Monday, January 31, 2022

BABY SHOWERS JUST AREN'T THE SAME ANY MORE

 

 

The other day, one of my friends was telling me all about the baby shower she was planning for the birth of her granddaughter’s first child.

I haven’t been to a baby shower in ages. But the last one I did go to, before the birth of my niece’s first baby, was several years ago, and I was surprised at how much things had changed since the last time I’d shopped for baby items.

For one thing, I hadn’t been to a baby shower since Nixon was president. Back then, expectant mothers didn’t know the sex of their babies in advance, so most newborn babies started their lives wearing either pastel yellow or mint-green clothing.

My niece knew she was having a girl, however, so I went shopping in search of lots of cute little girly things for the baby. Everything for baby girls, I soon discovered, was pink – pale pink, neon pink, dark pink, flamingo pink – pink as far as the eye could see.  I felt as if I had been swallowed by a bottle of Pepto Bismol. After a while, I actually found myself searching for pastel yellow or green, just to break up the monotony. I didn’t, however, find anything. So I decided to buy something practical instead, something non-pink – like diapers.

“Is she going to use disposables or go the organic, eco-friendly route and use cloth diapers?” the sales clerk asked me.

“I don’t know,” I said, shrugging.

“Cloth diapers are making a big comeback,” she said, “they don’t harm the environment. I heard that a thousand years from now, today’s disposable diapers still will be completely intact in landfills.”

The vision of a mountain of old, used, disposable diapers that popped into my mind wasn’t an attractive one. However, I also had a flashback to my high-school days when I used to babysit, back when all diapers were made of cloth. I remembered removing the baby’s diaper, dunking it into the toilet a few times to rinse it off, and then putting the sopping-wet diaper into a smelly diaper pail, awaiting laundry day. I also remembered the diaper pins that were used to secure the diapers. They transformed into potentially lethal weapons whenever the baby was squirming.

So I decided to forget about the diapers for my niece’s shower. Instead, I thought a case of baby food might be a better idea. I checked the jars and they were dated far enough in advance so the baby probably would have a full set of teeth by the time they expired.

“Are you sure the mother-to-be isn’t planning to make her own baby food?” the clerk asked me. “A lot of mothers are doing that now, to make certain everything is 100-percent fresh and natural.”

Again, I had to say I didn’t know.  Years ago, babies were fed strained peas, strained carrots and strained beef right out of jars. Nothing fancy, and it probably was loaded with salt – which, from what I’d heard, now was taboo (I’ll bet if babies could talk, however, they’d be begging for the salt to liven up their bland food).

“I thought I’d just buy a case of Gerber baby food,” I said. “I ate it when I was a baby, and I grew up just fine.”

“Well…if you’re certain the mother isn’t intending to make her own baby food,” the clerk said.

I not only was beginning to dislike the clerk, I was beginning to wonder if she secretly worked nights for a competitor, because she certainly didn’t seem too eager to make a sale.

Even after the clerk stopped “helping” me, I found myself using her method of thinking. I picked up a soft, pink fleece outfit with little lambs on it. Did the baby clothes have to be made from organic materials, I wondered?  Did they have to be made in America?  Did they have to be hypoallergenic?

I hung the outfit back on the rack.

I then noticed a selection of adorable little shoes – sneakers, Mary Janes, even cowboy boots – all so tiny, they looked like dolls’ shoes. I immediately fell in love with all of them.

It took me quite a while to decide, but I finally picked out a pair of tiny white sneakers that had a lacy lavender border around the tops and delicate lavender flowers sprinkled all over them. They, I felt, were guaranteed to be “ooh-worthy” at the baby shower.    

As I was admiring them, a female customer who was looking at baby socks a couple feet away, smiled and said to me, “Those are adorable!”

I smiled back. “Yes, aren’t they the cutest?” Finally, I thought, I’d hit the perfect-gift jackpot after all of my searching!

