Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Year’s Resolution 2015 – Occupy Camp David

by Rose A. Valenta

"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"

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.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Monday, December 8, 2014

Did the First Turducken Happen in Mid-Air?

by Rose A. Valenta

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.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tea Bags Bridge the Generation Gap

by Rose A. Valenta
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? ▪

To order my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” for $2.99 (less than a gallon of gas) click here SMASHWORDS, it is in all digital formats: Kindle, Nook, eBook, Sony, PDF, etc.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Chocolate -- The Real Deal

Most of the time, I stay away from junk food, soda and candy. My Italian heritage makes it difficult for me to keep my weight down, so it takes extra effort to stay under 125 lbs. I have to stay under 125 lbs. as I’m only five foot tall, maybe smaller in my stocking feet and I’m still shopping in the size 14 rack, which ticks me off. This morning, however, I was craving chocolate milk. Not the 1, 2, or 4 percent variety, but the real deal with all the fat from the cow mixed in with lots and lots of chocolate syrup. You know, milk with the real tasty cream that used to rise to the top of the milk bottle before dairies started to use homogenization.

There was a time, when kids could sneak out on the front porch with a spoon in the morning and skim the cream off the top of the milk. Most of those kids grew up to be stock brokers and investment managers. The kids, who ended up working for the government liked the homogenized milk better.

Anyway, I decided to reward myself for staying away from the junk food for over a month. I was wandering around the company café’, not located anywhere near Wall Street by-the-way, looking for a small carton of chocolate milk. The only thing I could find was 1 percent. I was pissed. I really didn’t want to settle for anything less than 100 percent. I deserved 100 percent. Besides, I can still squeeze my hand into the waistband of the size 14 skirt. So what if its elastic?

I craved the rapturous flavor of the fattening cacao content of chocolate milk.

There was none to be found with over 1 percent fat. We live in a sick world filled with cardboard health food bars, low-fat everything, manikin teenagers, Botox entertainers and Howard Stern, I concluded.

Then, I spotted it and began to drool. A pot of half-n-half was sitting next to the coffee pot in the café’. I grabbed a styrofoam cup and filled it half-way with cream, went over to the register and purchased a milk chocolate Hershey bar. I had another empty cup in my office cubicle, so I put the Hershey bar in it and microwaved it for 45 seconds. Then, I added the half-n-half - Yes!

The one percent crap reminds me of a Dave Barry quote: “Eating rice cakes is like chewing on a foam coffee cup, only less filling.”

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How to Create a Turducken

by Rose A. Valenta

   Since small game season is fast approaching and the holidays are not far off, old timers and senior sports enthusiasts have been writing to me asking about the newfangled holiday bird dubbed “Turducken.”  One gentleman wanted to know if it involved a mid-air collision and what weapon was required to hunt the thing down. Five written letters and some emails later, I realized that not many people are familiar with the beast at all; so, I decided to document a process far less complicated than tracking down Sasquatch. 

   My beta test went well; I suffered only minor burns and splinters. During the next two attempts, there were no injuries and the turducken was delicious.
   I sent each person, who wrote to me, the following information and share it with you here:
   The word “turducken” itself is a recent addition to the American vocabulary and culture. It can mean one of two things:
1. A popular, but ghastly holiday feast where a duck is stuffed into a turkey and a chicken is stuffed into the duck; or
2. As a simile, a plan that is rather futile or unnecessary.
   I have experienced both scenarios and will address them simultaneously.
Required Tools and Ingredients:
1 slightly greased, fully equipped QF 25-pounder Howitzer cannon.
1 roll of duct tape.
1 steel tripod, set up at 100 yards in front of the Howitzer.
1 cleaned and plucked 25 lb. turkey, firmly mounted on the tripod in “tee-off” position (i.e., backside facing the Howitzer with knees slightly bent).
1 9 lb. lame duck seized and bound into the shape of a cannon ball - tail up.
2 live 3 lb. chickens (you really only need one, the backup is necessary in case the first little bugger misses its target).
1 blowtorch, used to sear any unlikely remaining feathers.
1 half cup of homemade gunpowder (15% Charcoal, 10% Sulphur and 75% Potassium Nitrate combined in that order, and milled for 24 hours).
1 first-aid kit.
1 greased 48” x 72” wooden ramp.
1 bottle of Cognac (to drink while following the process).

