Saturday, June 24, 2017

MY ANNUAL EYE EXAM WAS A LAUGHING MATTER



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

I THINK THIS ONE TOPS ALL OF MY PREVIOUS EMBARRASSING MOMENTS



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.
THE DREADED BULKHEAD STAIRS

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 ending 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.
ONE OF MY 'GUESTS' ON THE
BULKHEAD DOOR HANDLE!

“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 less frightening 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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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

I'M STILL AFRAID TO DRINK MY WATER



I’m writing this as I’m sitting here waiting for my water-filtration guy to come over to give my system its annual $200 checkup. Believe me, I can think of a lot more enjoyable things I could be doing with that money.

It all began when my artesian well first was dug here nine years ago, back when the house was being built. The water test came back with the arsenic level off the charts – like 10 times what was considered a “safe” level. The only solution, according to the town’s building inspector, was to install some fancy full-house, reverse-osmosis system that supposedly did everything but pour the water into a glass for me. It also cost the equivalent of about 3,000 12-packs of bottled water.

I called several water-purification experts to come over and give me some estimates, hoping I could find someone who was good…and cheap.

The first guy who came over, looked at the copy of my water-test results and shrugged.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” he said, obviously not working on commission. “A little arsenic never hurt anyone. Heck, the Indians survived it.”

I had no clue what on earth he was talking about, but I figured I’d better look for another “expert.”

The next guy had exactly the opposite reaction.

“Wow – I wouldn’t want to be served a glass of lemonade at your house!” he said, which immediately made me think of a couple people I’d actually like to invite over for a nice tall glass of lemonade.

Eventually, I found a good company and a decent price, so I had the system installed.

And now, every year, I have to have the system checked and my water tested to make certain everything is working properly.

Even so, I still don’t dare drink or cook with the water.

“You paid all that money for a purification system and you still buy bottled water?” one of my friends asked in disbelief. “How crazy is that?”

“Not crazy at all,” I said. “I have the system checked only once a year. “What if it stops working a week after the checkup? I’ll be drinking arsenic water for 11 months before I find out!  My liver could fall out by then!”

And wouldn’t you know it, last year, my water test came back with the arsenic level sky-high again. The system had failed. Even worse, the technician couldn’t tell me how long it had been since the failure had occurred. It could have happened only a day ago, he said…or nearly a year. The incident only further convinced me that it probably was safer to risk suffering from dehydration than to ever drink that water.

It also cost me $1,200 to get the system running perfectly again.

The thought of bathing in arsenic water or washing my dishes in it never made me feel comfortable, either. Every time I took a long soak in the tub, I had visions of standing up to dry off and having body parts fall off.  So now I take only quick showers.

And no one warned me how noisy the system was going to be. When the tank in the basement is filling, it sounds like Niagara Falls down there. And after the system is done treating the water, it shuts off with a really loud “clunk.”  Every time my new dog hears the “clunk” in the basement, she apparently thinks burglars have broken in down there and she goes ballistic, barking and growling.

Of course, she does the same thing whenever she hears a doorbell on TV – but that’s a whole other story.

One of my neighbors, after hearing about all of my problems, decided to have his well-water tested. His arsenic level was fine. His radon level, however, was through the roof.

So now I’m sitting here wondering what surprises are in store for me when my water gets tested today.


Depending on the results, I might tell my neighbor I know where he can get a state-of-the-art water filtration system…free for the taking.


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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE WEIRD FOOD COMBINATIONS?



I’m not sure why, but the other day I found myself thinking about the different food combinations people enjoy eating, and just how weird some of them are.

For example, one of my friends in college used to mix Pepsi with black coffee. She said it tasted great, but I always suspected it was the extra jolt of caffeine she really liked. A few cups of that concoction and her eyes were the size of DVDs. The girl rarely slept.

But her cup of coffee wasn’t nearly as bad as my dad’s navy buddy’s. I’m not kidding, the guy used to pour ketchup into his.

Back when I was a kid, my friend Janet’s father used to make his favorite sandwich for lunch nearly every day. He would toss a lump of raw ground beef into a bowl and mix it with chopped onions, celery and mayonnaise, and then spread it on bread and eat it just like that…uncooked.

Everyone in Janet’s family was painfully thin, so I always suspected it was because they all had tapeworms from eating the father’s raw sandwich concoction.

I actually had an aunt who would have been a perfect match for him. Her favorite snack was raw bacon dipped in spicy mustard.

