Thursday, August 10, 2017


The other night, an elderly friend and I were talking about how before we know it, Christmas will be here. This led to the subject of shopping for gifts.

“Thank goodness for gift cards!” I said. “They are a lifesaver, especially for the hard-to-please.”

“I think gift cards are tacky,” he said. “And to be honest, I feel embarrassed whenever I have to use one.”

I had to disagree. I, for one, love gift cards and never have felt embarrassed when using one.

Well…actually, that’s not entirely true. There was one gift certificate I received a few years ago that did cause me some embarrassment. It was for $100 at Victoria’s Secret.

I once heard a female comedian say that she finally had figured out exactly what Victoria’s secret is…it’s that most women of normal proportions can’t fit into any of the stuff she sells.

I’m not embarrassed to admit I usually buy my underwear in packages of five for $7.98, usually at one of two stores ending with the word “Mart.”  And everything I buy is for comfort, not style.  I’ll take white cotton full-coverage panties any day over leopard bikinis or, heaven forbid, a thong. At least when I bend over while wearing jeans, if the waistband slides down, my backside never will be mistaken for a plumber’s.

The Victoria’s Secret gift certificate I received was unusual in the fact it was made of paper.  I mean, nowadays, stores issue gift cards that look like and are used like credit cards. I hadn’t seen a paper certificate since the Nixon administration.

Rather than embarrass myself by walking into an actual Victoria’s Secret store and being subjected to the “what’s that saggy old lady doing in here?” stares from the clerks, I decided to check out the company’s website on my computer.  I was both shocked and delighted to discover the online store sold jeans, blouses, jackets and even shoes!

Eagerly, I studied my options.  After about 45 minutes of deliberating, I finally selected an exclusive patent-pending pair of jeans called the “VS Uplift,” which supposedly had a hidden “butt lifting” feature built into the back.  Just the thought of my backside (which looked as if I were smuggling two flapjacks in my pants) being transformed into something that resembled Jennifer Lopez’s, made me press the “buy now” button.

I also ordered a pair of wedge-heeled denim sandals.  The total for the two items?  Six dollars more than my gift certificate.  I nearly needed CPR.

As I went through the payment process online, I was relieved to see a box that said, “click here” to use a gift certificate. I clicked it and then was asked to enter the certificate’s number, which I did.  After that, I was asked to enter the PIN number on my gift card.

Well, I didn’t have a PIN number because I didn’t have a card.  I had only a piece of paper. So I couldn’t complete the order.

Frustrated, the next day I headed over to a Victoria’s Secret store.  Optimistic soul that I was, I was hoping the in-person store carried some of the same things the online store did.

The moment I set foot in the place, however, I knew I was in trouble.  I saw displays of smelly things like cologne and body sprays…and lingerie…lots and lots of lingerie.  And there wasn’t a $7.98 five-pack of cotton panties anywhere to be found.

As I walked past racks of glittery and flowered panties that were so tiny they wouldn’t even stretch over my ankles, never mind my hips, I felt a rapidly impending sense of doom. 

Even the bras, with their spaghetti-thin, dainty straps, looked as if they couldn’t support two hard-boiled eggs without snapping. They were nothing like the super-structured ones I usually wore, with wide, padded straps thick enough to hold up two cannonballs, if necessary. 

“May I help you?” a clerk’s voice came from behind me.

“Um, where are the butt-lifting jeans and the denim sandals I saw online?”  I asked her.

“Oh, those are sold only online,” she said.  “Different designers promote their products on Victoria’s website.  But we don’t do that here in the stores.”

I frowned as I stared at a rack of bras with push-ups, plunging fronts and enough lace to trim a wedding gown – and I honestly couldn’t picture myself wearing any one of them under my sweatshirt when I walked my dogs – or picked up their poop. 

That’s when I spotted something on the checkout counter that made my eyes light up…a display of gift cards!  I rushed over and grabbed one.  “I’ll take this!” I said to the clerk.

“How much would you like it for?” she asked.

“A hundred dollars!”

She rang up the sale and I handed her my paper gift-certificate as payment.  She just stared at it in a way that made me feel as if she thought I’d just fished it out of the toilet.

“I think I’ve seen only three of these during the whole time I’ve worked here,” she finally said. “I don’t even remember how to ring one up.”

She called for assistance, and soon I was headed home with a gift card, complete with a PIN number, in hand.

I immediately logged onto my computer and ordered the jeans and sandals I’d previously tried to purchase. This time, my gift card was accepted.

And then I was informed that both items were indefinitely on backorder.

There were a few things I really wanted to say to Victoria right about then…but I decided I’d be better off keeping them a secret.

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Good news!  For those of you who don't already know, the Senior Beacon News has hired me to write a monthly humor column for them. It's called "Sally's World," and it debuted in this month's issue. I'm hoping this will be the beginning of a long and rewarding relationship!


