Category Archives: Humor

In the Writing Chair

I’m in the writing chair. Word document screen is open and cursor is blinking. Keyboard is waiting for my fingers to begin dancing. But the brain is racing in another direction. Several, in fact. Here’s where my mind has been in the last five minutes:

1. I had a dream last night about losing my little white canvas shoes. I was carrying a backpack and was obviously going somewhere, but every time I tried to leave, those shoes were gone. And I don’t even own a pair of shoes like that.

2. My grandson, Elijah, thinks cashew nuts are bananas.

3. I’m looking for a recipe to make something yummy with last night’s leftover mashed potatoes.

4. Called my optometrist’s office to find out when the January appointment they postponed will be rescheduled. Apparently, they are still trying to fit in patients who had appointments months before mine. Good thing it’s just a routine checkup and not an emergency.

5. There is an interesting dust pattern on the desk behind my monitor. Who dusts behind their monitor?

6. Maybe I should fold the laundry and clean up my office.

These completely unrelated thoughts are indicative of the normal functioning of my brain. My cousin Cristal posted a cute little picture on Facebook this morning with the caption, “If you ever want to know what a woman’s mind feels like, imagine a browser with 2,857 tabs open. All. The. Time.” Yup, that about says it.

Distractions. That’s what they are. Distractions that I’ve allowed to keep me from, at this very moment, bashing out the world’s next literary masterpiece. Sigh.

I’m in the writing chair.

And I’m going to write.

Period.

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Filed under Blogging, Dreams, Humor, Writing

Things Not to Say at the Dinner Table

We have a big family and we have a lot of family dinners at our house. The mealtime conversations can go from one extreme to the other and everything in between.

I’ve heard that sometimes, however, in the middle of eating dinner with a mouthful of pasta, all of a sudden someone says something so horrific/embarrassing/depressing/uncensored that you’d rather crawl under the table than sit upright in your seat. Of course, that never happens with us. Right? (insert raised eyebrows)

Family dinners should be about family bonding and catching up with light, funny banter. Key words: should be.

I read these rules a while ago and thought I’d pass them along. Learn these and never forget — no matter who you’re sharing a meal with, because there are certain topics you just need to avoid when eating. While I’m pretty sure that all of you know know the general rules of thumb when it comes to table manners (don’t chew with your mouth open, no elbows on the table, etc.) you should be very aware of where conversations can lead if you open up the floor for discussion.

So without further ado, let’s talk — or not talk — about the things you shouldn’t say at any dinner table.

  1. When are you two getting engaged?: If you’ve known the couple long enough, you know enough about the status and/or length of their relationship to know that a proposal is either on the horizon or it’s not. Also, it’s most likely a discussion they’ve already had and don’t need to be reminded of. If they have something to share, they will.
  2. What exactly is this?: No, no, NO. Even if you have a genuine curiosity, just wait for the host or hostess to explain what’s for dinner because nine times out of ten, your question will sound rude.
  3. I can’t do this anymore: Whatever it is — live at home, date your girlfriend, talk to your parents — have this conversation after dinner and somewhere in private. It’s just going to create a super awkward atmosphere for everyone else otherwise.
  4. Man, this ____ is going to go right through me: This should be a given. No one wants to hear about your bathroom woes. Ever.
  5. Heard you got a raise — that’s awesome. How much?: Never, ever ask someone about their money. A big, fat NO. If they want to share, they will.
  6. Haven’t you had enough? / Someone’s hungry: If they want another serving of mashed potatoes or pasta, who cares? Let it be.
  7. Can I take your plate? If they have a fork or spoon still in their mouth, chances are they aren’t finished eating. So let them throw their napkin on the dish and set their utensils down before asking them this question. And while we’re at it, it’s also rude to get up from the table when other people are still eating, so sit down!
  8. That looks . . . interesting: Even if you really mean it, use the word “good” instead, otherwise your chef for the evening will assume you mean it looks unappetizing.
  9. Oh my gosh, did you hear about that gross _____?: Thanks for ruining everyone’s appetite, jerk.
  10. Your father/mother and I are getting a divorce: Who wants to eat after hearing that? No one.
  11. I’m on a diet. / I’m not hungry: Sure you are. And please tell us how what we’re eating is horrible for our bodies while you’re at it.
  12. This is great, but it would be better with _____: Do you want to cook? No? Then shut up.
  13. Who are you voting for? This is an easy one and will never end well, so just avoid it and say “How about them Yankees?”
  14. Whispering: Everyone else at the table is going to assume you’re talking about them. Like the saying goes, “secrets, secrets are no fun, unless they are for everyone.” Boom.
  15. Nothing at all: Silence speaks volumes, and even worse are facial expressions. No raised eyebrows or scrunched faces ever.

