Wednesday, May 31, 2017


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


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


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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Wednesday, May 10, 2017


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


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 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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