Tuesday, August 1, 2017


In only two months, I will be attending my 50-year high-school reunion…and I’m trying to figure out how to drop about 25 lbs. and 500 wrinkles by then. The problem is, if I lose some weight, I’ll end up with even more wrinkles because my skin doesn’t snap back the way it used to when I was young. Now it just hangs there, like a deflated balloon.

I have never had much success with dieting, mainly because I love sweets, especially anything chocolate. Even as I am writing this, there is a bag of Hershey’s dark-chocolate kisses sitting next to me. I have convinced myself that dark chocolate is healthy, so eating a half-pound of kisses in one night is actually good for me.

There is only one diet I’ve ever really had success with, and that was over 35 years ago. It was a no-carb diet, which basically eliminated every white food ever created (potatoes, bread, sugar, flour, rice, etc.), but allowed unlimited amounts of non-carbohydrate foods. 

I remember rushing out to buy the best-selling book that first introduced the new non-carb dieting craze back then. Basically, according to the author, the diet was based on the concept that if Eskimos could survive on nothing but whale blubber and no fresh fruits or vegetables and live to be 85 or older, then non-Eskimos also should be able to. And, using a lot of fancy medical terms that most laymen couldn’t understand (yours truly included), the book explained that when the body is deprived of carbohydrates such as sugar, flour, grains and potatoes, it is forced to eat its own fat.

Well, anything that could eat up my fat sounded ideal to me.

I read the book from cover to cover and decided the diet was a dream come true. Essentially, I could eat 10 pounds of zero-carb foods for dinner, if my stomach could hold that much, and still rapidly lose weight. Calories suddenly didn’t matter, either. According to the book, I could eat 10,000 calories per day, as long as what I ate contained no carbohydrates.

The list of zero-carbohydrate foods sounded pretty exciting…at first. It included just about every form of meat and poultry imaginable, plus eggs, butter, heavy cream, mayonnaise, cheese and most seafood, including butter-soaked lobster. A small amount of lettuce, which could be drenched in Roquefort dressing, also was allowed, to break up the monotony of all of the meat.

I eagerly started the diet on a Monday morning. My daily menu consisted of a cheese omelet with ham and bacon for breakfast; a grilled chicken breast or pork chops for lunch; and a big, thick steak and a small lettuce salad for dinner. For snacks, I munched on fried pork rinds, hard-boiled eggs, chicken legs or a handful of macadamia nuts, the only nuts allowed.

The first week, I lost 10 pounds. The second week, I lost eight. By the third week, I was ready to sneak into someone’s garden, dig up a potato and eat it raw. I also was dying for a slice of bread, even one that was fuzzy with mold.

The diet book recommended putting a slab of meat between two slices of cheese to simulate a sandwich, but that illusion didn’t work for me. I wanted bread. I wanted to smell and taste yeast.

The book did contain a recipe for “faux” bread for the truly desperate. It was made by whipping up a meringue from egg whites, then swirling the meringue into shapes that resembled rolls, and baking them until they were of a sponge-like consistency. The rolls (and I use the term loosely) then supposedly could be used just like bread. I tried the recipe and eagerly bit into one of the rolls. It was like eating air…only with less flavor.

I also began to crave desserts. So every night, I’d whip up a big bowl of heavy cream and flavor it with artificial sweetener and vanilla extract. There was nothing I could pile the whipped cream on top of, however, other than a slab of meat, so I’d grab a spoon and sit down and eat the entire bowl of whipped cream. I actually could hear my arteries clogging.

Still, I continued to lose weight. My success should have made me happy and encouraged me to keep going, but by then, I was too obsessed with my craving for carbohydrates to care. I needed carbs. I had dreams about carbs. Every bone in my body was begging me for carbs.

Not surprisingly, I finally allowed temptation to get the better of me, and I went on a carbohydrate binge that lasted for three days. I ate mashed potatoes topped with crumbled potato chips. I dumped chocolate pudding on top of chocolate ice cream and sprinkled it with chocolate chips. I ate half a loaf of bread slathered with peanut butter and marshmallow fluff.

And I ended up with such stomach cramps, I nearly had to call a priest to administer my last rites.

But worst of all, in less than a week, I gained back all of the weight I’d lost, and then some.

Even so, I am just desperate enough at the moment to try the diet again, mainly because I need something that works quickly, and I know from experience the no-carb diet is a very rapid pound-shedder.  Also, unlike other diets, it won’t leave me feeling so hungry, I’ll be desperately eyeing my dogs’ bowl of kibble.

So if you will excuse me, I’m off now to go buy a side of beef.

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CLICK HERE ======>

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Ever since the day I was born, I have been nocturnal.  My mom used to tell me stories about how when I was a toddler, I would sleep all day and stay awake all night, so the pediatrician told her to “entertain” me all day and keep me awake, that way, I would get tired and sleep through the night. My poor mother did everything but hire clowns to entertain me, but the end result was she would collapse from exhaustion at 9 p.m., and I’d still be wide awake and raring to go.

Through the years, my “backward time-clock.” as the doctors called it, gave me a lot of problems. For one thing, I lived so close to my high school, I could see into the classrooms from my bedroom window, yet I was late nearly every morning because I couldn’t wake up. That was because I never managed to fall asleep until about 4 a.m.

