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Archive for January, 2010

Dear January,

Dear January,

Well, you old fart, it looks like you’re on your last legs, and I can’t say I’m sorry!  To be honest, I haven’t enjoyed your visit this year one little bit.  First of all, you swoop in, practically stepping on December’s heels, virtually taking over.  And then, rather than bring your own weather, you copy December’s.  And you don’t just copy it, you big showboat, you magnify it by ten! I mean, what’s with that?  You haven’t always been like this.  You used to be modest and reasonable, but not this time!  Oh no!  You come stomping in with your size gazillion shoes, and to heck with anyone else!

What I’d like to know is why have you been so dark and sullen?  Did you miss the Calendar Ball or something?  Did July refuse to give you a date?  Or did you just get up on the wrong side of the year?

I think you know, January, that I have a regular column in this blog called “On Cloud Patrol.”  It’s filled with pictures of big fluffy clouds in which I point out shapes and pictures.  Well, guess how many clouds I’ve seen during YOU?  No, guess!  NONE, you lazy bugger!  Every time I could go outside without fear of freezing my eyeball fluid, I’ve looked up to see a gray, watery-looking sky with not a cloud in sight!  Thanks a whole lot!  Not!

But, to be honest, what got me really, really, steamed was the whole snow and ice thing you pulled this year.  What are you, insane? We’ve had more ice and snow during you than I can ever remember!  Slick streets, frozen mailboxes and car-sized snow drifts have all been your little New Year’s “gifts” to me.  And I hate to put it to you, but those things weren’t on my list.  I’m not unreasonable.  I could have taken a little of this junk, if only you would have given us some recovery time in between.  But NO!  Not big ass January!  You just couldn’t stop, could you?  You’ve made things so difficult for so many people, but do you care?  Hell no!  You’re January – big, bossy, cruel and with a heart of solid ice.

Well, guess what, Big Boy?  Your time is just about up and I, for one, say “good riddance!”

Don’t let the door hit you on your way out!

Sincerely,

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A Little Appreciation

As we go about our day-to-day lives, it’s so easy to become discouraged by the apathy and incompetence we so often seem to be surrounded by.  There is no end to sales clerks who are too busy talking on their cell phones to assist you or the abominable “phone menus” you have to traverse to get a simple answer to a simple question.  Telephone customer assistants, particularly, can absolutely drive me up the wall.  But, what about the good people who help us every day?  Do we always take a moment to let them know they’re appreciated?  I fear not!

What made me think of this today is my financial adviser’s assistant, a lovely woman by the name of Maria.  I called the office yesterday with a question for my financial adviser, who was in a meeting at the moment.  Maria asked if perhaps she could help me.  I had several questions about some 1099’s I was supposed to receive.  I thought I was supposed to get four, of which only one had arrived.  She promised to check with the head office and get some answers for me and get back to me the next day.

The minute I hung up the phone, I knew I didn’t have to worry about the matter.  Whereas with many people I would make a note to check back with them, I knew that Maria wouldn’t rest until she got answers for me.  This is based of my many years of dealing with this company.  No matter what is going on in her life, Maria always answers the phone with a pleasant, gentle voice.  If she tells you she’ll do something, you can rest assured it will get done.  If she tells you something, you can “take it to the bank.”  She’s obviously someone who believes in doing her job to the best of her ability every single day.  She is polite and caring and I’ve never seen her lose her cool.

The next morning, the phone rang and she had the answers I needed.  Instead of four documents, I needed only two, one of which I already had.  She also informed me that the IRS had changed the deadline on the other document and the companies didn’t have to have them issued until February 15th.  That wasn’t something I was thrilled to hear, because I like to file my taxes early, but if she hadn’t told me I would have worried myself sick.  So, as usual, Maria did her job and she did it well.  But instead of ringing off, I took a moment to tell her how invaluable she is and how much I, personally, appreciate everything she does.  I think it made her feel good.  I know it did me.   And she deserved it!

Just taking the time to tell people they’re doing a good job is a small thing that can make a big difference.  I have gone to the same place for my oil changes for years.  It’s called (and I, personally, LOVE this name,) “House of Lube” – Home of the 10 Minute Oil Change.  It’s not fancy.  The waiting room is not particularly comfortable.  But, the guys there do a good and thorough job – every time.  I know I can be in and out in ten minutes.  One time I told them that, as a single woman, I really appreciated the fact that they always checked my car over each time I brought it in and pointed out anything that needed my attention.  I told them how much I depended on their expertise.  And you know what?  Every time I come in, they treat me like a queen!  Appreciation, people, it’s a good thing!

