Friday, February 27, 2015
We were in the middle of a blizzard the other day. The meteorologists were predicting 18 inches of snow. I had to go to work the next day and my car looked like an igloo from Alaska. You could barely see anything but a mound that resembled a white Goodyear blimp. I just knew the locks would be frozen and I would have to set the alarm for 5 AM, in order to defrost the turkey by 10 AM, for the delayed opening. As luck would have it, I had the company PC with me, so I could work from home as a last resort, if the ice pick and flame thrower failed.
My daughter and I juggle everything: cooking, work, school, shopping, laundry, cleaning… sending out for pizza. I thought about how we modern grandmothers have it a bit tougher than our own Grandma’s did in the 1950s, when most women didn’t work outside the home. We have evolved from performing a single role with a job description into professional jugglers. I can’t remember the last time I had time to bake cookies, other than Black Friday. That’s when I choose to make them, so I don’t have to travel to the Mall and get run over by one of Santa’s reindeer.
Modern conveniences like microwave ovens and deicer don’t help much during our daily routine. My Grandma would get up in the morning and cook breakfast in her robe. I’m lucky to complete that task, making pop-tarts, wearing only half my panty hose while a curling iron cooks the formica in the upstairs bathroom. I’m always buying batteries for the smoke detector, which gets a workout at breakfast and dinner during the week, and all day Saturday and Sunday. Sounds like a resume doesn’t it? “Alkaline Expert, Have Charger Will Travel – Available for contacts after 5:00 PM, Monday thru Friday, all day Saturday and Sunday.”
I do all my cooking on weekends, so we can zap dinner in the microwave during the week. We have the audacity to fight over that 15-minute task and whose turn it is to load the dishwasher.
My grandson noticed that I was looking out the window at my car like it had some sort of guppy disease and was about ready to cry. I was hoping that he would volunteer to do Grandma a favor and get the broom, shovel, and scraper and clean it off for the next day. We began to negotiate. I counted the change in my pocket. He settled for $5.00 and an I.O.U. for a DVD. So, now I’m a barterer too. The child is going places, like the Cayman Islands.
I’m working from home today. We use Microsoft Communicator on our PCs to keep in contact with our peers at the office. In between business meetings, writing documents, and updating spreadsheets; this Grandma is doing laundry, making hot chocolate, and listening to knock-knock jokes. Juggling feels like natural evolution and goes well with the gray hair. I should try out for Circus du Soleil.
Now any policeman will tell you that if 10 people witness an event you will get 10 different versions. I'm here to tell you that is true. Also, men and women perceive things much differently. Here is my husband's take on the same blizzard:
Grandpa Tighty-Whities and the Strangely Suffocating Snow Day
School closings are being announced on the radio due to snow. Mother Nature is again proving to be my nemesis. Mother Nature and I haven’t been on speaking terms since my wife’s water broke in Philadelphia at 34th and Vine back in 1979, and our daughter was born; as the old song goes: “I held my nose, I closed my eyes…” -- it didn’t help.
Yesterday, our daughter brought grandson, Abner, to our home kicking and screaming. She was not the one doing the kicking and screaming. It was Abner’s gut instinct regarding the state of his well-being during his next several days with us that made him angst-ridden. I attribute his trepidation to my mother-in-law, Surly Kate, who regrettably still lives here.
Abner and Kate wear on my nerves like tethered flags during a hurricane. No school means I am now trapped inside the house with both of them. Mercifully, I have some Scotch whiskey in a glass bottle, properly labeled, to break in case of an emergency while my wife is at work.
By noontime, Kate is in the bathroom yelling expletives with the door locked; Abner is in the next room losing an X-box game, his vocabulary is exactly like Kate’s – vile and hereditary; and I, with no time to dress, am still in my tighty-whities and bathrobe.
Soon, water commences to trickle from beneath the bathroom door, the encumbrance of having indoor plumbing. Now, I have to stop what I am doing -- disconnecting all the smoke detectors -- a task I always perform when making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch; to get a bathroom key, two bars of soap for them to suck on and a mop.¬
It is beyond my comprehension why entrepreneurs can develop complicated video games, but can’t invent useful things like smoke detectors with artificial intelligence, so you can teach it personal cooking habits before piercing one’s ear drums at meal time; toilets equipped with smart garbage disposals, so you won’t have to call Roto-Rooter every time your mother-in-law eats nails for breakfast; and marshmallow eradicator for laptop keyboards.