Great guidelines to make those dinners a success.

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Filed under Blogging, Family, Humor, Writing

The World of Spam

My mom used to put Spam sandwiches in our school lunch boxes. I actually didn’t mind it. Sliced up on fresh bread with a little mustard and mayo and lettuce – yum – pretty tasty. And, no, I don’t come from Hawaii where, for some odd reason, Spam is an island favorite. My Spam days eventually came to an end and I really didn’t give the stuff much though after that.

Until now.

Just to put your mind at ease, I have not started serving up Spam again. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.

I’m talking about electronic spam. The kind that fills up my inbox every single day despite the most powerful real time anti-spam software money can buy. Well, maybe not the most powerful, but it’s pretty good. I’ve managed to filter most of the nasty stuff into my Outlook junk mailbox, however, the smartphone guys haven’t found a way to stop it from showing up on mobile devices. No amount of mustard and mayo makes that acceptable.

You know that tiny print way down at the bottom of those spam emails that says Unsubscribe? Unless the email came from a trusted source, DO NOT click on that word. Seriously. If you do, it’s like you’ve just dished out your email address to a million spammers who will gladly started sending you their offers to thicken your hair or sell you viagra. Or worse.

The invasion of privacy, so to speak, spills over to your telephone. I’m not sure if telemarketers can actually be classified as spammers, but for the sake of this blog post I will include them. We are considering cancelling our home phone because of the number of daily calls we receive from toll free and unknown numbers. The telemarketing business is getting smarter, though, because we’ve noticed that many of these calls are now showing up with local area codes. Pretty tricksy, trying to make us think the call is coming from someone we might know. We have a rule. If we don’t recognize the number, we don’t answer the phone. So it rings. A lot. And have you noticed that they never leave a message?

I don’t know what the solution is to all of this.

I just had to vent.

Go try a Spam sandwich.

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What’s in a Name?

There is a lot of name calling in my family. The good kind. But if  you don’t pay attention, you could easily become confused.

For instance, I am a grandmother. One set of grandkids call me Grandma. Another set call me Namma. And the third set call me Mama. Then there is my dear husband who is known as Grandpa or Papa, depending on which kid is calling him. Try keeping all of that straight when you are signing birthday cards.

I guess it runs in the family because I called my Mom’s parents Mother and Gramps. Don’t ask. My Dad’s parents were the traditional Grandma and Grandpa. But our own kids called my parents Mama and Papa.

Are you confused yet?

Then there are the nicknames. Our oldest daughter’s name is Julie, but she has been Auntie Jewy, Dewy, or Dulie to various nieces and nephews. Our son Michael gets shortened to UncaMike, all one word. Don’t call him Mikey or he may beat you up. Our daughter Jordan tried to teach the kids to call her Auntie Jordie, but they couldn’t say it, so it became Auntie Dodie (or Didi, for one in particular). Now everyone in the family refers to her as Dodie. Or The Dode. I stress the word family where this name is concerned. Our youngest daughter, Kelsey, thought up her own nickname at the age of two when she couldn’t pronounce her own name. She has been known as Tessie ever since. Incidentally, the name Tess actually means “fourth child”. Who knew?

Some of the grandchildren got nicknamed too. Emily became Emmy Lou, Caleb became Caleb-Doodle, Reece became Reecie-Peecie, Nikolas became Nikky-Noodle, and Jairus became Jai-Jai. Joshua and Elijah will be thankful one day that their names didn’t become distorted.

I suppose every family has their quirks and I’ve just shared one of ours.

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Filed under Blogging, Family, Humor, Imagination, Writing

PDA

PDA is short for Public Display of Affection, for those of you not familiar with the term. Although it can mean something as simple as a quick hug or holding hands, there are some who carry this to the extreme. A nauseating extreme. An indecent extreme, even. Yeah, you’ve seen them.

Yesterday, we took my mother out to a little Japanese restaurant for lunch. It was Mom’s birthday and she really, really likes sushi. We enjoyed a fabulous meal and were having some after-lunch conversation when a well-dressed man and woman came in to claim a table in the corner. I knew there would be trouble when they both sat on the same side of the table with their backs to the rest of the lunch crowd. And I mean crowd. The place was packed.