When I think about it, there are a whole lot of other people who are a pleasure to deal with and who make my life easier…the checkers and baggers at my grocery store, the assistants in my dentist’s office, the people I deal with in the pharmacy, my paper man and my banker, to name a few.  I think at one time or another, I’ve thanked each of them for doing a good job, but it’s something I should do more often.

I challenge each of you today to make a point of telling at least ONE person you deal with what a good job they do.  We all know what it’s like to knock yourself out doing your best, only to have no one notice.  And good work should be recognized!  God knows it’s rare enough!  After all, we’re all in this big old lifeboat together and you know what they say…

“What goes around, comes around.”

Have a great day, guys!

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If you’ve read this blog at all, you’ll know that I’m often fascinated by the odd, the bizarre or just the little known.  So today I’ve gathered together a few things I’ve run across that I found interesting, totally off-the-wall or just puzzling. I hope you enjoy them.

The first is the Puli dog.  This little dog’s hair is a lot like dreadlocks, but are called “cords.”  They start to form when the pup is nine months old and require extensive grooming to keep the hair from matting.  Although I’ve never had a dog, this one looks particularly cuddly.

This next is a baby pacifier called “The Billy Bob.”  While amusing, I suppose, why would anyone want their baby looking like this?

Okay, and for the man who has everything, there’s always the “Potty Putter.”  Do people actually order these things?

This next one, the Psycho Shower Curtain, is right up my alley, although I’m sure it would make many of you uneasy.  It’s $22.99 at Amazon.

And last, but not least, we have the Mickey Mouse contacts.  Now if you can explain to me why anyone would wear these, please leave me a comment!

Okay, I guess I’ve messed with your mind enough for one day.   All I can say is, it’s an interesting world we live in, isn’t it?

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Any time you want to be outraged, discouraged, offended or insulted, you needn’t go any further than your friendly newscast.  I always swore I’d never be one of those people who say, “I don’t know what the world is coming to!”  But you know what?  I don’t know what the world is coming to!  Honestly.

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A couple of days ago, on almost every news show I watched, reporters were speculating on whether or not Tiger Woods had entered a rehabilitation facility for his sex addiction problem.  They were showing photos taken with a telephoto lens of someone who could or could not be Tiger Woods at a facility.  They were having one expert after another talking about what an average day would be like, if indeed Tiger Woods, was at that kind of facility.  They were all breathless like this was really big news.  What I’d like to know is, why the hell is it any of our business? Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not some big Tiger fan.  In fact, I think he’s a bum and he did wrong.  But, he was found out and has had to pay the consequences.  Does this give the American public the right to stick their noses into his business for the rest of his life? I think not.  I have more important things to think about.  Leave the man alone!

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Reports have recently revealed that today’s young people spend almost 8 hours a day either talking on cell phones, texting or on social networking sites, such as Facebook.  I ask you, how sad is that? What kind of people are these children and teenagers going to grow up to be?  Will they never know the satisfaction of talking to people face-to-face?  Instead of gazing into their beloved’s eyes, will they propose marriage via text message?  Will they never know the joy of writing or receiving a letter written on paper? Will the younger ones among them never get to experience the exhilaration and excitement of playing hide and go seek after dark because they’re too busy maintaining their Facebook pages?  All I can say is that I pity them.

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Michelle Obama, speaking to the Conference of Mayors, announced that next month she’s going to launch an “obesity initiative.”  She’s concerned that Americans are too fat and is determined to do something about it.  She said that a recent study found that “obesity could now be an even greater threat to America’s health than smoking.”  (As a former smoker, I have to predict that, no matter HOW big a threat it is, I can assure you that fat people won’t be forced to go outside to eat their Twinkies!  Only smokers have to endure being treated like second-class citizens!)

Her initiative will be rooted in four key areas.
1. Healthy lunches, healthy schools.  (Aren’t schools already doing this?)
2. Physical education. (Was this already taken out of the schools and no one told me?)
3. Access & affordability to healthy foods.  (This has been around forever.  It’s called a garden.)
4. A consumer campaign to publicize this issue.  (Care to guess who’s going to pay for this? )

My irritation here lies in the fact that I don’t believe we need to government to tell us how to eat.  People know what’s good for them and what’s not.  People will lose weight if and when they choose.  The last time I looked this was supposed to be a free country.  And besides, what with the economy going down the toilet, the jobless rate rising, people losing their homes to foreclosure, and the crisis in Haiti, don’t you think there are more important things the First Lady could be concentrating on?  If nothing else, she could start searching for some dresses with sleeves!

Just sayin’





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Premature Exultation!

