Pumpkin Spice Peer Pressure

I took a five-minute walk through Whole Foods and was quickly reminded that it’s that time of year again – Fall in Florida. You might think I would wait outside on a lovely fall day, but it was 93 degrees outside. September was going out with a sizzle. Summer down here lasts easily until after Halloween, so if it weren’t for the plethora of pumpkin product placements, it may have slipped my notice that the season had changed.

A few short years ago, I came to realize that not everyone is pleased as punch over pumpkins. I have a friend who is not just overwhelmed, but annoyed at the things that those poor pumpkins are going through when all they really want to be is pie. Granted, she is in the minority, but she has a voice and she demands to be heard. And isn’t that what we’re all about in today’s world?

I thought about her as I wandered through the store; even I was overwhelmed by pumpkin. Every time I turned around, I was face-to-face with another pumpkin product. I love pumpkin, but at that point, I began to question everything about fall.

What about leaves? Isn’t fall foliage what it’s all about? And apples. Shouldn’t we be buying freshly pressed apple cider? Shouldn’t I be putting raked leaf essence in my coffee instead of pumpkin spice? Have I joined the ranks of pumpkin people without a second thought?

When I returned home I lit my pumpkin spice candle and thought deeply about this. I decided I might as well get my fall decorations out as I was thinking. They included 5 pumpkin spiced candles, a room spray, and various assorted pumpkin and leaf decorations.

It made me cry real tears when I realized that I hadn’t known when to stop. I hadn’t taken into account people like my friend who suffer from PSOD (pumpkin spice overload disorder). Plus, I also had ignored my own eye-irritant disorder, which is triggered by strong candle fragrances such as the ones I unleashed in my own house. Yes, the tears were real.

I’ll have to go on Amazon and see if they have any pumpkin spice lubricant eye drops. I’ll bet they’re out there!

 

 

 

Morally Degenerate, Ambiguous Meatballs

Whoever came up with happy hour $5 appetizers is a genius. Bob and I visited our local Seasons 52 recently and totally enjoyed picking out a few of these along with a glass of wine. It’s a quick, relaxing date. An opportunity to reconnect over a light meal. Plus if I choose the wrong thing, which equates to anything I don’t like, it was only five bucks.

I am not a culinary guru. I can’t taste something and dissect the flavors on my palate, but I know what I like and even more what I don’t like. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I might really like what I claim not to like. Perhaps I’ve just not given it enough of a chance. Maybe my tastes have changed. Maybe I’m evolving into a foodie. Maybe, but probably not.

So after enjoying our flatbread and grilled chicken yakitori skewers and finding ourselves not quite there yet in the contented department, we decided to order one more appetizer. I really wanted another grilled chicken yakitori skewer. I still had the taste of the caramelized pineapple, slivered scallions, and toasted sesame bathed chicken on my lips. (Of course, I would have had no idea exactly what those flavors were except they were printed on the menu.)

But Bob loves variety, so we ordered the wood grilled meatballs with roasted tomatoes and Parmesan. One bite was more than enough for me to know that I didn’t like these, so I took another bite and then one more. With each bite I tried to figure out what was in with these funky tasting meatballs that Bob was enjoying. I struggled to discern the weird taste. Finally I came up with it – metal. Possibly iron. Or maybe some of the burnt wood which they grilled them on. In an effort to get that terrible taste out of my mouth, I finished off Bob’s glass of wine, which he offered in payment for me hating his food choice. He made the exchange happily as he polished off the meatballs.

Finally, when the server came by, I mentioned the meatballs reminded me of some of the heavy metal bands of the 80s, and I didn’t care much for them either. “Oh,” he replied. “It’s the shiitake mushrooms. They are rather earthy.”

Earthy was putting it mildly. That ingredient should have been listed on the menu. Please!

But, that explained a lot. I hate mushrooms, so this was good news. I had begun to doubt my mushroom hatred. I wondered if I had given them a fair shake or maybe I was just used to saying I hate them. Nope. I hate them. You can hide that fleshy fungus deep inside of an otherwise pleasant-looking meatball, and I still will turn my nose up at it.

I guess it’s true what they say – it’s what’s inside that counts. Evidently that goes for people and meatballs.

On the bright side, they were only five bucks. Plus, Bob did let me finish his wine. Most of all, I felt justified in my long-held mushroom disdain. That was worth $5 all by itself.

Honest, Abe, I love $5 appetizers (most of the time).

Where Did My Funny Go?

“I lost a little of my funny over the past year, but that’s okay.” This is a quote from someone very dear to me. I can also relate to it as I’ve had the very same experience. Life is not all roses and cat videos. It’s not all amazing trips and book releases. In between all of those things is the hard stuff. Suffering. Death. Unemployment. Injustice. Frogs that jump and make you scream. (I had to lighten things up a little!)

If you happen to write a humor blog like I do, that can add to the challenge. What do I do when the lighter side of things is hidden behind dark clouds? When I just want to go to bed and sleep until the funny comes back? When I’m tempted to retreat?

