Category Archives: Humor

NO BAD DOGS…really?!

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Bubbles for Bella

Back in the day, world-renowned British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse wrote a book, “NO BAD DOGS.” She finished that sentence with…only inexperienced owners. Oh, Barbara, I beg to differ. I haven’t been without a dog since the age of 4, having had all shapes and sizes and breeds. And yet, I’ve discovered that even as experienced as I think I may be in the handling of dogs, they literally have a mind of their own and most of the time are going to do what they want when they want to.

Riley

Just rethinking the size of these heels, Mommy!

Take my dog Bella a Labrador retriever, for example, who doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Most of the time, she’s as calm, gentle, sweet and laid back as they come. But take her to the park and let another dog attempt to walk by…uh oh…she yanks me like a rag doll and tries as hard as she might to pounce on the dog. It’s just so annoying. I’m always making excuses for her behavior, especially to those unwitting people who insist that their dog and mine make friends. I find myself saying, “Oh, she actually loves other dogs, so I’m not sure why she’s jumping up and down and acting like an idiot,” or “oh, she’s just a little too excited right now,” or “she’s just a maniac.” It eventually evolves into, “I wouldn’t come too close; she’s just so predictable,” or “NO, SHE DOESN”T WANT TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR DOG!” It’s exhausting. I wish it were different….I wish she would sweetly walk up to other dogs and play. And, honestly, that’s all she really wants to do; she just doesn’t know how to go about it in quite the right way. Where is Cesar Milan when you need him?On the other hand, Bella loves a bath, which is a good thing. All I have to do is say the word bath, and the next thing I know, she’s sitting in the tub. Even if I just say the word in passing, she races to the bathroom. She gives me a good laugh and kind of washes all the other stuff away.

And how about my daughter Megan’s and son-in-law Matt’s dog Riley. Riley has been somewhat of a problem child since puppyhood, especially with barking and annoying people who visit to the point of ad nauseam, and you just pray that they’ll put her in time out (the downstairs powder room) which happens quite often. For instance, Meg and Matt are recent newlyweds, and for her birthday this year Matt prepared her a bubble bath complete with candles, etc., (these are the kinds of things you get at the beginning of a marriage 🙂 ). As soon as Megan got home, she retreated to the tub, closing the door behind her. Riley was left outside the bathroom door and apparently was not too happy about it. She usually gets Meg’s undivided attention and a long walk. I guess she got mad because when Meg finished soaking she came out to find her favorite pair of shoes chewed up by you-know-who. Uncanny!

peanut butter

MMM…MMM…Good!

But, then there’s Lulu, my daughter Katie and boyfriend Blake’s black Labrador retriever. To preface this in Lulu’s defense, she was a rescue dog, a puppy mill mother who at the time of her rescue weighed only 40 lbs. and was in very sad shape. She’s come a long way with a lot of tender loving care and has gone from 40 to 90 lbs. in a hurry. Lulu is sweet and gentle, but has a major food fetish…understandably. Let a bag rustle softly or a refrigerator door open, and she’s there. And when Katie and Blake go off to work, it’s SHOWTIME!

food

Snack time

At first Lulu got into the garbage, although it had a lid. They are now very careful to put the garbage can in the pantry closet before they leave, but sometimes they forget and come home to a big surprise.Then it was the dog food, which used to be kept in a bag in the kitchen until it was ripped open and finished one day. They started storing the food in a plastic bin. No problem…Lulu dragged the entire bin (with a full 20 lbs. of dog food inside) to her bed and snacked all day until it was gone. The bin is now being stored in the pantry closet as well. Blake made himself a peanut butter sandwich one day and left the jar on the counter….another thing proactively being put away in the pantry closet. It’s getting crowded in there.

Garbage

Oh, Lulu…

The last straw came when the Great Houdini somehow opened the refrigerator door…PARTY TIME!!! It must have been so much fun to nose around and help herself to the feast in front of her all day long! Lulu was hiding that day when Katie returned from work…with good reason. Katie went upstairs to the kitchen to find the remains of the day. Items were dragged into the bedroom, onto her bed and around the house. The bed was covered in peanut butter and chocolate from a leftover birthday cake, a bag of cooked chicken was devoured, cheese was gone, etc. Food was strewn everywhere. Katie and Blake tried to retrace their steps to see if maybe they might have left the refrigerator door ajar…or not. No matter, Lulu had a five-star day! And she never got sick…just seemed very satisfied. When Katie dragged Lulu out of her hiding place, she took her to the refrigerator and gave her a scolding, pointing to the handle and saying No, No, No! Then she took her out for a walk. It’s hard to stay mad at Lulu when she cuddles up to you with those sad brown eyes. I’m happy to report she hasn’t gone into the refrigerator since. Must be that experienced dog owner stuff kicking in. But that was only last week. Or did they fit the refrigerator into the pantry closet as well?! Good dogs, bad dogs, we love them all. Eventually their shenanigans become funny stories to tell later on after you have finished crying…maybe…or not.

