Friday, March 27, 2015


One of my friends called me the other day to tell me she’d just bought a new swimsuit for her upcoming trip to Florida.  When she tried it on for her husband and asked him how she looked, his comment was, “You don’t look that bad.”

All I can say is the poor man sure has a lot to learn about women. He probably thought he was giving his wife a compliment, but what he doesn’t understand is we women hardly ever hear things the way men want us to hear them.

I mean, if a man told me, “You don’t look that bad,” what I’d actually hear is, “You don’t look that good, either!” 

My friend’s phone call made me start thinking about all of the things my husband used to say to me, meaning one thing, and how I’d interpret his words to mean something entirely different. To illustrate my point, consider the following examples:

HE’D SAY:  “Is this a new recipe for pot roast?  It tastes different tonight.”

I’D HEAR:  “Why the heck did you have to mess around with the pot roast?  I liked it just the way it was!”

HE’D SAY:  “Looks like you have a little zit there, popping out on your forehead.”

I’D HEAR:  “Ohmigod! You have a hideous, disgusting growth on your forehead that looks like a third eyeball!  If I were you, I’d cut my hair into bangs to hide it!”

HE’D SAY:  “Thank you for the shirt, sweetheart.  It’s too nice to wear to work, though, so I’m going to save it only for special occasions.”

I’D HEAR:  “That’s the ugliest shirt I’ve ever seen.  And if I have my way, the special occasion will be my funeral!”

HE’D SAY:  “Is that new makeup you’re wearing?”

I’D HEAR:  “You have so much paint on your face, it’s a wonder people on the street aren’t stopping to ask you if the circus is in town.”

HE’D SAY:  “Have you had the oil in your car checked lately?”

I’D HEAR:  “If I didn’t remind you to get your oil checked, you would wait until it looked like black molasses and the engine burst into flames before you realized something was wrong…because you know absolutely nothing about cars!”

HE’D SAY:  “There’s nothing good on TV tonight.”

I’D HEAR:  “There are no shows that contain half-naked women, bloodshed, zombies, super heroes or car chases, and I would rather have all my chest hairs plucked out with tweezers than be forced to watch one of those mushy shows you like.”

HE’D SAY:  “You’re looking good!  Your diet is really paying off!”

I’D HEAR:  “Your butt doesn’t look like the back end of a Greyhound bus any more. It’s more SUV-sized now.”

HE’D SAY:  “Don’t tell me you’re afraid of that harmless little spider!”

I’D HEAR:  “It’s only the baby. The mother is 10 times bigger and is still lurking somewhere in the house. She’ll probably climb down the front of your nightgown while you’re sleeping tonight and will inflict a bite that will cause you to puff up like a bright red version of the Michelin Man.

HE’D SAY:  “Let’s go out to eat. You pick the restaurant.”

I’D HEAR:  “If it’s any place other than somewhere where I can get a greasy burger and fries and not have to pay more than $20 for the total bill, then I will complain throughout the meal and also probably will embarrass you – like the time I was served squab at a wedding and commented that it looked as if someone had killed Heckle and Jeckle.”

HE’D SAY:  “I don’t know if I can make the party this Friday night because I might have to work overtime.”

I’D HEAR:  “I will volunteer to do every job at work, even scrubbing urinals, just to get out of going to another one of your friends’ boring parties.”

HE’D SAY:  “Well, I kind of had my heart set on us going up to a cabin in the mountains for our vacation this year, but if you really want to take day trips and visit the doll museum and the flower show instead, then that’s what we’ll do.”

I’D HEAR:  “I REALLY want to go to the doll museum and flower show!”
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Saturday, March 21, 2015



I watched a TV show last night where a group of women who were longtime friends were arguing about going to see a psychic. Half of the women thought it would be good fun, while the other half didn’t want any part of it because they were certain psychics channeled some kind of voodoo power.

The show made me think of the times I’ve had psychic readings, mainly out of curiosity. The first was at Old Orchard Beach, back when I was about 20. The woman, a Madame Somebody, told me I would marry a fair-haired man named Robert who lived out of state.