   You will need the assistance of an unemployed Sumo Wrestler to load and unload the cannon.  Pay him minimum wage – no benefits. This is very expensive if you happen to live in Washington State or Oregon, where minimum wage is at an all-time high of $9.32, as opposed to the other U.S. States that are still allowing slave labor at $7.92. Whatever you do, don't seek him in the $15 picket lines.

   Using the wooden ramp, pile all of the tools and ingredients into a rented U-Haul truck, drive about 100 miles away from civilization, and park. 

   Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   After about three hours of tugging and pushing, the cannon will eventually slide down the wooden ramp and be removed from the truck. Set the cannon up at a 25-degree angle.

     Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   Get the tripod and turkey, walk 100 paces in front of the Howitzer, and secure the tripod to the nearest tree. Next, mount the turkey to the tripod in “tee-off” position. Secure the turkey with duct tape. Walk back and sight the Howitzer, aiming directly at the part of the turkey that goes over the fence last, or as it is known in some circles “the Pope’s nose.”

   Put three tablespoons of gunpowder into the cannon and insert the duck - tail first.

   Fire when ready.

   Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   Assuming that the duck is on target, reload by putting two tablespoons of gunpowder into the cannon and toss in one of the panic-stricken chickens.

   Fire when ready.

  Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   If the first little bugger has missed, put two more tablespoons of gunpowder into the cannon and toss in the other chicken, if it hasn’t already scared itself to death.

   Fire when ready.

   Throwback a shot of Cognac.

   At this point, if there are any ruffled feathers sticking out of the turducken, you may sear them with the blow torch. However, the entire process usually eliminates bones and feathers.

   Gather up all the remaining tools and ingredients; put them back into the truck and drive back home.

   If there are any gaps or holes in the bird, you may fill them with the Swedish Chef’s recipe for smashed potato and onion stuffing.

   Roast the anomaly for eight hours in a 350-degree oven.

   Finish the remaining Cognac in front of a nice warm fire.

   The good news about this exercise in futility is that if it was not quite successful and there is a bloody mess on your hands, you are now drunk and do not care; plus, you still end up with a turducken of sorts (see definition 2 above).

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Mothers Against V-Chip News (MAVINS)

By Rose A. Valenta

While the FCC has adopted rules for the use of V-chip technology in television sets with screens that are 13 inches or larger; no one has restricted the behaviors of politicians and public figures with shorter penises and a deficient supply of grey matter.

Mothers can’t V-chip prime time news, people, and we need a strong activist to help launch MAVINS - Mothers Against V-ChIp NewS. The evening news is always on in the living room while the kids are supposed to be doing homework, and it will only get worse over time.

I first noticed something was wrong during the Clinton administration, when little Johnny came into the kitchen asking about protractors, sexual harassment, and oral sex.

“I can help you out with the math manipulatives,” I said “but the other questions you’ll have to run past your father. Where did you hear that anyway?”

“It was just on the news,” he said. “They want to fire the President for sexual harassment and oral sex.”

“That’s ‘impeach’ the President,” I said, “Not ‘fire’ him.”

That scenario continued non-stop from about January of 1998 to February 1999. Obviously, our President was deprived in his youth from what the Amish call "Rumspringa." As a result, little Johnny had enough sex education to CLEP credits on the topic.

He wrote an entire Dissertation on “Cheating and Sexual Mating Behaviors of Public Figures Based on Income and Risk” for his friends, while still in middle school.

Years later, it gets worse. Recent sex scandals brought to us family-oriented viewers, during prime time news, involve Herman Cain, Barney Frank, John Edwards, Jim McGreevey, Governor Mark Sanford, Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner, Tiger Woods and 'The Energizer' bunny.

It was reported on the national news last year, that the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter sex video previously leaked by former aide, Andrew Young, was going viral online.

News of the video made me cringe, as Professor Johnny is now a college student and also a YouTube junkie. He thinks it is “sick,” not a bad term in this generation, and posted it on Facebook and Twitter to his 3,000+ sick followers.

When he is home from college, he uses the computer in my kitchen.

Just what I need while I’m cooking:
“Hey, Mom, what do you think of 'The Evolution of Cheating Self-Sabotage and the Sexual Mating Behaviors of Public Figures From a Darwin Perspective”?

