Thursday, March 28, 2013


I was really excited when the full-serve gas station reopened in Pembroke a couple months ago because when it comes to pumping my own gas, I know about as much about it as I do about flying a jet plane.

A few days ago, I pulled into the Pembroke station because my gas gauge was reading below a quarter of a tank. I could see a guy inside the station and a mechanic working on a car, but no one came out. So I sat at the pump a while longer. Still, no one came out. Another car pulled in next to me. We both waited. Finally, the other driver got impatient and laid on his horn. No one acknowledged him.

Admitting defeat, we both gave up and drove off.

I couldn’t help but think about the old days when all gas stations had a little hose-type of thing that, when a car ran over it, would ring inside the station and alert the employee that someone was at the pump. My dad, whenever he became impatient, used to back up and run over that hose again and again until someone finally came out – usually irritated enough by then to clobber him with some heavy mechanical tool.

So on my way to Concord the next day, I once again stopped at the station. This time, the gas pumps had bags covering them. I didn’t have to be a genius to realize I was out of luck. Yet, I still sat at the pump, staring at it and willing the hose to magically leap off its perch and fill my tank for me.

By then, my car’s noisy little “low fuel” alarm was sounding and blinking. Frowning at the dashboard, I did what I felt was the only logical thing to do under the circumstances: I ignored it and still went shopping. I remembered someone once telling me I could go another 20 miles after the alarm sounded, so I wasn’t too concerned. And besides that, I had an urgent craving for World Table brand chocolate-mint cookie thins, which are to die for (and available exclusively at Walmart), so I was willing to take the risk.

It was only when I was headed back home from Concord in the dark that I began to worry. The front seat of my car was piled high with groceries and my back seat was piled high with my two rottweilers.  My gas gauge’s needle was pegged on “E”.  What, I wondered, would happen if I ran out of gas and had to sit around for ages waiting for roadside service to bring me gas? I was pretty sure the rottweilers would overtake me and eat all of the groceries…including the paper products.

I found myself wishing New Hampshire could be like Oregon, where it’s illegal to pump your own gas – probably because they don’t want dummies like me squirting gas everywhere but into the tank.

I was about eight miles from home when I realized I soon would be on Deerfield Road – one of the darkest, curviest, hilliest and spookiest roads in the state at night. Even worse, places to pull over on it are really scarce, unless you want your car to become intimate with a tree.

Panic suddenly set in.  I made a sharp turn into the lot of the convenience store on Route 28 and pulled up to one of the pumps. I then got out of my car and stared at the pump as if it were an alien being that had just been beamed down from another planet.

At that moment, another car pulled in next to me.  I practically attacked the guy when he stepped out.

“Can you do me a huge favor and show me how to put gas in my car?” I asked him. “I’ve never done this before!”

The look he gave me clearly told me he thought I was the one who’d been beamed down from another planet.

Not looking very pleased, he walked over to show me what to do. And at that precise moment, my two dogs, thinking he probably was the Boston Strangler’s  long-lost nephew who was about to wrap the gas hose around my neck, viciously barked, growled and lunged at the car’s windows.

The guy jumped back a few feet and decided to point at the pump from a distance.  I had no clue what he was pointing at. I mean, it could have been the windshield squeegee hanging there, for all I knew. Finally he said, “You’ll do just fine,” and rushed back to his own car.

I glared at my two dogs.

Becoming more and more desperate, I ventured into the store and threw myself at the mercy of the clerk.

“I’m in urgent need of gas and I have no clue how to pump my own because I always go to full-serve!” I practically shouted at her. From behind me came a calm voice. “Don’t worry, sweetie, just let me cash out my stuff and I’ll help you.”

I turned around to see a female customer who probably was young enough to be my daughter, smiling at me.  I felt like grabbing her and hugging her.

Sure enough, she went out to my car, explained step by step what she was doing, and filled the tank.  And my dogs were perfect little angels the entire time, probably because I was giving them my best “scare this one away and I swear I will hold your favorite squeaky toy hostage!” look.

“There you go!” she said, hanging up the hose and neatly clicking my gas cap back into place. “Now you’ll know what to do next time!”

No, I won’t.  I forgot to take notes.


Sunday, March 17, 2013


 “Step into my parlor,” said the spider to the fly.

Those words have been filling my head ever since something happened recently that I’m still having trouble wrapping my aging brain around.

A friend I’ve had since my high-school days phoned me a couple weeks ago to ask how I was doing. We chatted for a while and then I said, “Now that you’re retired, why don’t you come over for coffee some afternoon and we can catch up on all of the gossip?”

“Sounds great!” she said. “I’ll get back to you at the end of the week and let you know when I’ll be over.”

In the background, I could hear her husband saying, “We’ll both go over!”

I found myself wondering why any guy would want to come sit and listen to two women enjoying some girl talk about people he probably didn’t even know. My dad used to call such gatherings a “hen party.”  So I wasn’t eager to have a rooster (a.k.a. my friend’s husband) in my henhouse.

When I didn’t hear from my friend after a week, I called her. “So, have you decided which day you’re coming over?” I asked.

“I…um…I,” was her answer.  Silence followed before she finally said somewhat sheepishly, “My husband said I shouldn’t be hanging around with you any more because you’re single now, so we don’t have much in common.”

“He has to be joking!” I said in disbelief. “We’ve known each other for nearly 50 years! We have plenty in common!”

“No…what he means is you’re going to be leading the single life now, so you might encourage me to act single, too.”

Shocked by her words, I jokingly blurted out, “Gee, does that mean I’ll have to cancel the troupe of male strippers I hired to entertain us when you come over?”

She didn’t laugh. Instead she said, “I’ll talk to you again sometime.”

