Friday, November 30, 2012

Words, Words, Words to Make You Laugh

Ellen DeGeneres makes me laugh. When she hosted the Oscars and asked Steven Spielberg to take a picture of her and then asked him to redo it because it wasn't good enough, I just about threw up I laughed so hard.

Okay, maybe I'm easily entertained, but I like Ellen.

So when I stumbled upon this clip from Ellen's show on Pinterest, I watched. And now Gladys is my new favorite comedian. It's almost seven minutes of your life, but you won't regret it.

A word of warning: please don't drink anything while you watch because I almost spit coffee on my laptop. Just sayin'.

I'm now trying to figure out how to work the funniest line into my conversations so I can be funny, too.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Things on Thursday: An Artist

My friend Liz sent me a print by artist Rachel Parker. I already posted Nick's sketch of the print, and as promised, here's the link to the print and to Rachel's shop on Etsy.

Golden Retriever Dog Art Print

Rachel Parker's Etsy Shop

I haven't spent nearly as much time on Etsy as I wish I could, so I thought it would be fun for you to share your favorite Etsy artists' names (and links, if you wish) in the comments. All of us might discover some new art!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gratitude Journal #164

Today, I am grateful to be an even number again. Forty-six years feels good.

Today, I am grateful for this sketch made by Nick.

A beautiful print of a a golden retriever was what lay hidden in the beautiful package my friend Liz gave me. (I'll share the artist's name and Etsy site later.) It's such a wonderful work that Nick felt inspired to sketch it. He asked if he could make more copies and sell them to his friends. I said no, that would be stealing the artist's work, which would be wrong on many levels. But I told him that he could sketch Daisy from life or photographs and sell those because they would be his original works. Doesn't it stink when your mom is a member of the Plagiarism Police?

Today, I am grateful for the fun we had with George's sister Angela and her husband Mike. They made our Thanksgiving wonderful. Daisy has a new favorite person in Mike. As we were sitting in the library talking, she walked in and viciously attacked him for reasons only her furry little brain can know.


Yeah, vicious, isn't she? Daisy attacks involve lightning-strike kisses, head butting, and lots of wiggly, waggly fur, and they generally leave people with smiles on their faces. Only a Grinch or Scrooge wouldn't love a Daisy attack. As you can see, my brother-in-law is neither.

Today, I am grateful for peace. It's always a possibility, always there, waiting for us as individuals and collectively. We just have to embrace it, hold it, trust it. I'm learning it in the simple act of decorating for Christmas. No mad rush to "get it done" for me this year.

Slow and steady.

Careful and thoughtful.

Prayerful and patient.

That is the state of mind for peace.

I am grateful for peace.

What are you grateful for today? How can you find your own peace this holiday season? What is your path to peace?

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving.

Gratitude has been my word for 2012, and today is the day that my entire country embraces the concept of gratitude in celebration of abundant food and family and friends and blessings.

Lord, thank you for the gifts we have received.

I woke early this morning and reveled in the silence and dark. Today is my birthday, and my first thought on waking was what a great year 45 had been, for an odd-numbered year, and how grateful I am to turn even again: 46.

Grateful to be getting older.

Older, but not wiser. Yesterday was not one of my finer days. Patience was in short supply. I yelled a bit. Snapped when it wasn't necessary. But when I showered yesterday afternoon, I let the water wash all the snippiness and frustration down the drain while I prayed a prayer of gratitude, gratitude for grace and mercy and forgiveness and cleansing water.

We need prayers of gratitude every single day, not just one day--no matter how special--a year.

In today's early-morning dark, I opened two gifts I received. The first, socks from my sister. Not just any socks, mind you, but fleece socks in a fun Nordic design. I opened them and put them on immediately. They fit perfectly, and since I am a dork who wears fleece socks and Birkenstocks all winter long, I giggled with glee as I wiggled my toes and slipped them into my 17-year-old Birks that are now my house shoes.

I am grateful for cozy toes.

The second box I opened was from my friend Liz. Out of the box came this gift.

I don't want to open it. The wrapping is simply too beautiful. Liz is that kind of person, the kind who does even gift wrapping with so much care and love that you know you'll salvage the pieces and be inspired to recycle them into something else beautiful.

I opened Liz's card, instead, and found a Thanksgiving card rather than a birthday card. Liz isn't my only friend to turn my birthday into Thanksgiving this year, and you have no idea how that gratifies my heart. Happy Birthday is a wonderful sentiment, warm and cheerful and full of love, but I am grateful for you...well, that is perfect.

Just perfect.

The quiet ends as other people wake and the sun peeks through the trees behind our house. But I want to pass on the gift to you before the day gets busy.

I am grateful for you. So very, very grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Heaven on a Plate

Since Nick and I have birthdays so close together, we decided to have one cake. A cheesecake. A cheesecake made with love by George. The best cheesecake I have ever put into my mouth.

Heaven on a Plate

If you would like the recipe, follow this link. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated magazine. You'll have to sign up for a trial membership of the website or already be a member to view it, though.

