Happy Thanksgiving

26 11 2014

Tomorrow’s THE BIG FAMILY holiday – Thanksgiving.

So, what things make me thankful?

Well, I am thankful to be sitting at my niece and nephew’s kitchen table, safe and warm, after a wild three hours of driving in the first snowstorm of the season, including one brilliant, scary, WTF moment when my windshield wipers suddenly just stopped working.  Nothing like slush and snow and zero visibility at highway speed to make any trip more exciting! A quick pull off the road, a few minutes of cursing, engine off, engine back on, and – presto! – wipers working again.

I am thankful that, tomorrow, we’ll have a table groaning under the weight of delicious food.  I am also thankful that we won’t be sitting in a linen-bedecked formal dining room, stiffly making polite conversation, and pretending we’re all having a lovely time . . . I am thankful that we’ll be eating all that delicious food in front of a very big TV, where we will all be happily hollering at referees, coaches, and football players; helping ourselves to seconds and thirds and calling pumpkin pie a vegetable course.

A Matter of Taste

19 11 2014

When my sister was in third grade, my mother had to go to school for a meeting with her teacher.  Now, any of you who know my sister will be scratching your heads, as she is, more than likely, the smartest woman you’ve ever met.  What would occasion a parent-teacher consultation about a brilliant and well-behaved nine-year-old?

Black Olives  .  .  .  Canned, Nasty, Tastes-like-cork, Black Olives.

It seems that the “teacher” had made my sister sit in the cafeteria from lunch period until the end of the school day, because she would not eat the black olives that had been served as part of the delicious and nutritious late 60’s version of school lunch.  My mother’s swift and direct response to the teacher’s demand for support in the black olive scandal was to say, “I would not eat something I did not like, if you made me sit there for a month; why would you think I would make my child eat something she does not like?  If she does not like something, she does NOT have to eat it.”

(Any of you who know my mother will be envisioning the teacher, hiding under her desk, in a cold sweat; she is as formidable as my sister is smart.)

I was reminded of this event and also recalled the many trials and errors and successes there were in learning what appealed to my sweet autistic child by this little bit of internet levity – http://www.sunnyskyz.com/blog.php?blogid=526%2FAll-Kids-Have-Picky-Eating-Habits-But-These-32-Toddlers-Take-The-Cakethat spawned a lot of pretty unsympathetic and downright nasty responses from some grown-up types.

As an adult with a fully functioning and well-educated palate, I can tell you that my mother NEVER made me try any food I balked at – much less would she have made me eat anything I did not enjoy.  As the parent of an autistic child, I also understand and appreciate that certain textures are not just unpleasant to some folks; they are alarming or even painful, so I would not be quick to dismiss the dislike of things like “banana strings” or crust. Here’s some good info about real reasons kids’ palates deserve respect: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maryann-jacobsen/8-things-picky-eaters-wish-their-parents-knew_b_6132398.html

I would also remind all those who are old enough to think they have the right to tell a kid she has to eat her broccoli that there are plenty of foods that would never pass their adult lips.  If you think kids should have to eat what is served, be sure you don’t skip the (slimy) green bean casserole or the (mushy overcooked) Brussels sprouts or the (bitter) cranberry relish on the Thanksgiving table next week.  .  .  .

You wouldn’t want to be sitting at the table with a full plate of disgusting-to-you-but-loved-by-others-so-you-must-eat-it-now-cold-as-ice food in front of you while everyone else was watching the game.


Seriously? You know I only eat Italian parsley, Mom!


Turn Leftish

12 11 2014

Today, I did something I rarely do – I was A PASSENGER in a car. Being the complete total control freak I am, I am almost never not behind the wheel, but I was feeling adventurous . . . One of the interesting parts of this experience was listening to the GPS lady’s well-modulated, yet insistent, directions.  It made me wonder about quality control in the digital age and what might happen should one of these tech trip advisors slide through the final inspection under less than a watchful eye.

With the assistance of my dear husband and the removal of any vestiges of political correctness filters, I offer you

The Top 10 Directions Given by a GPS “Inspected” by a Disgruntled Employee

10. You’re going to be late. You should have left earlier.

9.  You’re in the wrong lane. Oh, the berm, yea, that’s better.  Perhaps you would like a designated driver.

8.  Tourne à droite dans un kilomètre. TOURNE A DROITE IMBECILE! Just kidding, I’m still in English. Hey, you missed your turn.

7.  When you reach the corner, pull over and ask someone where the hell you are.

6. This right turn has been brought to you by Dunkin’ Donuts, Amazon.Com, the Koch Brothers and Steve.

5. Your turn signal has been on the last 4 miles. I know many people have a fear of commitment, but it’s time – just make the damn turn.

4. Get into the far left lane. Sorry, I thought we were in England – is everybody ok?

3. Deflate the airbag. No, the one sitting in the passenger seat.

2. Stay straight, stay straight, stay straight. A message of faith from the Westboro Baptist Church.

1. Call your mother; you’re lost.

The Next Laugh

5 11 2014

I am a lucky woman. I am happily married.

Here’s a little episode, a real conversation from a few weeks ago, between my dear husband and me that illustrates a key to said happy marriage. We’d both been out of sorts for a few days. We’d both been just a little bit cranky, a little bit blue, and were just a little bit tired of the other’s foul mood .  .  .

Dear Husband, half-smile:   Wish you weren’t so grouchy.

Damn Fine Wife, sideways glance:   It’s your fault. You started it.

Dear Husband, deadpan delivery:     Yes, but that was the 80’s.