FOREFATHERS – PART 1 – THE BASS PLAYER

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My Grandpop

My Grandpop, the bass player in the band.

My grandfather played bass in a band at night for beers and tips. I just found this out about him last night from my cousin Sharon who came over for a visit. She said my grandmom could always tell a good night’s earnings by the barometer of his inebriation, which did not make her happy! Until yesterday I only knew him as my “Grandpop”- a man who worked in a Bayer aspirin factory in Trenton his whole life, toiling to care for his wife and family of eight children. He was someone who walked to work or hitched a ride because they couldn’t afford a car –I don’t believe he ever drove.Sharon brought over an assortment of old pictures she found in the attic and gave them to me.  I was immediately transported into the past as I rummaged through these precious vintage photos…into my heritage and my history.

Jan Kramarz sailed from Poland as a boy on a ship he proudly proclaimed by name – “The Victoria!” He was a handsome man with a thick head of hair and a wry smile. He had a funny sense of humor and loved to tease us, which he did with a twinkle in his eye and a wink. He met my grandmother through a friend and joked about marrying her one day. He was only kidding, but she thought he was serious (or so the legend goes). So he found himself in an odd dilemma as he used to describe it, one in which he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. He used to say he felt bad because she thought he seriously wanted to marry her …so he just did…What?!? Were they ever in love? I’ll never know. They were kind of stoic in their behavior towards one another, but everyone was in those days. They did somehow manage to have eight children (in love or not) – four boys and four girls (my mother born fourth in succession) and they all lived in a two bedroom, one bathroom (which only had a toilet and footed tub – no sink) row home in the Polish section of Trenton on Pennsylvania Avenue. The house perpetually exuded warmth in an earthy kind of way with the homey smells of bread baking or kielbasa and ham cooking. Grandpop used to love sneaking into the basement to smoke his beloved cigars – not a pleasant aroma at all I discovered when I snuck up on him one day.

Grandmom Veronica Pisaczyk and Grandpop Jan Kramarz on their wedding day

Grandmom Veronica Pisaczyk and Grandpop Jan Kramarz on their wedding day

One of Grandpop’s pleasures was tending to his small garden in the tiny 12 x 25 foot backyard. He grew assorted vegetables, but his crowning glory was his giant sunflowers in the corner of the yard near the shed that grew to be six feet tall with heads a foot round. I remember looking up at them as a small child and being in awe. To this day they are my favorite flower.My Grandpop was a hard worker and a good man, but I don’t think he had a lot of fun in his life. I think it was all work and struggle, especially during the Depression. But he was a pleasant man and a talker and was always glad to see his family.  He loved it when his kids and their spouses and families, which included 16 grandchildren, jammed into that tiny row home for the holidays, even though at times there were so many of us that we spilled out onto their small front porch and sat on the steps. There was always plenty of Polish food for all of us to savor and Polka music blared in the background from their transistor radio. He and the men in the family used to toast “nostrovya” as they downed glasses of schnapps.

I think Grandpop was lonely in the latter portion of his life since my Grandmom died at 62 yrs. old. He used to sit and gaze out the front window or take walks around the neighborhood. I remember how happy he was when I visited from time to time, sitting and listening to his same old stories over and over again.  I now wish I would’ve written them down. He succumbed in his latter years to Alzheimer’s disease, but lived to the ripe old age of 94, passing on a cold winter’s day in January with that same full head of gray hair in tact.

For you Grandpop, from my garden with love.

My cousin told me that my Grandpop’s bass playing days came to an end when he broke his instrument trying to get his tip money out of the middle section of the bass, which is where they apparently stored their tips. He just couldn’t fix it, and I imagine that it must have broken his heart not to be able to play anymore. But since he had eight hungry mouths during meager times, buying a new instrument was out of the question. And so life went on…I wish I could’ve heard him play in that band, and I wish I could’ve danced to his music. I can just see him standing on the stage dressed in his best suit playing his heart out with that crazy smile – and I can swear he just gave me a wink!

