Saturday, December 3, 2011

Of M&Ms and Sandwiches

The other day I was sitting at my desk at work during lunch, contemplating what my 50th blog post should be about.  I was mindlessly going through some M&Ms I had shoveled out of the large candy jar that sits outside our VP's office.  That's when I realized there was nothing mindless about my eating M&Ms.  I have a very specific and deliberate method I employ through this seemingly mundane task.  This made me think of other quirky things I do, which led me to the possibility of writing a "25 Random Things About Me" blog.  But then I began to wonder if that were just too narcissistic of me.  This thought process led me to believe I  can go into greater detail about one or two of my quirky habits so that people who read my blog can get to know me better.  Please bear in mind that I have never told any of this to anyone before.  Once you have read this blog post, I hope you still like me!  

M&Ms come in pretty colors.  Although they all taste the same, the colors add to the fun for the child in me.  They now come in different varieties as well.  You have your plain old chocolate ones that melt in your mouth, not in your hand.  You have the Peanut or Almond ones, a chocolate-esconced peanut (or almond) enrobed in a white shell.  There are also the  more complex Peanut Butter ones, which is a peanut butter M&M within a chocolate M&M.  Factor in all the different colors in each kind, and you have a seemingly endless number of combinations to play with.  And the candy jar at work holds these different types of M&Ms in their different colors.  

Here's what I do.  I grab some M&Ms and then set them on a plate or a paper towel.  I then separate them by type, by color.  Then I group them by color and type, one of each in every group.  The ones that don't have an all-inclusive group are like the kids that nobody wants to pick when choosing teams for a game.  No worries, I just have them in smaller groups, until I have one or two that don't belong anywhere.  Those get eaten first.  I go with the Peanut M&Ms first, then the peanut butter ones, then the plain.  I don't bite into the plain ones, but rather just let the outer shell dissolve and then the chocolate melt.  

Do you think I'm crazy?  If so, feel free to stop, but I hope you will read on.  

If you didn't think the M&Ms routine was questionable enough, let's talk about sandwiches.  

Most of my school-going life, my lunch consisted of a sandwich in some shape or form.  Peanut Butter and Jelly, Ham and Cheese, and Tuna were my favorite kind.  When I was a child, the only type of bread available was white.  Now of course, there are so many varieties and I don't eat white bread anymore.  But one thing from when I was a child still holds true today.  If my sandwich wasn't  made correctly, I didn't want to eat it.  Of course, that wasn't an option when I was younger, because my mother would never take kindly to my wasting food.  Let's just say my sandwich wasn't as enjoyable if it wasn't made the way I wanted.

First off, the bread slices had to be from the center or as close to the center of the loaf as possible.  The slices at each end weren't as soft.  Second, the slices had to match.  You know how bread doesn't normally bake up symmetrically, so if you cut a slice in two, each piece doesn't look the same?  If you take two slices of bread and flip one over and place it on the other, the two slices won't match.  That doesn't work for me.  Third, the bread has to be spread with condiments or fillings all the way to the edge.  I hate when a glob of peanut butter is plopped into the center and then not spread out.  The same goes for the rest of what is inside the sandwich.  It's just not right when everything is stacked in the middle and hardly anything near the edges.  On the rare occasion that I have a sandwich for lunch from the grocery store deli, the first thing I do is open it up and rearrange it to my liking.  It makes my sandwich easier to bite into, and ensures that I have more than just bread left at the very end.  Also, I like my sandwich cut in half.  Not vertically, but diagonally across.  No, I don't have a preference if it is cut diagonally beginning at the top left or top right corner.  I'm not that picky!  

Then comes the Eating the Sandwich part.  I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but I like to eat the crusts first, then the middle.  I always have, and I probably always will.  I love to save the best for last.  I have to resist this urge when I am  with people, for fear of what they will think of me.  But when I am alone, this is what I do.  I remember how it used to drive my brother crazy to watch me.  He would tell me to grow up.  This is my younger brother we are talking about!  

So there you have it, dear reader.  This is who I am, and this is how I eat my M&Ms and my sandwiches.  This is what makes me me.  I'm sure I have many more quirks that you may have noticed that I may not be aware of.  I'm sure that you have as many quirks that you may not know about, but they are what make you who you are.  We are not perfect and I don't think we are supposed to be.  As long as our quirks don't negatively impact someone else (like someone burping into my ear), I think our little idiosyncrasies are what make us more fun to be around.


I hope so.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Forever Cringing

'Tis The Season,  Almost.  You can feel it in the air.  The decorations are up everywhere, a sign that the holidays are near.  A little too early for my liking, but there's no denying it.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah or Kwaanza, or all three (Christakwaanzakah) or you celebrate Festivus for the rest'ov'us, it's time.  Time for sales that begin at midnight on Thanksgiving, time to spend more than one can afford, time to watch some commercials on television that usher in the holidays. 

There are the Target commercials featuring Maria Bamford.  She's a great comedian, but gosh do I hate those commercials!  I'm glad I have to see them only between October and Christmas.  There are commercials for cars with a big red bow, there are commercials for jewelry, there are commercials for a Hallmark ornament that counts down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to Christmas. 

Then there are commercials for tacky, tacky knick-knacks that make you so glad that the holidays come only once a year.  For example, The Chia Head.  Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!  As if they didn't extend that stupid concept far enough the first time, they came up with the President Chia Heads a couple of years ago.  What a way to disrespect Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama.  I am thankful too that I didn't see commercials for Snuggies all year round, but they are back.  Snuggies, the blanket with sleeves, now available in your school colors!

Celebrity stylist Carson Kressley, referring to Snuggies, asked the question, "What fresh new hell is this?" 

Well dear reader, welcome to a fresher, newer hell.  It's called "Forever Lazy".  Yes, that's what I said, Forever Lazy. 

Apparently the Forever Lazy has been around since last year, but I wasn't aware.  I first heard of Forever Lazy when I woke up one night last week and couldn't go back to sleep.  I turned on the TV, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a commercial for, you guessed it,  Forever Lazy.  As I watched the commercial in stunned disbelief, the only thought going through my mind was, "Are you kidding me?"  The commercial tells us that if we need to stay warm, we need Forever Lazy.  Forever Lazy can best be described as a hooded fleece jumpsuit for adults, with the feet cut off.  Their website calls them The One Piece Lie Around, Lounge Around, Full Body Lazy Wear.  They come in three stylish colors - Hanky Pinky Fuschia, Asleep On The Job Gray and Workday Blues.  The commercial suggests that all you need to do is get into a Forever Lazy, zip it up and you're all set.  Since your hands and feet are free, you can lounge around and read a book, knit, play a guitar or spend time with your pet.  I don't see how a Forever Lazy enhances any of these activities.  The commercial goes on to say that you can raid the refrigerator, study for a test or play video games in it.  You can also wear it to a tailgate party, outdoors, if you dare to be caught wearing it in public.  If you feel the need to go to the bathroom, the Forever Lazy is fitted with a zipper that runs down the front and what I refer to as a butt-trapdoor, just like they have in a baby's onesie.  But wait, there's more.  If I call now, I get two for the price of one, with a pair of fleece socks thrown in.  If you haven't seen or heard of this commercial, you're in for a treat.  I have posted a video of this commercial for your viewing pleasure.  Don't miss the very end where it talks about two for the price of one.  Enjoy, but please come back and read the rest of what I have to say!