My late husband’s favorite sandwich honestly used to make me gag whenever I even got so much as a whiff of it – fried pork-liver slathered in mayonnaise. Part of the problem was I’ve always hated liver, no matter which critter donated it – a cow, chicken, pig, fish. Just say the word “liver” and my stomach starts feeling as if an Olympic gymnast is practicing her floor routine in it.

I didn’t take after my parents, that’s for sure. They loved calves’ liver, smothered in onions. I figured it was because onions were the only thing strong enough to kill the taste of the liver.

When I was growing up, my mother used to serve liver for dinner at least once a week, because she said it was a good source of iron. And every week, a battle would ensue because I’d refuse to eat it. She’d always try use the old guilt trip on me about starving children in Africa who would love to eat my plate of liver, to which I always replied, “Good! Then wrap it up and send it over to them!”

I also tried to convince her that instead of trying to force me to eat liver, she should just buy a cast-iron skillet and cook a bunch of pancakes in it for me. That way, I’d get my dose of iron when the pancake batter soaked up the iron from the skillet. For some reason, she never took my advice

Unfortunately, people’s strange tastes can ruin a good meal for others. I still can remember the summer my husband, my mother and I were invited to a Fourth of July barbecue. The burgers, which were at least two inches thick, looked juicy and delicious as they sizzled on the grill. My husband, whose favorite food in the world was cheeseburgers, practically needed a bib, he was drooling so much in anticipation of those burgers.

Just as they finally were about to be served, the hostess proudly announced, “These are my secret-recipe burgers. I won’t tell you what’s in them, but everyone back in my hometown in Canada raves about them, so I know you’ll love them, too!”

After the first bite, my mom and I were pretty sure the secret ingredient was birdseed. No kidding, we were picking seeds out of our teeth for the rest of the day. I think I recognized fennel and sesame seeds, but as far as trying to identify the other seeds, I had no clue. Whatever they were, they made the burgers taste just like licorice.

I spotted my husband, the self-proclaimed burger connoisseur, trying to look nonchalant, his hands holding his barely touched burger behind his back as he inched his way closer to the nearest trashcan. Then all the way home, he whined about how the hostess had ruined perfectly good meat.

When my cousin in Connecticut was a kid, he loved to munch on raw celery stuffed with chunky peanut butter. I never developed a taste for that combination. To me, peanut butter belonged with something sweet, like jelly or marshmallow fluff. And celery belonged with something unsweet like, well… cream cheese.

When I was in junior high, my friend Nancy used to snack on raw lemons sprinkled with salt, and my friend Sue’s favorite after-school snack was a big raw onion, which she would eat just like an apple, washed down with a glass of milk. Needless to say, she never had to worry about the boys at school trying to steal kisses from her.

My mom always preferred to put salt, not sugar, on her breakfast cereal. And a friend in Vermont used to put maple syrup on his pizza. He said the pepperoni acted like little cups and held the syrup nicely.

My grandmother had a strange food combination she convinced me to try when I was about five, and I actually liked it – Polish rye-bread spread with yellow mustard and then sprinkled with sugar. Surprisingly, it really was good.

My friend Gregg used to sprinkle packets of powdered chicken-broth over his popcorn, and my friend Chris loved Macadamia nuts in her mashed potatoes.

I’ve been sitting here trying to think of any weird food combinations I personally enjoy, but I honestly can’t think of anything out of the ordinary.

That is, unless you count putting nothing but V-8 juice on my baked potatoes.

How about you? I’d love to hear what your unusual food combinations are – strictly for research purposes, of course!

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I'M STILL HOOKED ON WITTY T-SHIRTS



Over the years, I have collected some pretty crazy T-shirts. Even worse, I’ve worn most of them.

I can remember when I was a teen, and I bought a T-shirt that said, “Just Visiting this Planet” on the front. My mother used to roll her eyes whenever I wore it and say, “Why on earth do you want to draw attention to your chest? Doesn’t it bother you that perfect strangers are stopping to read your boobs?”

“Well, actually I’d never thought about it until you just mentioned it!” I answered.

So to please her, I bought a T-shirt that said, “If You Can Read This, You’re Too Close,” in small letters on the front.  She wasn’t amused.

As the years passed, my love of unusual T-shirts never died. When I gained weight, I bought one that said, “In Training to be Tall and Blonde,” and another that said, “I Love Long, Romantic Walks…to the Fridge.”