It's worth it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gratitude Journal #163

Today, I am grateful for last week's Thanksgiving feast at Jack's school. Having attended school-sponsored Thanksgiving feasts before, my expectations were low (turkey loaf, anyone?) but Mrs. Kneeland's class put down a delicious spread with all the traditional dishes (including a real, juicy turkey and Jack's Famous Mac and Cheese) that knocked my culinary socks off. It was fabulous.

Today, I am grateful for the fourth-grade Christmas concert (even if it happened before Thanksgiving) and seeing the joy on Jack's face as he sang. I'm also grateful that he has taken to singing in the shower, which is totally characteristic of his sunny disposition.

Today, I am grateful to have a teenager in the house. A little scared, too, but grateful that my firstborn is growing into a fine young man. I am grateful that he chose to celebrated his birthday with a family dinner at PF Chang's and a day at the Columbus Zoo.

Today, I am grateful for my own Thanksgiving birthday and the fact I'll be turning an even number this year. I'm also grateful that I'll be celebrating with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. What a special treat!

Today, I am grateful for the week of the year most filled with gratitude in our fair country. Happy Thanksgiving to all. Please make it a special day of gratitude, and then carry that grateful heart with you throughout the coming year. God's grace and peace be with you.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Words, Words, Words for Us All

Given all the revelations of wrong-doing by public figures and secret service agents and CIA directors in the past few years, I think this particular Chinese proverb might have some good words of advice for anyone in public service...or, in fact, for anyone who is merely breathing in and out on a regular basis.

Can I hear an Amen?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Things on Thursday: Hell

My apologies to anyone who is offended by today's post. It's, well, vulgar and rude but oh so funny--at least to me in my current rather punchy mood--and probably not suitable for the workplace. You have been warned.

I've been thinking about hell lately. Not the afterlife Hell, immortalized in Dante's delightful Inferno, which is inhabited by sinners and consists of 12 levels of eternal torture, a frozen lake, and Satan with Judas in his mouth.

No, I've been thinking about rather more amusing, lower-case hell that is unique and relative to each and every one of us right here in this life.

There's an old military joke that (loosely paraphrased by me) goes something like this.

An Army soldier in a foxhole says, "This sucks."

An Army Ranger in a foxhole in the rain says, "This sucks. I love it."

A Special Ops soldier in a foxhole in the rain with lightning striking all around laughs and says, "I want it to suck MORE!"

An Air Force aviator in a hotel room, futilely pushing buttons on a broken television remote, says, "This really sucks!"

This joke is funny because it's true.

We all have a different definition of hell on earth. Some of us deal with hells that make Dante's look like it was written by Dr. Seuss. Serious physical or mental illness, tragic losses, war, famine, accidents, natural disasters...these real-life hells might make us wish we were in Dante's Hell instead. Swirling around in a tornado or floating in the River Phlegethon with murderers might seem a walk in the park by comparison.

Others of us are truly fortunate enough to deal with hells that are, quite frankly, funny. We might act like they are hellish situations, but, truth be told, we're just whiny spoiled brats.

Those are the hells I've been thinking about. The funny ones exaggerated by hyperbole that help us keep things in perspective.

Years ago, when Jack was three years old, we were going to the mall on an extremely windy day. The rest of the family had been watching Harry Potter movies, but I didn't think Jack had paid that much attention to them. When I opened the car door to transfer Jack from his car seat to the stroller, he proved just how much he had absorbed when a blast of cold air hit his face, and he said, in perfect imitation of Ron Weasley:

"Bloody hell!"

I did what every mother in the whole wide world would do at a teachable moment like that.

I laughed.

Like Carol Burnett.


And when I stopped laughing, I tried to convince him "we don't say that." But it was too late.

When Nick had the worst day of his life (I think he was nine years old), it was because he had to get a haircut. Worst. Day. Of. His. Life. He was in aitch-eee-double-toothpicks, I tell ya.

Have you ever watched the television show Dirty Jobs? Mike Rowe, the show's host, tackles the worst, dirtiest, nastiest, smelliest jobs that keep the rest of us comfortable, sanitary, and fed. On one show, he visited a farm (pigs or turkeys, take your pick as I can't remember), and as he and the owner walked into a building full of smelly animals, Mike exclaimed, "Oh, what fresh hell is this?"

The kids and I can relate. No fewer than four skunks have recently committed suicide on our route to school. Morning and afternoon, Jack, who is particularly sensitive to smells, complains that the skunks should be hibernating, not getting run over and ruining his day.

Blustery days and hair cuts, stinky animals and broken remotes. If only life never got any more hellish than that, it would be perfect.

But my ulterior motive for all of this talk about hell is merely to set up the funniest thing I've seen on Pinterest in weeks. You might say it's the best funny hell ever.

Scroll down...



wait for it...






Yep. Dante can keep his Inferno. I want one of these. It would make that "special" time of the month so much funnier, don't you think? It's certainly better than the Always "Have a Happy Period" campaign that turns menstruating women into justifiably homicidal maniacs.