One day this week, after feeling like literal hostages in our own homes, due to the weather, my bud, Babs, and I decided to bust out and have one of our “rambling days.”  These usually consist of going out for a good breakfast, then just letting our car go where it will.  We generally end up exploring new neighborhoods and parts of town and stopping at the odd store or two.  The joy lies in the spontaneity.  And after suffering from cabin fever for so long, we were both primed and ready!

We were deep into a cozy, tree-filled neighborhood when Babs yelled, “Stop!”  I stopped the car in the middle of the road and turned to see what had captured her attention.  There, in the back yard of a house was a large deer, standing there staring straight at us.  We stared back until she decided we weren’t a threat and then continued to mosey around the yard, picking at vegetation here and there.  When I finally started to roll forward again, I saw a second deer on the other side of the house, this one a baby.  It, too, was poking around as if it didn’t have a care in the world.  Although I’ve often seen deer around my own house, the novelty of seeing them in residential areas never ceases to fill me with wonder.

Later in the day we came across not one, but two houses whose yards were absolutely filled with geese!  What was really odd was the fact that neither of these houses was near a lake!  All these geese brought back memories of my cousin Barbara’s pet duck, Ricky, (named after Ricky Nelson, an old rock and roll singer.) When we were young girls, we used to love to fill up the wading pool, put on an Elvis Presley record, and then get in the wading pool with Ricky and gyrate around doing what we considered to be rock and roll.  We would dance around while Ricky would stand there opening and closing his beak, making it look like he was singing the Elvis song. We thought it was hysterically fun.  But, Ricky was always the last duck standing because he would inevitably poop in the pool, sending us screeching to jump out, only to slide and fall on duck poop outside the pool.  If you’ve never encountered it barefooted, let me assure you that duck poop on grass is one of the slickest substances known to man (or little girls in their bathing suits!)

Anyway, in the midst of our wanderings, we ended up by a park where we sometimes walk the track in the summer.  On impulse, I turned into one of the parking places, looked at Babs and said, “Dare we?”  She picked up my eagerness and said, “Why not?”  So we got out of the car.  Now you’d think that maybe we would have gotten a clue by the fact that we couldn’t figure out how to get onto the track because it was surrounded by a tall snow drift that would have meant snow up to our knees if we had stepped in.  But NOOO!  Not the Nature Girls!  We got back into the car and drove around to a side parking lot where we could gain access.  We jumped out of the car with the joy of elementary school kids getting out for recess.  Neither one of us had on a decent coat.  The temperature was under 40 degrees.  But all we could think about was how much we had missed walking like this.  The cement trail was covered in snow in places, so we took detours through the grass.  At one point we couldn’t see a clear place at all, and decided to take another part of the trail we’ve never taken before.  We turned and walked maybe six steps when we were simultaneously hit by an arctic wind.  And this wind was not just cold, it was like a knife trying to slice the skin off of our faces!!!!  It had a ferocity that scared me. I think I even felt my heart stop for a moment.   I turned and said, “Babs, do you think…?” but she was ahead of me, and said, “Let’s get our asses back to the car!”

Now if this were a movie, I would show us trudging to the car like two explorers on the North Pole, covered with frost, struggling against a blizzard that threatened to blow us over.  It was that hard! We were like people who had swum out to the middle of a lake but didn’t have enough energy to swim back.  The car was SO FAR AWAY! We started back slowly, but desperation was making us do this little shuffle-run.  Both of my eyes were welled up in tears and, behind me I could hear Babs making these little “woofing” noises.  Right before we stepped into the car, I heard something hard hit the concrete and bounce.  I’m pretty sure that one of our nipples froze and fell off.

But, to tell you the truth, I’ve been afraid to look…

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Updates And Stuff…

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog are aware that I acquired a new neighbor this summer and was surprised when he told me that he had a twenty-three year old son who lived there with him.  I was surprised because over a couple of months, I had never seen any evidence of another person living there.  And I, who am nothing, if not imaginative, started to speculate on what this could all mean.  Those who are new to this blog, can read about those speculations in THIS POST(Go ahead and read it.  I’ll wait for you.) Anyway, the update is:  I finally met the son! And, he was not a desiccated mummy, nor a figment of Fed Ex’s imagination.  I suppose he could be a zombie but he didn’t seem to have the odor around him that I always associate with zombies.  As a matter of fact, he was downright cute and very nice.