My mouth fell open. At the time, I was dating a fair-haired man named Robert who was from the Boston area. When I later told him what the psychic had said, he laughed, probably because he thought I’d made up the whole thing just so I could bring up the topic of marriage.

As it turned out, I married a dark-haired guy named Joe, from my own city.

Then, back in 1999, I saw an advertisement on TV for a psychic hotline where people could get “authentic” psychic readings. And as an introductory offer, the first two minutes of the phone call would be free. Once again, curiosity got the better of me, so I dialed the 1-900 number.

“Welcome,” a female voice answered. “I’m Vicki, psychic number 714.  How can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m interested in the free psychic reading you advertised on TV,” I said.

“Fine,” she said. “Your first two minutes are free, then every minute thereafter will be $3.99, which will appear on your telephone bill.  Now tell me something about yourself – your hobbies, your interests.”

I was tempted to say, “If you’re really psychic, you already should know what my hobbies and interests are,” but I didn’t want to waste a single second of my two free minutes.  I quickly told her I enjoyed photography and writing.

Vicki said, “That’s good. Now, let me concentrate on my vision for you…”

She then went silent, as if waiting for my aura to come through the telephone line.  Actually, she was just killing time, but I was too clueless to realize it at that point.  Finally, she said, “You have to drink wine and take long walks in the woods.”

I wanted to tell her that if I drank wine, I wouldn’t be able to stand up, never mind take a walk anywhere, but I simply asked, “Why?”

“The walks will help stimulate your thought processes so you can write a great novel,” she explained. “And the wine…well, it’s not actually the wine you need, it’s something in it.  Let me concentrate on what it is.”

I checked my watch.  One minute and 20 seconds already had slipped by.

“It’s the berries!”  Vicki exclaimed. “You need the berries!”

“Why? Do you foresee constipation in my future?”

She laughed. “No.  Berries will make you clairvoyant.”

That was a new one to me.  I’d eaten bushels of berries (mainly inside blueberry muffins) in my life, and as far as I could tell, I didn’t have a clairvoyant bone in my body. 

“Do me a favor and close your eyes,” Vicki instructed.  Fool that I was, I obeyed, not realizing it was her “psychic” way of preventing me from looking at my watch.

“Now take a deep breath and picture yourself in the finest hotel in Jamaica,” she said. “You’re eating strawberries dipped in chocolate, there’s a warm breeze blowing through your window, champagne is chilling in a bucket on the table…”

My eyes flew open. “What on earth does any of this have to do with predicting my future?” I interrupted.

Vicki sighed impatiently. “I’m trying to put you in touch with your senses so you can write a great novel!  You must learn to touch, see, smell and hear everything as if you are doing so for the first time.  It’s obvious you haven’t yet suffered enough to write a bestseller.  Your ocean is too smooth.  Your waves have no foam – they’re not crashing against your shore.”

I was beginning to think Vicki was the one who’d been drinking the wine.

Before she continued to “metaphor” me to death or make me seasick, I decided to cut to the chase. “Just tell me, will I or won’t I ever write a bestseller?”

“Yes,” she answered, without hesitation. “You’ll write a thriller, and it will be published in the year 2004.”

“2004?” I repeated. “Heck, I could be dead by then!”

“No,” she said seriously. “You won’t be.”

I happened to glance at my watch and was shocked to see that nearly 20 minutes had passed.  Just as Vicki was about to deliver another piece of her infinite wisdom (probably about eating pineapples while lying in a hammock in Hawaii) I abruptly hung up.  The realization that I’d been hoodwinked into staying on the line 18 minutes longer than I’d intended (to the tune of nearly $72) made me think of the famous old saying, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Well, 2004 has long come and gone, and although I’ve written several books, the closest I’ve come to having a bestseller is a fair-to-good seller.

Maybe it’s time to drink some wine and go take a long walk in the woods.
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Friday, March 13, 2015


Every winter I develop a phobia about the snow piling up on my roof and possibly causing damage to my house. This year, with good reason, my phobia has been worse than ever.

I’ve been checking the exterior of my house at least three times a day, searching for bulges, cracks or anything else that looks suspicious. The same with the inside of the house. I thought I saw a crack in a corner of the bathroom ceiling the other night and was ready to pack my bags and leave.  But the crack turned out to be just a cobweb.