Happy period my patootie.

I'd like to see the Special Ops dude deal with this particular hell. Tell me, girls, don't you think he'd be whining then?

Oh, bloody hell, YES!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gratitude Journal #162

Today, I am grateful for my comfortable home and am reminded that some people don't have homes at all.

Today, I am grateful for hot food and cold, clean water, and am reminded that some people don't have either.

Today, I am grateful for the veterans who have served my country. Some died in that service, some are elderly and walk around in baseball caps marking their service, and some are 18 years old and in harm's way as I type. I am grateful for their service. Boundlessly grateful. I am reminded that some people don't have others willing to die for their freedom.

Today, I am grateful for laughter and joy and love, and I am reminded that some people live without them.

Today, I am grateful to be able to do something to help some people.

What are you grateful for today? How can you turn that gratitude into action?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Words, Words, Words about Democracy

"Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country." Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Have a wonderfully powerful weekend doing what you want (as long as it doesn't hurt someone else), going where you want without showing papers to get there, saying what you want, worshiping how and if you want, and ruling this land peacefully with liberty and justice for all.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012


When I was a child, my teachers taught me the glorious and grand history of democracy and how lucky I was to live in a country that gave me a voice (or would give me a voice when I was old enough). They taught me about government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Those teachers never once warned me of the hellish nightmare of living in a swing state: the incessant explosions of ringing phones delivering poisonous recorded messages, the bullet-like constant barrage of nasty television advertisements, the wreckage of campaign signs littering the side of the road.

Last night, George received a phone call that almost made me change my vote. It was so nasty and ugly and inflammatory that my blood pressure is still up this morning. I want to find the man who spoke to my husband and dope-slap him on the back of the head and make him read relevant passages of Emily Post out loud repeatedly until he will never again use language like that on the phone. Then, I'd like to find the candidates on whose behalf he spoke and line them up in chairs and wag my finger in their faces for an hour.

Then, perhaps, I'll feel better. Perhaps.

This figurative war zone of Ohio (and similar zones in Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin) finds peace at 7:30 this evening. Whatever the outcome, we, the people of Ohio, will no longer be under attack by politicians trying to wrestle our vote from us.


Throughout this ridiculous war, which has gone on far too long and cost far too much, I've thought about a woman I know who has never voted. She lives right here in Ohio and has lived here all her life. She was born here. She is a citizen of the United States of America.

And she has never voted, says she never will vote. It's pointless, she thinks. Her vote is just one, and meaningless. Besides, all the politicians are power-hungry, blood-sucking parasites and she sees no point in voting for any of them.

She has never voted, people, and she can. It's her right. Her responsibility. Her honor and privilege.

But she won't exercise her right. She won't.

My reaction to her attitude is as visceral as my reaction to that phone call last night. How can she abdicate her responsibility so carelessly? How can she disregard the lives given in the establishment and defense of this country's democracy and freedom? How can she take that blood shed on her behalf for granted? How can she walk away from the most amazing political system in the world, a system others are currently dying--quite literally dying--to enjoy?

I don't get it.

No human institution is perfect. Democracy isn't perfect. The United States government isn't perfect. The education system isn't perfect, nor is the health care system, immigration, the tax code, trade, the military, foreign policy, the court system, and so on. These systems never will be perfect, but the knowledge that every single one of those elected officials owes us for his or her power means something. It means something huge. It means the difference between blood-sucking parasites who annoy us and all-powerful dictators who turn us into mindless, voiceless victims.

My elementary school teachers were right: democracy is the best gig going, has been the best gig since Athens got it all started two-and-a-half thousand years ago. Consider the alternatives. Care to move to North Korea? The chaos of Syria? Vladimir Putin's Russia or any of the other countries that pay nominal homage to democracy yet are so rife with corruption and abuse that people can't speak or vote their conscience or even complain without risking their lives?

As annoying as our swing-state war zone is, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

If you are a citizen of the United States, Get. Out. And. Vote.

Please. I promise you. It means something. Something huge.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gratitude Journal #161

Today, I am grateful for George's photography skills.

These pictures are from a few weeks ago. The world looks much different now, with bare-naked trees. These pictures help me remember all the beautiful color that passes so fleetingly from our Ohio landscape.

Today, I am grateful for survival, for safety in times of trouble, for emergency crews and utilities workers who are still helping the victims of Sandy. I heard earlier today that 115 people have died, and while my heart aches for all their loved ones and friends, I am so very grateful that the number is so small a percentage of the total number of people who have been affected. When we think back on other disasters...Katrina, the tsunamis in Japan and Indonesia, the earthquakes in Haiti and very fortunate so many people are safe. There's still a long way to go to get them all warm and in their own homes, but the work is begun.

Today, I am grateful for November, for its birthdays and its holidays of Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, for the hunkering down before winter hits, for burning leaves and hot apple cider.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Words, Words, Words about Real Winners


Have you ever taken an unfortunate situation and expected to make it work or make it better? How did you do that?

*I forgot to pin this! If you have pinned it, please post the link in the comments.