The same problem occurred when I tried to work a 9-5 job. To me, 9:00 in the morning was the equivalent of trying to make a “normal” person get up for work at 2:00 a.m., so I ended up finding jobs where I could work the graveyard shift. It was the perfect shift for me – but the options were limited. I mean, I wasn’t about to find a job as a dental receptionist that started at midnight.

When I wasn’t working, I always stayed up all night. Usually, I would go to bed just in time to wake up my husband for work.

This might explain why we never had any kids.

Thankfully, the dawn of the home-computer age was my salvation. I now can stay at home and work in my pajamas at 2 a.m., if I want, and not have to worry about punching a time card or trying to conform to what others deem as normal hours.

“You were born on Halloween, right?” one of my friends said to me one day when I told her I’d gone to bed at 10 in the morning and slept until 5:00 in the afternoon.

“Yeah, I was born on Halloween, why?”

“Have you ever thought you might be…part vampire?”

I shook my head. “Nah, I like my steaks and burgers cooked well-done.”

“Well,” she said, “You might want to stay out of the sunlight, just in case. You could end up turning into a pile of ashes, just like the vampires do when they’re exposed to sunlight.”

I remember laughing at her warning, but last weekend something happened to make me seriously begin to consider the possibility that one of my long-lost relatives just might be Count Dracula.

I had gone out for my daily morning walk with my dogs, which I usually do around 8 a.m., before I go to bed.  I walk the same two-mile route every day, and it takes just under 30 minutes.

Well, on this particular day, it was really hot and humid, even at such an early hour, so I was eager to get the walk over with. But I happened to meet one of my neighbors, also out walking, so we stopped and talked for about 20 minutes. By the time I got home, I was hot and sweaty, and ready for a cold shower and a good day’s sleep.

I took my shower, and when I got out, I started to feel pains in my arms – as if they were being poked with lit cigarettes.  I examined my arms and was shocked to see they were covered with big red welts. I also noticed some welts popping out at the base of my neck. Within minutes, I was intensely itching, and the splotches were getting bigger and redder.

Thinking I had a rare case of something like jungle fever, I headed straight to a walk-in clinic (well, I did put on my clothes first).

There, a doctor with a very serious expression examined me and said, “Hmmm,” a lot.

Finally, he asked, “Do you get much sun?”

“No, I’m nocturnal. I’m usually outside only early in the mornings.”

“Just as I figured,” he said. “You have PMLE.”

My mind raced as I tried to think what PMLE might stand for. I decided it probably was a shortened version of the word “pimple.”  I frowned, thinking heck, I could have diagnosed that myself.

“You’re saying I have pimples?” I asked him.

He shook his head and smiled. “No, PMLE stands for polymorphous light eruption.”

I just stared blankly at him.

“You’ve become allergic to the sun,” he said. “Have you noticed the pattern of your urticaria?”

“My what?” I dumbly asked, silently wishing this guy would speak English.

“Your hives,” he said. “I can tell you exactly what you were wearing when you went outside – a short-sleeved shirt with a V-neck.”

He was right.

“Your hives are only where your skin was exposed to the sunlight,” he explained. “You don’t have them anywhere else.”

“So you’re telling me that every time I go out in the sun now for longer than 20 minutes, I’m going to break out in hives?”

“I’m afraid so,” he said, “until you desensitize your skin to sunlight, over time.”

I immediately thought about this sience-fiction movie I had seen about “mole people” when I was a kid. They had lived underground in the dark for years, until their skin was so pale and pasty looking, they resembled ghosts. They then decided to go above ground to see what it was like in the outside world – and they immediately were fried to death by the sun.

“You should wear sunscreen – the higher the SPF the better,” the doctor said. “And at first, you should cover every inch of your body in clothing when you go out.”

I pictured myself having to dress like a nun – or a beekeeper - just to go to the beach. I figure I’d probably die of heatstroke before I had the chance to break out in hives.

“If you go out in the sun and expose your skin for short amounts of time each day,” he continued, “you probably will be much less sensitive within a couple months.”

“But by then, it will be fall!” I said.

“Unfortunately, that’s one of the downsides of living in a state that has four seasons,” he said. “And next summer, you’ll have to start from scratch again.”

I thought the hives would disappear immediately, but they turned into a rash that hung around for the next five days. I realized, with a deep sense of relief, that the only reason why my face hadn’t broken out was because I’d been wearing a hat – and foundation makeup. So at least I was spared from having to wear a bag over my head for a week.

So now I have no choice other than to be nocturnal – that is, until the colder weather arrives, when wearing long sleeves and pants won’t cause me to self-combust.

In the meantime, I’m going to research my ancestry and see if there just might be a couple vampires hanging by their feet somewhere on my family tree.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017


It seems as if ever since I hit age 65, much of my mail has contained ads for hearing aids. Every time I receive one, I smile and think of my late husband, who, after 10 years of my constant nagging, finally had his hearing tested and was fitted with two hearing aids.