Manufacturers should also affix the following warning label on computer flash drives: “Children: Do not use this product to stab marshmallows while creating s'mores on the indoor roaster.”
After lunch, I send the little rogue outdoors to play with the other neighborhood children, who are doing normal things: building snowmen, having snowball fights and making snow angels. Of course, Abner gets into the tool shed and finds the clothesline. He jury-rigs a dog-sled, dognaps all the canines within a five-block radius, amidst raucous protests from the dognapped, and organizes a neighborhood Iditarod.
Someone summons the police.
Since the chip off the old block is a mile away, I do the intelligent thing and have a martini.
Unfortunately, the police return him.
At the end of the day, I am still baffled by the underlying literary message in Abner’s “alleged” required reading: Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
A few years ago, Homeland Security announced an incident in Atlanta, GA, where Amy Windom was victimized, but managed to send a life saving text message from her laptop using her toes. In an effort to mitigate the root cause, Homeland Security tried signing an agreement with Toshiba for alternative laptop keyboard designs allowing for hallux (toe muscle) deviation to make it easier for Amy or anyone else in this situation; but the Beta test failed.
It was the pork in last year's budget.
Read the original news article
After reading about the fail, I realized that it’s a good thing Amy is only 39 years old and has good eye sight. I set up my own simulation and couldn’t even find the keyboard with my toes. The first thing that happened was the mouse pad and external mouse hit the floor and joined the dust bunnies under the bed. When I tried to slide my big toe across the internal mouse to click on “Start,” to launch the IM software, I got a nervous twitch and hit the quick-scan on my virus protector, so I had to wait an hour.
Since I used my husband’s old police handcuffs to simulate Amy’s wrists tied to the bed post, I also had difficulty trying to grab the key with my other toes. It had taken a nose-dive with the mouse and was wedged between the night stand leg and the molding.
My cell phone was playing video games in the next room, indicating that family members had called about three times already.
I spit out my gum, mashed it into the wedged key with my left foot, and whistled for the dog, hoping that she would retrieve it for me. All she did was pick both up in her mouth and run out into the kitchen.
"Enjoy your Dentyne breakfast #$tch" I yelled.
I was stuck. It was only 11:00 am. I just laid there trying to figure out how I was going to explain this to whoever came home first.
I quickly thought of answers:
1. Some orangutan broke into our house and mistook me for Harry Callahan’s girlfriend.
2. I’m doing Top Secret research for Homeland Security?
3. I heard a somewhat religious domestic terrorist enter the house, so I figured I’d scare him off?
Mel Brooks’ “History of the World” was playing on the classic movie channel and my bladder finally gave out with Harvey Korman. I’m in the soup:
Friday, February 6, 2015
Remember the good old days, when you could turn on the UHF channel and watch Bishop Sheen on a Sunday? I really miss him. Our culture has suffered his loss. He was a great teacher, then everything went down-hill and they gave his chalk board to Glenn Beck, who started using it to teach fractured religion, before he finally quit his day job.
In those days, we went to Church every Sunday, and every day during Holy Week. We had respect for our elders, obeyed authority figures; and didn’t even know what flipping the bird meant, let alone use it to signal a traffic cop on foot.
Children had respect for their parents and grandparents, didn’t cuss in mixed company, didn’t expose their butt cracks in public, and used terms like “sir” and “ma’am,” instead of “dude” and “WTF?”
As a family, we were closer on rainy days by playing interactive games like Candy Land, Monopoly, Mr. Potato Head, Operation, poker, Scrabble, and Yatzee; not sitting solo in front of the TV, wearing headphones connected to an Xbox and swearing loud enough to wake up the dead.
We encouraged the older children to take at least 20 minutes out of their day to play Fish with younger siblings, not sacrifice them to The Hunger Games.
