wait to be heaped upon.  By the time most of you read this, I’ll be basking in their love.  How lucky am I?  

I’ll answer that question for you by explaining the picture.  I’m sure you’re wondering.  

Read More

Not even remotely in control.

Not even remotely in control.

I wake up feeling refreshed, so I practically jump out of bed when Michael’s alarm goes off.  I have big plans for the day - Christmas decorating, a little baking, starting my shopping.

As soon as Michael leaves for work, I go into the living room to turn on the stereo.  Since we got our new receiver, I've kept it tuned to NPR, but now Michael’s favorite blues station comes on.  

I hunt down my glasses, get on my knees and peer at the receiver.  WTF!?

Read More

In a pinch, skip the naughty. Be nice.

The blond pharmacist checked on my insurance and said sure, she could give me a flu shot.  

I see her behind the counter just about every time I pick up a script.  Always engrossed in the computer, on the phone, in and out among the shelves.  So focused, she rarely looks up and we probably have never spoken before.

She wore a beautiful turquoise necklace with large stones, the kind you might buy on a Caribbean cruise and wear with a sarong on a sunset beach.  I wanted the necklace, the cruise, and the rest of the fantasy.  I was so close to complimenting her on it, but I stopped myself.  I don’t know why.  Maybe that day I just didn’t feel like being nice.  

Read More

Maybe I don't want to tell this story: On writing my memoir.

Maybe I don't want to tell this story:  On writing my memoir.

I shiver intensely in my home office in spite of the portable heater blasting at my side, and the sweatshirt hood cinched around my face.  But I’m not cold.  

I have the beginnings of heartburn and a headache.  But I’m not sick.

I’m about to click “open” on the computer folder marked 6500.  It looks pretty harmless - it’s only the files we exported years ago from our ancient Power PC.  But I know what’s in there.

Read More

In full swing after 30 years.

In full swing after 30 years.

About 30 years ago, we got a porch swing.  A few years earlier, we had purchased our first house, a modest old Dutch Colonial with lots of charm hidden behind its 1960’s updates.  It had a large front porch - deep enough to gather with friends or spend time in solitude, contemplating life.   

The swing didn’t cost us a dime - a good thing in those early days of parenthood and home-ownership.  We got the swing with coupons.  My in-laws ran a corner grocery store, and the manufacturers’ coupons they collected from customers could be redeemed for merchandise.  Like S&H green stamps for small businesses.  I had helped to organize the coupons so I got to pick my prize.     

Read More