After watching the commercial, I began to think of the many reasons why I wouldn't exactly jump up and want to call or order this product online, not even if a gun were held to my head.  First of all, the name Forever Lazy.  Which brainiac came up with the name, and what were they smoking when they did?  I wouldn't want to order a product that promotes infinite sloth as a virtue.  Then there's the pattern, or lack thereof.  Am I really ever cold enough to be caught in one of these?  Given that I am not exactly skinny, I would look like a huge, pink (excuse me, Hanky Pinky Fuschia) potato.  Thirdly, that whole idea of unzipping the front or releasing the butt trapdoor to go.  Really?  If I were a guy, the unzipping just might work.  But I'm a woman.  Even if I were not wearing anything under my Forever Lazy, it is virtually impossible to use the bathroom without having to disrobe completely.  It just doesn't work.  Think about it.  And if you're a guy, think about going #2 while wearing a jumpsuit.  Who were they trying to kid with,"Has Zippered Hatches in Front and Back, for Great Escapes When Duty Calls"?  The way I see it, you'll end up with "duty" all over yourself.

I really don't know who the target audience for this commercial is.  I really wonder who in their right mind would go out and buy one of these, even at $30 for two plus a pair of socks.  If you do, please help me understand this mystery.  The saddest question to ask ourselves is this - do we want to be remembered as a generation that made the Chia Head, Snuggies and Forever Lazy?  In my mind's eye, I can just see into the future, about twenty or thirty years from now.  A kid will dig up a Chia Head in their backyard.  Another will find a Snuggie in a box somewhere in an attic.  Still another kid will find a Forever Lazy.  All three of them will be laughing their heads off at us.

PS:  I am one blog post away from my 50th.  To commemorate this occasion, I will be giving away a box of my hand-crafted Belgian Chocolates to one of my readers.  To enter, please send an e-mail to  If the winner is from outside the USA, I will need to pick a different prize, one that travels better.   As always, thank you for reading.  Without your encouragement, I would have stopped writing a long time ago.  God Bless!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Nothing Green About This Kermet

Last night I went to see local comedian Kermet Apio at Laughs Comedy Spot in Kirkland.  It was the best show I have watched at this venue.

I first heard about Kermet back in the late '90s, through my buddy Bert Vance.  Bert, like me, enjoys the dubious distinction of having as Western-sounding a name as one can have, despite being from India.  Bert told me about this up and coming comedian and said I should definitely go see him if I ever got the chance. 

The next time I heard about Kermet Apio was back in the day when Saturday Night Live on television was followed by a stand up comedy show hosted by Louie Anderson.  I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of the show, but I don't suppose that's really important.  I happened to be awake the day Kermet was on that show.  I quite enjoyed his routine.  I did happen to come across him a couple of times on television.  He was really funny every time.

I hear that Kermet moved to Seattle to go to the University of Washington.  If I were born and raised in Hawaii, I am not sure I would move from year-round sunshine and sunny beaches to the Pacific Northwest that sees gray skies and rain eight out of twelve months in a year.  When Kermet moved here, he brought a piece of Hawaii with him which his lucky audience got to experience at the Seattle Folk Life Festival during the Memorial Day Weekend.  I watched Kermet on stage with his guitar, singing a Hawaiian song called "Kahealani".  I was stuck by his soulful voice and his skillful guitar accompaniment that held the audience rapt.  Wow, just wow.  This guy was very, very talented.  I never thought that the first time I got to watch him live, it wouldn't be his comedy but his singing I would get to see.  I decided that no matter what, I was going to do whatever I could to watch his comedy live as soon as I possibly could.  Every time I tried, something happened that prevented this from happening.  I even e-mailed Kermet to find out when his next local show was going to be.  He e-mailed me back saying that he didn't think he was going to perform locally the rest of the year.  What a bummer!

That is why I was surprised and very delighted to hear that he was going to be at Laughs, where I didn't have to dress up all fancy like I have to do when I go to Parlor Live in Bellevue.  My friends and I decided to go to the 8:00 pm show on Saturday.  It almost seemed like I wasn't going to be able to make it again due to car trouble, but one of my wonderful friends volunteered to drive out of their way to pick me up and drop me off home.  We got to Laughs and settled down with our drinks and our sweet potato fries to nosh on.  There were three separate opening acts, none of which really made much of an impression on me.  One of them used the f-word way too much and totally unnecessarily.  Another talked about bowel movements and farts.  Somehow, that made me not want to eat any more sweet potato fries.

Then it was time.  Kermet Apio came on stage.   

The first thing that strikes you about him is that he is really tall.  He's not actually skinny, which may be attributed to his love of pie, but he isn't really big either.  In his words, if he went to a Big and Tall store, he would be considered petite.  He talked about what it felt like to grow up with a name that he shared with a frog.  That was the only part of his routine I had heard before, but when one is named Kermet, he can be forgiven for repeating that joke.   Without giving away too much of his routine, one can relate to pretty much everything he talks about.  He talked about listening to a Walkman and the challenge of trying to find a specific song you wanted to hear.  He talked about what it was like to be a father, driving a purple car with two booster seats in the back and stickers all over the windows.  One thing that you come away with from listening to Kermet talk about his family is that he really enjoys being a family man.  I have seen and heard comedians really disrespect their spouse and children just so they can get a laugh, which makes me cringe.  Not so in this case.   

I really want everyone to go watch Kermet if he happens to be in your town.  If you happen to go see him, I want you to enjoy his set, so I don't want to talk too much about his jokes.  What I can say is that I guarantee you that you will find him really, really funny.  He has a stage presence and ease of delivery that comes from years of experience.  His comedic timing is perfect.  From watching and listening to him, you get the feeling that overall he's very humble and is a really nice guy.  If you get a chance to, go see him!  It will be worth your time and money!  

Thank you for the laughs, Kermet.  I can't wait to see your show again.  The next time I'll bring you a pie!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dirty Little Secret

On the evening of October 20th, a group of friends got together for dinner.  Little did they realize that their lives would be forever changed that evening.  

After they finished dinner, the group of friends were outside the restaurant.  An obviously inebriated man came up to them and began harassing one of the girls in the group.  He made some lewd and filthy comments.  Hearing this, her boyfriend (let's call him K) stepped up and confronted the offender, who quickly turned violent.  A heated argument ensued, and the group of friends pushed the drunk man away.  He left, but promised he would be back.  The group of friends didn't give his threats much thought, and went about their evening.  

About fifteen minutes later, the drunk returned.  He had about ten people as his backup.  They jumped out of their vehicles, brandishing knives and swords.   The drunk pulled out a knife and stabbed K in the stomach.  Seeing this, the girls among the group of friends ran back into the restaurant for safety, while one of the boys, let's call him R, blocked the doorway.  The thugs stabbed R four times.  The rest of the evening is irrelevant to this story, except for the fact that K succumbed to his injuries later that night.  Sadly, on October 31st, eleven days after this incident, R died as well.