We had the misfortune of sitting almost directly across from this couple and nothing – nothing – was left to the imagination. We could see it all. So could almost everyone else. Aside from the tonsil hockey game they played, hands were in places they shouldn’t be in any public place and these two obviously didn’t care. The woman even had to button up her sweater when the waitress came to take their order. Seriously.

I could speculate as to why these two felt the need to display their affection for one another in such a brazen manner, but I will withhold judgment. I’ll just say that their behavior was inappropriate. Period.

What’s the moral of this story, you ask? There isn’t one. Or at least there were no morals evident yesterday afternoon where that couple was concerned. I wanted to grab the woman by the arm and march her into the restroom to ask if she had any self-respect whatsoever. The man sure didn’t. Respect for the woman, that is.

I’m still shaking my head.

Maybe I’ll write this into one of my stories.

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The Diet Coke Thing

I will say it up front. I am a diet Coke addict. Have been since 1983 when it first came out. I started drinking the stuff when I was on Weight Watchers after the birth of my third child and found that I could have as much diet Coke as I wanted (at 3 calories per can). It left me with the satisfied feeling that I was ingesting something forbidden and I very quickly came to like it better than regular Coca-Cola.

30 years later, diet Coke is my soft drink of choice – actually, my drink of choice, period.

I did have a small window of guilt in 2005 and stopped all caffeine intake for about eight months. But I have to say that not one single day when by that I didn’t crave a lovely tall glass of icy cold diet Coke. I don’t know what caused me to start drinking it again. But I remember that the first one I had tasted terrible. The second one wasn’t so bad. And by the third one, I was hooked all over again.

I am writing this because it has now been seven days since my last diet Coke. I’m past the caffeine withdrawal headaches. But I really, really just want to open my refrigerator, pull out a can and drink the whole thing right there.

So why did I stop? Diet Coke is sweetened with aspartame, which is so not good for you. Diet Coke is also loaded with caffeine – also bad news. And even though I have known all this for years and years, I have continued to pollute my body with this junk. Because I like it. That’s probably the same story an addict of any substance will tell you. So is it any different because diet Coke is legal? Because you can buy it in any store or vending machine on the continent? Nope.

I’m not going to tell you that I will never have another diet Coke or a cup of coffee again as long as I live. I’m pretty sure I will. But I want to break the dependence factor. I don’t want to be inhaling caffeine simply because I know I’ll have a raging headache if I don’t.

Now I’m going to start on my second 750 ml glass of ice water for the day.

And stare longingly at the two cans of diet Coke in my fridge.

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Customer – um – Service?

On occasion, my daughter and I go on a working date. What that entails is breakfast at a local restaurant that has a quiet atmosphere, free wi-fi, plug-ins for our laptops, and keep-the-coffee-coming service. Daughter does her graphic design work and I write.

This arrangement has worked well at one particular establishment fairly close to home. The food is mediocre, but the rest of the checklist makes the cut, so we keep going back. Unfortunately, our favorite waitress was not on shift this morning. In her place was Brian, who would win top prize for being the most annoying, irritating, unpleasant server on the planet. I’m not kidding even a little.

Squeaky voice and giggle aside, Brian is altogether too familiar with his customers. I really, really hate it when people I don’t know call me “honey” or “dear”. I don’t care if it’s Valentine’s Day. I am not, never have been and never will be your honey. Nudging me with your elbow, even as an intended friendly gesture, is so not appropriate for a customer service professional – and I use that term very loosely where Brian is concerned.

After we ate our eggs benedict (poached medium requested – poached hard received), Daughter and I opened our laptops and got to work. Brian plopped himself down at the table across from us to do whatever little jobs he could do while sitting there and watching our monitors. Oh yeah, he kept making little comments as if we were expected to carry on a conversation with him. We didn’t.

At one point, Brian got up and sighed deeply, saying that he was glad the rush was over and that we were now the only occupied table in the restaurant. Daughter responded, “Good. Then it will be quiet so we can get our work done.” Brian just laughed. He didn’t get it. With every pass by our table – many of which were simply to snoop, I’m sure – Brian made no attempt to hide his interest in what was on our computers because he said, “Oh, you’re on Facebook!” I looked him right in the eye and said, “Excuse me?” I saw no remorse.

Finally, Daughter and I looked at each other, simultaneously closed our laptops and packed everything up. What is usually a two or three hour working session ended up being about 45 minutes. And that included eating breakfast.

