Monday, August 26, 2019


I don’t know why, but I’ve been having trouble falling asleep lately. Up until now, my problem always has been waking up, not nodding off. I mean, I used to fall asleep even before both of my feet actually made it onto the bed. 
Not any more.
I’m beginning to think the five or six cups of black tea I drink every night between dinner and bedtime might have something to do with it.
 For some reason, the minute I stretch out in bed now, things I normally wouldn’t think about suddenly pop into my head. The other night, for example, I spent 30 minutes trying to remember the lyrics to the “Laverne and Shirley” theme song. After that, I challenged myself to name every teacher I’d had from kindergarten through grade 12. Before long, my eyeballs were bugging out of my head, I was so wide awake.
Desperate, I searched online for natural remedies for sleep deprivation. I found a website where fellow insomniacs were sharing pointers.
“What finally makes you fall asleep?” one person asked.
“My alarm going off,” someone joked. “Believe me, the minute I hear it buzzing in the morning, I suddenly can sleep like a log.”
Another suggestion said, “Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. Count every breath and concentrate on it. You’ll feel so relaxed, you’ll be asleep in no time.”
So I gave it a try. But for some reason, the more I concentrated on my breathing, the faster I started to breathe, until I ended up puffing like someone about to give birth. I also could hear my heart pounding like a bass drum in my ears.
“Put on headphones or earbuds and listen to soft music until you doze off,” came yet another suggestion.
I remembered an old cassette tape I’d recorded years ago with soft “mood” music on it, so being too lazy to use a more modern device and create anything new, I dug out the tape, along with my trusty old hand-held cassette player, and took them to bed with me.
By the fifth song, I actually was beginning to feel relaxed and drowsy. Just as I was about to doze off, however, the soft songs ended abruptly and the remaining music on the tape kicked in.
The Guns N’ Roses song, “Welcome to the Jungle,” which begins with a scream loud enough to shatter glass, blasted into my ears. Never have I come so close to needing CPR.
I guess the obvious thing to do would be to give up all of the tea I drink before bedtime and see if that helps. Still, I have been drinking tea every night for ages, so I can’t figure out why it suddenly would bother me. Maybe all of the caffeine has been accumulating in my body all these years and now has transformed my blood into a constant, giant jolt,
I don’t care. I’m just not ready to give up my tea or switch to caffeine-free (ugh!), even if it means I’ll have to suffer through another sleepless night and spend the next day walking around resembling an extra from “The Walking Dead."
On the plus side, I recently read that if you put cold, used teabags on your eyes, they can do wonders for reducing the puffiness and dark circles associated with…insomnia.
How ironic.

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Monday, August 19, 2019


A police officer on a talk show the other day was asked about the most common excuses drivers give him when they are pulled over for speeding.

The three most common, according to the officer, were: 1. “I really have to go to the bathroom,” 2. “If I’m late for work again, I’ll get fired,” and 3. “I’m feeling sick.” Coming in at a distant fourth was, “I think my speedometer isn't working right.”

Personally, I thought all four were pretty valid excuses. I mean, I vividly can recall more than one occasion when my husband and I were served “mystery meat” at a restaurant and drove home pretty fast, just so we could fight for the bathroom.

The officer on TV also said that a person’s attitude can mean the difference between getting a ticket or just a warning. For example, a driver who comes out with something like, “I wasn’t speeding, you idiot!  When was the last time you had your eyes examined?” might just as well be saying, “Okay, slap the cuffs on me and strip-search me!”

I think a person’s facial expression also has a lot to do with it. My late husband was the sweetest guy on earth, but people always told him he looked mean. That could be the reason why he once received a ticket for driving below the speed limit, which was something I’d never even heard of before.  But the policeman informed him that slow drivers were just as much of a danger on the road as speeders.

I, on the other hand, have been stopped three times and never received a ticket (allow me to pause here to knock on wood).  The first time, only a week after I got my driver’s license, I was speeding because I was late for my part-time job (a.k.a. excuse number two). The state trooper who pulled me over read the name on my license and asked, “Are you related to Lou?”

I nodded. “He’s my dad.”

“He’s a good friend of mine,” the trooper said. “I stop by to see him at work all the time.”

“Oh...” I frowned. “You’re not going to tell him about this, are you?”

The trooper looked thoughtful for a moment, then said, “No, I’m going to let you tell him. And you can bet I’ll be checking with him to see if you did.”

I didn’t get a ticket, mainly because he must have figured that confessing my “crime” to my father would be punishment enough.

The second time I was pulled over was years later, when I did what was referred to as a “California stop,” though I have no clue why it's called that, considering I live in New Hampshire. Anyway, I paused, but didn’t come to a full stop at a stop sign. And when I did it, I was unaware that a police car was directly behind me. Its lights immediately came flashing on.