That's a frightening and sad story, isn't it?  You would think that this occurred really late at night.  It happened at 10:30 pm.  There were many people around when this incident happened, but nobody stepped up to help.  They just stood and stared.  They were probably scared from seeing all those weapons. 

What are your thoughts on this story?  Are you outraged?  Are you wondering where the police were when all of this happened?  Do you want justice for K and R?  

Now what if I told you this incident occurred in Mumbai, India?  Do you still feel the way you do, or do you feel too far removed from the situation to think that there is anything you can do about it?

The ugly truth is that there are many places in the world where this kind of thing happens.  Even though women are now receiving an education, stepping out to good jobs and a great salary and are allowed to dream big, there are still segments within these societies that believe men are superior.  Whether it's this perceived superiority, or whether it is a sense of frustration driven by poverty, some men believe that they have a right to make negative comments and a woman cannot or should not do anything about it.  This isn't right.  Women should not have to apologize for their success.  Women should not be victimized by listening to lewd talk.  Women should not be touched inappropriately.  And yet this happens.  It happens in broad daylight.  It happens with everybody around.  It happens where everyone can see it happen, but chooses to do nothing about it.  That's the dirtly little secret in many countries.  It happens and yet nothing happens about it.  It happened again with this incident, and Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes (the K and the R from the story above) had to lose their lives for doing the right thing by standing up to defend the honor of women.

I didn't not know anything about this incident until earlier this week.  Here I was, in my safe corner of  Washington State, quite oblivious to what was happening in my country of origin, in the city where I was born.  One of my friends on Facebook added me to the Keenan Santos group.  I was mildly irritated by the fact that I was added to a group without my permission.  I went to the group page anyway, and I began to read the posts.  I could detect a sense of hopeless helplessness, but it was soon thwarted by a call to action.  People are joining together to take a stand.  The underlying outrage was calling for swift, street justice for the accused.  The anger was almost palpable and I wondered what could have happened that sparked these reactions.  I went online and found the stories.  I read with horror and was struck by how in a day and age of modern living, an incident so barbaric in its nature can still happen.  

So what can you and I do?  If you believe in prayer, please pray for the grieving families.  Please pray for the young group of people who had to witness their friends being attacked.  Please pray for the people who find themselves in situations like this as onlookers, that they may find the courage to step in to help.  Please pray for healing all around.  There are other things we can do. We can join the Facebook group and show our support as citizens of the world.  We don't have to be from India or know anybody from their to believe in justice for all, which includes everyone, no matter what part of the world.  You can share this story in any way you want to, so that more people are aware of these secrets that exist within more repressed societies.  There is also a petition out there to change attitudes toward women.  There are so many things you can do, in your own small way.  On behalf of Keenan and Reuben I implore you.  Please do something.  It doesn't have to be anything big.  Any action on your part will bring change to parts of the world that really need it.  

Please don't let Keenan's and Reuben's death be in vain.

Links to this story:

One of the first news stories
Keenans girlfriend describes how he was killed
Keenan Santos Facebook Group
Petition For Zero Tolerance Against Sexual Harrassment

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Happily Ever After

As a child growing up, I loved having stories read to me.  Almost every story I heard ended with: "....And they all lived Happily Ever After."  Cinderella and her Prince, Snow White and her Prince, Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood after she escaped the Big Bad Wolf.  Nobody knows what became of them, except that get the idea.   I always wondered what living Happily Ever After was like.  It sounded like this faraway place in never never land, where the concept of school homework didn't exist, where I could have as much chocolate and ice cream as I wanted, where I could have that pet dog my parents refused to get for me and where I would never again be tortured by my two brothers!

As I grew older, my perspective changed a little, but not very much.  Homework was replaced by other responsibilities that I couldn't get away from.  I could have as much chocolate and ice cream as I wanted to, but there were consequences.  My brothers grew up too and embraced the fact that they had only one sister (or so I hope) and became much nicer to me.  And my parents finally got me the dog that I so badly wanted.  But when I stopped to think, how much happier was I?  My heart had been broken, I was struggling with a weight problem, I had trouble making long-lasting or meaningful friendships.  The older I became, it seemed like my list of life's challenges just kept growing.  A series of circumstances through my twenties only compounded the situation, leaving me feeling so overwhelmed by negativity.  I began to believe that I didn't deserve the happiness I was so desperately seeking, which is why it seemed to elude me.  I went through the motions of life pretending that everything was fine, while deep inside the silent despair was building up and swallowing me completely.  I gave in to the feeling of helpless hopelessness.   

To keep myself from falling into full-blown depression, I began to play the "If Only" game.  If only I could live on my own and be responsible only for myself, I would be happy. I would then be accountable only to myself.  If only I had a decent job that brought me enough income to take care of myself, I would be happy.  If only I could get myself a new car, great outfits, a designer handbag.  I was hardly conscious of the fact that my pursuit of happiness was slowly developing into a list of material trimmings to impress everybody around me.  Regardless, I began to accomplish most of my If Onlys.  I was able to live on my own.  I got a great job, which bought me all those things I thought would make me happy.  The new car, the great outfits, the designer handbags.  The happiness, however, was a different story.  I enjoyed a brief and temporary feeling of contentment, but then it went away.  I wasn't sure why.  

Then one day, quite suddenly, I was laid off from my job.  Everything that I had built up was almost gone.  I had to start from scratch.  For two years I struggled to build a small business and get it off the ground.  A bad economy prevented this from being as successful as I hoped it would.  I realized I would need to use my small business as a second income and find a steady job.  This meant having to return to the company that laid me off in the first place, to a job which paid much less.  I slowly began to rebuild my professional life.  Through it all, I continued to believe that everything bad was happening to me because I deserved it.  I spent the next four years in deep resentment.  I resented the fact my small business didn't take off.  I resented the fact that I had to swallow my pride and return to the company that laid me off, because no other company would hire me.  I resented how much less money I was making and how I couldn't afford to live the lifestyle I used to before.  I was mentally free-falling into a vortex created from despair, anger, resentment and ever negative emotion you can think of.

It's interesting how life can come at you and give you that proverbial kick-in-the-rear that you really need in order to change your outlook.  Sometimes it comes in a way, shape or form that you would least expect.  I went through a situation that shook me to the core and forced me into a journey of introspection, a place I hate to go.  I began to realize how deep into my mire of negativity I had allowed myself to sink, so deep that it felt I couldn't pull my leg out of it, much less my entire being.  I realized how much I had in my life that I should have been grateful for.  I had my health, my well-being.  There were so many people out there who didn't have a job.  I did.  I had people around me who were so supportive of my business.  I had other people who wanted only the best for me.  From this realization came my blog, An Attitude of Gratitude. The blog was very short and to the point, but I didn't want to talk much about how I was feeling at the time.  The main purpose of the blog was to verbalize a commitment I had made to myself, so I could be accountable for it.  

