Shame on Me

Thanks to my blogging neighbor Steve (Brown Road Chronicles), I now realize that I am solely to blame for the malicious infections that plagued my computer yesterday. It’s not because I’m careless about computer security issues – I’ve got anti-virus software, anti-malware software, firewalls and automatic online backup – rather, the infections were no doubt the result of the recent topics about which I’ve been writing.

I took a stroll, make that a walk of shame, through my recent posts and discovered to my horror and humiliation that nearly all of them dealt with “dirty” topics. The worst, in my opinion, was the post about Florence Henderson having crabs (and I’m not talking about dinner at a seafood restaurant).  I also wrote about Snooki, the Swamp People and Pawn Stars, as well as other things with a high yuck factor – the filthy floor at the local dry cleaner, the ghastly chunky milk in my refrigerator, the knock-you-to-the-driveway stench of the deer repellent spray I tried.

The conundrum is that dirt is pervasive and tends to be far funnier than non-dirt. Laughing at the dirt keeps us from taking life too seriously and that’s often a good thing. So, I’m struggling a little bit here. Should I drag myself out of the mud and cease writing about stuff that I find mildly amusing to absolutely hysterical? Should I try to maintain a balance by writing at a ratio of one positive post for every 5 or 10 dirt-laden posts? Should I have my sarcasm surgically removed?

Come on, tell me the truth. What do you think I should do?

Close Call

Something’s wrong, really wrong. Out of nowhere she blurts out something about being a failure and then it’s like she just went blank. I don’t know what to do. Can you get down here right away and take a look?

Some tests? Okay. A scan? That sounds like a good idea. What do you think it could be? A major failure or perhaps a serious infection, huh?

Maybe it’s an alien abduction? Or maybe there’s something evil going on?  Can you do an exorcism?

How long till we know something? A couple of hours, alright. Thanks.

The scan shows 5 infections, wow! Can she recover from that? Will she need some sort of transplant.

Waiting is so hard…

She seems to be fine – no further sign of infection, no need for further treatment at this time, though some additional precautions may be in order.

Whew. That was close. Needless to say, I was beside myself with worry this morning when a warning about a hard drive failure popped up on my computer, but when I rebooted and the whole desktop was blank, well, I was feeling some serious stress.

Fortunately, my on-site technical support staff was available within seconds of my panicked phone call (good thing my computer engineering son has not yet left for college). My back-up tech weighed in with her diagnosis of a nasty virus. A disk check showed missing files, missing programs and errors. A malware scan confirmed my daughter’s suspicions, revealing 5 nasty hijacking sort of infections, which have now been successfully removed. Everything has been restored and I’ve switched to a more secure browser.

Crisis averted, children gratefully hugged, life goes on.

 

Here’s the Real Story

Warning:  Though the following story centers around the Brady Bunch, it is NOT suitable for family consumption.  I’m going to give it a rating of  PG-13.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who was innocently perusing online news on this fine Sunday morning, only to be accosted with this headline: Brady Bunch Mom Got Crabs from NY Mayor.  I did not want to know the details behind this headline, yet I couldn’t help myself. I had to read it. 

Florence Henderson, better known as Brady Bunch mom, Carol Brady, has written a memoir, which describes a one night stand with the then-mayor of NY back in the 1960’s. She was married at the time and was horrified to wake up to some, um, let’s just say “uninvited guests.” By way of apology, the mayor sent her some flowers.

 

Is nothing sacred?  Is there no hope for stemming the tide of the oversharing pandemic? We all know that Carol Brady was fictional character, a shining, one-dimensional, unattainable example of a loving and compassionate mother/stepmother/wife. We all know that by contrast, Florence Henderson was a real person, who is entitled to live her life as she chooses and write about it anyway she wants to. 

BUT, is there no point at which common sense kicks in like some sort of emergency brake, stopping us from sharing intimate details that no one needs or wants to know? Unlike the indiscretions of high profile politicians who get caught with their pants down, literally or figuratively, Florence’s escapade remained private for decades. She didn’t have to tell us, she really, really didn’t. 

I shudder to think what might be next — a tell-all book about Alice the housekeeper’s secret double life, orgies on the set of Leave it to Beaver, drunken outtakes from The Walton’s? Remember those innocent days when people refrained from airing their dirty laundry in public? Can we have them back please?

Biker Chic

I greatly appreciated the sage advice about swimsuits offered by The Good Greatsby earlier this week. However, if your summer endeavors go beyond the beach or pool, there are other wardrobe considerations. For instance, if you plan to hop on the Harley and hit the open road, you’ll want to look good doing it, right? 