“Too bad they’re such a waste of money,” the woman added. “I mean, it’s not as if a newborn baby is going to be walking anywhere, not for months, so why does it need shoes? It’s kind of like buying a toothbrush for a goldfish, isn’t it!”

So I ended up buying something very basic and boring, like a changing pad, a blanket with bunnies on it and a dozen baby washcloths

I later found out my niece had registered her baby-shower “want list” at Target.

At that moment, I fully understood why gift cards had been invented.

#   #   # 

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net

 


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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

AND STILL, I WON'T MOVE TO FLORIDA!

 

I really do enjoy the winter. Not only is the cold air refreshing, the snow also covers up my ugly dog-ruined yard and makes it look white and fresh. Even better, there also are no annoying, blood-sucking or stinging insects to contend with.

But the one thing I don’t like about winter is...ice.

Don’t get me wrong, when I was a kid, I loved, even was obsessed with ice, because of ice-skating. In fact, during the winter months I practically slept in my ice skates, I went skating so often. But now that I am of a more “advanced” age, I associate the word “ice” with compound fractures, and cars becoming intimate with trees.

About a week ago, my area had a snowstorm that dumped a little over four inches of snow …followed by about a foot of rain (or so it seemed), and then, the worst possible thing after rain…a deep freeze. Suddenly I understood why the dinosaurs had become extinct during the Ice Age.

Before the deep-freeze hit, and right after the rain, I went out to my garage – and ended up with my feet in water. I dragged out my wet/dry shop-vac and started sucking up the water from the concrete floor. After emptying the vac’s container, which felt as if it weighed about 200 lbs., five times and watching the water still running in underneath the garage door, I gave up. I decided that shoveling a path to my front porch was more important…before it froze.

All I can say is that trying to shovel snow that is soaked with rain is equivalent to participating in an Olympic power-lifting competition. My arms and shoulders felt as if I’d arm-wrestled King Kong by the time I was finished. But the end result was a nice clear path from my driveway all the way to the porch steps. I even used some sand I kept in a bucket and sprinkled the path, so it wouldn’t get slippery.

The next morning, I went out to the garage and discovered it had transformed into a skating rink – with my car’s tires embedded in the middle of it. I tried to open the automatic garage door, but it made a grinding sound and did nothing because it also was frozen in the ice. So I went back inside and out through the front door, onto the porch. What I saw made my mouth fall open.

My plow guy had plowed my driveway…right up to the steps. Gone was the path I’d worked on for an hour, and covering it were piles of slush-turned-ice chunks the size of beach balls. I inched my way down the steps and tried to pick up one of the giant ice-balls – it was frozen to the ground. So I got my snow shovel from the breezeway and tried to pry up the chunks with it.     


I now am the proud owner (make that dumb owner) of a broken snow-shovel.

I contacted my plow guy and asked him if he had any suggestions about how to clear the chunks from the only path to my front porch, because I now had no access to it unless I climbed over them.

He apologized, saying he hadn’t been up to doing his usual quality of work when he’d plowed because he was suffering from a fever and chest tightness due to Covid, but he’d be over to try to clear the path for me.

I said, “Um, no, that’s okay…you just stay home and get some rest.”

“No, I insist!” he said. “This is the first complaint I’ve had since I’ve been in business, and I want to make it right!”

I was thinking I hadn’t really complained, I’d just asked him how to get rid of the chunks he’d put there – which, I suppose, might be considered more of an innuendo than an actual complaint.

My driveway and the back yard, however, were not chunky – they were glare ice.   I expected to see Tara Lipinksi and Nancy Kerrigan doing triple toe-loops in my yard when I let my poor dogs out to “do their thing.” They ran out there at full speed, as usual, and both ended up sliding right into the fence. Then, I couldn’t help but giggle as they tried to assume the crouching position so they could “go,” but couldn’t get a solid footing and either kept falling over, or their legs would spread out so far apart in opposite directions, they looked as if they were doing the split.