The minute he wore the hearing aids for the first time, his eyes lit up and his mouth fell open. “Is this what everything is supposed to sound like?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “What does it sound like?”

“Gee, you don’t have to yell!” he said.

“I’m talking in my normal voice.”

“Your normal voice is that loud?”

“Yeah, it got that way from having to yell all the time so you could hear me!”

Things got only worse after that.

First of all, he used to keep the volume on the TV cranked up to over 30. Even the neighbors down the road could hear which shows we were watching. Once he got his hearing aids, however, he turned the volume down to about an eight. It was so low, I practically had to read lips just to watch my favorite programs.

And then he began hearing noises and sounds he’d never heard before.

“When are you going to get the dogs’ toenails clipped?” he complained one night. “All of the clicking when they walk across the floor is driving me crazy!”

Before then, the dogs could have worn tap shoes and danced the tango across the floor and he wouldn’t have heard a thing.

He also complained when I was cooking.

“Have you always done so much pot banging and clanging when you’re cooking?” he asked. “You sound like the drummer in a heavy-metal band! And do you have to keep slamming the refrigerator door?”

Unfortunately, I no longer could mutter something under my breath without him hearing me.

But the hearing aids also brought some unexpected perks. For one thing, he used to spend all day singing...loudly. He would choose a song the minute he woke up in the morning, and then sing that same song over and over again all day long. One day, in August, he sang about 400 choruses of “White Christmas.” Then a few days later, he sang, “Bringing in the Sheaves” – except his version was “Bringing in the Sheep.” I tried to correct him, but before he got the hearing aids, he couldn’t hear me anyway.

The morning after he got them, however, he woke up and started singing, some old Elvis tune, then stopped abruptly. I wondered if all of my wishing that he’d develop a prolonged case of laryngitis finally had come true.

“You know what?” he said to me. “I always thought I had a great singing voice, like the next Sinatra. But now that I can hear myself so loud and clear, my singing really irritates me!”

“Welcome to my world,” I said.

In the past, he also had the habit of tapping on things. When he sat in his recliner, he’d pick up the first thing he could reach on the end table – a coaster, the remote control – and without even realizing he was doing it, would start tapping it against the table. I began to feel as if I’d married Woody Woodpecker. He even would pick up his prescription bottles and shake them like maracas.

When I’d ask him to please stop, he’d look at me as if I were strange and say, “How can you possibly hear such light tapping? I’m sitting right here doing it and I can’t hear it.”

Well, the minute he started tapping when he was wearing his hearing aids for the first time, the look on his face was one of complete shock. “Does it always sound this loud?” he asked.

“No, sometimes it’s even louder,” I said. “Kind of like an automatic weapon.”

But the best part was he couldn’t snack the way he once did. Potato chips and corn chips always were his snacks of choice, but with the hearing aids, he could hear 

in stereo in his head, and it drowned out his TV shows. Even when he turned down the volume on his hearing aids, he still could hear the crunching. So he ate a lot fewer snacks. His blood, which was so high in cholesterol, it could have been used as axle grease, thanked him for it.

He once even accused me of brushing my teeth too loudly.

“It’s a wonder you still have any enamel left on your teeth!” he said. “You sound like you’re scraping them with sandpaper!”

When he first got the hearing aids, the audiologist told him that when he took them out at night to be sure to keep them where our dogs couldn’t reach them, because to dogs, they were as alluring as rawhide treats.

Believe me, there were times when my husband complained about my being too loud that I was tempted to permanently hide his hearing aids while he slept at night.

I figured I could always blame the dogs.

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Monday, July 10, 2017


The other day I was visiting a friend who’d just come home from the hospital, and the only complaint she had about her upcoming period of recuperation was she wouldn’t be able to attend her favorite bingo game for a while.

“I love my bingo,” she said, frowning. “And I’m really lucky at it. How am I going to survive three whole weeks without it?”

Her words made me think back to the 1970s and the first time my mother, who, like my friend, also was an avid bingo player, convinced me to go to one of the weekly games with her.

Naïve person that I was, I thought bingo still involved a sheet of paper, a marker and simply covering a row of numbers either vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

First of all, back then the bingo halls were using what they called bingo “boards” rather than cards. They were thick and hard and had these clear little doors you had to slide over each number as the number was called. The bingo boards stood stacked upright in wooden bingo boxes, so you could flip through a bunch of them quickly, sliding the little doors over the numbers as you went along.

Being new to the game, and also new to using the sliding doors, I purchased only five cards. My mother, on the other hand, purchased about three dozen.

The bingo caller took his position at the front of the hall and announced the first game, which sounded something like, “If you can get bingo in 47 numbers or less, and your numbers form the outline of the state of Florida, with your free space landing on the spot where Tallahassee is located, you’ll win $300!”

I sat there just staring blankly at him, while my mother said, “Ooh!  The Florida game!  I’m really lucky at this one!”