Fortunately, I stumbled across the ultimate in biker chic this morning as I roamed the aisles of my local Walmart. As is often the case, it was the small details that made the difference. 

Our biker chic model was an older gentleman, with a long, gray, grizzly beard. Most of his outfit was standard summer biker apparel – sleeveless black tee shirt, knee length denim shorts, black bandanna #1 hanging out of the back pocket, black bandanna #2 tied around his head to keep his flowing gray locks out of his eyes while riding.  

There were two special touches that elevated his outfit from ordinary to special — black leather mid-calf lace-up granny boots (remember, he’s wearing shorts) and what appeared to be a large hunting knife in a leather sheath attached to his belt. I’m going to put “lace-up biker boots” and “large hunting knife with sheath” on my list of must-have summer wardrobe items, even though the closest I have ever come to riding a motorcycle was a moped. 

By the way, I couldn’t resist peaking into his shopping cart. I know it’s kind of nosy, but admit it, you’re curious too. The contents?  Bottled water, a six pack of orange soda and a box of feminine hygiene products.  

 

Please Pick Up the Dry Cleaning, Only Don’t Look Down

I am by no means a neat freak. On any given day, my house has its fair share of dust, crumbs, grime and other assorted uggies. I don’t care if your house is a mess, provided your cats are not lounging all over the kitchen counter while you’re preparing any kind of food you expect me to eat. 

Similarly, I don’t expect every business establishment to be sparkling clean, especially here in a small town where many businesses have not had a make-over since 1952. On the other hand, a basic standard of cleanliness is appreciated, particularly in food stores and restaurants. 

So, what was I to do yesterday when I went to pick up some clothes at the dry cleaner and noticed that the floor was filthy beyond belief? The half-dead collection of plants in one corner had obviously been shedding crispy brown leaves for some time, and by “some time” I mean decades. Dust balls of substantial girth were clinging to the dead plant leaves, forming a sort of free-form chain of nasty islands across the appallingly grimy tiles. I estimate that the last time this floor came in contact with a broom, vacuum cleaner or mop was around the time when customers were bringing in their leisure suits for cleaning. 

But wait, there’s more. On the other side of the lobby area was a small popcorn machine, the bottom littered with ancient unpopped kernels and the petrified remains of a few popped ones. The top of the machine was coated with grease and dust, as were the tops of the mustard and ketchup bottles that stood neglected on an attached shelf. Was that machine always there? How is it that I never noticed it before? Not only was it out of place, it was simply disgusting. 

The problem is that I like this dry cleaning store – it’s family-owned and they do a great job on our clothes. I have no plans to switch cleaners and I’m sure their other customers are loyal too. Still, should I have mentioned the yuck? I’m pretty good with everyday diplomacy, but how exactly could I have phrased my observations gently? Suggestions anyone? Please?

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

No, no, forget the Academy.  I’d like to thank the lovely Patti Ross, who bestowed upon me The Versatile Blogger Award http://learnmoreeveryday.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/what-a-delightful-surprise-blog-awards/.  Patti, I am humbled and grateful to know that my sarcasm is worthy of such high honor (my parents will be so proud). Many many many thanks to you! 

Like Patti, I had no idea there was such an award. Having now been enlightened, I’ll share what I’ve learned. There are several possible awards, The Versatile Blogger, The Stylish Blogger, and the Irresistibly Sweet Blog. All are given by bloggers to other bloggers. The rules are: each award recipient needs to identify the one who bestowed the award and thank that person in a BIG way; the blogger receiving the award needs to share seven details not readily known about him or herself; the recipient passes the award(s) along to 15 other bloggers and alerts the new award recipients they are winners.  Receiving one of the awards is a great honor as well as a great way to champion other bloggers. Everyone wins by getting a chance to broaden their interactions. 

Sooo, here’s the thing. I don’t regularly read 15 other blogs or even 10 other blogs. I only read a small handful of blogs, usually ones that make me laugh, but I am absolutely crazy about the ones I do read. There are several others that I stop by every now and then, but since we’re only casually acquainted and not going steady, I didn’t consider them for awards. With all that said, as a former lawyer, I’m going to manipulate the award rules and name 7 winners now, with 8 more to be given whenever I come across other award-worthy blogs. 