One thing I’ve learned. I’m not alone. There are always people who can relate and understand. There are always those who can’t yet.

So today I thought I’d remind you to be on the lookout for opportunities to look up. Personally I know where my help comes from. I know where the light comes from – or I should say I know who the light is. My help comes from The Lord. I hope you’ll see him as your help, too.

I have experienced something that I want to share with you. It’s joy. Joy through tears. Joy through sorrow. Joy when I don’t know where I’m going but I know who is guiding me. Over the past month as I’ve taken some walks with Jesus (literal walks), I’ve found my smile in the most unusual times. I’ve always had laughter come easily, but sometimes, along with my funny, I’ve found my smiles have faded. But I have experienced joy welling up in the form of smiles when I’m all alone. When I think of someone I love. When I witness life in front of my eyes. When I am grateful. That’s amazing to me.

So if you are finding your funny a little elusive, don’t give up. Look up. I hope you have a joyous day.

I always get a kick out of this picture. Even monkeys need to keep hydrated.

Things You’ll Never Hear Me Say

I kind of talk a lot. I admit it. I have opinions. If you’re around me, you just might hear them. I have things I am passionate about. You’d probably hear about those, too. But there are some things you’ll never hear me say, words I’ll never use even to make a point.

  1. Never and always. I’m always careful never to use those words; they get you in trouble.
  2. Tonight I’m cooking a new recipe with 15 ingredients. (There are easily three things wrong with this statement.)
  3. I’d rather not go out to dinner.
  4. I’ll skip my coffee this morning.
  5. There’s no room for my grandchildren to come stay.
  6. I’m canceling my Costco membership.
  7. The word “at” at the end of a question. (Where are you at?) I practically break out in a sweat when I hear this.
  8. We’re getting a pet. (This is outlawed according to Bob’s and my No More Pet Pact of 2011.)
  9. I can’t wait to go camping.
  10. These political ads have totally influenced my voting decision.

How about you? Is there anything you would never say?

Life Has Its Ups and Downs

One minute I’m up and the next minute I’m down. That’s life in the Costco aisle. I can’t tell you how excited I was when Costco surprised me with Charmin toilet paper with scalloped perforations between the sheets. It was a stroke of brilliance that brought about this long-needed update to a very mundane (yet essential) product. Not since we were told “not to squeeze the Charmin” have I been so excited to sit next to this Grade A paper. Mr. Whipple would be proud. But he probably would be OCD about that, too. I can just hear him say, “Don’t rip between the perforations!”

This does solve a lot of problems. For years when our grandchildren were over we would go through toilet paper at a rate of about 1.5 rolls per day. We helped them learn to count with toilet paper, for goodness’ sakes. Now, though, it will be all the easier for them to count and tear. Genius! Plus, no more having to make that cute little triangle on the end of the roll to make it extra fancy. Perforations – that’s what it’s all about.

But then Costco threw me for a loop. They changed out my favorite yogurt. Dannon Activia has always come in three flavors – peach, strawberry, and blueberry. Always. But not yesterday. They claim to have updated the flavors and blueberry got the axe. I made an audible gasp when I saw the box promoting black cherry. I practically climbed into the refrigerator in search of any blueberry hidden back there. Alas, I am forced to try something new. Bob says it’s good for me and reminds me that I love cherries. I know what you’re thinking – how can he really not know me after all of these years!

Oh, blueberry! We had a good run!

This is my last blueberry yogurt. I will savor it and bid it farewell. I am reminded that you can purchase this at the grocery store, but that’s not how I roll. Oh, Costco! You drive me crazy sometimes, but this blueberry debacle will not be the end of our relationship. I forgive you.

Furthermore, I will not concentrate on the negative. Who knows – maybe I’ll love black cherry yogurt. Either way, whenever I visit the bathroom (which really goes hand-in-hand with Activia yogurt), I have a pleasant roll of perforated tissues there waiting to cheer me up.

 

Survivor Finale – Spoiler Alert!!!

Image result for free pictures of jeff probst

Photo Source: tvseriesfinale.com

Sacred TV time. That statement is wrong on so many levels, except that is how I “view” my Survivor television watching. Survivor is my absolute favorite TV show. My kids know this. Some of them watch the show, too; so last Wednesday night when Bob and I sat down to watch the finale an hour and fifteen minutes after the scheduled time, I texted my kids to let them know we were just then starting. I couldn’t risk a kink in my plan to find out who the sole survivor would be from watching the show, not from my kids lack of knowledge that we were watching delayed. (more…)

They Left a Light on For Us

Tuesday we arrived in Page, Arizona. Our Number One Goal: Antelope Canyon. But for now let me tell you about our first night in Page. We stopped at Glen Canyon Dam, on the Colorado River, and saw the whole dam thing. In this area it is dam this and dam that. We ate lunch at the Dam Cafe which was in the Dam Plaza, in the center of the dam town. You get the picture.