Not only did I have absolutely no clue what I was doing, some of the little doors on my bingo boards were either closing on their own when I flipped through them, or I couldn’t force them to close at all because they were stuck.

And if that didn’t confuse me enough, there was another game called “shotgun.”

“So what’s this shotgun game about?” I asked my mother. “Do my numbers have to form the shape of a 12-gauge?”

She laughed. “No, shotgun means the caller ‘fires’ numbers at you really fast, not bothering to give any letters, like ‘B’ or ‘N’.”

“Then how on earth am I supposed to know where to look for the numbers?”

“Oh, you’ll learn,” she said.

She was wrong. By the time I finally found and slid the little door over the first number, the caller already was calling the tenth. Had I just randomly covered a bunch of numbers, I’d have had a better shot at winning.

Even worse, with so many people quickly flipping through their bingo boards, it created such a breeze, my hair ended up looking as if it had just been struck by lightning.

Not surprisingly, in all of my two years of weekly bingo games with my mother, I never won a single penny. My mother, on the other hand, won so many games, there were rumors that the other players were forming a lynch mob.

Every time my mother shouted, “Bingo!” the looks that were cast in our direction could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be interpreted as, “Great job! Congratulations!” In fact, I could swear I actually heard growling.

What I really enjoyed the most at the bingo games was watching the die-hard players, the ones who played 30 cards at a time as easily as if they were playing only one. Usually these players also brought an assortment of lucky charms with them. The first time I walked in and saw the tables loaded with stuffed animals, statues, dolls and religious artifacts, I nearly mistook the place for a flea market.

I’m embarrassed to admit I became so desperate to win one night, I actually brought a lucky charm of my own (well, at least I’d thought it was a lucky charm until that night). It was a tiny troll doll with purple hair. By the end of the eighth game, I was so frustrated, I’d yanked out every purple hair on its pointy little head.

My mother finally grew tired of bingo and discovered, during a seniors’ bus trip one summer, Foxwoods Casino…and slot machines. Once again, she seemingly had the magic touch. All she had to do was look at a slot machine and it practically spewed coins at her.

So one autumn day, she convinced me to go with her to Foxwoods for a “fun” afternoon of slot playing.

And on that day, I actually learned the real secret of how to come home from Foxwoods with a small fortune.

Go there with a large fortune.

#   #   #

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


I have two debit cards: one I use all the time, and one I use only on rare occasions – like when my dog tried to play tag with a porcupine and then needed $3,000 worth of surgery to remove all of the quills from her face.

A couple months ago, the debit card I frequently use got hacked by someone overseas who used it for a trip to the Bahamas – and five Domino’s pizzas. I had to be issued a new card with a new number, and then I spent countless hours changing the card number at every place that kept my card on file for automatic payments. It was an experience that was about as enjoyable as running naked through a field of poison ivy.

So last Sunday, when I stopped at an ATM and decided to finally use my rarely used debit card, I was less than pleased when “Denied -Unauthorized User” flashed on the screen. My first thought was, “Nooo!  Not this card, too!  I just got the other one straightened out! I don’t want to go through that again!”

The minute I got home, I called one of my bank’s branches that is open on Sundays and asked why I suddenly was unauthorized to use my own debit card.

“I’m really sorry, but I can’t help you,” the employee said. “Your account has been locked, and I can’t access it. You should call the 1-800 number on the back of your card.”

So I hung up and called the 1-800 number…or should I say I tried to call it. My phone suddenly had no dial tone. The words, “on hold.” flashed on my phone’s screen.

I immediately suspected the bank accidentally had left me on hold and that’s why I wasn’t able to get a dial tone. The only problem was I couldn’t call the bank to tell them they’d left me on hold…because I had no dial tone.

I have one of those cheap, disposable cell phones I carry with me in case of an emergency, otherwise I’m not much of a cell-phone user. For one thing, where I live, out in the middle of nowhere, I have to climb a tree and then hang by my ankles before I can get cell-phone reception, so my house is equipped with only old-fashioned land lines.

But having no other choice, I grabbed my cell phone and headed outside, thinking all the while that every second I wasted could mean someone in Bora Bora was using my debit card to buy a side of beef for his annual family barbecue.

I walked to the top of a hill where my phone finally was able to get a signal and called the 1-800 number on the back of my debit card. I figured I would deal with the dial-tone situation in my house later on. At that moment, getting my debit card straightened out had to take priority.

I was put on hold for 22 minutes. By then, the mosquitoes had just about drained me of all my blood, and the sun had fried my skin the equivalent of beef jerky.

When a human voice finally answered, I was so excited, I practically danced a jig …that is, until the employee crisply told me I had to physically go to my nearest bank to find out anything about my debit card.

By then, I had wasted most of a perfectly good day doing nothing but dealing with banks.

I got into my car and headed toward the nearest bank branch that was open on Sunday. The customer-service representative greeted me cheerfully and asked how she could help me.

I frowned at her. “I’ve been denied access to my debit card and I think it’s probably been hacked. I’ve spent the last two hours trying to find out if I’m right.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry!” she said. “Have a seat and let me find out what is going on.”