Of course, every Christmas and birthday, my friends would buy me T-shirts to add to my collection. Most of them had places on the front, like states or countries they had visited. But some were more…um…adventurous.

In fact, there were times when my husband drew the line and threatened to divorce me if I wore certain shirts that people had given me. One of them, for example, had two teddy bears on the front – one on each breast – and said, “Stop Staring at My Teddies!”  Another one he disliked was, “Don’t Flatter Yourself – It’s Just Chilly in Here.”

There were a couple T-shirts I bought that actually turned out to be beneficial. I remember when the Pembroke Police were selling T-shirts with their department’s logo on it at Old Home Day one year. I bought one, and every time I wore it after that, strangers seemed to respect me more, and I even received free cups of coffee in restaurants. I also bought one that said, “WMUR TV 9,” on it that made people think I was a TV newscaster. Whenever I wore it and something newsworthy was happening, everyone assumed I was a member of the press corps covering the event.

I remember when my mother-in-law used to complain that I wore too much black all the time.

“Can’t you buy something turquoise or purple for a change?” she’d constantly ask me. “I’m so tired of seeing you in black!”

As luck would have it, I just so happened to see a T-shirt that said, “I’ll Keep Wearing Black Until They Invent a Darker Color.” Naturally, I just HAD to buy it. After that, my mother-in-law never nagged me about it again.

There was a show on TV a couple years ago called, “The Sons of Anarchy,” about a motorcycle club of that same name, and they wore shirts, jackets and vests with their club’s logo on it.

Well, a few months ago, I happened to see a T-shirt that was a humorous take-off on the show. It had the club’s logo on it, but instead of Sons of Anarachy, it said, “Sons of Arthritis – Ibuprofen Chapter.” I happened to mention how funny I thought it was to my online friend in Connecticut, Charlie, a Harley rider I’d never met.

Not long thereafter, a package from Charlie arrived. It contained a gift for me – the Sons of Arthritis T-shirt! I really loved it. It had long sleeves and was black (my favorite color!) with white lettering.

Unfortunately, it was so small, I barely could get it over my head. And when I finally did, I couldn’t even pull it down over my chest.

When Charlie wrote to ask me how I liked the T-shirt and requested a photo of me wearing it, I had to be honest. I told him it was much too small.

A week later, another package from him arrived. It was another Sons of Arthritis T-shirt. This one was bright neon yellow and was so big, it looked like a dress on me. And I was pretty sure the sleeves had been made for an orangutan. I found myself wondering how I was going to break the news to poor Charlie that this shirt didn’t fit, either. 

As it turned out, I didn’t have to.  Charlie passed away right after I received that second shirt.

So now, my desire to wear the “Sons of Arthritis” shirts he sent to me is stronger than ever, for sentimental reasons. All I have to do is either lose a lot of weight so I can fit into the small one, or grow a lot so I can fill out the large one.


Rest in peace, Charlie.




















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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

BUT CAN I REALLY HANDLE THE TRUTH?




I’ve noticed that nowadays, probably because most of them don’t work on commission any longer, department-store clerks have become much more honest…and blunt. This, depending on the situation, can be either a good thing or a bad thing.

For example, I was about to purchase a beige sweater one day when a clerk said to me, “Beige is too pale for your skin tone. It will wash you out. The mint green would look much better on you, especially with your green eyes.”

I grabbed the green sweater and held it up against me. The clerk was right. The color really brought out my eyes. Pleased, I bought it.

Another time, however, I was trying on a fitted dress and stepped out of the dressing room to look at myself in the three-way mirror. A salesclerk approached and stood silently staring at me, her hand on her chin.

“It looks good on you,” she finally said.

I smiled, ready to whip out my credit card.

“But may I suggest something to go with it?”

“Sure,” I said, wondering what it might be. A belt? A silk scarf? Pearls?

“Control-top pantyhose,” she said.

I put the dress back on the rack.

For some reason, when I’m trying on clothes, the one thing clerks always say to me that really irritates me is, “That outfit looks so slimming on you!” as if they believe they actually are giving me a compliment.

All I’m hearing is, “Hey, Chubs! You need to look slimmer!  So buy something that creates the illusion that your Titanic hips are much smaller than their actual hugeness!”