 

 

 

PRE-DAWN TREK

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1115121919My dog Bella woke me up this morning at 5:30 – yup, lucky me, right?!  It’s actually only a half hour earlier than when my normal workday begins, but its Saturday, its cold outside and last night we had our first snow. Why, Bella, why?!?!  I guess she’s just trying to torture me as she bounces on the bed panting in my face and trying my patience. But, when a dog’s gotta go, a dog’s gotta go. And what’s the alternative?  Cleaning up stains on the rug?  No, thanks. So, I pull on my coat and plop my hat on my sleepy head yawning uncontrollably.  I can’t find my gloves, so I grab an old pair that are too big, and step out into the tundra. I lose my breath to the burst of cold wind that greets me when I open the door.  Awesome…1107121557a

Muttering to myself, I trudge down the snow-covered street while Bella frolics in the virgin white snow. It’s quiet and peaceful on this lonely trail up to the bay, since most sane people without pets are still wrapped up in their cozy beds and won’t rise to daylight for another three hours. I eventually trick myself into thinking that it really isn’t so bad (not) to be the only human being in the universe walking up the snowy path in the dark, which is only slightly illuminated by the pristine snow and full moon hiding behind the clouds.  But if I let it, this pre-dawn trek could be a good thing. Bella immediately does her thing, so I guess she wasn’t just pulling my chain.  Good girl, I praise her.  She looks up at me with that big wide grin, tail wagging wildly, then streaks off into the snow, yanking my arm out of the socket.  Arrgghhh…

The quiet of pre-dawn actually fills me with peace after a very stressful week.  I walk along feeling calm for the first time in days.  I take a cleansing deep breath of the frosty air and blow it out forming circles before me.  Bella sniffs the ground and follows tiny footprints of an animal that arose even earlier than us. The ducks, which are usually quacking quietly in the swamp, have disappeared.  I guess they have finally wised up to the fact that the warmth of the south isn’t a bad idea after all and have probably flown the coop.  I imagine how nice the warmth of the sun would feel upon my skin right about now and yearn for the summer.  Instead we turn to head home to a pot of hot coffee, which I’ll sip as I sit on my chair in meditation and watch the sun rise over the lagoon.

I can’t really say that I’m unhappy to have gotten up as early as I did, thanks to my rambunctious Labrador retriever.  Guess I’m used to braving the weather in the name of walking her outside before she does something inside.  But this morning Bella inadvertently has taken me on a path of mental renewal where enjoying the quiet and peace of an early morning snow has calmed my nerves and given me hope for tranquility on this cold winter’s day. Gotta love her.

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Movie Countdown to Christmas

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I’m a sucker for a sappy romantic Christmas movie, and every year I make a list of must-see favorites.  I just don’t feel like Christmas is complete until my list is checked off and I’m settled into the very last one…A Christmas Story…which is always shown as a 24-hour marathon on one of the TV stations on Christmas Eve.

Maybe it’s just habit or another tradition, but I need the reminders of love portrayed in these movies that warm my heart and give me hope that people are basically driven by good and by love.  Love for each other…love for their family…love for their friends.

And so, in case you were wondering, I’ve listed my all-time favorites and why they are just that.

Christmas Vacation – This is my must-see Thanksgiving evening movie that kicks off the whole Christmas movie season.  Yes, it’s corny and kind of goofy, but the way Chevy Chase is driven to give his beloved family the perfect Christmas despite all their dysfunctions is a reminder that no family is perfect, and yet where there is family, there is love.

Bridget Jones’ Diary– This is a love/hate movie which is so typical in most instant-hate meetings that turns into love over time.  Who doesn’t melt when Renee Zellweger chases Colin Firth down the snowy English street, and he wraps his arms and coat around her and kisses her like she’s never been kissed.  She says, “Wait a minute…nice boys don’t kiss like that.”  And he says, “Yes, they f _ _ king do.” Who doesn’t want to be kissed like that?! Besides, he loves her just the way she is.

The Holiday – I want to go to England every time I watch this flick – to the little cottage portrayed in this movie and meet my Judd Law in a little pub in the countryside.  Who doesn’t?!   It’s a movie about people who think they know what’s good for them until they try something totally different.  It makes you just want to fly off for Christmas and find true love. Christmas, that is, in a snowy English countryside in a cozy cottage – is this over the top romantic, or what?!  Plus, Judd’s two little daughters in the movie just charm the socks off me.

Home Alone – A mother’s love will conquer even the mistake of leaving her son behind when the family goes on vacation. She will stop at nothing to make her way back to her son no matter what the cost or difficulty.  I just love this, plus Macaulay Culkin is just so entertaining, and it takes place in a beautiful home that reeks of warm and cozy and family.

Serendipity – This movie confirms for me that all things happen for a reason.  That you are meant to meet that one special person in the right timing…and that if it’s meant to be, it will happen no matter what the wait and what the circumstances. I want John Cusack.  Enough said.

The Family Stone – Another miss-matched couple find true love with other people who happen to be family related. Uptight Sarah Jessica Parker eventually matched with easy-going Ben Wilson instead of his equally uptight, egomaniac brother.  Who can’t resist Ben when he tells Sarah to just relax, let her hair down and let her freak flag fly?!  Of course, this movie also deals with Ben’s mother’s cancer and knowing this will be their last Christmas together with her is sad.  Another tear-jerker, but lots of fun. Plus, I get to look at Craig T. Nelson for two hours…heavy sigh…

When Harry Met Sally – Yes, Harry is annoying and so is Sally with her obsessive/compulsive craziness. This is another love/hate movie, which are my favorites.  You know love is going to win out, and it does despite Harry’s defect of not being able to commit and Sally’s insistence that everything she eats be separate and on the side.  When Billy Crystal takes Meg Ryan into his arms and tells her “when you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want it to begin as soon as possible,” you just have to smile.