Last year during the holidays, one of my uncles said a prayer, during which he quoted a song I had learned as a child.  "Count your blessings, name them one by one; And it will surprise you what the Lord has done."  I began to acknowledge out loud every blessing that had been bestowed upon me.  Sure enough, it was a surprise.  I had so much to be thankful for.  I made sure to be grateful for everything.  Even on the worst days, if I looked hard enough, I could find something to be thankful for.   It did surprise me what the Lord had done, but it also surprised me that I began to feel so much more positive.  I was even beginning to feel - dare I say it - happier.  I literally began to feel like I was slowly freeing myself from some invisible shackle that was preventing me from feeling good about my life and myself.  The biggest surprise of all was how my positive attitude was bringing changes to my life.  I have had a very good year with my business.  I am being challenged at my job, but in a good way, which is helping my professional growth.  I am learning to be content with much less.  I am learning that when I set small but significant financial goals for myself and then accomplishing them, the dividends are more than just monetary.  I am learning that happiness is all around me, I just have to open my eyes to it.  The strangest thing is that I am finding it easier to be grateful even for the less than positive situations which, while significantly less, are still prevalent in my life.  I believe that there is a lesson to be learned, no matter what the circumstance.  People around me are telling me how much happier I seem to be.  That must mean I must be doing something right, although I'm doing this for me.  That said,  I don't mean to make it sound much easier than it really is.  However, from trying my best to adopt this Attitude of Gratitude, every situation brings me to a figurative fork in the road.  It causes me to stop and think, then make a conscious decision on which path to take based on how I choose to respond.  I would like to think that I always make the right decision, but that is not true.  I am making the effort though, and am realizing the payoff is much better when I decide to treat every moment as one I can learn from.  

It may not have been a light bulb moment that brought me here, but rather a deliberate consciousness.  It is not a destination, it's a journey.  But I think I have found my Happily Ever After.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

An Evening With Jerry

October 1st, 2011.  The day I had been waiting for since August, when my friend Crystal and I bought our tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld at the Paramount Theater in Seattle.  As you know, I love watching stand-up comedy.  This was a dream come true for me, as I was going to watch one of the best of the best.  When all was said and done, the tickets set me back close to $100.  I was pretty sure the show would be worth the price.  And now that the day was here, I could hardly stand the excitement!  

We found our seats at The Paramount.  We realized we were in the second row, in the orchestra pit.  Wow!   The only disadvantage was that we were not in theater seats, but rather in chairs that were put out there for us.  That wasn't a problem though, because the chairs were quite comfortable.The opening act was Mario Joyner, whom I had watched on occasion.  The first time I saw him was back in the day when MTV used to show The 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour.  Mario was recently in the movie, "Just Go With It".  He will be turning 50 tomorrow, a fact that he mentioned during his routine, which, by the way, was excellent!  One of the bits that got many laughs was about how much he loved his Magellan GPS because when he missed an exit, it recalculated his route.  The Magellan did not bitch about it for the next 50 miles, nor did it ever bring up in conversation that he missed an exit.  After Mario was done, it was time.

The stage lights went off but I could see a faint silhouette of somebody running on stage and setting up a tall stool with a glass and bottle of water.  As soon as this person exited the stage, the lights came on.  Jerry Seinfeld ran on stage, pretty much in the same fashion as the guy who set up the stool.  Nobody announced him or anything!  It almost took the audience by surprise, as there was a slight pause before the applause began.   The first thing that struck me when Jerry came on stage was the fact that I was so close I could almost see up his nose!  The second thing was that he appeared much taller on television than he did in real life.  He was dressed in a slate gray suit with a gray tie.  Thankfully, unlike his character on television, he decided to ditch his signature sneakers for real shoes.  Not too shabby for a 57 year old.  Later in the show, at one point he lay down on the stage floor.  All I could think at the time is, "That suit!  I hope they vacuumed the floor nice and good."  No, my thoughts are not always grammatically correct, I know that.  

"Hello Seattle," began Jerry.  He didn't get the expected reaction from the crowd, where everyone normally cheers when they hear the name of their city.  He went on to describe how we already knew we had "arrived", so didn't feel the need to applaud about it.  He talked about the weather, how there was a slice of sun that shone through the clouds, just enough to make us aware of what we were missing.  In the two hours or so of his routine, there was only one piece of material I had heard on his television show, the one about the restaurant bill coming in a little book.  Other than that, it was all new material.  And simply hilarious, I might add.

My ticket
If I may digress just a little, I wasn't a huge fan of Jerry on the television show.  I think the three actors in their supporting roles were what kept the show alive and all of us laughing.  Jerry may have had a few shining moments, but acting was clearly not what he was good at.  His stand-up routines are a different story altogether.  He takes the mundane events of daily life, puts a comedic spin to it and delivers it in perfect timing.  He talked about the all too familiar coffee culture in Seattle, and questioned the need for so many places that served coffee.  He talked about how it has become such a social event, how people don't "drink" coffee, but rather they "have" coffee.   He went on about how coffee in a cup is very different from coffee inside your system, where it turns into a mean boss that insists that your small intestines be voided.  That's the other thing.  In his entire routine, he didn't feel the need to swear or use coarse double entendres very much in order to be funny.  If he did, he was so polite about it that it didn't sound half bad.  For example, he talked about the *69 feature on the phone for last call return.  Of all the numbers that the phone company could come up with, how did they decide on "69"?  His take was that the meeting at the phone company when they were deciding on the numbers was attended by a bunch of people, none of whom went to Junior High.  

And so it continued for the next two hours.  The laughter kept coming with observations on how our life goal has become to attain what birds aim for - Tweeting.  He talked about our e-mail culture.   He talked about his 12 year marriage and compared it to the game show Jeopardy, where his wife remembered every little detail of every conversation they've ever had, and he couldn't remember anything.  All of it was so funny and all of it rang so true.  When he was finally done, it seemed the natural thing to give him a standing ovation as he left the stage.  

Jerry then came back and acknowledged the standing ovation he got, saying that it wasn't something he saw very often.  Apparently he looked at Crystal and me while he said this, but unfortunately I was looking for my purse which I had dropped under my chair and so I missed it.  He gave us a few more minutes of laughter, with audience interaction this time.  We could ask him any question we wanted to.  Someone asked him if he brought the Marble Rye.  He had us know that Frances Bay, the actor who played the old lady from whom he tried to steal the marble rye, had recently passed away.   Then an 8 year old boy from the audience asked him for an autograph.  Jerry called him on stage and, as he signed the boy's ticket, asked him if his parents let him watch the show.  The boy replied that he watched it all the time and loved it.  Jerry asked him, "Have you seen the one called The Contest"?  He then went on to add, "One day it will be your favorite episode."  He then called his opening act Mario Joyner back on stage as they took one last bow.  

As incredible as the show was, what really left me feeling good was how humble Jerry Seinfeld seemed to be.  He more than deserved the ovation he got, but he took the time to acknowledge it.  Although it clearly said on our tickets that no cameras and no recordings were allowed, there was an idiot in the front row very blatantly violating this.  I saw Jerry notice this more than once, but he didn't say anything.  I wish he did, and embarrassed the daylights out of the inconsiderate audience member.  I was also very touched by how Jerry took the time and made an 8 year old's day.  Even though the ticket cost quite a pretty penny, it was so worth it.  