Some frustrated parents began giving their kids biblical names like Joshua, Jacob, Rebecca, and Ruth; only to find out their little demon was flipping the bird to the teacher in kindergarten class and got a tear drop tattoo at recess.
Keep them away from drugs? Right! The teachers are screaming for Ritalin by second grade. So, you’re faced with two choices: zombie or a drop-out.
The entertainment industry is corrupting our kids. All of it: movies, radio, TV, and video games. You have a better shot at hitting Mega Millions, than teaching culture to our kids. We had to ban "Naked and Afraid" in our house during Holy Week.
They should have Toastmasters for kids. At least that would get the “duuude” and “bra” out of the vocabulary, right? The word "dude" for instance, can mean many different things depending on voice inflections. Meh!
One teacher exposed two parents as being unfit. Their defense attorney proved they were not at fault because they both grew up watching Roadrunner cartoons. One of them got religion:
Sunday, January 25, 2015
There are no female major network late night comedy hosts. The only one who came close was Joan Rivers. Chelsea Handler talked to her vodka on E!, not NBC, CBS or ABC. Something is terribly wrong with that. Ever since my friend and filmmaker, Cathryn Michon, broke the Hollywood ice by making "Muffin Top: A Love Story" and started a movement, I've been making it my goal to do something different. Her husband, W. Bruce Cameron (8 Simple Rules), once told me in Dayton, OH, to set my goals high. He wasn't the only one. National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) member, Dallas Morning News columnist, author and friend, Dave Lieber, wrote a column that advised us "Go Big!" while setting your goals. I was in his class at the NSNC Conference in Hartford. Here is my chance! Ihink I got my mojo back. Seth Meyers move over. Are you there, Sangria? It's me, Rosie! (drum roll): Bill Clinton and Jeffrey Epstein were spotted on “orgy island” with eight old Salvation Army ladies from the Bronx. Ghostbusters tested and reported to TMZ that best-seller "The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven" is all Malarkey. Police arrested a drone from Mexico with six pounds of crystal meth after it crash landed under the weight. LA Fitness put up bail. The Pope told the faithful in the Philippines that whatever brings about world peace will likely be illegal, immoral or fattening. The BBC has announced that a new lamb gyro is taking off in the Philippines. It is called Pope in a Poncho. My inbox is getting flooded with ads that promise Viagra can cure deflated balls. Did you know that? The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is in charge of the Doomsday Clock. Applewhite already tried that scare tactic. It’s only an asteroid, people! One of my greatest scientific discoveries as a mother (the second oldest profession) was figuring out that utensils with peanut butter on them don't wash clean in the dishwasher. Greeks vote in an election that could lead to a showdown over bailout. Well, I guess that beats playing leap-frog. Mayor Bill de Blasio just made the Musher List for the New York rush hour Iditarod. This actually happened: My friend Jody Worsham, author of "The Medicare Mom" blog, said her Shih Tzu was running with a Maltese two houses down, about three months ago, and she just gave birth to six puppies in the back of her closet. Their papers were stamped “illegitimate.”
© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
"A fool and his money are soon elected." ~ Will Rogers
After all the years that I have made a list of New Year’s resolutions for the good of my family, I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf. This year, I am making one for our POTUS:
" I will spend all my vacation and holiday time at Camp David"
Pictured above is Camp David, the Presidential Retreat that I have been paying for every April 15th, since I joined the American work force. My parents paid for it from 1942 until they died. As you can see, it is a great place for our President to spend holidays and vacations. It is already paid for and its on-going maintenance is covered by 72 years-worth of taxpayer contributions.
The American people understand that being Commander in Chief is a tough job and requires some R&R, but as long as we are faced with a $18 trillion deficit that won’t get paid off until the Second Coming, it is only fair that the POTUS develop a frugal job description for himself and his successors, you know, one that falls under the fiscal cliff, which mandates spending vacation time at a resort designed for the purpose. After all, when a soldier takes liberty he pays for the entertainment out-of-pocket. This is not too much of a sacrifice considering that the President will only have to spend off-hours at Camp David for four years. After the POTUS is out of office, he/she can take the family on exotic personally funded vacations, instead of the extravagant vacations that are currently being taken, which are straining the American people’s budget.