While You Were Sleeping – It’s a whirlwind series of misunderstandings that lead Sandra Bullock to the love her life, carpenter Bill Pullman with his tight jeans and work boots. When Sandra saves a man she has a huge crush on from a train wreck, he falls into a coma and somehow she is mistaken for his fiancée.  She lets the story play on only with his family so she could have the experience of a real-life caring family, which she so desperately desires.  It portrays the true loneliness that people feel during the Christmas season and ends with Sandra Bullock finding the love of her life and the family she so desperately needs.

You’ve Got Mail – OK, I can’t resist Tom Hanks, especially when he coyly tries to help Meg Ryan after he inadvertently destroys her cute little book business.  This movie starts out with the couple’s intense dislike, then friendship and eventually love. Plus, he brings her daisies when she’s sick in bed, and who can resist a guy like that?!

The Gathering – This is an old, old, made for TV movie that I have on VHS.  I don’t know how I’m going to play it this year, since the VHS player isn’t working.  I can only hope.  The premise goes like this…A career-driven father, played by Ed Asner, who has put business before family and who has been estranged from his wife and family for some time finds out he is dying and wants to see his family one more time. His ex-wife arranges a Christmas reunion of his children for their sakes, not his. They don’t know he is sick, so it’s about reconnecting with family and finding out that true love never dies.  He sees his newborn grandson, who they have christened on Christmas Day, for the first…and last time. Get out your tissues…

White Christmas – Another corny, sappy musical of all things…but it’s just beautiful, entertaining, sweet and fun.  Christmas can’t happen for me until I see that barn door open to a beautiful Christmas Eve snowfall as Bing Crosby sings.

A Wonderful Life – Yes, this is the ultimate, old-time heart grabber that proves love wins over money every time and family is what is most important in life. And no matter how many times you see it, the message comes through loud and clear and deserves repeating just to remind us.  We get it! Every time you hear a bell ring, an angel gets his wings.

A Christmas Story– This is usually last in line shown on Christmas Eve. Who doesn’t get teary eyed when this little boy has accepted the fact that despite all the hints he’s dropped and even telling Santa,  he’s not going to get his “Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time,” only to watch his father’s excited expression as his son discovers with glee the ultimate gift he’s hidden for him behind the desk. Even though he does, indeed, almost shoot his eye out in the end, you gotta love that Dad who wanted nothing more than to fulfill his son’s Christmas dream. My brother got a BB gun for Christmas one year when he was just about the same age.  Luckily, he never shot his eye out!

Well, these are my favorites. I hope I haven’t forgotten any, although I do like the corniness of ELF as well.  As you can tell, I’ve had crushes on a lot of Christmas movie stars. Colin, Judd,  John, Ben, Billy, Bill, Craig and of course, Tom.  I’ll add each and every one of them to my Christmas wish list again this year. I can dream, can’t I?!?!

Time to get into my jammies, grab a cup of tea and a cozy blanket as I curl up on the couch and get watching – Christmas will be here before I know it!

What are your favorites?

FAVORITE FALL FUN

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Me and Katie at the farm.

The leaves are falling and the Southern-bound geese are cawing – time for my favorite fall fun!  Sounds corny, doesn’t it? But it is time to harvest the corn after all, so why not?! My family has a lot of fall traditions that mean a lot to us. When my kids were small, apple and pumpkin picking were looked forward to with as much excitement as Christmas morning.  Taking that hay-lined wagon ride out into the crisp autumn fields to choose our wares was a fall rite of passage.  Carving pumpkins was our ultimate pleasure.

Katie mixing her cookie brew!

Halloween cooking baking was the most entertaining.  By the end of the day, the table and floor were covered (as were we) with inches thick of flour, sugar and all kinds of assorted, colored jimmies of every shape and kind. It took a lot of patience because it always turned out to be a big mess, but it never bothered me. I realized this was precious, special time with my kids.

Flour-covered Susezit.