It was definitely an evening to remember!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spell Check

Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew. 

I'm sure that most of us have come across the above poem and chuckled while reading it.  The point is to illustrate how your computer's spell check can be tricked, because it won't correct any of the words in the text (although mine puts a squiggly little red line under the word "chequer").  And while it may be great for a laugh, the above poem is slowly morphing into a sad reality.

Sure, every once in a while I misspell a word.  But every time I do, I know that I don't have it right, because something about it looks wrong.  I have always had a problem with the word "occasion", and I'm not sure why.  I used to think that the word had two c's and two s's.  I have made a conscious effort by learning how to spell the word, much like a child does.  This is not, however, the type of misspelled word that I am talking about.  I have seen people write "loose" when they mean "lose", "coarse" when they mean "course" and don't even get me started on "there", "their" and "they're"!  I was watching the news the other day and I noticed the ticker had at least one in every ten words spelled incorrectly.  There is also the misuse of the apostrophe and the overuse of the hyphen and grammatical errors that set my teeth on edge, but that's a separate blog topic altogether.

What is going on here?  Why are so many words being misspelled at such an alarming rate and everywhere we look?  At what point did bad spelling get overlooked?  Did the fact that it was being overlooked somehow result in it becoming acceptable?  Is it the use of abbreviated words while communicating electronically?  It may be acceptable in text messages to use the abbreviation "IDK" for "I don't know" or "IRL" for "In Real Life", but I have seen entire Facebook statuses with abbreviated or truncated words:  "I knw dat I shld b studyin but dis TV show rockz!"  (It does, does it?  That status right there suggests to me that you should be studying instead of watching television and updating your Facebook status!)  It seems to me that the progressive next step to this phenomenon is the general dumbing down of the generations to come.  We owe it to ourselves and to them to make sure this doesn't happen.  That is why we need to do something about it.  By the way, I never imagined that I would one day sound like my own grandfather. 

I am not suggesting that all of us collectively begin preparing for the Scripps Howard spelling bee.  I am not saying that we should become spelling Nazis, but we should try to correct the spellings around us, or at least recognize a misspelled word.  I also think we should get back to the lost art of reading a book.  Additionally, we should also practice our writing skills.  It has become more convenient than ever to be able to write.  Every household has at least one computer.  Every computer has the internet, which puts every resource we need at our fingertips.  It's interesting that we have resources online to check for words we may not know how to spell.  We can check the meaning of words and the context in which to use them.  We need to choose to avail of these resources. One of the reasons I began writing this blog is that I was beginning to feel my brain slowly atrophying from lack of use, if you will.  For every little task that required creative thinking and good motor skills, there now seemed to be an automated, quicker and easier solution.  While I am truly grateful for these solutions that make life more convenient, it seems like I am losing some of what had become an inherent part of my life.  This blog helps keep these skills honed.  Again, I am not suggesting that everyone write a blog.  I am merely suggesting that everyone do their little bit to remedy this trend of sloppiness.
I have written to the television station and made them aware of the rate of misspelled words on their ticker.  I don't know if they will read my letter.  If they do, I don't know if they will take any action.  But I have tried to make a difference in my own little way.  I am trying to keep in touch with people by writing letters instead of making phone calls.  These are baby steps to address a much larger, more global problem.  I think if everyone takes little steps to address the issue, the world will soon be a better place with no misspelled words.  One can only hope.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The "Brat Ban" Trend

Last month, Pennsylvania restaurateur Mike Vuick instituted a ban on children under the age of six at McDain's Restaurant & Golf Center.  Vuick claims to have received too many complaints about crying children.  The interesting outcome of this policy is that the restaurant is seeing more customers than before.   

This trend seems to be catching on in airlines, grocery stores and hotels as well, and may probably be enforced in movie theaters.  Is this trend justified, or is this just intolerance gone too far?   Does this truly make or break an evening out, or is this subtle discrimination cloaked in a veil of one's fundamental rights?

One might argue that the businesses don't want to be involved in any situation that may result from a child being a nuisance and someone who might decide to take matters into their own hands.  Case in point: two years ago, 61 year old Roger Stephens allegedly slapped a crying child at a Walmart store.  Stephens claims that he only touched the two year old on her face and that the media and law enforcement has blown his actions way out of proportion.  Could you possibly blame Walmart for not wanting to be culpable in this situation?  What could they have possibly done to avoid this happening?  By the way, it may be important to note that Stephens had no children.  Neither does Vuick, owner of McDains.  As a matter of fact, the brat ban is being blamed on childless adults with money to spend.

Being a childless adult myself, I don't think it's fair to paint all of us as crotchety and intolerant, just as I don't think it's fair to classify all children as brats.  I have been subject to a group of teenagers at the table next to me talking unacceptably loudly, their sentences peppered with swear words.  I am no prude, but if the f-bomb is being dropped at the rate of ten times per second, not to mention other swear words which were much more offensive to me, the discomfort I feel from a wailing child pales in comparison.  Nobody seemed to want to take any action in this situation, despite complaints to management.  

So, how does one come to a resolution that is fair to everyone?  Here's what I think. 

To the people who frequent restaurants, fly in airplanes, stay in hotels and go to movies, lighten up.  Children need to go to these places.  They need to learn how to behave in different social situations so they grow up to be productive members of society.  If they are cocooned in children-only environments, it will be detrimental to their emotional growth. Face it, you were't always the perfect child.  I know I wasn't.  If a child is truly misbehaving and affecting you, complain to the management.  If they don't do anything about it, get up and leave.  You do deserve to have a great evening and it will make the management think twice about not doing anything to address unruly behavior.  If you are flying in a plane, think of the discomfort you feel because of cabin pressure, high frequency sounds or a churning in your stomach.  Now imagine that discomfort multiplied by a hundred.  That's how a child feels.  Can you blame them for crying? 

To the parents of children, control your young ones.  While many of the childless among us don't realize what it takes to raise a child, some of us truly understand that no matter how good of a parent you are, children are unpredictable.  Which means they will misbehave in public, most of the time when you least expect them to.  The best of them will scream, cry, whine, and do whatever it takes to get their way.  Others will get up from their table and run around a restaurant.  When they do any of this, don't turn a blind eye and pretend not to hear them.  Do something about it.  Take them outside, discipline them, do whatever you need to.  Please don't subject the rest of us to your child when you know they are misbehaving.  Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that you don't yell louder than your child.  That just makes it worse for us.

To the owners of these establishments, take a stand.  Most places have a sign that says, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."  Use those rights the way they were intended.  Put up a sign next to it that clearly spells out unacceptable behavior in your establishment.  A bar does not serve liquor to a person who seems even slightly inebriated.  Similarly, it can very easily be determined which children are being a nuisance to the rest of the patrons in a restaurant, and if nothing is being done about it by the parents, something can be done about it by you.  It doesn't have to be limited to children either.  If ANYONE is being generally obnoxious and ruining other peoples' evening, they can be asked to leave.  You just need to decide to do something about it.  Be honest - do you really want to encourage bad behavior at the risk of losing business?  Trust me when I say that in the long run, you will benefit from taking a stand.