I’ll never forget the day I was Christmas shopping at a mall and I wandered into a store that sold only petite clothing in sizes nine and smaller. The minute I set eyes on the diminutive clerks, I felt as if I were Gulliver entering the land of the Lilliputians.

“May I help you?” one of the clerks, a petite young thing in a mini skirt asked as her eyes made a critical sweep over me. I could read her mind just by looking at her expression…“Lady, nothing on you is a size nine or smaller, not even your shoes.”

“Thanks, just looking,” I said, heading toward a rack of jackets.

“You DO realize that we sell only petite sizes, don’t you?” she persisted, following me.

“Yes,” I answered, smiling sweetly. “I’m actually shopping for clothes for my Barbie doll.”

Still, honesty can be a good thing, I guess. I was shopping for a bra one day, and after looking at about 30 different styles, I finally found one I really liked. As I stood there, studying it on its hanger, a friendly looking, gray-haired clerk, who was standing nearby, said to me, “That one doesn’t have enough support for you…and it’s too pointy.”

She recommended another bra she thought would be perfect for my shape and size, and I tried it on. I also tried on the one I’d selected. The clerk was right. The one I’d chosen made me look as if I were smuggling two road-construction cones under my blouse. The one she’d recommended fit perfectly.

So I guess I really should prefer the brutally honest clerks, otherwise I’d be walking around in a beige sweater that makes my complexion look as if I’m embalmed, a dress that shows off my saddlebags, and a bra that could poke out someone’s eye.

Just don’t ever tell me that something looks “slimming” on me.


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CLICK HERE ====>  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/384106

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT (NOT!)



I was in a hardware store the other day, looking at solar lights, when the clerk and I started talking about how the brightness of the lights solely depends on just how much sunlight they're exposed to. He then told me a funny solar-light story that had me cracking up laughing. 

He said he owns a house, a duplex, and has those solar lights on stakes lining the walkways on each side.

The only problem with them, he said, is the sun always hits the left side of his house, so the solar lights are nice and bright on that side. But on the right side, it’s mostly all shade, so the solar lights don’t absorb much sunlight and are much dimmer.

He said the other night, he happened to notice the tenant who lives on the right side of the duplex sneaking over to his side and swapping her dim solar lights for his brighter ones!

He laughed as he told me that the first night, the lights she’d swapped were brighter because they had been in the direct sunlight all day, but the next night, after being in the shade on her side, they were really dim, and the poor woman couldn’t figure out why.

I feel her pain.

I’ve never had good luck with lights that depend on nature to operate. For one thing, the entire front of my house is in constant shade. When the house was first built, I installed sensors on the outside garage lights so they would pop on automatically at dusk and turn off when the sun rose.

Unfortunately, because that side of the house never saw the sun, the lights stayed on 24 hours a day because the sensors thought it was always dusk.

Then there were the strings of solar Christmas lights I was so thrilled to discover a few years ago. The thought of being able to decorate my front porch with lights and not have to worry about tangled electrical cords or quadrupling my electric bill, made me fork over a couple hundred dollars for the lights. I figured just the money I would be saving on my electric bill would pay for them.

Forgetting that my front porch never saw sunlight, I carefully wound the lights around each post, railing and spindle. Then I eagerly waited for the next night, so I could see how the lights would look when they popped on.

To my delight, they glowed beautifully in all of their multi-colored glory right at dusk and looked fantastic. Five minutes later, they shut off, already out of power because they had seen the sun maybe 20 minutes all day.

So that Christmas, I told people if they wanted to come see my Christmas lights, they would have to zoom by my house at a specific hour and minute or they would miss them. My decorations came to be known as the world’s briefest Christmas-lights display.

The next year, I decided to hang the lights where they would get the most direct sunlight during the day, so they would stay lit at night. That spot turned out to be on the back deck, which faces nothing but acres of woods. The squirrels and the deer really enjoyed them.

Years ago, my husband had a wristwatch that ran on solar power. The problem was, it was pretty difficult to keep it charged, so every time he drove, he would hang his arm out of the car window so his watch could catch the sunlight and recharge. He ended up with a one really brown arm…and a watch that ran maybe three hours per day. 

He then learned that if he kept the watch under a bright 100-watt bulb, it could charge without the sun, so that’s where he put his watch every night as he slept. The problem was, keeping a 100-watt lightbulb turned on all night, every night, for the sole purpose of charging his watch, ended up being so expensive, he could have hired someone to follow him around all day and announce the time to him.