I wasn’t afraid of walking down my quarter-mile driveway that suddenly resembled a bobsled track, however, to get my mail. I’d purchased some ice cleats months earlier when they’d been on clearance, so I felt ready to make the trek as easily as if it were on plain asphalt. I had to exit my house through the back door (seeing I couldn’t leave through the garage or the front door), and walk all the way around the house to the driveway.

Never had I seen it so icy. Even with the ice cleats on my boots, if I didn’t carefully step down solidly, one step at a time, my feet still would slide. I walked only about 20 feet before I gave up. Visions of my head cracking open like an egg on the solid ice had something to do with it. Banks of ice chunks also lined each side of the driveway, so I couldn’t walk there, either. Defeated, I headed back to the house.

The cold wave continued and my plow guy didn’t return, which worried me, considering he had Covid. So I contacted him to ask how he was doing.

“Well, I’m using a nebulizer right now and breathing is tough,” he said, “but I’ll still be over – and I’ll sand your driveway free of charge to make up for blocking the path you shoveled.”

I wasn’t about to pass up free sand. I mean, my food and paper-product rations were beginning to run out, considering I was trapped in my house. Even worse, the temperature fell to two below zero. I was beginning to feel destined to become a fossil, just like a frozen brontosaurus.

In desperation, I took my hair-dryer out to the garage and tried to thaw out my car’s tires, but it had about as much of an effect as trying to heat an entire room with a cigarette lighter.

I still hadn’t been able to get to my mailbox, so I grabbed the giant hedge-clippers and used them to cut a path through the woods and out to the road. It took ages, mainly because my arms still were so sore from all of the shoveling I’d done on the now-useless walkway, but the end result was a pretty decent trail through the snow – and best of all, no ice.

Unfortunately, the deer also thought the trail I’d cut was pretty nice and they used it, leaving a quarter-mile trail of deer poop on it. I didn’t know which was worse – risking falling on the ice, or risking falling into a pile of…well, you get the idea. 

Two days later, I still was trapped. People offered to bring me food, supplies or a bucket of sand, but I didn’t want anyone to risk driving on my slick driveway. There is a big curve in the middle of it, and when it’s icy, cars don’t make the curve – they go straight, right into a big tree – and my homeowner’s insurance already is expensive enough.

And a bucket of sand on my driveway would be the equivalent of trying to put out a forest fire with a plastic squirt-gun.

Meanwhile, my supply of dog kibble was running low, and my two dogs were staring at me in a way that me think they were picturing me smothered in gravy. Also, there still was no word from my plow guy.

I wasn’t surprised when I contacted him once again (by e-mail, so as not to disturb him) and his wife responded saying he was in the hospital, but due to be released at any time. She said their son would be over in the morning to sand my driveway,

By then, I’d become pretty adept at dodging deer poop on my path through the woods to get my mail. I referred to it as my daily "dance of the doo-doo."

Finally, the temperature rose above freezing and my garage began to thaw. The door popped open after only a slight struggle, and my tires were able to break free when I tried to back the car out of the garage. However, I got only as far as the driveway and there was no traction whatsoever. The car wouldn’t move backwards any farther. It’s a front-wheel drive, so I at least was able to drive it back into the garage.

My plow guy, as it turned out, was released from the hospital at 4:30 in the morning and showed up here with a truckload of sand at 9 AM. 

Talk about devotion.

So everything is good now and I’m free once again!

But I just heard the weather report. A big Nor’Easter is heading this way for the weekend, with heavy snow, howling winds and possible power outages.

You know, there’s a bear that hangs around out back here in my woods all summer. I think I’m going to try to make friends with him so I can hibernate with him all next winter.

#   #   # 


Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net


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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

ONE GOOD THING ABOUT THE PANDEMIC - NO MORE INVITATIONS TO "BUY-BUY" PARTIES




If there’s one good thing about the pandemic, it’s that I no longer am receiving dozens of invitations to those home parties, as they’re called, where the hostess plies you with food and drink while you’re forced to suffer through demonstrations of everything from cleaning products to skin conditioners. Then you’re expected to drop about $100 on stuff you really don’t want or need.