We would then settle into watching “The Worst Witch” all together on the couch under a shared blanket in the dark with candles burning eating our Halloween cookies and milk.  My girls loved it, and so did I!  The movie isn’t scary.  It’s a kids’ movie that lasts just a little over an hour about an awkward young girl trying to make it in a young witch’s academy.  It’s more about doing good over evil, and we’ve been watching it annually since my youngest was 4 years old. I’ve always had a thing for the handsome grand wizard/warlock (much to my children’s chagrin!) played by Tim Curry.  When he says “absolutely” my heart melts!My kids are grown now, but these are still revered traditions.  It’s a little harder with Megan living in Florida, but I know she tortures her fiancé Matt into watching the movie with her each year.  I usually send her the Halloween cookies that Katie and I still bake.  Katie is a die-hard for traditions as well and also tortures her beau Blake with the annual watching of “The Worst Witch.”  Blake also enjoys the pumpkin picking/carving. We’re all kids at heart!

So gather your kids, go out to a farm to pick some apples and pumpkins, carve them, bake cookies, cozy up together, watch “The Worst Witch” and have a very Happy Halloween!

(P.S. I thought I’d share the cookie recipe with you in case you want to make these cookies with your little ghouls and goblins.  It is a recipe I also use for cut-out cookies on all holidays – Thanksgiving turkeys, Christmas bells and stars, Valentine hearts and Easter bunnies.)

HOLIDAY SUGAR COOKIES

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tbsp. ½ and ½ cream

4 cups flour

2/3 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

Cream butter and sugar; add egg and vanilla.  Beat well.  Sift flour, soda, salt and baking powder together. Add to butter mixture alternately with cream; chill thoroughly in refrigerator for at least an hour.  Roll very thing.  Use cookie cutters – different shapes.  Bake in 350 degrees for 8 – 10 minutes. Cool completely.

Icing

1 lb. bag of confectioner’s sugar

½ tsp. of salt

4 tbsp. butter

1 tsp vanilla

Touch of milk to creamy consistently (not too soft but spreadable)

Cream butter; add salt and vanilla and sugar a little at a time with a touch of milk to help in mixing.

Ice cookies and decorate with assorted jimmies.  You can also add a touch of food coloring to the icing if you want different colors.  Place finished cookies on tray and set in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes to set. Store in air tight container.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO VS. BEN STILLER

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I’ve been trying to get rid of a few pesky pounds that will just not leave this body.  I walk, I bike, but I figured I needed some heavy-duty cardio, so I signed up for an aerobics dance class. I walked into my first class confident, but then, again, it was an entire class of low impact, so what’s to be scared of?  Piece of cake I thought afterwards – let’s go onto something a bit more challenging. Famous last words.  The second class was very “Mama Bear” kind of just right comfortable. Felt great – no problem. Let’s just stick with this, I think. But then on a whim I felt like going the other day and went to a random class in the afternoon. Big mistake…

As I explain this scenario, try to picture me as Ben Stiller doing the salsa dancing scene in Along Came Polly and my aerobics teacher as the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Why Ben Stiller? Have you seen Along Came Polly – the scene where uncoordinated Ben tries to impress his new girlfriend by learning salsa dancing?  This is not unlike what I look like in this class.  You have to rent the movie to get the full effect, but this is a snippet. (Press back key after video to continue reading):

http://www.youtube.com/embed/p43QPnYAkXE

Moving on, Dragon Girl greets me at the door with a bright smile and warm hello.  Her eyes are as jet black as her hair.  Who is this, I think.  This girl with the tattoo-covered body and piercings?  Then she goes up on the stage and somehow I sense that something is going to go awry. Uh oh…well, she seems nice enough. I try to warm up on my own with my ever so cool yoga downward facing dog, and I know people are probably wondering why I’m doing a yoga stretch in aerobics class.  Doesn’t matter. Works for me.

Dragon Girl turns the music up to a full blast.  Wait, I think, this is just a warm up.  Shouldn’t we start with something softer?  “OK,” Dragon Girl shouts, “LET’S DO IT!”  The warm up is fast and a little on the furious side, and the music is kind of dark.  Stretch left, stretch right, again, dip, over, left, right.  This is just the warm up?! Suddenly we’re inching our way into the more difficult routines. The music is thumping and pumping. I’m off flying here, tapping there, sashaying to the left, turning, grapevining to the right, pointing up, down, back, forth. I’m getting dizzy.  My head is whirling.

The next few songs play as the routines are revved up. I have a stitch in my side.  I think how embarrassing it would be to go into cardiac arrest in front of everyone. The pace picks up even more. My hip is popping in and out.  KEEP MOVING! She screams.  I look up and swear I see the eyes of Clint Eastwood in “Heartbreak Ridge” screaming at his troops.  I stop to get a drink. KEEP THOSE FEET MOVING!  I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO PERFORM CPR!  I start shuffling my feet in place while I down a gulp of water and sashay back to my spot. I’m going to need ibuprophen tonight.  I just know it.