The circumstances under which we met were odd.  Turns out, someone parked a truck crossways at the top of our main driveway, effectively blocking the exit of eight different families.  The truck was locked and obviously deserted.  Who parks a car or truck directly across a driveway? Anyway, FedEx’s son, Scott, was on his way to one of his college classes and couldn’t get out.  He went around knocking on doors, but could not find the owner.  I came out to give him moral support when suddenly my neighbor on the other side, Marcy, drove up the driveway, only to find herself blocked in, as well.  Finally, the boyfriend of the owner of the fourth townhouse of our block emerged from his house, creating a perfect little neighborly tableau.  The bed of the pickup was filled with machinery and there was a credit card on the front seat, but all the doors were locked.  We all stood around like a bunch of monkeys, scratching our heads and wondering at the ignorance and arrogance of people.  Finally the police were called and the truck was towed away.  It was a boring ending to what could have been a very interesting story.  I like to imagine that maybe a girl had a fight with her boyfriend because he cheated on her, so she drove his truck to a different neighborhood and parked it where she would be sure it would be towed away.  Yes, that’s much more satisfying, isn’t it?

Oh, and I wanted to update you on my new Kindle.  I’ve had it just a little over a week and have finished two books.  One was Rough Country by John Sandford, one of my all-time favorite authors and it was quite good, but then his books always are.  The second was called Already Dead and was by Charlie Huston and was one of the free novels offered by the Kindle Store on Amazon.  The main character was a vampire in modern-day Manhattan and, while it wasn’t a masterpiece, it was interesting enough to hold my interest to the end.  It took me some time to get used to the fact that I was carrying around a whole big book on one little device.  And then I had to develop my own comfortable styles of holding it.  I must say that it’s a lot more fun to press a button to turn a page than to actually turn one, particularly if you’re reading while eating.  Little by little I’m coming to really love my little Kindle.  I’ve already ordered it a really cool “skin” so that I don’t get it dirty.  Before I bought it, I was reading the reviews on Amazon by people who owned one.  Person after person told of how they never thought they’d give up paper books but how the Kindle had converted them.  One woman even said that if she had a fire in her house, one of the first things she’d grab would be her Kindle!  I’m not going to say I’m that bad.. yet.  But lets just say I wouldn’t leave it behind!

And finally, did you see the première Sunday of the new show, “Human Target” with Mark Valley?  I guess it’s based on a comic strip character, but you don’t have to be familiar with that to enjoy it.  He plays a private contractor who helps people whose lives are being threatened by making himself a target to draw out the bad guy.  He’s all protective and sexy and all that good stuff.  The next episode is on its regular night, tonight, (Wednesday) at 8:00 central time.  You might want to check it out.  This guy’s smile is to die for!

Later,

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Beware of the Blahs!

Well, you don’t have to beware of them right this very second because I know where those blasted Blahs happen to be.  They’re with me! I think they must have sneaked in to get out of the cold sometime late last week, and the damned things have been on my back ever since!

The Blahs (see one at the left) simply love to suck the joy and life out of human beings.  They’re almost worse than the Blues, because when you’ve got the Blues, you can generally have a good cry and be done with them.  But the Blahs like to hang on and to make my life miserable.

I tried to go out in public, thinking maybe they’d decide to go elsewhere, but NOOOOO!  They were right there with me at the grocery store, which was very busy.  I tried to pick the shortest line, only to have the woman in front of me pull out a six-inch-thick stack of coupons!  I quickly scootched to the next line and was condemned to having a little boy, who was sitting in the cart in front of me, stare fixedly at me while blowing snot bubbles from his dirty nose.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, he planted his mouth on the cart’s handle and began sucking God- only- knows- what germs from that filthy thing!  And what was his mother doing through all this?  Why, talking on her cell phone, of course!  And yeah, my Blahs were laughing their asses off!  Me?  I just wanted to scream.

At home, the Blahs have managed to extract all of my initiative.  I was going to run the vacuum sweeper, but they whispered, “Why bother?  The carpet’s only going to get dirty again.”  And I realized they were right.  And to prove their point, they waited until I got a cup of tea, then jarred my hand so that I dropped the entire cup on the floor!  When they saw the look of dismay on my face, they went into hysterics and started giving each other high fives.

I look into the mirror, and they tell me I’m ugly. (THEY should talk!)  I tried to cut a piece of fruit, and they made me cut off a piece of my finger. (Seriously, this happened!) I thought of calling a friend, but they convinced me that no one would want to talk to me while they were around, and besides, it would be so much work just to dial!  I tried to watch television, but all that’s on is about the crisis in Haiti. I just can’t win!

If I could only go out hiking in the woods, I’m pretty sure I could lose them.  But, it’s far too cold and snow still covers most of the landscape.  So I’m stuck with the Blahs for now.  I’m almost too exhausted to fight them anymore.  But, maybe there’s a slight glimmer of hope.  Once they’ve beaten a person down, a lot of the fun goes out of it for them and they start seeking out someone who’s really happy.

So, if you’re feeling really good, and everything’s going great for you, keep your eyes open and…BEWARE OF THE BLAHS!

It may be your turn next.

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