I think if all of us decide to accommodate one another just a little bit, there would be no need for extreme trends like the Brat Ban. 

What do you think?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Now Hear This

You know how there are songs you hear that either remind you of an occasion in your life?  Then there are other songs that remind you of where you first heard them, or that stir up some kind of memory that makes you smile.  For example, when I hear the song "Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds, I automatically think, "The Breakfast Club!"  Or when I hear Haddaway's "What Is Love" I want to nod my head like the Roxbury guys from Saturday Night Live.  I also think of the Diet Pepsi Max commercial that was made for a recent Superbowl, cleverly taking the Roxbury nod and adding the tag line "Wake Up People".  And at the end of that commercial we have Chris Kattan yelling "Stop It!" 

I could go on and on with examples, but you get my point.  Which brings me to the song "Forever" by Chris Brown.  I first heard it on the famous Wedding Entrance Dance,  which went so viral on youtube that it was recreated for the Today Show Plaza,  Everyone loved the dance so much that they even put it in the show "The Office".  Each time the same song, "Forever", was used.  The concept was even extended to the 2011 Royal Wedding, with a commercial made by T-Mobile.  Sadly, they used a different song.  

Back to the song "Forever", I really love the song.  However, I do NOT like Chris Brown and what he has come to represent.  The couple from the original wedding entrance dance has put a link on their video for donations to violence prevention.  As for me, I was in a quandary.  How do I enjoy a song made by a person I want to have nothing to do with?  I can almost hear people say that the person has nothing to do with the song, but that argument doesn't sit well with me.  

Enter Mike Tompkins, a youtube sensation I had never heard of, from North of the Border.  Apparently he is well known for covering songs by doing a full A Capella.  He takes beatboxing to a whole different level.  He provides vocal percussion for a bongo, kick and a snare.  He also vocally replicates a synthesizer,base, pad, guitar and does the lead vocals.  He records them separately and then superimposes all sounds over each other.  The end result is not too shabby.  I am so glad he covered "Forever", because here's a version I can truly enjoy.  I just hope he doesn't go beat up somebody.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Honouring Becky

If she were alive today, Becky Shauberger Turner would be celebrating another birthday, most likely with her beloved family.

Becky's absence is painfully evident when you go to her blog and read her last post.  But this is not about the void that Becky has left in so many lives.  This is a day to celebrate and honour her.  And one way that I will be celebrating Becky is by spelling the word "honour" as she would have done. I am going to ignore the squiggly red lines that indicate I have spelled it incorrectly.  I am sure Becky would have seen the same red squiggly lines over and over again while writing her blog.

When thinking about today and which of Becky's recipes I wanted to try, my first thought was to go with the Salted Caramel Nutella Brownies, in all its rich, decadent goodness.  Unfortunately I did not have the luxury of time that this recipe would involve.  I will save this recipe for another occasion, because I just HAVE to try it.  I can hear it calling my name!

Since Becky was a true Southern lady, and since I am from a far-flung corner of another part of the world, I picked the Peach Cobbler.  Even though  I noticed today that another friend of Becky's decided to go with the Peach Cobbler as well, I made it anyway because I have never baked a fruit cobbler before.   

I began with store-bought, locally grown peaches.  They may not have been the best, but they were going to have to do.

Peeled and hulled and sliced.  The effort was worth it.

Some sugar, a smidgen of grated nutmeg, a tablespoon of cornstarch, and the peaches were ready to go into the pastry-lined pie dish.

To my shame, I broke the cardinal rule I hold myself to.  Instead of making the pastry from scratch, I used store-bought pastry.  I know Becky is looking down from above and smiling at me, telling me not to be so hard on myself. 

The peach filling was generously dotted with butter.  I have never eaten fruit pies or cobblers before, but this was beginning to make me reconsider.

The cobbler was then covered with a pastry crust but not sealed shut as you would a pie.

The crust was dusted with sugar and cinnamon.

The cobbler went into the oven to bake.

An hour (which felt like an eternity) later.......


In her blog, Becky asked, "Think I could get away with eating cobbler for breakfast?"  You could get away with anything, Becky.  We miss you so much but you will continue to live through our wonderful memories of you. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Everybody Loves Lucy

Photo courtesy
Today is the birth centennial of the legendary Lucille Ball.  Wow, that made her just a few months younger than my maternal grandmother!  Coincidentally, both Lucy and my grandmother died the same year.  That's about all I know about Lucille Ball's personal life, other than the fact that she was married to her costar Desi Arnaz and had two children.  None of that matters to me, because this lady made me laugh.  Actually let me rephrase that.  She didn't just make me laugh, she caused laughter to come from deep inside of me, and out of me in ripples until I had tears rolling down my face,  until my stomach hurt.  I know, I know, not everyone thinks she was funny.  But I do.

The first time I ever saw Lucille Ball was, interestingly enough, not on television.  I saw her in the original 1968 movie "Yours, Mine and Ours", where she played the lead role against Henry Fonda.  The story was very Brady Bunch-esqe, the story of two widowed parents falling in love and the merging of their respective families.  I distinctly remember a scene from the movie where the actress (I didn't know her name at the time) came to visit her would-be husband's family.  His sons concocted a very potent drink for their stepmother-to-be.  I remember her drinking it and having the hiccups, then trying to hold back from being sick as she watched the lazy susan laden with food go around and around.  I remember laughing from watching her cross her eyes as she swayed back and forth in an inebriated stupor.  I was only 8 at the time and so the movie appealed to me more from a child's perspective, by which I mean that if the story wasn't about so many children becoming brothers and sisters because of their parents' marriage, I may not have necessarily watched it.  But I did remember the actress who made me laugh.

A few years later I was reintroduced to Lucille Ball, this time through a show on television called "Here's Lucy."  Back then, it didn't take much to make me laugh, I guess.  As I watched this beautiful woman take on the persona of a clown, I just fell apart.  The 11 year old me still found it funny when she did her signature bawling on almost every episode, where she would open her mouth wide and go "Waaaah" as she said her lines in a teary voice.  I laughed heartily when she opened up her lips only slightly and scrunched up her face and made the "Eeuuuh" sound, another one of those things only she could do.  But as I grew up, those signature moves lost some of their appeal and I found them irritating.  However, there was so much more to Lucy that kept me tuning in to her shows.  