I feel like the DRAGON GIRL is watching my every move because she shouts corrections, and her eyes seem to be always on me. I try to get out of her field of vision by moving sideways but bump into the woman next to me who gives me a dirty look, and I am forced back.  I stand directly behind the girl in front of me, but she’s moving so fast, I can’t keep up.  I go in the opposite direction of everyone else with the opposite foot and fall short of causing a three-girl crash and pile up.  People seem to be avoiding me. KICK TO THE LEFT!  KICK TO THE RIGHT! HIGHER!  I wasn’t aware that kick boxing was going to be part of the program.  Damn, there goes my hip again. Oh no, I think I have to pee…kegel one, kegel two…I can hold this, I know I can.

She demonstrates a low impact version (probably for me since I’m convinced I look like a buffoon), which I mimic only to have her say NOT LIKE THAT!  She mimics a whimsical spaghetti-like dance with arms and legs flowing, which resembles Jerry Lewis in the Patsy.  I step it up again to a fast speed, because I feel she is just daring me to do low impact.  Her eyes are burning a whole in the back of my head.

GET YOUR MATS AND WEIGHTS!  Oh, finally a slow down, I think. But no. We do a routine hoisting five lb. weights until I’m sure my limbs will break off.  FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE. NOW LET’S DO IT ON THE OTHER SIDE! My muscles ache.  DOWN ON THE FLOOR.  LEGS UP; LEGS DOWN; ROLL ON YOUR SIDE.  NOW THE OTHER SIDE. This can’t be the cool down.  CROSS YOUR LEGS AND JUMP UP!  This I cannot do. I roll to my side and lift myself up like I used to do after giving birth by C-section when I had no stomach muscles.  I’m hoping nobody’s watching, but I see the dark eyes narrowing.  I get distracted by the tattoo in the middle of her chest.  It looks like a sunburst. What is that on her ankle? This one moment of tattoo distraction causes a total mix up for me. I’m just about ready to surrender, and it’s over.  THANKS, EVERYBODY! Dragon Girl shouts. YOU WERE TOTALLY AWESOME!!!  I smile.

Although I’m shell shocked, I feel stronger. I’m actually feeling proud of myself just for surviving. The next morning I wake up with only a little tightness and a touch of lower back discomfort, which surprises me considering I was expecting a paralytic state.  In my own demented mind, I find myself looking forward to the next class with DRAGON GIRL.  She was awesome, too! Better practice those sashays…

HARRY THE HILARIOUS

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Great leaders of England:  Edmund the Magnificent, Richard the Lionheart, William the Conqueror, Harry the Hilarious…Wait, who?!?

I started off the day with a good laugh after watching the news reports of Prince Harry partying in Las Vegas. At first I thought, so what else is new? The words partying and Prince Harry seem to go hand in hand, don’t they?  When the report continued on to show nude pictures of Harry (appropriately blacked-out, of course) in his VIP suite playing strip billiards (allegedly his idea) with his friends, my chuckle turned into a belly laugh. Oh, man, this new generation of English royalty are certainly doing their best to entertain us, aren’t they?!

I couldn’t help but imagine the Queen Mother’s reaction to the news with her tea cup shattering to the floor as she choked on her crumpet. That poor old lady certainly has her hands full with these quirky grandchildren, doesn’t she?!  And imagine dear old dad, Prince Charles, reprimanding him, “Now Harry, my lad, we mustn’t sashay about without our knickers on, shan’t we?  Be a good boy, then.  Carry on.”

I’ve actually been amused by this blue-eyed, flaming red head with the devilish grin almost from the beginning.  My kids were born around the same time as William and Harry, so I was always interested in royal reporting of those two gregarious heirs to the throne.  William always seemed to be more subdued, although I do see a glint of mischief in his eyes, especially when he’s around Harry.  As a kid, Harry was always the rough and tumble one wandering off in his disheveled clothes causing a raucous.  He was always the one you had to keep an eye on.

Now, in his defense, Harry’s only 27 and by today’s standards, 27 is still partying age. I know this from observing my daughters…  Hec, my own brother made front page news while streaking nude across his college campus when he was just a couple of years younger than that. To see him today you would never imagine that someone so reserved and upright would do such a thing, but there are pictures somewhere to prove it.  It makes you wonder what faux pas Prince Charles or even Queen Lizzy committed as youngsters.

We all have our skeletons in our closets, but Harry seems to enjoy dancing about publicly with his. I think for the sake of Grand-Mummy and his royal English heritage, he’s going to have to do a better job of “watching his p’s and q’s.” (A phrase which ironically comes from English pubs and taverns of the seventeenth century wherein bartenders would keep a watch on the alcohol consumption of their patrons by keeping an eye on the pints and quarts.)

Let’s hold out hope for Harry the Hilarious while we may.  He will grow up…some day…and become an upstanding English gentleman. I, myself, hope he always holds onto that ember of fun.  But as far as the new generation of leadership in Great Britain goes, thank God William was born first!