I sat and watched her stare at her computer screen for several long seconds. Suddenly, an expression that could be described only as a look of, “Uh, oh! This is not good!” crossed her face.

She laughed nervously and said, “It appears that when your other debit card was hacked a couple months ago and the bank put a freeze on it, they accidentally froze this card, too.”

“Fine,” I said. “Then just unfreeze it and I’ll be on my way.”

The “uh, oh!” look on her face grew deeper. “I can’t unfreeze it,” she said. “I will have to issue you a new card and a new number.”

I couldn’t hide the fact that her words really had upset me. Well, actually, by that point, I didn’t even try to hide it.

Her smile was weak, at best. “But the good news is I can make up a new card for you right now, with no waiting.”

“Great,” I muttered in a monotone.

“I feel SO bad about this,” the employee said, “and I really want to make it up to you. I mean, I know what an inconvenience all of this must be, especially on a long holiday weekend. Tell you what – we’re having a big July 4th giveaway here, with raffles and prizes. Officially it doesn’t start until tomorrow, but let me get go get you a prize - something nice to make up for all of this.” 

She disappeared out back, while I sat there thinking of what my prize might be. I recalled the days back when banks used to give out toasters or portable radios to people who opened accounts.

“I can always use a new toaster,” I said to myself, suddenly feeling a little less upset about the whole debit-card fiasco.

The employee returned, a bright smile on her face.

“Here you go,” she said, handing me two emery-board fingernail files with the bank’s logo on them. “And again, I do apologize for the inconvenience.”

I stared at the two emery boards and suppressed the urge to burst out laughing. Instead, I said, not even realizing it was loud enough for her to hear, “Gee, too bad these aren’t sharper – I’d use one to slit my throat!”

She gave me a deer-in-the-headlights kind of look that caused me to laugh out loud. She honestly looked relieved when I did.

So I headed home with my brand new debit card and my two new emery boards. And when I entered my kitchen, I gave the evil eye to my 10-year-old toaster I’d been certain was going to be replaced with a shiny new one.

I would have called the bank’s main office to complain…but I didn’t get my dial tone back until the next afternoon. It turned out to be a flaw with the phone lines due to a bad thunderstorm in some other town, not because the bank had left me on hold, as I’d originally thought.

Actually, it’s too bad it turned out not to be the bank’s fault. Otherwise, I might have been able to get another reward or prize for the inconvenience – something really special, like a purse-sized pack of tissues.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017


I had my annual eye exam last week, and all I can say is I’m probably the only person I know who can find humor in a doctor’s office.

First of all, while I was sitting in the waiting area, I couldn’t take my eyes off a big poster on the wall facing me. It pictured a pretty, dark-haired woman having her eyes examined by an older, graying doctor.  Well, the guy practically was sitting her lap, and the background looked as if he were giving her an eye exam outdoors on a beach at sunset. So the pose ended up looking like something from the cover of a bad romance novel.

I had to stifle a giggle as I sat there, thinking of captions for the poster, like… “The moment the doctor saw the flawless shape of her sexy corneas, something stirred deep inside him and he knew he HAD to have this woman.”

I couldn’t help myself. When my optometrist, Dr. Deb, came walking by, I said to her, “What’s with this poster? It looks like ‘Fifty Shades of Optometry’!”

She stopped, studied it for a moment and then burst out laughing.

“Oh, great,” she said. “Now every time I look at it, I’ll think of that!  Maybe I should take a pen and write Dr. Grey on his lab coat!”

A few minutes later, I was led by an assistant into the pre-examination room for some tests. The minute I spotted the screen saver on the computer in there, I once again started laughing. The entire screen was nothing but a big eyeball staring at me.

“I’m sorry,” I said to the assistant. “But when I was a kid, there was this horror movie called, ‘The Crawling Eye,' about a giant eyeball that crawled around the countryside and mutilated people. It gave me nightmares for months!”

She gave me a look that clearly told me she thought I’d stopped at a few bars on my way over.

When I later mentioned it to Dr. Deb, she also gave me the same look.

“A movie about a giant eyeball?” she repeated. “If there’s such a movie, I have to see it. After all, I’m an optometrist!”

So when my exam was over, she went out to the front desk and told the receptionist to Google “The Crawling Eye.”

Both of them looked genuinely amazed when the movie poster popped up and it looked like the eye on their screen saver – minus the movie eye’s tentacles, that is, which the mutant eyeball used for grabbing its victims.
Even when I later went to another location to select my new eyeglasses, it turned out to be pretty funny. For one thing, I wanted a very specific frame. I’m not talking about the brand or style of it, I’m talking about the price…cheap. Preferably dirt cheap.

I was shown frames by every fancy designer out there, with prices to match. Finally, I drifted over to the sale section and found a frame I really liked – only because it was $65. I didn’t care that the lens shape was square or the side stems were made of flat, gray metal. They were Ray-Bans, and to me, the fact I’d even heard of the company was a bonus.

“Um, those are men’s glasses,” the associate said to me.