And the slightest noise makes me jump. On TV, they said houses make normal sounds in the winter as temperatures fluctuate. These sounds can include creaking, popping or banging. Unfortunately, those also happen to be the sounds a roof makes just before it turns a house into a pancake.

Although I have so much snow on my roof, I worry about low-flying aircraft hitting it, I’m relieved there’s not even one icicle. That’s a huge change from the last house where I lived.

That house had a metal roof, which was supposed to cause the snow to slide right off, so there would be less risk of winter damage. Granted, most of the snow did slide, but only to the edges of the roof, where it remained, piling up and freezing until it formed ice chunks so thick, I half expected to see the hull of the Titanic sticking out of them.

As a result, my husband and I became afraid to leave the house. Visions of one of those big ice chunks sliding off and landing on our heads caused us to dash in and out of the house in record speed. And we made a conscious effort never to slam a door.

We weren’t the only ones who were afraid we’d end up with flattened heads. Whenever I tried to let the dogs out into the yard, they’d take one look up at the huge overhang of ice and dash back into the house. They developed kidneys of steel.  I ended up having to do everything short of dressing up like a steak to coax them outside. 

Then when the temperature finally rose into the 40s and the ice began to melt, huge pieces of it began falling off the roof and crashing to the ground or landing on the porch with such force, they sounded like explosions.  More than once, the house shook from the impact.  Some of the kitchen-cabinet doors even popped open.

And as the temperatures continued to climb, the sound of crashing ice became more frequent. I began to feel as if I were trying to sleep in the middle of the percussion section of an orchestra.

One particularly loud ice crash occurred one day while my dogs were out in the yard. When I opened the door to call them inside, they were nowhere around. Panicking, I ran into the living room.

“I think that last crash scared the dogs so much, they jumped the fence!” I shouted at my husband, who was watching TV. “We have to go look for them!  They could be halfway to Canada by now!”

He just calmly sat there, not leaping to his feet as I’d anticipated he would.

“Somehow, I can’t picture our dogs leaping over a 5-foot fence,” he said. “I mean, they weigh over 100 pounds each and one of them has bad knees. I’m sure they have to be out in the yard somewhere.”

“Fine!” I huffed. “I’ll go check!”

I threw on my jacket and headed outside, running – not because I was in a hurry, but because I wanted to dodge any falling ice.

I called the dogs, but there was no sign of them. And it wasn’t difficult to check the yard when all of the bushes, shrubs and trees had no leaves on them to conceal anything.

Just as I was about to give up and take a drive around the neighborhood to expand my search, another ice chunk fell, this time landing on the small back porch. Two dogs suddenly came bolting out from underneath the steps and ran to hide behind me.

My current roof, which is shingled, is quiet because nothing slides off it. And for that, I’m grateful. But that also means everything just sits there, piling higher with each storm, which concerns me.

I found a roof rake in the garage a couple weeks ago and had just about talked myself into trying it…when I saw a report on the news about a man who’d been raking his roof when a ton of snow suddenly slid off and crashed down on top of him, burying everything but one of his feet. He’d had to remain that way for a couple hours, until his wife finally came home and found him.

That did it. I shoved the rake right back where I found it.

So I guess the snow on my roof is going to remain right where it is – probably, judging by the height of it, until June.

Maybe it will help keep the house cool in hot weather.
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Friday, March 6, 2015


Every time I hear on the news that New Hampshire once again might be considering allowing casino gambling, I think of my mother (rest her soul).

From the first day my mom set foot in Las Vegas back in the 1970s, she fell madly in love with slot machines – so much so, she decided to forego all of the touristy activities she and my father had planned to do during their Vegas vacation, and just play the slots.

She came home $1,200 richer.

Many trips to Atlantic City, which was much closer than Las Vegas, followed.

Twenty years later, my mother discovered Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. My father had passed away by then, so Mom pretty much was on her own to travel to Foxwoods whenever the mood struck. And it struck often. She and the driver of the Manchester to Foxwoods bus were on a first-name basis.

Still, she always came back home richer than when she’d left. Friends who went to Foxwoods with her told stories about how she could stare at a line of slot machines, point at one of them and say, “That’s the one that’s about to pay off,” and it would.