There was a time when I received so many invitations to these parties, I just started to ignore them, because I knew that if I called the RSVP number to say I wouldn’t be able to attend, the hostess would manage to talk me into buying something like a case of herbal milkshakes or a $20 cake mix.

I’ll admit that in the past, I was a soft touch at these parties, and as a result, I ended up spending way too much money on useless items...because I didn’t want to look cheap in front of all the other women.

This resulted in my husband referring to them as “buy-buy” parties where you say “bye-bye” to your money. I remember one year in particular when my purchases included such “treasures” as a thick, gold-plated neck chain that held a giant owl with rhinestone eyes; a wall plaque featuring a sailing ship made of copper; dozens of Tupperware containers (even though in my house, there is no such thing as a leftover); and so many gallons of assorted organic cleaners, I single-handedly could have saved the environment.

Also, if I gathered all of the makeup products I've bought at these parties over the years and donated them to the circus, the clowns would be set for life.

But back in my younger days, there actually was one type of home party I really did enjoy. I’m talking about the lingerie parties. They usually had cute names like “Purr-fect Panties” or “Seductive Skivvies” and featured warm-up games that contained a lot of sexual innuendoes. In other words, the hostess turned her living room into the female equivalent of a male locker-room for an evening.

I went to two such parties in one year, and both times I was thoroughly entertained. I mean, where else could I see my friend’s mother model a push-up bra, or a former high-school teacher demonstrate the proper way to put on a garter belt? (Long hooks in the back, shorter hooks in the front).

And where else could I see a middle-aged woman of ample proportions hold up a pair of sparkly bikini panties that looked as if they’d been made to fit a third-grader and say, “I love these, and they’re just my size!” when she knew if, by some miracle, she ever did manage to squeeze into them, she’d need the Jaws of Life to get out of them?

I still remember one young woman who said her husband had lost his job and times were really tough, yet she ordered a sheer black negligee for $55.

“This oughta cheer him up!” she said, smiling seductively.

An older female attendee snapped at her, “If times are that tough, sweetie, don’t you think that something more practical…like groceries, or paying your electric bill…might cheer him up more? I mean, if they shut off your power, he won’t be able to see you in that darned negligee anyway!"

The hostess of the party cast the woman a glare that all but warned her she'd be strangled with a fishnet stocking if she didn’t shut up. After all, the hostess didn’t care if the young woman and her husband were forced to eat Ramen noodles for a month…she just wanted to make sure they ate them while the young woman was wearing the commission-earning $55 negligee.

The ladies at these lingerie parties never seemed to mind forking over their hard-earned cash for the grossly overpriced items. I never really was interested in spending money on something I knew I’d never wear, mainly because I’m the type who likes to wear socks and a sweatshirt to bed. So there was no way I was going to pay for some lacy thong that would give me a wedgie every time I rolled over.

However, I must confess that when I realized I was the only person at the party who didn’t fill out an order form, I felt shamed into making a purchase.

So I grabbed the brochure and flipped through it, hoping to find a pair of nice flannel pajamas. When I failed to find anything even remotely close, I searched for something else…like the cheapest item in the brochure. It wasn’t easy, but I finally found a leopard-print garter belt for $15, and it even came in my size…Jumbo Petite.


It made a great plant hanger.    



#   #   #

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net




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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

COLD NIGHT, HOT DOG

 

A few days ago it snowed about five inches here, and by that evening, the temperature had dropped to 11ยบ F. 

When it came to shoveling, I procrastinated, mainly because I was wrapped in a nice fleece blanket on the sofa and sipping hot tea, so the thought of going outside in the brutal cold seemed about as appealing to me as having my appendix removed without anesthesia.

But then a meteorologist appeared on local TV and advised everyone not to wait to shovel because in a few hours sleet would be falling and turn the current ”light and fluffy” snow into concrete.