There were various iterations of Lucy's television show based on what was going on in her life at the time.  "I Love Lucy", I learned, preceded "Here's Lucy."  Then there was "The Lucy Show,"  in which she starred with her two children Lucy and Desi Jr.  Through all her shows, one mainstay in a supporting role was Vivian Vance.  But no matter what, it was all about Lucy.  Lucy was way ahead of her time.  There was no comedienne like her before.  She threw zany one-liners.  She was a physical comic if ever I saw one, contorting her pretty face in exaggerated expressions of surprise, laughter, self-acceptance and total disgust, as when she took a spoonful of Vitameatavegamin.  She was kooky but hilarious.  You have to remember, her show existed way before many of us were even born, yet they have a timeless quality to them.  That is possibly why her shows are still in syndication. She was one of the first woman to show her pregnancy on television.  The day that the episode "Lucy Goes To The Hospital" was aired, she gave birth to her son Desi Jr. She didn't see boundaries, she saw opportunities to knock them down.  She was so breathtakingly beautiful, she could have been a model.  But she chose to be a comedienne. She would stuff her shirt with eggs and do the tango with her husband, so when he pulled her close, the eggs would break.  She would dress up as Carmen Miranda and look beautiful, but dance awkwardly just so we could laugh.     With her physical comedic timing and her ability for self-deprecating humor, she paved the way for other physical comediennes like Carol Burnett and Ellen DeGeneres.
Lucille has been immortalized in movies and television shows and not just her own.  Every time I think of the movie Rat Race, I remember the bus full of Lucys, being driven by Cuba Gooding Jr.  When I think of Ellen, the sitcom by Ellen Degeneres, I think of the mammogram episode where Janeane Garofalo and Ellen talk about their favorite Lucy scenes while waiting for their test results.  I have quite a few favorite scenes of my own from the various Lucy shows, which will stay with me forever.  I'm sure almost everyone is familiar with the candy wrapping scene, where Lucy and Ethel try to keep up with a conveyor belt gone wild by stuffing candy into their mouth, into their dress, in their hat.  Then there was the grape stomping scene.  If you click on the link, the fun part begins at 3:00.  And the geisha dance routine.  That was classic Lucy, at her physical best.  Then there is the softer side of Lucy, the romantic side of her, where she thinks of a unique way to tell her husband that she is pregnant.  Although all three of these scenes are excellent, one of my favorites is a later Twelve Days of Christmas scene from The Lucy Show.  She enlists the help of Mr. Mooney when one of the choir boys' voice breaks during the rehersal.  She conducts a boy's choir and gives them cues so they remember the lyrics.   Here is that scene, which I was fortunate to find on YouTube.

But my all time favorite is The Mirror that she does with another comedy great, the legendary Harpo Marx.  It is like watching a beautiful dance.  I have never seen comedic choreography this good before or since.   The clip below shows the original by the Marx brothers from the movie Duck Soup, and the Lucy/Harpo version begins at 3:18


I still love you Lucy.  You will live in our hearts forever.  Heaven must be filled with laughter now that you're there.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

For Becky

My heart is heavy as I write this, a blog I wish I didn't have to write.  A friend and fellow blogger, Becky Shauberger Turner passed away yesterday.  Becky is survived by her husband Mike and her two wonderful daughters Abbey and Tori.

Where do I even begin to talk about this wonderful lady from Huntsville, Alabama whom I had never met?  Yes, the internet can be a place where you can come across some great people who touch your lives even though you are never destined to meet face to face.  I knew Becky through three different avenues.  I first "met" her on a message board where we are both members.  Then when I joined Facebook and added her to my list of friends, I also began reading her blogs.  Then, in the strangest of coincidences, one of my coworkers actually knew her in person and had met her.  What were the chances of someone living in the Pacific Northwest, who met Becky who is from Huntsville, just happening to get hired into our team at work? 

Becky had such a zest for grabbing life by the horns and hanging on for the ride.  She was a fabulous cook, and then some!  And she was always happy to share her talent.  She posted recipes on her blog.  She sent various homemade goodies to her Secret Santa recipient on our message board.  I will always remember her recipe for Salted Caramel Nutella Brownies.  Just those very words make me drool.  Becky began to write her blog 5 years ago.  She shared this milestone with a giveaway to one of her lucky readers.  She wrote very well, whether it was a recipe, a description of a tablescape or even a medical update.  The thing I loved the most about her writing was that she would spell words the English way, the way her grandma taught her.  Words like "honor" were spelled "honour".  Becky also had a great sense of humor.  Here is one of her posts from our message board: "The Mayan calendar ends on 21 December 2012. People who have come after them have taken that to mean that the world will end then. I'm not sure the Mayans ever said so. Maybe they just got tired of making calendars."  It's posts like that which make me smile through the sadness.

Becky also shared the happy moments in her life with us. The highlight of it was when her daughter Abbey was married in June.  It was a charming and elegant fairytale wedding in Disneyland.  Becky enjoyed every minute of it and was so happy being Mother of the Bride.   She was also so happy when her daughter Tori graduated.  She shared her thoughts of her 32nd Wedding Anniversary in a blog titled "Wedding Anniversary ~ The Guy and I" in which she quoted the song "Still the One" by Orleans, which she dedicated to her husband.  I reread part of that blog today, but couldn't go any further through my misted eyes and the lump in my throat.  I can only imagine the grief that her beloved family must be going through.

My friend and former coworker Rebecca Hudgins Donaldson knew Becky because both of them were interested in Fiesta dishes.  I would be honored if Rebecca would elaborate on that facet of Becky's life by leaving a comment here.

The last blog that Becky wrote was a medical update, on July 20th from the hospital at Vanderbilt.  It had been two years since her bone marrow transplant.  The words with which she ended her blog are now hauntingly ominous. "So this is kind of an update without an end."  She ended every blog with her signature and the word "Namaste", which is an Indian greeting that means both hello and goodbye.  Now there aren't going to be any more Random Musings of a Deco Lady.  I am going to miss those musings I so looked forward to.  I am going to miss this friend I never knew in person, but who touched the lives of so many.  If there's one thing I have learned from Becky, it is that every moment of life is to be cherished and lived well.

Rest in Peace, Becky Shauberger Turner.

PS:  Thank you Rebecca for posting a comment as requested.  If people like me can feel so much pain, your pain must be compounded times ten.  Through your comment we know Becky even better, and it is no suprise that she had one more feather in her cap that the rest of us may not have been as aware of. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Dust in the Wind

Yesterday's top news story was that Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment.  Reactions have been mixed, from total shock to a collective shrug of shoulders from many who weren't really surprised.  And why should anyone have been surprised?  Her song "Rehab" made no bones about the fact that she had a dysfunctional relationship with drugs and alcohol.  She was 27.  Although the cause of her death is yet to be determined, one cannot help but wonder if she suffered the same fate as her musician predecessors whose untimely passing also coincidentally happened when they were 27.  Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain will be forever 27.  Sadly, so will Amy Winehouse.

Amy  was by no means the model citizen or celebrity.  While in a drug-induced stupor, she was recorded singing a reprehensible little ditty peppered with racial slurs.  Recorded by her husband no less, it somehow landed in the hands of the now defunct News of the World.  As recently as a month ago, Amy stumbled on stage after showing up late to her own concert in Belgrade, obviously under the influence.  She greeted the crowd with "Hello Athens!" 

I'm sure there are many stories out there to justify why anyone would  need to feel anything other than indifference or, at some deeper level, even satisfaction in her death.  Yes, Amy was a flawed human being.  She made many mistakes.  She may have made the ultimate mistake which may possibly have ended her life.  But who among us is perfect?  Do we feel the need to think thoughts such as "She deserved to die" just so we feel better about ourselves by comparison?  What happened to our compassion?  The empathy, where did it go?  I am not judging anyone, least of all Amy herself.  I am just wondering where we lost our sense of humanity and when our hearts became so hardened.