“Go ask your father!”

Now I know why Elvis Presley sat around shooting out television sets.

To order my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” for $2.99 (less than a gallon of gas) click here SMASHWORDS, it is in all digital formats: Kindle, Nook, eBook, Sony, PDF, etc.

Also follow me on Twitter: @rosevalenta
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Sentimental Journey

by Rose A. Valenta

It was a yellow shingled, four bedroom Cape Cod with both a front and back porch purchased by my grandparents circa 1905, in Olean, NY - the home that I loved to live in every summer while growing up. It never mattered to me as a child that it didn’t have central or room air conditioning; but did have a leaky basement, a coal stove, and wood trim that needed painting every other spring. It was a comforting and wonderful summer refuge.

That home saw the birth of seven babies, four boys and three girls most of whom survived the great depression and learned how to become entrepreneurs. It hosted several weddings and two funerals in the huge floral papered living room equipped with sliding wooden doors located in the hallway across from the stairs leading to the second floor bedrooms. Later, photos of the nuptial events hung in the hallway leading into the large kitchen. Divorces happened infrequently, kids moved back home, and pictures of Mom and Dad would come down off the wall and be replaced by photos of grandchildren.

In the foyer, stood a telephone table that supported an old black Western Electric telephone and the only Heathkit hand-soldered, hard-wired, working answering machine in existence. My father built it himself after he returned home from WWII and it was the talk of the town. People would come for miles just to see it and pay him to build one for them. He dabbled in electronics after the U.S. Navy sent him to school to get certified in ship communications equipment. He built most of the CB radios used by the Olean Volunteer Fire Department and fixed television sets. He opened Bill’s Radio and TV Service out of the house, and had tubes spread out all over the dining room table most of the time, much to the chagrin of my Grandmother, who would rather serve food there, than clean up an electronics laboratory. She found resin, solder, irons, wicks, and PC boards everywhere on her good table cover. Occasionally, she would get fed up and cart boxes of the stuff upstairs and put them on my Dad’s bed. She finally convinced him to set up shop in a spare bedroom, so she could have her house back.

The attic was where I used to hang out most of the time; I would have slept up there if she let me. I spent hours rummaging through the maze of beckoning old chests and storage boxes. Me and my friends would play dress-up there, then go next door to my friend Susan’s house, play the organ, and pretend to be show girls like Shirley Temple. I recall making my Dad bring down my old baby coach once, so I could take my dolls for a walk. One of my dolls was a boy named Oscar, he had a baby bottle, a pilfered vacuum tube, several diodes, and capacitors in his possession, when he got caught red-handed commanding the coach down the 100 block of North 14th St. by my Dad, who was missing some parts for a job. Of course, Oscar got put in the bad chair after I denied all knowledge of the pilfering and swashbuckling; plus, he got a stern lecture and no tea and sugar cookies that night.

The front porch was where my uncles would gather to smoke cigars after dinner and my Uncle Joe would serenade all of us by singing and playing the accordion. The entertainment kept my Grandmother from going over the edge about all the cigar smoke and ashes on the deck. She sat there with a dust pan and broom waiting for intermission.

Remembering the events in the yellow house always makes me smile. Grandma was a rock and lived to be 90 years old. She sold the house in the 1970s, and moved in with one of my aunts a few years before she died. I was already married at the time, and unfortunately my husband and I both lived and worked in Philadelphia, PA. However, I would have gladly purchased that house in Olean, if I could.

In 1998, my husband and I found a wonderful little yellow cottage on Chincoteague Island, VA. We fixed it up and also installed a closed-in front porch. It has an attic, where I store old clothes, Christmas decorations, and household items. Near the attic window sits a child’s rocking chair waiting for a small boy or girl to come to Grandma and Grandpa's house and rummage through the place to find small treasures. Often, my laptop and a printer sit on the good table cover in the large dining room. You can spend hours on that porch listening to crickets, ducks, and other wild life; with Big Band music or Beethoven playing softly in the background from the stereo in the corner. Occasionally, I drift off to sleep there. Sometimes, I can distinctly hear accordion music and smell cigar smoke. I have friends in high places. It is my weekend/vacation refuge from the stresses and storms of life and I love spending time there.

Then tourist season and Pony Penning set in, the area becomes noisy. Things are never really perfect are they?