So at 9:00 PM, I put on my long underwear, a sweatshirt, sweatpants, hat, coat, scarf, boots and mittens, then grabbed the shovel and headed outside in the dark. I shoveled in front of the two garage doors and then a path to the front porch. After that, I walked the length of the driveway – about 1/4 mile – and shoveled out the mailbox. Finally, I shoveled the two decks out back. By then, I’d been outside for 45 minutes and was suffering from a bad case of brain freeze...even in my feet.

I was ready to head back inside to my cozy sofa when a pang of guilt struck me. I hadn’t shoveled a path out to my bird feeder, which is in a tree on the outside of the fenced-in yard (because if the birds came into the yard, my dogs would try to eat them). So I shoveled a path out there and even cleared an area where I could toss food for the ground feeders, like the crows and mourning doves.

I finally came back inside at 10 PM and put the kettle on for tea so I could thaw out. At that point, my dogs, Eden – a Boxer/golden retriever mix, and Wynter – a rottweiler, wanted to go out. I opened the back door and let them out into the yard.

About 15 minutes later, I opened the door and called the dogs. Eden ran up to the door, but her partner in crime wasn’t with her…which was unusual.  I called Wynter. No response. I called again. Still no response. So I asked Eden, “Where’s Wynter?” (as if I actually expected an answer).  She ran over to the other deck and peered underneath it. My first thought was Wynter was lying under there, injured…or worse.

I threw on all my layers of clothes again, then grabbed a flashlight and went out to the yard to search. But there was no sign of  Wynter anywhere. She seemed to have vanished into thin air.

“Did aliens fly overhead and beam her up?” I asked Eden, who stared blankly at me.

I used the flashlight to make a sweep of the yard once again…and that’s when I spotted it…the back gate was wide open! I’d forgotten to shut it after shoveling a path to the bird feeder!  I groaned out loud and called myself several colorful names for being so careless. Sure enough, dog tracks in the fresh snow headed straight out of the gate and into the woods out back. Wynter never had been loose before, so I imagined her crossing the Canadian border right about then.

I brought Eden back into the house and then, without even grabbing my phone, I headed out to the woods to try to track down Wynter, never thinking that if I fell and couldn’t get up, no one would find my body until the spring thaw.

As I tromped through the snow in the dark, going deeper and deeper into the woods while shouting Wynter’s name, I began to think, “This is getting scary. Maybe I should turn around before I come face to face with the Abominable Snowman.”  But I knew if I gave up my search for Wynter, she’d be a dog-sicle by morning. 

I also was scared she’d find her way out to the main road and get hit by a car, mainly because she is, as the vet likes to refer to her, a “tire biter.”  Whenever she sees a car, she goes straight for the tires – usually while I’m being dragged on her leash behind her. 

That’s when it dawned on me – I had no leash with me!  If I did find Wynter, how was I supposed to lead her back home, especially if she was enjoying her newfound freedom? And there was no way I could pick up and carry a 100-lb. dog.

Finally, after nearly two hours of walking and shouting Wynter’s name, I gave up and headed back toward the house. For one thing, I hardly had any voice left, and for another, I was pretty sure my nose had frozen and dropped off somewhere out in the middle of a clump of fir trees, because I couldn’t feel anything on my face any more.

I’m such a chicken about driving on snowy roads, if someone offered me $10,000 to drive only a mile, I’d still refuse. But I decided to be brave and drive around the neighborhood to search for Wynter. At least driving would be warmer on my toes, which by then, I figured, I'd have to fish out of my socks when I removed them.

I put on a pair of dry boots and warmer gloves, then grabbed my car keys, purse and a leash and headed out to the garage. When I opened the garage door, there, just calmly sitting on the other side of it was Wynter, her face covered with snow. I was so excited to see her, I screamed her name, which nearly made her take off running again.

Never in my life have I been so happy to see a dog.