Nobody gets a free ride in this economy, not even “Head of White Household.”
Just who is in charge of T&E Expense Management at the White House?
You can see where this is headed, right? I am not turning over a new leaf. I will continue to shop at places like Sam’s Club, WalMart, and Costco; as I am already doing a good job economically. My family vacation will remain frugal. My vehicles will continue to be certified pre-owned. My President better wise up.
I am more than a little surprised that BO didn't take advantage of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack and go on a spree in Paris, but then he would have to put words like "Radical Islam" in his vocabulary.
Or would he?
Seriously, why not call them what they are: murderers, the criminal element of the Middle East, and terrorists; on a mission to self-destruct. Why else would there be such a high turnover rate of suicide bombers in the terrorist training camps?
Their actions are disgusting enough to make people want to build a memorial to the great agnostic philosopher, Omar Khayyám, rather than the great Prophet Muhammad, whose mission was world peace.
In the famous words of Will Rogers “There are three kinds of men: The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."
This year's tab
Yeah, well, not on my dime, BO!
Happy New Year!
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© 2010-2015, Valenta, All rights reserved.
Monday, December 8, 2014
“Bah! Humbug!" ~ Ebenezer Scrooge
How do you actually plan for a fiasco? I asked myself after planning to put a bicycle lock on the can of whipping cream in the refrigerator. The adults misbehave at Christmas worse than the kids. Uncles Harry and Dick have never quite grown up, thanks to the enablers, who keep inviting them over for dinner. I pondered their next move.
Last year, Christmas got off to a good start. Just before dinner, my son-in-law hit his head on an heirloom sconce in the dining room; it crashed, sending about a thousand tiny glass slivers all over the floor. This was even before beer and wine were served.
Plates and glasses were snatched off the set table and rewashed as a just-in-case maneuver. Luckily, the buffet was safely in the next room. Condiments were moved closer to the Infant of Prague statue and prayed over, while salt was thrown over about a dozen shoulders.
At prayer time, our 6-year-old pagan, Missy, was sucking her thumb and screaming expletives that she had learned from her older brother during an Xbox game. We used duct tape and said an Act of Contrition. We also threatened to blow up the NORAD Santa tracker before he got to our house.
We had ham and turkey, and a wide variety of side dishes. Since our family is diverse, the sides ranged from carrot raisin casserole to Arroz Rojo to pot stickers. Everybody avoided cousin Kim's Kung Pao gizzards and "Elf balls." At least that is what it sounded like she said (I always wondered what we did with The Elf on the Shelf, now I know).
After beer was served, Uncles Harry and Dick got into a heated argument over the White House Christmas tree. Harry swore that it was a Kwanzaa tree with seven branches, while Dick said that was unconstitutional, unless they also added a Menorah and Nativity scene. They also fought over whether or not the very first Turducken happened in mid-air. Every year, they pick something ridiculous to fight about.
By dessert time, Harry had already spritzed whipping cream on Dick’s nose, hoping the family dog, Spuds, would attack him. Spuds maintained his cool, drooled over the cheerleaders on the TV, then looked at Dick’s nostrils and groaned. In his youth, Dick used to look like Jimmy Durante; now that he is older, and certain body parts are succumbing to gravity, he closely resembles a Proboscis monkey.
I already had Harry’s sleeping bag out in the barn with the kerosene heater. I was leaving nothing to chance.
The men went into the family room to watch football, teenagers were champing at the bit to go to the mall the next day, little ones sat playing Penguins and Facebook games on several hi-tech iPods and notebook PCs, our Grandson was on his 25th rendition of "I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas" on the Nintendo guitar, the cat was chasing its eye-floaters, and the rest of us sat around the dining room table gossiping. We finally agreed that the first Turducken actually did happen in mid-air over Uncle Harry's house and dropped down the chimney while he was watching his signature film "Scrooge" for the 100th time.
My eyes were as glazed over as our left-over ham by 11:00 pm, so I excused myself and went upstairs; leaving my husband to entertain our overnight guests. About five minutes later, he snuck upstairs and accused me of abandoning ship.