The Versatile Blogger Award goes to Peg-o-Leg, Ramblings, http://pegoleg.wordpress.com/.  Peg is one of my first blogger buddies and we share a similar sarcastic view of the world. And, while I’m green with envy that she has been Freshly Pressed a whopping 4 times, I’ll forgive her because she makes me laugh. 

 

 

The Versatile Blogger Award goes to Steve Warner, The Brown Road Chronicles, http://brownroadchronicles.wordpress.com/. Steve writes about his family, living in the country, his pet goats and about writing. He truly exemplifies The Versatile Blogger Award because while he’s usually humorous, he has been known to write some very sentimental stuff too. 

 

The Versatile Blogger Award goes to Carla Shepard Sims, Random Brain Cells, http://randombraincells.com/. Carla writes about living life with MS, but all of her posts are uplifting and she has a gift for powerful imagery. What I love the most about Carla’s blog is that she ends each post reminding us to be kind, and goodness knows, we all need that reminder! 

 

The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award goes to Kim Pugliano, The G is Silent, http://kimpugliano.com/, for her recent post about her son Noah, who is inching his way out of childhood and into teenagerness. I defy any Mom out there to read it without getting weepy. 

 

 

The Versatile Blogger Award goes to Rayme Wells, A Clean Surface, http://acleansurface.com/. Rayme writes about how to simplify our busy cluttered lives and reading her blog always leaves me feeling a little lighter, even if I’ll never ever be as organized as I suspect she is! 

 

 

The Stylish Blogger Award goes to Don Mills, aka Crabby Old Fart, The Problem with Young People Today Is…, http://crabbyoldfart.wordpress.com/. Mr. Mills is not only a keen observer of life, but a brilliant and hysterically funny writer. He could certainly qualify for The Versatile Blogger Award, but the photo of him sitting on a tweedy plaid chair in his gray cardigan clearly makes him deserving of The Stylish Blogger Award as well. 

 

The Versatile Blogger Award goes to John, Post It Notes from My Idiot Boss, http://notesfromtheboss.wordpress.com/. John works for some governmental agency and has an idiot boss who leaves him idiotic post-it notes, which John generously shares with the world via his blog. If you’ve ever had an idiot boss, if you like Dilbert or The Office, this blog is absolute must-reading.  

 

 

Now I’ll share 7 things about me that most of you probably don’t know.

1. When I was little, I told people I was from the plant Jupiter. I suspect I’m half earthling and half alien, but how that happened, I have no idea.

2. I hate the beach. I don’t handle hot weather very well, I detest the schlep across the blazing sand loaded down like a pack mule with chairs, towels, beach bags and coolers, and I’m not fond of that after-beach feeling of being encrusted from head to toe with a combination of sand, sweat and sunscreen.

3. I can wiggle my ears.

4. My husband and I got married twice (to each other) – first we kinda sorta eloped, then had a real wedding a few months later.

5. I’ve lived in 8 different states –New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia, South Carolina, Louisiana and North Carolina. VA and NC are my faves.

6. I hate playing games – board games, card games, sports of any kind. I don’t know why, I just do.

7. I was just appointed to our town’s Parks & Recreation Commission, which is pretty ironic in light of #6.  

Once again, a giant thank you to Patti Ross and an equally giant congratulations to all the new award winners!

 

Cougar Bait

I  was commiserating with my sister-in-law about hungry deer snacking on our landscaping. Mine are particularly fond of new buds on just about anything. Hers were so bold as to climb up her front steps to chow down on the pots of geraniums by her front door. Since the geranium massacre, she has started using a deer repellent spray and said it really works, so I picked some up. 

My daughter read me the directions from the bottle because my middle-aged eyeballs could not decipher the microscopic print. It said to spray on your plants and around the planting perimeter about once a week to once a month. It said that the spray would be odorless to humans once it dried. That seemed simple enough. 

Here’s what the bottle neglected to say. Do not apply the spray when there is even the slightest breeze. When wet, the spray will have an odor strong enough to make you pass out in your driveway. The barest hint of a breeze will cause tiny droplets of spray to cling to your skin, hair and clothing and you will not be able to escape the gag-evoking stench until you strip down and subject yourself to a painful power washing process performed by a specially trained hazmat team. 

While I assumed the spray was made from the scent of predatory animals, I had no idea it was a concentrated formula composed of the urine of 1,000 angry mountain lions, along with a dash of Sasquatch pee and the slightest essence of velociraptor. (I guess that’s why it’s so expensive.) 