Eden, however, wasn’t pleased at all. She greeted Wynter with a series of growls, as if to say, “I had the whole place to myself for a change, and figured I’d be getting your share of the dog food from now on. But no, you dumb jerk, you had to come back! I was smart enough not to run off, so I should be rewarded for my good behavior by getting all of the treats. You don’t deserve any!”

Tomorrow night, the weather forecast is for a wind chill of about 30 degrees below zero. Nothing, and I mean nothing, ever could force me to leave the house in weather like that.

Do you hear me, Wynter?

#   #   #

                                                                      

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net



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Sunday, January 2, 2022

I WAS DRIVEN TO DE-WHISTLE MY TEAKETTLE

 



HAPPY NEW YEAR! And welcome to another year of my craziness!


The other night I was craving homemade soup, so I spent a half-hour chopping vegetables and chicken into neat little cubes. Then I put them into a pot, added some seasoning, water and broth, and let everything simmer. 

While waiting for the soup, I curled up on the sofa to watch TV. That’s the last thing I remember until the smoke detectors – all seven of them – blasted me awake. 

The detectors in my house are hooked up so that when one goes off, they all do. The combined noise is so loud, I’m pretty sure people up in Canada can hear it.

When my heart stopped pounding somewhere up around my eyeballs, I rushed out to the kitchen and turned off the burner. Nothing in my soup pot was recognizable. In fact, the contents looked as if they’d just been dredged up from the bottom of the La Brea Tar Pits.

A whole box of steel-wool pads later, I still couldn’t get the pot clean, so I checked the Internet for a solution. The general consensus was to put a little dishwashing liquid into the pot, add water and then bring it to a boil on the stove. The soap would make all of the burnt stuff loosen up, according to the information.

So I squirted some dishwashing liquid into the pot, added water and then set it on the stove to boil.

That’s when one of my friends called. We chatted for about 15 minutes and then I returned to the stove…which was covered with soap suds. It looked as if all of the burners were taking a bubble bath.

At least the smoke detectors didn’t go off again. 

My husband always used to nag me to get a whistling teakettle because too often I’d put a pot of water on the stove for tea and then get distracted. It wasn’t  until I’d hear the pot making crackling and popping noises (because all of the water had boiled out) that I’d remember my tea.

“You’re going to burn down the house one of these days,” he’d scold me.

“Not with all of these smoke detectors,” I’d answer. “I can’t even eat hot peppers without them going off!”

“Just humor me and get a whistling teakettle!”

“But I hate those annoying things! They make me jump when they whistle. Don’t they sell ones that play catchy show tunes?”

He glared at me.

So I bought a whistling kettle. The first time it whistled, it sounded like the noise fireworks make when they’re shot into the sky. My dogs, who are terrified of fireworks, ran into the bedroom and hid.

That did it. I removed the whistling part of the kettle and turned it into a silent one. My husband was less than pleased when he discovered that the kettle’s voice box had been mercilessly ripped from its throat. So once again, I had to endure a lecture.

“Every time you put something on the stove,” he said, “do me a favor and set the oven timer. That way, it will ding and remind you to check the pot or pan.”

“That wimpy little ding?” I said, rolling my eyes. “I’d have to be sitting on the kitchen counter to hear it!”

“Well, I’ve seen you stand right next to the stove and still forget you were cooking something,” he said. “So I’d say any ding is better than no ding at all.”

He had a point.

I hate to admit it, but I never could remember to set the darned thing. So now, for one of my New Year’s resolutions, especially after the recent La-Brea-soup incident, I'm going to make a serious effort to get into the habit of setting the oven timer whenever I put something on the stove.

Then, to be doubly safe, I’m also going to buy a couple fire extinguishers to keep handy in the kitchen…just in case those firefighters way up in Canada can’t get here fast enough when they hear all of my smoke detectors going off.

 

#   #   # 

Sally Breslin is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist who has written regularly for newspapers and magazines all of her adult life. She is the author of several novels in a variety of genres, from humor and romance to science fiction and thrillers. Contact her at: sillysally@att.net

 


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