So when my mother asked me to drive down to Foxwoods with her one day back in the late 1990s, I didn’t hesitate. I figured I’d come home with enough cash to pay off my mortgage. After all, I was going to learn the ropes from one of the best. I couldn’t lose.

Once again, I’d figured wrong.

As we approached the enormous casino, I had no clue what to expect. I’d heard so much about the “criminal element” being attracted to casinos, I’d envisioned the place overrun with men wearing pin-striped suits, black fedoras, and holsters strapped across their chests. So I was surprised when I walked in and saw what looked like a recreation hall in a nursing home. Sweet-looking, little gray-haired grandmotherly types were everywhere.

My mother led me to a room filled with slot machines. It was a slow day, so we pretty much had our pick of whichever ones we wanted.

“Well, let’s have fun!” Mom said, immediately rushing over to sit down and start playing.

I selected a machine with a lot of colorful fruits on it, because I thought it was pretty, and pulled up a stool in front of it. Within 15 minutes, I’d lost $50. I got up and walked over to see how my mother (a.k.a. “Lucky Fingers) was doing.  She’d already won 200 quarters.

“This machine won’t pay again for a while,” she said. “Time to switch!”

She moved to a different row of machines, then studied them before selecting one. She inserted a $20 bill and frowned.

“This dumb machine just gave me only half the credits it’s supposed to!” she said.

I stepped closer so I could check it out. “That’s because this one’s a 50-cent machine, Mom, not a 25-cent one,” I said.

“Oh…well, I’m not about to play a 50-cent machine. The money goes too fast that way.  I’m going to cash out my $20 and put it into a quarter machine.”  But instead of hitting the “cash-out” button, she accidentally hit the “spin” button…and won 100 half-dollars. 

I rolled my eyes and groaned.

My mother’s good fortune inspired me to use my credit card to get more money so I could continue to play, even though I’d promised my husband I’d limit my spending to only $50. But I was naive enough to think I could win triple or quadruple that amount, so he wouldn’t mind that I’d spent a little extra.

Let’s just say that even Houdini couldn’t have made my cash vanish any faster.

Frustrated, I sat on the stool at one of the slot machines and waited for my mother. As I was sitting there, I remembered seeing a TV documentary about casinos and how all of them were set up with so many hidden cameras, if you dared to even pick your nose, it would be seen by the entire security staff. The documentary also had pointed out that the cameras could zoom in on something as small as a freckle. The thought that my every move was being watched made me feel uneasy. I wondered if I could spot any of the so-called hidden cameras.

I looked up at the ceiling, then left, right, and back up at the ceiling again…several times.  I didn’t see anything.  But apparently the security people saw me and must have thought I was plotting something sneaky, like using a hidden magnet to stop the machine’s spinning, or trying to feed a slug into it, because two men who looked as if they’d jumped straight off the pages of a security instruction-manual approached and sat down on either side of me.

“Having any luck?” one of them asked me.

“Nope,” I said. “I’ve already lost my shirt…and other assorted articles of clothing.” I laughed at my own statement.

They didn’t.

“But my mother, who’s over there,” I paused to point at her, “is really cleaning up.”

In retrospect, I realized my choice of words probably hadn’t been the wisest under the circumstances. One of the security guys immediately went over to visit my mother.

They finally concluded that Mom and I weren’t Bonnie and Clydella, and went on their way.

An hour later, my mother, carrying two nearly overflowing buckets of coins, decided she was ready to leave. “I just have to cash these in,” she said.

I won’t say I was jealous, but I was hoping she’d drop one of the buckets so maybe I could scoop up a couple of the coins, quickly stuff them into a slot machine and win a jackpot, so I wouldn’t have to go home empty-handed and face my husband.

My mother read my thoughts. She reached into one of the buckets and handed me a fistful of coins.

“Here,” she said. “Have fun. I’ll be back in a minute.”

I rushed over to the nearest slot machine and shoved the coins into it. The money disappeared so fast, it left skid marks.

That day, I think I figured out how to come home from Foxwoods with a small fortune.

Go there with a large fortune.

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