After the officer checked my license and registration, he told me to step out of the car. I hadn’t expected him to say that, so I became really nervous, wondering why. 

“Follow me,” he ordered, the minute my feet touched the pavement.

He led me back to the corner of the road and halted. Slowly, he pointed to each letter on the stop sign.

“S-T-O-P,” he said as he pointed. “What does that spell?”

“Stop,” I squeaked, feeling the color rush to my cheeks.

“Good!” he said. “Then maybe next time you’ll actually do it!”

He then dismissed me...without giving me a ticket.

The third time I was stopped, I was positive I hadn’t broken any driving laws, so I had no idea why I was being pulled over. I’d just recently bought my car and it still had temporary plates on it.

A good-looking state trooper approached, flashed a bright smile at me and said, “I noticed your plates will be expiring in two days. Do you have your permanent plates yet?”

It just so happened I’d received them in the mail that very morning and they were lying on the front seat.

“Yes, I just received them.” I pointed to them. “They’ll be on in plenty of time.”

“Need any help with them?” he asked.

“Thank you, but my husband will do it for me when I get home.”

“’re married?” he backed away from the car. “Have a nice day.”

But I still have to chuckle whenever I think about another time my poor husband was pulled over. We were stopped behind another car at a red light early one night when he happened to notice that the car behind us was a police car.  Fear and paranoia immediately set in.

“God, I hope my muffler’s not dragging or my back tires aren’t bald,” he said.

“Or there’s not at arm hanging out of your trunk!” I joked.

When the car in front of us started to move, my husband, still intently eyeing the police car in his rear-view mirror, automatically followed it. Little did he know that the guy in front of us had grown impatient waiting for the green light and had decided to just go through the red one.

The officer pulled both cars over.

“Tell him you weren’t paying attention because I’m really sick,” I frantically whispered to my husband (unaware back then that it was excuse number three) as the officer walked toward our car.

“I’m sorry, officer,” my husband rolled down the window and blurted out to him. “But my wife is really sick.”

“What’s wrong with her?” he asked, bending down to look over at me.

I crossed my fingers, hoping that my husband, who was the world’s worst liar, would come up with something really serious, maybe even highly contagious, like the bubonic plague.

“Uh...she has PMS.”

He got a ticket.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Back when my husband and I were into collecting everything from comic books and Star Wars toys to trading-cards and model trains, we spent nearly every weekend at collectors’ shows all over New England. One of our favorites was at Bayside Expo in Boston.

At these shows, there always were a few tables where stars sat and sold their autographs. Usually these stars were from popular sci-fi movies and TV shows, but there always seemed to be at least one table featuring several Playboy Playmates signing official trading-cards that had photos of their magazine centerfolds on them.

The first time my husband noticed this table of living, breathing centerfolds, he was well...fascinated. As he stood staring at the attractive, buxom ladies from afar, I said to him, “Why don’t you go over there and get their autographed cards for your card collection?”

He had a subscription to Playboy magazine back then (solely for the articles, of course) so I figured he’d probably already seen all of the women without any clothes on anyway.

But shy person that he was, he shook his head vigorously and said, “No, I’m too chicken.”

“Then I’ll do it for you,” I said, shrugging, and proceeded to join the line of all men.

As time went on, however, my husband finally got brave enough to approach the table himself and get his own autographed Playboy cards. Over the years, he amassed an entire notebook of  them.

After he passed away, I found the notebook in the basement one day and decided to try to sell one of the cards on eBay.  I selected a fairly “tame” one and took a photo of it, then, just to be on the safe side, edited the photo using gray strips to conceal the “exposed” areas on the model. Then I posted it on eBay.

I’d barely hit the “List it” button when I received a letter back from eBay telling me I couldn’t post naked women on the regular auction site. I also was scolded for thinking that using strips over the “naughty parts” would make it okay (well, why wouldn’t it?). I was informed I would have to post the card in the “adults only” auction section.

I checked out the “adults only” section and decided (after my eyeballs popped back into their sockets), that it really wasn’t something I wanted my name to be associated with. I mean, my little Playboy card practically looked nursery-school-ish in comparison to some of the stuff I saw being sold on there. So I put the notebook away and then forgot about it...that is, until last week.

I was on eBay, searching for an April 1985 issue of a particular comic book, when up popped an April 1985 issue of Playboy being sold on the regular site. There even was a photo of the all its naked glory.

Apparently, I thought, the rules had changed!  Could it be that I now could sell all of those Playboy cards tucked away in the notebook, without having to make myself look like a porno dealer?  I decided to give it a try, fully expecting to receive another  letter from eBay, scolding me for going against their rules.