I’ve noticed when I’m out walking the dogs after dark, that most of my neighbors have those solar stake-lights lining their walkways or driveways. But most of the lights' brightness is uneven, depending on which ones get the most direct sunlight and which ones are nearer to the tallest grass or trees. So the rows of lights kind of look like a piano keyboard.

I’d never dare line my driveway with lights – or anything else. This past winter, I bought a bunch of those reflective driveway markers that show the plow drivers where to plow. Well, I guess my plow driver thought they were targets because he ran over all 16 of them, leaving nothing but piles of fiberglass splinters in their wake. And then he plowed right across my front lawn.

So unless I chop down all of the trees on my land, solar-powered anything probably isn’t a good option for me. Still, this coming Christmas, because I paid so much for those solar Christmas lights, I just might try decorating the front porch with them again.

And if you happen to drive by between 4:14 and 4:30 p.m. during the month of December, you just might be able to catch them while they’re lit.

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

WHY I'LL NEVER MOVE TO FLORIDA


I realize that most people look forward to summer with eager anticipation.

I’m not one of them.

Aside from the fact that summer brings an assortment of flesh-eating, blood-sucking, carnivorous insects with it, it also brings something I dislike even more.

Humidity.

Humidity is one of the reasons why whenever any of my 43 friends who have moved to Florida during the past two years invite me to come down for a visit, I react as if they’ve just invited me to bathe in chum (shark bait) and then go skinny-dipping with a Great White.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve disliked humidity. Why? Loads of reasons. It’s sticky. It makes the air so heavy, it’s difficult to breathe. And it causes skin to become so constantly damp, I have to keep checking my armpits for mushrooms.  It’s nothing short of torture, I tell you.

Still, I have friends on the West Coast who find it hard to believe that New Hampshire actually even has humid weather.

“But you live in New Hampshire!” one of them said when I complained about the tropical weather. “Georgia and Florida have humidity.  New Hampshire is cold and dry…like Canada!”

I invited her to come here for a week of “cold and dry” in mid-July, so she can see for herself.

Although I have plenty of valid reasons why I don’t like humidity, first and foremost is my hair. Humidity either can make it look as limp as wet spaghetti or as frizzy as Albert Einstein’s. I can freshly wash and blow-dry my hair, and even manage to get a little curl into it, but the minute I step one foot outside during the months of June through August, the humidity attacks any semblance of a hairstyle and beats it to within an inch of its life.

On particularly humid days, my late husband used to tease me and tell me I looked just like Rat Child…which was our nickname for our dog back then, a Shih-Tzu.

And forget about makeup staying on during humid weather.  My eye shadow migrates into the creases on my eyelids (and believe me, I have plenty of creases) and ends up looking as if I painted stripes on them.  Lipstick slides right off my lips.

Another problem with humidity is bread.  I don’t like keeping bread in the fridge because it makes it too hard, so I keep it in the breadbox. 

I still can remember the day my husband didn’t look too pleased when he came home from work. “I ate half of the sandwich you gave me for lunch today before I noticed that part of the bread was green!” he’d complained, clasping his stomach.  “I think I may wake up dead in the morning.”

“You’ll live,” I told him. “Mold is like penicillin.”

On one TV newscast, some doctor was saying that when the air is humid, perspiration can’t evaporate, so it stays on the skin. 

I didn’t need an expert to tell me that.   My clothes usually stick to me with so much suction during the summer months, I practically need the Jaws of Life to get out of them.  I even had to stop wearing colored patterns because the dye was coming off on my skin and making me look as if I were covered in tattoos.

And every summer, we always ended up with a white bathroom – not because it was painted that color, but because of my husband’s fear of getting a fungal foot-infection, like athlete’s foot. One night, I saw a mysterious white cloud moving up the hallway.  I tracked it into the bathroom, where I found my husband vigorously shaking powder onto his feet.

“You have to be sure to keep your feet really dry in this weather,” he explained between coughs from all of the powder dust. “Humidity can give you such a bad case of athlete’s foot, your toes can rot right off!”

I frowned as I pictured myself toeless. “Hand me the powder.”

Even with the air-conditioner running non-stop, the house still is never free of humidity.  The minute I boil even one potato for dinner, the kitchen turns into a sauna and the windows steam up.  Then the air-conditioner struggles to run even harder.  Every time I hear it crank up a notch, I can hear my electric meter spinning like the cherries on a slot machine and making “cha-ching” noises.