“I don’t care, I like them,” I said.

I put them on and she stared critically at me for a few moments.

“I don’t really think they’re you,” she said.

“Do you have any frames cheaper than $65?” I asked.

“I don’t think so.”

“Then these definitely are me,” I said.

“You’re sure?” she asked, looking skeptical. “You’re going to be stuck with them for at least a year, you know.”

If it had been any other time, such as a time when I actually had money to splurge on some attractive frames, I might have taken all of her subtle hints that the glasses I’d selected were….well, less than flattering (a.k.a. hideous) but my tight budget made me ignore her and buy them.

By the time she added the bifocal lenses, the protective coating, the anti-glare feature and heaven only knows what else, to the glasses, the total came to nearly $500.

Had I also opted for some fancy designer frames, I’d probably be living in a tent under the bridge right now.

When I got the glasses four days later, the distance portion was amazing. I could see a fruit fly at 20 paces. But the bifocal portion, which was supposed to be for my “middle” vision, so I could work on my laptop without having to either hold it up to my nose or out at arm’s length, didn’t give me the crystal-clear view of my computer screen I had anticipated. After struggling for three days, trying to get used to the glasses, I was suffering from a bad case of eyestrain.  Weirdly, however, I suddenly could read fine print that practically was microscopic…while my laptop’s screen was a blur.

I returned to my optometrist and asked to have the glasses checked, to make certain they were the correct prescription.

The bifocal part turned out to accidentally have been made for reading, not for seeing my laptop. So I had to take the glasses back to where I bought them and have them remade, which will take another four to five days.

So if none of what I’ve just written makes any sense, it’s because I can’t see my laptop.

In fact, I’m actually dictating all of this to my dog.

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Friday, June 16, 2017


If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you are well aware of my knack for getting myself involved in situations that inevitably will make me want to go hide out in the woods somewhere until I can show my face in public again without feeling embarrassed.

Well, I’m ashamed to admit that last week I think I managed to create the Queen Mother of all embarrassing moments – which is why I currently am writing this from my tent in the middle of the forest (just kidding – I couldn’t handle the mosquitoes).

Anyway, speaking of annoying insects, that is how my morning of embarrassment began. I had taken the dogs out for their usual walk, and when I returned home, I noticed a parade of ants marching across the laundry-room floor. I followed their trail to the point of origin and discovered that the pests were coming up from the basement through a gap around the laundry sink’s drainpipe.

Usually, I give the interior perimeter of the basement a few squirts of ant killer every spring, but this year, the weather was so cold, I forgot it was spring and thus, forgot to spray. So I decided to do it right then, before the ants that already had made it into the house had the chance to signal down to the rest of their buddies and invite them upstairs for a party.

“I should change my clothes first,” I said to myself. I was wearing my “walking” clothes – my good jeans, good walking shoes and a navy-blue hoodie – none of which I wanted to get bug killer on. But laziness overtook me and I decided to venture down into the basement without changing into my usual protective basement-attire – paint-covered sweat pants, my late husband’s size XXX flannel shirt that comes down to my knees, and a baseball cap to protect my head from anything that might decide to make a nest in my hair. But I did opt to at least put on a face mask, to lessen my chances of being overcome by bug-killer fumes.

First, however, I walked outside to the bulkhead. Last year, I had a screen door installed over the bulkhead door so I could air out the basement when it was damp…or if I needed to spray anything down there. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry about vermin getting into the basement while I was airing it out.

I unlocked the screen door, opened it from the outside, opened the inner door, then closed the screen door again and locked it with my key. That way, fresh air already would on its way down there when I started spraying. I shoved the key into my pocket and went back into the house before heading down to the basement.

You may be wondering why I didn’t just go downstairs through the bulkhead, seeing I already was out there, opening the door.

In a word…spiders.

In the stairway of that dark, narrow, creepy bulkhead live more hideous species of spiders than I ever even knew existed. In fact, some of the species have yet to even be identified by science. Considering that I suffer from a severe case of arachnophobia, I wouldn’t set one toe on those bulkhead stairs even if I were wearing a suit of armor...or there was a sack of $100 bills waiting for me at the top of them.

So, armed with my jug of bug killer and my face-mask, I ventured down into the basement through the door in the laundry room. Getting down there, however, wasn’t an easy task because I had to outrun my two dogs and slam the door before they were able to reach it. For some reason, they both LOVE to go down to the basement. Eden likes it because there are boxes of old toys down there from which she quickly can grab something and rip it to shreds. And Wynter likes go down there because she enjoys…well, peeing on the concrete.

As I was down there, spraying the corners with bug killer, I could hear Wynter jumping up on the basement door and whining loudly. She obviously wasn’t at all pleased I had given her the slip and left her upstairs.

As soon as I was finished with the odious task of spraying, I ran up the stairs so I could get away from the toxic bug-killer fumes. I also was eager to remove the face mask, which was beginning to make even my teeth sweat. I grabbed the door handle and pushed on the door.

It didn’t open.