I was so upset, I immediately called one of my cousins, who’s been a widow for years, to tell her what had just happened, expecting her to gasp in horror.

“Oh, that doesn’t surprise me,” she said matter-of-factly. “One of my friends stopped hanging around with me because she was afraid I’d suddenly become some man-hungry widow who was going to lust after her husband. So if some of your married friends start treating you like you suddenly have the plague, you’ll know why!”

I laughed at the absurdity of her words, but after I hung up, I started wondering if anyone actually might seriously think of me as a potential husband snatcher.

“Don’t be silly,” I scolded myself. “You’re not 21! You’re old enough to be a great-grandmother! Your dog is more of a femme fatale than you are!”

Maybe if I resembled someone like Cher, who’s even older than I am, I could understand it, but the only thing I have in common with Cher is we’re both female. Let’s face it, when I was looking at myself in the mirror the other night, I realized that if my body were a map, the parts that used to be up near Maine are now somewhere down around Georgia, and they’re rapidly heading toward Florida.  No, make that Cuba.

So there definitely is no threat that I’ll attract anyone’s husband, not unless the guy has a severe case of cataracts.

When I was on my Facebook page the other night, I happened to mention my cousin’s statement about how some people think of widows as love-starved husband snatchers. 

My longtime friend, Carole, responded with, “Heck, if you want my husband, Skyp, you can have him!”

Now that’s what I call a true friend.

I’m wondering if Skyp has cataracts.



For those of you who requested autographed copies of my book, “There’s a Tick in my Underwear,” and I, unfortunately, was sold out because I hadn’t anticipated such an overwhelming response, I’m pleased to say I now have more books available. If you still are interested in purchasing an autographed copy, please send $10, which includes shipping, to me at:  PO Box 585, Suncook, NH 03275-0585.  If you would like the book personally autographed, please specify a name, and be sure to print it clearly.  Thank you!

Saturday, March 9, 2013



A few weeks ago, I was taking one of my dogs, Raven, for a walk when I noticed fresh tire tracks in the snow in the driveway. The reason why I noticed them was because they went only as far as my “Caution, Guard Dog” sign, and then backed out again.

A few minutes later, as we were walking up the road, a police cruiser pulled up next to us. The officer rolled down the window and said, “Could I have 30 seconds of your time?”

I nodded as I frantically tried to calculate when I’d last licensed my dogs. Visions of myself with Raven handcuffed to me, sitting in the back of the cruiser, filled my head.

“You live on this road?” the officer asked me.

Again I nodded, then gave him my address.

“Well, did you know that number 87 was broken into yesterday…in broad daylight?”

I shook my head, suddenly wishing I didn’t know.

“I just thought you should be aware. If you see anything suspicious, particularly a silver SUV slowly driving around, let us know. The guy might even knock on your door and ask you if you want your walkway shoveled – but it’s just an excuse to find out if anyone’s home.”

The cruiser then drove off, leaving me standing in a heavily wooded area, with the next house over a quarter-mile away.  I decided to make an immediate U-turn and head back home. The only problem was that Raven knew our routine too well – two miles every day – and she wasn’t about to go back home until she’d walked her full two miles. She immediately turned into “mule dog,” firmly standing her ground as I tugged on her leash.

“Please, Raven, move!” I begged her. “I’ll give you a nice cookie when we get home!”

She didn’t budge.

“OK, I’ll give you two cookies!”

Still, nothing.

“How about a side of beef?”

My eyes nervously darted back and forth as we hurried back to the house.  Every tree, every rock, every snow bank suddenly seemed like the perfect hiding place for the sinister guy in the silver SUV.  I was positive he was watching me at that very moment and saying, “Aha!  She’s not home right now!” and then he’d break all Olympic speed records getting to my house and looting it before I arrived.

In my panic, I’d completely forgotten that Willow, my other 100-plus-pound rottweiler, was still in the house, and that any burglar who did manage to get inside probably would end up with his pants looking as if they were made of fringe.

When I told my uncle about the burglary and the mysterious tire tracks in my driveway, he said he was going to bring over a few security items to protect the house.  That was fine with me.  In fact, I was hoping he’d arrive driving a flatbed truck carrying an eight-foot-high electrical fence with a couple hundred feet of razor wire coiled around the top.

Instead, he installed, among other things, something called a stealth camera – a motion-activated surveillance device that has infrared capabilities for taking both daytime and nighttime photos. My uncle said the camera would capture burglars and prowlers on film in crystal clarity in a “snap.” I secretly hoped it might even capture something more exciting…like a UFO…or Bigfoot – something I could sell to the National Enquirer for a couple million dollars.

The next day was trash pickup day, so at 5:30 a.m., I wheeled my trash containers out to the road. I threw on my coat over my flannel pajamas, and didn’t bother to put in my partial denture or take the curlers out of my hair. No one is ever around at that ungodly hour other than squirrels and birds anyway, so I wasn’t concerned about running into anyone...or scaring someone into instant blindness.

After I deposited the trash containers at the end of the driveway, I walked back toward the house. That’s when, because it was still pretty dark out, I noticed a pale orange light flickering in the trees.

 It took a few seconds for me to realize it was the stealth camera!  I’d forgotten all about it!  So there I was, forever captured on film – half toothless, braless and with a head full of pink hair curlers. I bolted into the house before any more embarrassing photos could be snapped.

If, at that very moment, a gang of thugs had come up the driveway and burst into the house, and the police had to confiscate the photo footage (with me still on it) as evidence, I wouldn’t have reported the crime. Sacrificing my TV and jewelry would have been a small price to pay to save myself from eternal humiliation.

So from now on, I’m going to take out the trash only while I’m in full makeup, my hair is combed, and I’m wearing all of the appropriate undergarments…and teeth.

It might not hurt to throw on a dress and high heels, either.