Just to be safe, I once again blanked out the “exposed” parts on the card, then I listed it for $20 and waited for the backlash.  

Instead, the card sold in 10 minutes! 

So I quickly listed another one, thinking I’d get as much money as I could before eBay caught up with me.  That card sold in an hour.

I’m not sure if my husband would be happy that his collection is providing me with some extra spending money – or if he’d resent me for disrupting his notebook of precious pin-ups.

I have to confess, it really doesn’t matter to me. 

In fact, I’m going to see if I can get $50 for Miss November of 1975.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2019


A few summers ago, I landed a magazine assignment to write about and photograph the fitness course at Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown, NH. 

The course is over a mile long and located deep in the woods adjacent to the public beach at the park. It has 20 exercise stations, each one with a sign showing a stick figure demonstrating the exercise that should be done at that particular station.  If done in the proper sequence, the exercises are supposed to provide a proper warm-up, workout and cool-down. Some of the stations even have equipment, such as pull-up bars, slant boards, a balance beam and monkey bars.

With a pen and notebook in one hand, and my camera in the other, I set out on a hot, humid day to walk the length of the course and take notes for my article.  At first, I was determined to follow the instructions on the signs and actually DO the exercises, but I quickly changed my mind when all of the grunting and noises I made while trying to do them began to attract wild animals that thought they were mating calls.

The magazine editor had suggested that I take photos of physically-fit-looking people using the course, but I didn’t see a soul out there.  I even hung around the course for over an hour, waiting, but aside from a squirrel and 11,000 mosquitoes and deer flies, I saw no other forms of life.  Finally, I headed down to the public beach to try to recruit some fit-looking people to pose for me.

Optimistic person that I was, I thought it was going to be a snap.

I walked the length of the beach three times.  I saw plenty of beer bellies and cellulite.  I saw pale, scrawny guys with bony knees.  I saw two very pregnant women.  I saw people waving with arms that looked as if they had flesh-colored bat wings attached to them.  Unfortunately, the majority of the people there resembled…me.

Then I spotted, on the grass adjacent to the beach, a group of people who appeared to be in their early 20s, playing badminton.  I rushed over to them.

“Excuse me,” I said to one of the players, a young man with strong-looking arms and a flat stomach.  He smiled and took a step toward me. “Would you like to pose for some physical-fitness photos for a magazine?”

He just stood there silently, continuing to smile.  I repeated my question.  Still, he didn’t respond.  Finally, one of his pals asked him something…in a language I didn’t recognize. The guy shrugged and answered him in the same language.  No one in the group spoke English (either that, or they just wanted to get rid of me).

Sighing, I walked off.  That’s when I spotted a shapely woman in a bikini and a long-haired, Fabio sort of guy approaching a picnic table.  I made a beeline toward them, explained what I was doing and asked if they’d like to pose for some photos for a magazine.

Their first response was to burst out laughing.  When they finally stopped, they fired a bunch of questions at me: “Where is this fitness course?  How come we’ve never heard of it?  Will we be on the cover of the magazine?  How do we know you’re legitimate?  Do you have any identification?  Will we have the final say on which photos you use?”

Twenty minutes of questions later, the guy asked, “And how much will we get paid for doing this?”

“Um…nothing,” I answered.

“Bye,” they said in unison.

Defeated, I plunked down on the stone wall that lined the beach and sulked.  About 15 minutes later, I happened to glance toward the parking lot and spotted, off in the distance, two very fit-looking guys unloading bicycles from a bike rack on a car. Both of them were wearing snug, form-fitting bicycle shorts and tops.  I dashed over to them before they could get away.

Gasping for breath, I pointed at the woods behind them, where the fitness course was located, and blurted out,  “Would you two guys like to go into the woods with me and pose for some pictures?”

They jumped onto their bikes and took off so fast, they left skid marks.

In retrospect, I think perhaps I should have phrased that question differently.

Two hours passed before I finally convinced a woman, her teenage daughter and her daughter’s friend to be my victims.  They couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating as they followed me along the winding trail through the woods.  I made them dangle from monkey bars, lie on the ground and do push-ups, and balance on vertical posts near a swamp where swarms of bugs thought we’d just rung the dinner bell.

At the end of the photo shoot, I thanked my three models over and over again, and told them to be sure to look for themselves in the magazine. 

“Loved the article,” the editor wrote back after I’d submitted my masterpiece to her, “but with the bright sunlight filtering through the trees in the photos, everyone looks spotted and blotchy.  Can you take some new shots, preferably on an overcast day or using a fill flash?”

I’m still waiting for either Bradley Cooper or Matthew McConaughey to return 
my call.

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