I tried again, and then again. Still, it didn’t open. I thought Wynter might be lying up against it, but I could hear her wrestling with Eden out in the kitchen.

I felt my heart begin to race as reality struck me – Wynter’s jumping on the door must have locked it!  The lock, only on the outside of the door, was this weird hinged type that flipped over onto a little ball to lock it. Somehow, Wynter had managed to flip it! There was no way to unlock it from the inside – which was the main reason why I’d installed that particular lock in the first place – to
prevent any fanged basement monsters from ever gaining access to the house.

I’d like to say I calmly weighed my options, but unfortunately, I would be lying. There was nothing calm about my reaction. I practically screeched, “Oh, my God!  My only way out of here now is to climb out through the bulkhead! I can’t do it! I can't! I’m going to die down here!”

It took me at least 20 minutes to gather the courage to even approach the steps leading up through the bulkhead. I put up the hood on my hoodie to protect my hair from becoming a spiders’ nest, and bolted up the super-steep steps. The inner metal door at the top was the one I’d just opened from outside, thank goodness, so all I had to do was open the screen door and dash out into the yard…and freedom!

I grabbed the handle on the screen door, but it wouldn’t move. I tugged it, I shoved it, I hit it with my fist – still, it remained frozen. I couldn’t open the door no matter what I did. Not wanting to spend one more second standing in the creepy bulkhead, I rushed back down into the basement, all the while, envisioning a bunch of hairy spiders clinging to the back of my shirt.

 That’s when panic really set in. I was trapped! The two locked doors were my only way out. The small basement windows not only were up too high for me to reach, a quick measurement of them with my eyes told me my butt was doomed to get stuck in one of them even if I could climb up high enough to attempt to squeeze through one.

I then thought about going back up to the screen door and shouting through it for help. But considering the fact I live in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors close by, I couldn’t imagine who would come to my rescue – Grizzly Adams? And even if someone did come, how could he save me? I would have to tell him where my spare house-key was hidden outside, and then he’d have to unlock the front door, go in through the house…and end up having his pants ripped off by my dogs.

I thought that if worse came to worse, I would  just cut a hole in the screen door and climb out through that. But I’d forgotten there were no tools in the basement, just toys. The tools were out in the garage. I found myself frantically wondering if the Luke Skywalker action figure in one of the basement boxes had a lightsaber that actually could cut a hole in something.

At that point, I remembered I still had the screen-door key in my pocket. I could see sunlight coming in from a gap underneath the door, so I figured if I could squeeze the key out through that little gap, whoever was on the other side of the door could then unlock it from outside and let me out, without having to go into the house or end up with shredded pants.

 I decided I had no other choice at that point. I was going to have to go back up to the screen door and shout through it for help. Then if someone showed up, I’d try to get the key out to him (or her).

I checked my pocket to make sure the key still was in there, and that’s when I discovered my cell phone!  I’d completely forgotten I’d taken it with me when I walked the dogs. If I had changed my clothes, I wouldn’t have had either the key or the phone on me, so I was grateful that my laziness had worked in my favor for once.

My first instinct was to dial 911, but then I decided a bad case of arachnophobia probably didn’t qualify as an emergency - not unless a gang of black widows viciously attacked me. I finally decided to call my friends Paul and Nancy, who live 10 minutes away. I breathed a sigh of relief when Paul answered.

“Paul! The dogs locked me in the basement!” I cried to him in a rush of words. “I thought I could get out through the bulkhead, but I can’t open the screen door!  I have tried and tried, but it won’t budge! Please, get me out of here!  If the spiders don’t get me, the bug killer I just sprayed down here will!’

“Well, on the plus side,” he said calmly,“the bug killer probably will kill the spiders.” He chuckled before adding, “Hang in there – I’ll be right over. You caught me just as I was about to get into the shower.”

Waiting for him was the longest 15 minutes of my life. It would have taken only 10 minutes...if he hadn’t been naked when I called. 

He arrived on the outside of the screen door and called my name through it. I ran up the bulkhead steps and stood there on the inside.

“I’ll shove my key under the door so you can unlock the screen door and get me out of here!’ I said to him as I bent to try to squeeze the key through.

“Um, Sally,” Paul said, once again very calmly, as he peered at me through the screen.  “See that little button on the side of the door handle? That’s a lock. Flip it up and it will unlock the screen door from your side.”

I hadn’t even noticed the button until he mentioned it. Sure enough, I flipped it and like magic, the screen door suddenly was easy to open. I, however, didn’t immediately rush outside as I had planned to do. I was too embarrassed to face Paul. Even the spiders suddenly began to look more appealing to me.

The look Paul gave me when I finally did emerge from my dungeon told me he probably was thinking I could win the “Dumbest Woman of the Week” award, hands down.

I’m still apologizing to him.

Even worse, after all of that trouble, the bug killer I used had no effect whatsoever on the ants. It could be because it expired sometime back during the Nixon administration.

 I’m beginning to think that maybe living in a tent out in the forest isn’t such a bad idea after all.

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