Amy's untimely death has caused people to be reminded of her songs.  "Rehab", of course, but also "Back to Black".  Then there's "I'm no Good", the one that shot her to fame.  I think of "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas.  It came to mind yesterday when I first heard the news.  It has stayed with me since.  No matter the length of one's life, it is never long enough.  It is fleeting, it can be gone in one breath.  

Rest in Peace, Amy Winehouse.

I close my eyes
Only for a moment and the moment's gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes, a curiosity

Dust in the wind
All they are is dust in the wind

Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
And all we do
Crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see

Dust in the Wind
All we are is dust in the wind

Now don't hang on
Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won't another minute buy

Dust in the Wind
Everything is dust in the wind


Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Day In The Life Of A Dog

Hello, wonderful people!  This is JackJack.  It has been almost a year since I took the blog reins from Susanna for a couple of posts.  I thought it was time to write a post again to tell you all about the absolutely wonderful day I had yesterday.

Susanna's family lives up in Snohomish.  Yesterday afternoon I went up there with her.  We got into the car and drove and drove.  I was so excited during the drive up there!   I couldn't keep from yapping happily.  I guess I have a very shrill yap and there is only so much of it that Susanna can take before she yells at me to be quiet.  I try my very best not to bark, but you have no idea how difficult it is for me.  The anticipation of the fun I was going to have was more than I could stand!  It was a long drive to Snohomish, 45 minutes during which Susanna had to endure my happy barking.  

When we arrived, I was put on a leash and walked up to the door of a very nice house.  Susanna rang the doorbell and the door was opened by two little boys.  "Hi," I said to them, "How's life treating you?  I'm here to play with you.  Actually I only know you, Nicholas.  Who's your friend?"  Susanna told me to hush because I was being really loud.  So I stopped talking, at least for the moment.  We walked to the back yard while Nicholas and his friend wore their shoes and then came to meet us there.  Nick was very excited to see me.  I'm not sure why, because I haven't always been very nice to him.  I'll tell you why.

Nick is about a year and a half older than I am.  When I first met him, he was 3.  He moved very fast, and he would grab my face and hug me hard.  That made me nervous.  He would also run his toy cars up and down my back and I didn't like that.  I know he loved me but he had a really strange way of showing it.  Then there was this other little thing.  Susanna seemed to love him very much, more than she likes other people.  If I absolutely have to admit it, I would say I was a little jealous.  That also made me worry that I would be loved less.  In my doggy mind I thought that Susanna had only so much love to give, and that some of the love from her limited capacity that should have been coming to me was going to Nicholas.  Anyway, for all of these reasons, I wasn't always nice to Nicholas.  I would snap at him quite suddenly every once in a while.  I believe he wrote a composition about me where he mentioned that I barked into his face and bit his finger.  Yes, he pretty much got that right.

Back to yesterday, Nick was so happy to see me.  I decided that I would at least attempt to be nice to him this time.  I gave him my favorite soccer ball to throw.  He threw it high and far.  I ran and fetched it and brought it back to him.  He threw the ball for me again and again.  I had such a good time playing fetch.  Then Nick's friend Elliott joined us.  He seemed to know how to handle me.  He even took the ball from my mouth a couple of times.  I was more than happy though, because it was so much fun playing with these two boys who were just a little older than me.  Then I overheard part of a conversation which made sense as to how Elliott knew how to handle me.  He had a dog of his own.  After he went home, Susanna and Nick took me for a walk.

We walked up to the play area near Nicholas' house.  Nick walked me most of the way.  I could have easily tugged and pulled in a different direction.  But since I had decided to be good, I let Nick lead and I followed.  Susanna mentioned over and over again how she wished she had her camera because we looked so cute.  I fail to understand how two boys walking to the park could be a photo opportunity, but what do I know? I'm just a dog.  There were no children around, so Nick walked me up and down the playground equipment.  He even put me on the teeter totter.  That made my stomach feel weird.  Then Nick came up with this game which actually turned out to be a lot of fun.  I had to keep my eyes closed while he hid my treats all over the park, and I had to find them.  Of course when I found them I got to eat them.  I kicked my doggy senses into high gear and sniffed close to the floor.  I found most of the hidden treats without any help.  For the ones I couldn't find, Susanna gave Nick some good directions to help me find the treats.  The more time I spent with Nicholas, the more I was realizing how much of a good time I was having with him.  I also began to realize that Susanna wasn't loving me any less.  She loved me in a different way than she loved Nicholas.  And at the end of the day, I would be going home with her and she would continue being my Mom.  I didn't need to feel insecure.  That thought made me feel all grown up.

We went back to the house and to the back yard.  I was so thirsty and must have had a gallon of water.  Then Susanna's brother Jonathan came out to see us.  I cannot tell you how much I like Jonathan.  I consider him the alpha male in our pack of two.  He is very nice to me.  He bends down to talk to me in this kind, gentle voice.  He plays with me, although not as much as I would like him to, and he ruffles the hair behind my ears.  I greeted Jonathan wholeheartedly and as always he didn't disappoint.  He did mention that I was getting fat, but he couldn't be more wrong.  All the swimming and running is making me develop some solid muscle.  Anyway, Jonathan then opened up the barbecue and began to grill.  I sat around in the grass and took a break.  I sat there chewing my soccer ball, which has a squeaker in it.  Susanna asked me over and over again not to squeak the ball.  I tried really hard but I couldn't resist.  Then the ball got confiscated from me and put into this big blue pot.   The ball was just beyond my reach.  It took me 15 minutes with no help at all, but I managed to get the ball out of there without knocking the pot over.  I had my ball back and I chewed on it happily, squeak and all.  When Jonathan had finished grilling, everyone went inside to have dinner, and I was left outside in the back yard.  Through the glass door, I sat and watched the family have dinner.  Nick finished his dinner before everyone else did.  He then came out and played with me even more.  We played fetch, and while I was playing I could hear everyone talking about how I was good company for Nick, what with him being an only child.  Hearing that made me feel like I had accomplished my mission to be nice to him.  The truth is, it's not difficult.  Nicholas is grown up now, he knows how to handle me.  I don't feel threatened by him anymore.  He still has a few things to learn, but I have also become more patient and caring.  

When it was time to go, I didn't want to.  I wanted to stay there and bask in the love and happiness just a little longer.  But it was time to leave.  I reluctantly said goodbye to Nick and Jonathan.  As I turned around and walked away I hoped I would be brought to this house again soon.  I think I heard Susanna mention that if the weather was good she would bring me back next week.  I am hoping it won't rain next Saturday so I cam go to Snohomish again.  I was so happy and so tired when I got home that I went to straight to bed.  I had had so many treats that I didn't even need any dinner.  

As I drifted off, I heard Nicks voice call out to me as he did all evening, "C'mon boy!"  I fell asleep with a smile on my face.  I had become Nick's boy.