I’m confident it will keep the deer away. However, I’m terrified it will attract a large pack of  cougars in heat, which will congregate hormonally in my front yard and prevent me from leaving my house. I suppose there’s a spray to keep the cougars away too, but if the smell of that deer spray is any indication, I think I’d rather be cougar bait.

Well, That Can’t be Good

Our collective appetite for negativity pervades every nook and cranny of our culture and we all get sucked into it. I’m as guilty as anyone and will fess up to dwelling more on the negative than the positive most of the time.  In fact, I’ll go further and admit that I find perky-always-look-on-the-bright-side-power-of-positive-thinking people to be completely insincere, possibly mentally unbalanced and damn aggravating. 

On the other hand, I think a little balance in life is a good thing, so lately I decided to challenge my negative self, but just a little. Here’s how my experiment works: when I come across something that makes me think, “well, that can’t be good,” I try to counter it with something un-negative (yes, I know, the correct word would be “positive” but I don’t want to risk annoying myself too much). 

Some examples: 

When yet another politician behaved stupidly and inappropriately and then lied about it, my first thought was, “well, that can’t be good.” On the other hand, Anthony Weiner is not my congressman/husband/brother/neighbor, nor do I follow him on Twitter, so that’s a good thing. 

As I drove out of my neighborhood to run errands this morning, there were multiple official-looking white pickup trucks parked along the street, along with huge spools of heavy duty cable. Two workmen (and I use the term loosely) were standing by the side of the road staring into a ditch and talking on their cell phones. “Well, that can’t be good,” I thought.  But, I’m pleased to report that so far they have not cut off my phone, internet, cable or electricity and I’m very excited about that.

On the way to the store, an impatient woman in a minivan followed inches from my rear bumper, cell phone in one hand, cigarette in the other, looking pissed off at the world. “Well, that can’t be good.” Fortunately, she turned off and sped away before doing any damage.  

I went out to get my newspaper this morning and found that my hosta plants were missing their bright purple buds (that can’t be good), which means that during the night the ravenous neighborhood deer had been feasting. But, we love to watch our well-fed neighborhood deer population, including a very spunky new fawn, and the hostas will grow new buds. 

So, how am I doing?

a) Good

b) Not so good

c) Give it up

Snooki and the Swamp People

Both sets of grandparents are in town for my son’s high school graduation. The dinner conversation turned to what everybody likes to watch on TV. It started out predictably enough, but soon took a strange twist. 

Mom-in-law says that she and my father-in-law watch a lot of baseball. My dad says he likes the history channel and PBS. My mom chimes in that they like to watch English mystery series. Mom-in-law asks my dad if he ever watches American Pickers. Oh yes, he says, and they chat about the show and the cool antique cars and other stuff the hosts find. Then it got weird: 

My Dad: “Do you ever watch Pawn Stars?” (you may want to read that sentence out loud to better understand how that sounds.)

Mom-in-law: “Oh yes! I love Pawn Stars!”

My husband looks at his mom and then looks at me in alarm. “That’s P-A-W-N,” I explain. He looks tentatively relieved. 

Dad-in-law describes his distaste for the show because of the disrespectful way the various family members treat each other. “How about Chumley?” says my dad, presumably referring to one of the people on the show. “Is he for real?” asks mom-in-law. “Oh yeah, he’s for real,” says my son, who has apparently been watching Pawn Stars unbeknownst to me. 

He then segues the conversation into the show Swamp People, the heartwarming real life depiction of  generations of families who live deep in theLouisiana bayou and hunt alligators for a living by setting out giant hooks with giant bait and then checking the lines each morning. He described an episode in which one swamp guy described dozens of ways to prepare Garr fish. 

My daughter, in a clever maneuver to steer the conversation away from the many ways to cook Garr fish, notes that the 7th grade girls in her school LOVE Jersey Shore and Justin Bieber, both of which she hates. My dad then describes Snooki’s recent accident with a police car in Italy and I begin to wonder why my dad knows anything at all about Snooki’s life. “Are you following Snooki on Twitter?” I ask, knowing full well from an earlier conversation that my dad has the whole concept of Twitter confused with texting. 

Dad denies following Snooki on Twitter, but soon we are all talking about Lady Gaga. Mom-in-law has no idea who she is, while dad-in-law thinks she’s a sad symbol on the state of our society. Personally, love her or hate her, I think she’s a marketing genius and I can’t help but be in awe of her ability to walk in shoes that are more like stilts, while I can manage to sprain my ankle wearing flats. 

So, let this be a cautionary tale for you. Do you know what your parents are watching on TV?