 But one of the most aggravating problems in the summer is the sweaty toilet.  Whenever the weather is really humid, the toilet tank builds up so much condensation on it, it drips down and forms the mighty Mississippi on the bathroom floor.

“Buy one of those fuzzy toilet-tank covers to absorb the moisture,” one plumber’s website suggested as a remedy.

Easy for him to say. The last time I saw a fuzzy tank-cover anywhere, Sonny and Cher were still newlyweds.

So I guess I have no choice other than to be patient, endure the humidity, and count the days until September, when the air once again will turn crisper and cooler.

But for now, with summer looming only a few weeks away, I will just have to resign myself to the fact I’ll be spending the upcoming months looking like a colorfully tattooed Shih-Tzu, eating green bread and watching my toes rot off…probably because they will be submerged in water whenever I have to use the toilet.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

I CAN WATCH ALL OF MY FAVORITE TV PROGRAMS



The other day, one of my friends was complaining about how, since she got married, she has had to sacrifice watching a lot of her favorite TV programs.

"Last night, I wanted to watch a nice love story,” she said, “but my husband complained and whined so much about it, we ended up watching his choice - something about flesh-eating zombies getting their heads blown off. I nearly lost my lunch!” 

I definitely could empathize. My husband, rest his soul, wouldn’t watch anything unless it contained bloodshed, space aliens carrying weapons of mass destruction, motorcycles, scantily clad women, or car chases that involved crashing into no fewer than a dozen fruit stands or sidewalk cafes.

I remember when I asked him to take me to see the movie, Titanic. He acted as if I’d just asked him to drink a glass of battery acid.

“You couldn’t pay me enough to sit through that snooze-fest,” he said.

I shrugged. “Oh well, have it your way. Then I guess you’ll just have to miss the convention of strippers who are passengers on the ship, the giant sea monster they encounter, or the fact the ship gets attacked by a gang of bloodthirsty pirates.”

Suddenly he couldn’t wait to see the movie.

And then he didn’t speak to me for two days afterwards.

Now that I have the TV all to myself, I am watching programs my husband wouldn’t have watched even if he were being tortured. In fact, I have watched so many happily-ever-after love stories on the Hallmark Channel, I am honestly beginning to believe that a man and woman actually can meet, fall in love and get engaged before even sharing their first kiss.

Anyway, a week ago, on Friday night, I settled down with my cup of hot tea and prepared for a night of marathon love-story watching. About 15 minutes into the first movie, the TV picture froze.  Up popped a notice from DIRECTV, saying it was searching for my satellite connection.

Usually when I lose my satellite connection, it’s because there is a raging blizzard outside, or torrential rains that interfere with the transmission of the signal. But that night was clear. I shut off the TV, unplugged the receiver box, and then plugged it in again, which usually reboots it.

It worked. And for the next 20 minutes I was able to watch TV…until the picture froze once again. This went on all night, until I grew so frustrated, I wanted to use both the TV and the receiver box for target practice. I finally gave up and went to bed.

A couple hours later, I was awakened by the sound of two men carrying on a conversation in my living room. I sat upright, my eyes wide.

“I’ll do whatever you want,” one deep-voiced man was saying. “Just name it.”

Panic flooded through me. Who was in my living room? And what sinister plot were they discussing? But most of all, where were my dogs? Had the two men given them a snack of knockout meatballs?

Suddenly, a TV commercial for Geico Insurance blared through the living room.

I figured that unless my intruders had arrived with their own advertisers in tow, my TV was on.

Sure enough, the TV I had shut off before going to bed had somehow turned itself back on, all by itself. I unplugged it.

“If it turns back on now,” I muttered as I headed back to bed, “I’m calling an exorcist.”

The next morning, I contacted DIRECTV. The technician asked me several questions, remotely checked the receiver box from his end, and came to the conclusion the box needed to be replaced.

“How soon can you get here?” I asked. “I can’t go all weekend without any TV.”

“We’ll mail you a new one,” he said. “It should be there in 3-5 days.”

The thought of not being able to watch TV for that long instantly threw me into love-story withdrawal. But the worst news was yet to come.

“Do you record a lot of programs?” the tech asked me.

“Yeah, I have a lot of things I’ve recorded that I haven’t even watched yet – movies, local programming, TV episodes I missed from my favorite series.”