“Football doesn’t turn me on,” I said. “Besides, look at the bright side, your mundane life would suck without overnight house guests trying to come up with a perfect bracket for the upcoming March Madness.”
I am so not looking forward to another family fiasco!
© 2010-2014, Valenta, All rights reserved.
Friday, November 7, 2014
“Laugh a lot, and when you're older, all your wrinkles will be in the right places.”~ Mel Brooks
“You know, Mel Brooks uttered the best political line I ever heard, ‘If Presidents can't do it to their wives, they do it to their country.’ That’s why we have political activists like teabaggers.” Uncle Harry said over a hot cup of tea.
Muffled giggles could be heard from the college students seated at the dinner table, but they laugh at everything, so we paid no attention.
At least four generations of our family were represented at the table: Aunt Millie, who is 85, but too young to remember the original Boston Tea Party; Uncle Harry, who is in his late 70s; my husband and me; our oldest grandson, Johnny, who is just 19 years old, and his two college guests, Mike and Ben; and our straggler, Spuds, who is only 12, and our notorious little prankster. Of course, the generation gap almost always causes communication chaos. Today, for some reason, it was worse.
You would think that communicating with the 12-year-old would be a challenge, but it isn’t. The 19-year-olds have their own language code. They still say things to each other like “Mahna Mahna” and sit there and laugh. Only they know what’s funny about that.
"Nanu nanu,” I said to my husband, “Pass the sodium chloride.”
He laughed; and the kids just sat there silently looking at each other.
“Labadt,” he said, as he handed me the salt shaker. More silent stares from the kids.
“These teabaggers do have a point.” Harry said.
Giggles erupted from Johnny, Mike, and Ben. Spuds was just grinning.
“What do you think, Millie?”
“Lookey here, Harry, I don’t want to be discussing politics. It ruins my appetite. Two years ago, they thought Obama was the cat’s pajamas, now they want to give him the 23 skiddoo. So, quit talk‘in politics and pass the potatoes.”
“Well, this ain’t like the tea party you remember. Life was simpler back then, they just threw it overboard and that was the end of it. This is serious.”
“If you say one more thing to me about teabaggers, I’m going to have to hurt you.” She said.
The giggles were getting louder and Johnny’s face was all red.
“I think we should change the subject” my husband said. “Besides, that was taxation without representation; this tea party is about spending without any money. It’s a whole different concept. Why they use the term ‘teabagger’ is beyond me.”
Mike’s milk squirted out of his nose and the other boys were roaring. Spuds was on the floor gasping for air.
“I don’t know what you're up to,” I said to them, “but if you keep it up you are eating the rest of your meal in the laundry room.”
“Tea, Aunt Millie?”
“Bruhahahaha” Johnny couldn’t control himself, and Spuds was down for the count.
“That’s it! Get away from the table. I’m sorry this couldn’t have been a better time for you Mike and Ben; but obviously Johnny and Spuds can’t behave today. All of you will have to eat in the other room.”
After dinner was over and the dishes were done, Millie and Harry left, and the boys turned on the TV in the family room. They had an extra day off from school, so I knew I wasn’t going to get any rest.
My husband was outside putting something away in the tool shed, when Spuds tip-toed into the kitchen. I was sitting there with a glass of Fat Bastard Chardonnay. There was no calorie count on the wine label, just a hippopotamus. I felt comforted.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” I asked.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “It wasn’t all our fault, though. I can’t tell you why, but if you look at my laptop, you’ll understand. Just wait till I go in the other room, OK?”
Sincerity was written all over his face; but, for some strange reason I got the feeling I was getting punked.
“OK” I said, half expecting to find a dead mouse on the keyboard.
Spuds joined the others, and I got up and walked over to his laptop, which was on a small table in the nook, just off the kitchen.
In big yellow letters I saw “Urban Dictionary – teabagging.”
“OMG!” I blurted.
My husband walked in, took one look at the expression of horror on my face, and asked “What’s wrong?”
I pointed to the laptop saying almost incoherently “Mahna Mahna.”
How is it that we live in America, speak English, and can’t agree over the real definition of a simple tea bag? ▪
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