We both knew we had not been easy to live with for a few days. Both of us were responsible for our own little thunderclouds and each of us had reason to complain about the other’s behavior. We could have had an argument – picked a fight over something unimportant, just to vent our mutual frustration with life at the moment. Lots of folks do that. (Dear Husband is a divorce lawyer, so we’re not just guessing about this behavior.)  We do not enjoy arguing, except about Jeopardy or sporting events, so we made a joke. We laughed.

When we share a laugh with someone we love, wonderful things happen. Trivial problems are put in their place. Unfounded or exaggerated bumps in the road simply cannot survive the sound of laughter. That means far fewer silly arguments and much more happiness.

If all else fails, blame it on the 80’s – they deserve it.


What Are You Afraid Of?

29 10 2014

It’s like we’re all holding onto an electric fence . . . I’ve just let go.

These words were spoken to me by a very young – but very wise – man, describing his family’s behavior during a time of real crisis. While there was no denying the horrible situation that had taken them off the tracks, the response to it only made things worse. Sound familiar?  If it doesn’t, you’ve lived a charmed life.

Let’s face it: we’re hardwired to form habits. When fate steps in and disrupts our plans, we fight to re-establish routines.

Sometimes, especially when the thing that has interrupted us is enormously frightening or painful, we rush into counterproductive behavior patterns – just for the sake of pattern. We don’t have to think. We don’t have to decide. We don’t have to really feel. We just slog along, following the ruts in the road, because it is “easier” than building a different path. We do things, not because they are helpful to getting us through whatever “it” is; we do them because they seem to be the easiest to do.

While it might seem easy, the new “normal” we hastily accept usually isn’t. Although it is easier to make right turns than lefts, continuing along that path is assuredly a vicious circle.  We run out of time and energy and we are left – with our ugly little baggage – on the side of an unpleasant little road, instead of taking a new route and leaving “it” in the dust.

I am afraid of change – lots of us are. Fate does not care what we like or don’t like.  Fear of change does not mean inability to reckon with it.   Things will get in our way. Plans will fall through. Loved ones will leave us. We cannot avoid change.  We can only decide how to respond to it.  It takes courage to let go, but there is no healing in holding on to pain.

Let go of it and embrace life’s goodness; hug your friends.


p.s.  In addition to change, lots of us are afraid of bugs. Happy Halloween from Simon Spiderpig and Ladypig Newton.

halloween spiderpig a halloween bugnewt a

No Experience Necessary

22 10 2014


Experience is a good teacher – inexperience is a better one.      –     Paula Lewis

For every young bright thing out there in the world, here sits one of us old dusty relics to cluck, coo, or complain about them and their unfortunate choices. We, the Learned, the Worldly, the Experienced, stand ready to answer all the pressing questions and resolve all the dilemmas of every young person we know. Hell, you don’t even have to ask for our sage advice; we’ll corner you and give it whether you want it or not!

There is a lot of good and useful information to be obtained from those of us who’ve “run a few more experiments” in our lives. We have marked some of the more treacherous terrain for travelers who follow, so there are fewer casualties along certain paths. Sometimes, though, in our zeal to help others not make the same mistakes we did, the messages end up looking less like signposts and more like graffiti.

We survivors of checkered pasts have wisdom to share. We can only truly share it, though, if we remember, not only the lessons, but the inexperience, misjudgment, errors, foolishness, or misfortune that put us into the experience from which we learned. We must remember that we were once young bright things who made some really stupid decisions.

Respect the teacher, first; then we can share the teachings.

You Can’t Park There!

15 10 2014

There seems to be a spate of blog posts, Facebook status updates, and other public forum messages with a similar theme:

People are mean/rude/ignorant to me because they don’t know my pain.

Yep, that happens a lot. I can speak from far too much experience about the meanness, rudeness, or ignorance of folks – I had a mentally retarded child.  My ticket to ride this train has been punched.

What I have to say here is not to those folks who hurt our feelings by their words and acts; I want to talk to those of us who are on the other side of the situation.

There are many ways one can react to an unkind word or act, among them:

  1. Ignore it.
  2. Respond in kind; say something rude, in return.
  3. Say nothing, but let it ruin your day by stewing about it.
  4. Offer a little help to stop more folks from feeling hurt.

Response #1, if you can truly manage to do it, is always a good choice.

For reasons of common sense and personal safety – and self-respect – I would strongly advise that no one EVER chose Response #2.

Many of us have found ourselves defaulting to Response #3, which does no good for anyone.

In lots of cases, I believe Response #4 is the absolute best choice. Sometimes, people do not mean to be insensitive; they simply do not know any better.  If we can teach them a little bit about a disability, hardship, or handicap that caused the hurtful behavior, there’s a chance they might be more careful in what they say to others.

I can hear some of you shrieking at me, “It’s not my responsibility to tell those jerks anything. It’s none of their business.  I don’t owe them  . . .” You’re right, but that position does no good, UNLESS you can sincerely ignore it, which, by the looks of your posts, I know you can’t.

Any time you can, with a simple comment, like “I appreciate that you are concerned about keeping handicapped spaces open for the truly handicapped, for, although it is not obvious, I am one of them. Thank you for your concern,” you give the person a chance to learn that not everything is as it looks on the surface. No, you don’t owe them a thing. No, it does not always do any good.  Yes, you can, if it fails, fall back on Response #1, 2, or 3 . . .

In those times, when I have used Response #4 – and I admit I have had a LOT of practice – I felt better for having offered some helpful information. Whether the person on the other end of the conversation accepted it or not was immaterial; I had tried to make it better.

Whatever response you choose, aim to make things better. Please.




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