Sand Wars (aka War Between the Siblings)

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A day at the beach turned into a comical production of the struggle between brothers and sisters to co-exist. It started off innocently when a woman with two friends descended onto the beach with umbrellas, chairs, beach bags, towels, blankets and a multitude of other stuff I couldn’t even identify.  Really?!  Is it truly necessary to bring all of that paraphernalia for a few hours in the sun?! Apparently so. One woman had three kids in tow – a girl about 10, a boy about 8 and a younger girl around 6.  The girls were skinny string-beans (as my Mother used to call me when I was young.) The boy was thin as well and wore a brand new ball cap with a huge brim that was big and flat.  It looked odd sitting atop his little head.  The little girls wore bright bikinis that hung on their thin frames, and the older girl wore shocking pink heart-shaped sunglasses and pranced around like a super model.

Just then a smiling, pudgy little girl of about 6 came running up from a stakeout closer to the ocean– maybe a neighbor?  She was very pretty with white-blonde hair and blue eyes, although she had the few extra pounds of baby fat. She was with her mom and older brother (about 10 – a big kid). Shortly after some back and forth and hellos between the kids and the moms – IT began.  Sand Wars.

The older boy had formed this odd little fort by digging deep into the sand, surrounding the hole with boogie boards and then covering them with towels to form a roof.  The younger other brother joined in.  The girls sashayed over to the fort to check it out and were told in no uncertain terms to go away.  They stood with hands on hips refusing to budge. That’s when the younger boy with the odd ball cap took a handful of sand and hurled it at his sisters.  No matter – all the girls in turn picked up handfuls of sand and tossed it back.  The younger boy (the older boy had disappeared into the fort for some reason – maybe knowing better than to fight with girls) took another handful of sand and tossed it in their faces causing them to squeal sharply.  The girls dug their hands deep into the sand and were just about to let it rip when mom came running over with her hands on her hips yelling at the boy.  The girls had cleverly, and ever so nonchalantly, let the sand slide out of their hands before mom could see. Little angels… As the younger boy was getting reamed out by mom, the girls slipped away from the scene and began staking out a fort of their own.

Much to the boys’ chagrin, the girls’ fort was an exact replica of the boys’ fort.  The boys stood seething from afar. The younger boy was especially agitated since they were using his boogie board.  He finally ran over and snatched the board, caving in one side of the fort, screamed that their fort was “stinky” and ran, joining his older friend under the blankets in their fort, which must have been a stifling 100 degrees by now. The girls, seeing that their fort had collapsed, decided it was boring and instead decided to lay out on their towels and “get a tan” in the words of the older girl. They ignored the boys completely, sitting on their blanket, talking and munching on Goldfish, pretzels and an assortment of candy provided by the chubby little girl.  That peaked the younger boy’s attention, since he must have become bored laying in the torrid fort with the older boy doing a lot of nothing.  He watched the girls for a while until he mustered up the courage to mosey over to where they were sunning and then stood over them staring at what they were eating. He politely asked for some Goldfish crackers and the younger, chubby girl graciously handed him some.  He said a courteous “thank you.” The girl smiled up at him, and he smiled back.  Since the older boy still had not come out from the fort, and probably because the younger boy found the girls more interesting, he sat down on their blanket with a juice box and joined in their conversation.

I left shortly thereafter, so I’ll never be sure of what happened to the cloistered older brother who seemingly disappeared into the sand, or whether the cozy reunion of brother and sisters lasted. I do know that a major battle in the war between the siblings was diffused by simple indifference and a handful of orange, fish-shaped cheddar crackers.

ROLL OUT THOSE LAZY, HAZY, CRAZY DAYS OF SUMMER!

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Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. 

Those days of soda and pretzels and beer.

Roll out those….those…uh…well, that’s about all of the lyrics I can remember…

Anyway, Happy First Day of Summer, everyone!

Yahoo! It’s finally that time of year we’ve all been waiting for, am I right?!

Summer is more than just a season.  It’s an institution. So many images and memories are conjured up from that one beautifully simple, wonderful word – SUMMER.  It’s like FREEDOM!  It’s like FUN!  And, I don’t know about the soda and pretzels and beer thing, but when I was a kid it was more like iced tea, hot dogs on the grill and chocolate covered vanilla bars from the ice cream truck.  I can hear that annoying sing-song “Mr. Frosty” theme as I write this.

Summer was also bologna sandwiches on Wonder bread with salted fresh Jersey tomatoes and gobs of mayonnaise. Or freshly steamed crabs laid out on newspaper on the picnic table. Can you smell the Bay seasoning?! And don’t forget Charles Chips and a huge dill pickle from the barrel at the local store. And the summer CANDY!!!! Orange circus peanuts, spearmint leaves, orange slices and chewy sugared watermelon shaped jellies. HHHMMMMMMMMMMMM.  How my heart is still beating my thickened blood through my clogged arteries from all this fat and sugar-laden food is beyond my understanding.