“Well, when you connect the new receiver box, you’ll lose everything you’ve recorded.”

I didn’t know which to be more upset about – the fact I’d be losing my nine precious episodes of “Outlander”…or the fact he’d said, “When you connect the box.”

“I have to connect the new box myself?” I asked, my voice sounding a few octaves higher than usual. “You’re not going to send someone – someone professional – over to do it?”

“It’s really simple,” he said. “Just call us and we’ll walk you through it.”

After our conversation ended, I dared to look behind my TV. Just as I’d feared, there were enough wires back there to hang myself with. I had visions of trying to install the new box, getting myself completely entangled and ending up lying helpless in a cocoon-like state on the floor until someone actually missed me enough to come check on me…that is, if all of the dust behind the TV didn’t choke me to death first.

The new receiver box arrived early Monday morning, after the longest weekend of my life. I removed it from the carton and stared at it as if it were contaminated with the Ebola virus. An instruction sheet was enclosed. Hesitantly, I picked it up and read it.

It actually didn’t sound too difficult, even for someone as technologically clueless as I am.

“You can do this!” I told myself, taking a deep breath. “Just put on your big-girl panties and give it your best shot!”

Carefully, step-by-step, I followed the instructions. I hooked up the new box to the TV. I programmed the new remote control. I then reprogrammed my other two TVs with the code number provided – because all three were controlled by the same receiver. I also called the toll-free phone number to have the new box activated.

Then I held my breath and tested my handiwork.  To my relief (and total amazement), all three TVs worked flawlessly. I was so proud of myself, I wanted to nominate myself for an award.

I still was smiling with satisfaction when I went to bed that night.

The next morning, my bank contacted me, saying they had put a hold on my debit card because of a suspicious “recharging fee” of $10.99 charged to my account.

“Oh, that must be my activation fee from DIRECTV,” I said, unconcerned. “I had to activate a new receiver box yesterday. So it’s fine. You can lift the hold on my account.”

“I don’t think it’s from DIRECTV,” the bank representative said. “It’s from a telecommunications company. I think you should double check with DIRECTV, just to be safe, before I lift the hold.”

I figured DIRECTV was a telecommunications company, so I still wasn’t concerned. But solely for the sake of pacifying the bank employee, I called them.

“I don’t think we charge for activating a box,” the employee said. “But I’ll check.”

About five minutes later, she returned. “I’m still not sure. But if you’d like, I’ll credit your account for $10.99.”

“No,” I said, “I’ll gladly pay the fee, if there is one. I just need to know if you’re the ones who charged it to my account. My bank seems to think I’ve been hacked.”

“I’m really not sure,” she said. “But I’ll be happy to credit your account the $10.99.”

I gave up and called the bank again.

“DIRECTV isn’t sure if they charged me the $10.99,” I told the representative. “But seeing that the charge popped up right after I activated my new receiver, I’d say it’s a legitimate charge. So you can release the hold on my account, okay?”

“I wouldn’t advise it,” she said. “I seriously would suggest canceling this card and getting a new one.”

The thought of having to notify all of the places that deduct monthly bill payments from my debit account made me want to go drink a tall glass of iced tea laced with hemlock.

“No, I’ll take my chances,” I said.

“If it’s a hack, it will require a lot of paperwork and time before you get your money back,” the bank representative said, stubbornly not giving up. “This $10.99 charge could be just a test to see if your card number is valid.”

I groaned. So even though I was certain the suspicious charge in question was nothing more than a DIRECTV fee, I told her to cancel my card. Then I headed to the local branch of my bank to get a new one.

“Wow! They have been busy!” the employee who handled the transaction said as he eyed his computer screen.

“They?” I repeated.

“The hackers – from Denmark,” he said, turning the screen toward me so I could see it. There were attempted charges on my card for everything from a trip to the Bahamas to Domino’s Pizza. All of them, thanks to the bank representative I’d spoken with on the phone, had been denied. She had been right about the $10.99 not coming from DIRECTV. If she hadn’t stood her ground and convinced me to cancel my card, I probably would have been forced to live in a tent within a few months.

So now I have a brand new TV receiver and a brand new debit card.

If my husband still were here, he’d be pleased – not because I actually hooked up a new receiver box all by myself, but because the debit-card fiasco and having to change all of my online accounts to the new card number is taking up so much of my time, he’d be able to watch the entire marathon of “The Walking Dead” undisturbed.


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