Our next stop was Horseshoe Bend where we hiked down to see the Colorado River make a, you guessed it,  horseshoe-shaped bend. It was another test of our prowess as we hiked along the steep trails of Navajo Sandstone with the wind whipping along the canyon spreading sand over our everything. Totally worth it! Here are a few shots to make you jealous. Not really. If you struggle with that just think about how my legs kept yelling at me for taking them for granted all these years. They are seriously not happy with me, but I continue to tell them who is boss (Bob, for making me walk when I’m ready to give up).

But the thing we were not prepared for, the thing that no pictures could capture, the thing we didn’t quite anticipate, was our hotel for the night. We planned on two nights but plans are made to be changed.

Disclaimer: I am a little picky. Okay, I am a lot picky.

I didn’t want to be the one in our group of four to object to the place, but of course I was, somebody had to. I was gentle though, because I wasn’t the one who made the reservations. I told the lady behind the desk, “We have reservations and I have reservations.” Desk ladies don’t have a great sense of humor.

The big draw of this place was it was cheap, and we figured that we would only be sleeping in the room as we would be enjoying the night life of Page. Spoiler Alert: There is no night life in Page. Once the sun goes down the show is over. So we retreated to our room. Here’s a picture of the room, forgive the mess; but there were no drawers, closets, lights to speak of, rugs, or quiet.

It was the noisiest hotel night of our lives. And we have traveled with our four children. Even now as I think back to times when we sneaked two of them into the room so we didn’t have to book two rooms, and we had kids lying all over the floor pinching each other, tooting, and giggling, those times were not as noisy as last night was.

As best as I can tell, all Page nightlife occurs in this hotel. That must explain the popularity of the ice maker, which was down the hall about two doors from us. Evidently people in Arizona need ice all throughout the night. I could almost here people yelling, “I need ice, stat!”

The next problem was that we apparrently were on the flight path to the airport.  It turned out that everytime someone started a shower near us, it sounded like a 747 was going through our room. I literally jumped out of my bed about three times before I realized there was no threat to us.

Someone close by had a German Shepherd and must have been unsuccessfully patrolling the halls making sure people weren’t taking too many turns at the icemaker. He likely was leading a pack of dogs through the corridor through the night as there was that delightful doggy smell.

The wind howling through our windows sounded like a coyote howling at the moon. I wondered if it bothered the pro-bowlers tour that was practicing while we tried to sleep. I am not sure how they managed to set up a lane in the hallway, but good for them. It must have been difficult with the cheerleading competitors practicing all around them.

So, we checked out. One night of excitement was enough for us. It is a good thing they left a light on for us, because we would never have found the switch. I will tell you about Antelope Canyon next time – after I get a good night of sleep and some decent wifi.

Oops (Zion National Park part 2)

So last night I published a post before I finished writing it. I thought I was saving and hit the wrong button. The worst part wasn’t that it wasn’t finished or that I hadn’t added pictures. It was that I didn’t put a period at the end of my sentence. Oh, the shame and humiliation! Please, don’t think poorly of me! I wanted to fix it but alas it was too late. Also, I had no strength after hiking about 14 miles in 2 days. So here are a few pics from Zion. Thanks for being an understanding group.

Bye for now.

Dear Marion Winik

I just returned from a weekend of laughter, inspiration, education, and a tad bit of humiliation at the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

There were seven workshops spread over two days. Each time slot had multiple classes from which to choose. Narrowing down which to attend was like Sophie’s Choice. I made my choices though, several times. My decisions were based on what the workshop topic would be, as I’m not good at remembering the names of the speakers/authors.

Friday morning, I settled down in the Memoir Boot Camp, ready to take my personal essay skills to the next level. Our speaker introduced herself as Marion Winik and proceeded to captivate us by reading some of her own essays. For a brief moment we felt all warm and fuzzy, and then it was time to get down to business and do some writing of our own. (more…)

Stream It! – Part II of my Book Signing Fun

Wouldn’t you, like to buy a book, from me?

It was a beautiful day for my first book signing. Bob and I were joined by our friend and Prevail Press publisher as we set up in front of the Barrel of Books and Games in Mount Dora. I wasn’t nervous, I’ve sold things before, but this time it was like I was selling myself. (You know what I mean). For years I was a Tupperware lady. That is a lot like being a stand-up comedian who specializes in food freshness. You engage people and make them laugh until they realize that, not only do they like that bowl, but they must have it. It translates – yesterday a bowl, today a book.

We barely had my books on the table when an extremely friendly woman literally ran up to us saying that I had been chosen as one of two that she was going to stream live. She was using all the right wording to make me believe that she was a sweet Christian lady and probably worked for the Chamber of Commerce. We all looked at each other in that way you do when you can’t quite believe you’ve found such good fortune.

But, soon we realized that we had indeed found something, and it was a far cry from good fortune. (more…)