Summer wasn’t only about eating, though, it was about NO MORE SCHOOL, sleeping late and swimming at the local pool, riding bikes (sometimes behind the trucks spraying mosquito repellent) and catching lightning bugs in mason jars until the wee hours of the night. It was catching sunfish on bamboo poles at Gropp’s Lake. It was fireworks on the fourth of July and a new pair of Keds sneakers. It was drive-in movies – how fun was that?!  Remember listening to the soundtrack through a little metal box and burning little coils on the dashboard to repel mosquitoes? What was up on that war against mosquitoes that’s now considered lethal weapons against humans? 

Summer was going to the shore, collecting shells, soaking in the sun until you turned beet red and jumping the waves until you were so exhausted you could barely walk. But then later on you would muster up the strength to walk the boardwalk and eat pizza and caramel corn or a Kohr’s orange/vanilla twist.  Maybe summer IS all about eating!

Summer’s really a time to slow down, relax, get outside and enjoy God’s beautiful green acres. This is the time to take a break from the rat race. It’s waking slowly in the morning to songbirds twittering  just outside your opened, screened window and then being lulled to sleep at night by the rhythmic chirping of the crickets. Summer is the bright sunshine and warmth upon your skin. Summer is peaceful evenings on the porch, gazing at the moon and the stars with your family and talking about a lot of nothing.  It’s cherishing old friends and making new friends. It’s simply heaven on earth.

So roll out those lazy, hazy crazy days of summer – you’ll wish that summer could always be here.

 

 

Celebrity Crushes

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Out of sheer boredom, or maybe the need to be warply entertained, I started watching the television show, “Millionaire Matchmaker.”  It’s interesting to realize that even rich people don’t have any idea about what dating etiquette is all about. Some even belong in the “no clue at all” category. One of the first questions host Patti Stanger asks her clients is “Who is your celebrity crush?” From that answer she gets a feel about what type of appearance and personal traits her client is looking for so that she can weave her magic with perfect matches.

This has gotten me to thinking about who my celebrity crush might be. The celebrity crush thing for me actually started a long time ago in a galaxy far away.  At the age of 7 or 8, my first celebrity crush was Jerry Lewis.  (Yes, I was a weird kid.) He made me belly laugh, and, apparently, that is the most important thing 7-year-olds are attracted to. I also thought he was cute and loved watching his movies, although I could never figure out why he wore his hair long and greased back on the sides with a flat top.  Didn’t matter, when he went into that stupid slapstick circle dance with arms and legs flailing, I just could not resist him. But then I found out he was married with 5 or 6 kids, and we were finished. After all, I was Catholic.  Plus, I started a real life crush on a kid named Brian who lived around the corner and focused on tormenting him instead.

At the age of 13 I saw my first risqué movie, “The Graduate.” By today’s movie standards, this movie is a walk in the park. Well, out of this movie came my Dustin Hoffman phase.  Short and dark did it for me.  And, he had a cute smile and was a little naughty. (What I knew about naughty at that age was next to nothing, but I was curious.) It’s then that I decided I was going to become an actress, star with him in a major motion picture and marry him right after I graduated from high school. I had it all figured out. Little did I know that in senior year things would change with the release of “The Godfather.”  Move over, Dustin; enter short, dark, smoldering Al Pacino.  Al started my whole “want to be a mafia wife” phase. I mean, who couldn’t resist Al Pacino, for gosh sakes?!  Those fiery brown eyes held me captive. When he said, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse,” I wanted him to know I wouldn’t have refused any offer he made.  And it would be strictly personal, not business with Al, let me tell you.  I can’t tell you how many times I saw that movie just dreaming of a chance to “go to the mattresses” with him. Once I even saw him get out of a taxi on the streets of New York and followed him down the street like a stalker until he ducked into the backstage door of a theatre, thwarting my attempt to…well, I’m not really sure what I would have done with him if I caught him. That’s better left unsaid.

I’ve had a succession of other crushes in between that didn’t last nearly as long as these did. I even had a thing for Woody Allen for awhile because I completely got his humor, was a groupie for his movies and thought he was brilliant.  I also have an unprecedented weakness for musicians – Springsteen, Carradine, Fogelberg, any one of the Eagles, etc., but that’s another blog for another day.

Now that I’m older and wiser, my taste in celebrity crushes has shifted but in some regards has come full circle. Tom Hanks is my current crush simply because he makes me laugh.  Not in the Jerry Lewis slapstick or the Woody Allen sarcasm sense of the word, but in the witty, wisecracking, exaggerated, rhetorical kind of way. In addition, he’s got the “cute” factor.  The bottom line is I’m looking for a man who can make me laugh and is kind of cute. Is that too much to ask?  Just in case Patti wants to know…not that I’m a millionaire or anything…