We went home and made a pot of coffee.

And it’s quiet.

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Filed under Being Creative, Humor, Writing

Coming Up For Air

I’m coming up for air.

After being locked up in some crazy kind of nasty place for the past nine or ten days, it’s such a relief to be able to take a deep breath again. The nasty place has a name. Chest Cold. Add fever, cough, stuffed up nose and you have a doozy. I was down for the count. Useless. Truly pathetic.

This lengthy incarceration was a surprise to me. First of all, I am not usually prone to sickness of any kind. And second of all, I did not expect the days and days of inability to put one foot in front of the other in order to do what is commonly known as walking. Thankfully, I was home alone for most of this humiliation. Dear husband was out of town working and Graphic Designer Daughter was in Las Vegas celebrating her birthday. My mother reminded me that I always did like to be left alone when I was under the weather, and I was grateful to be able to moan on the sofa with only the Food Network to interrupt me.

I did venture out on a couple of occasions. Our little coffee shop closed last week and I made a couple of efforts to get in there to finish off the paperwork and pack up what I could. I gave new meaning to the phrase “working feverishly” and they kicked me out. Then I had one brief period of feeling not too bad, so I was able to help Mom with a few errands. After which I was back on the sofa.

Seriously, it was not a fun week. Aside from feeling miserable, I was incredibly bored. Completely unproductive. And not even remotely creative.

But I’m back!

Shaking off the last of the cough and ready to stay topside, as it were.

Wow, it’s great to breathe again.

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The Rainstick

My daughter brought me a rainstick from her recent trip to Las Vegas. I love rainsticks, and I’ve wanted one for years.

For those of you who have no idea what a rainstick is, Wikipedia gives this description: A rainstick is a long, hollow tube partially filled with small pebbles or beans that has small pins or thorns arranged helically on its inside surface. When the stick is upended, the pebbles fall to the other end of the tube, making a sound reminiscent of rain falling. The rainstick is believed to have been invented by the Aztecs and was played in the belief it could bring about rainstorms. Rainsticks are usually made from any of several species of cactus. The cacti, which are hollow, are dried in the sun. The spines are removed, then driven into the cactus like nails. Pebbles or other small objects are placed inside the rainstick, and the ends are sealed. A sound like falling water is made when the rainstick has its direction changed to a vertical position.

My rainstick now sits on my desk, right beside my Oklahoma tornado, waiting for those moments when I am thinking and need something to fidget with.

 

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Sad Farewells

GoodBye! Coffee Mug

We are into the last weekend of business at the coffee shop and it is a bittersweet thing. The owner and I have tearfully planned out the closing activities that will happen on Monday, all the while hoping for a miracle that would allow us to stay open. Alas, it is not to be.

I will miss:

1. My co-workers. I have to say that we have the dream team staff. They are truly awesome. Every one of them. Leigh, Laurie, Jessica, Toren, Jordan, Andreya, Jonny, Jonathan, Casey, and Liz, you guys rock!

2. The cozy atmosphere when it’s cold outside, the fireplace is going full blast inside, and the place is full of conversation and laughter.

3. The best London Fog anywhere in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Really.

4. The smell of fresh bread baking when I walk into the shop every morning.

5. The customers I’ve come to know by name, and even those regulars whose names I don’t know.

6. The folks at Canterbury Coffee who know the true meaning of customer service and a quality product.

7. The Saturday morning JW crowd that always tries to evangelize us and never succeeds. They’ve been good customers anyway.

I won’t miss:

1. The many, many rude and non-paying people who use the coffee shop as a bus stop shelter. We’ll be happy to clean up the mess from your muddy boots for the last time.

2. The people who persist in drawing their graffiti with jiffy markers on the baby change table in the washroom. Seriously, guys. You need meaningful work.

3. Running out of milk on Sunday nights no matter how much we stock up.

4. Getting midnight phone calls from the security company because the employee who closed forgot to set the alarm. It’s not pleasant having to get out of bed and go to the cafe to make sure all is well.

5. Calls from staff who are supposed to start work in twenty minutes but they’ve suddenly realized they are too sick to come in and no one else is available to work.

6. The high school lunch crowd. A dozen or so come in, occupy most of the tables, two or three might buy something, and they leave half an hour later. Our staff is left to pick up their garbage and put the furniture back where it belongs. Every day.

7. The finicky equipment. A dishwasher with a mind of its own. An espresso grinder that powers off at random for no reason. A flash oven that no one can figure out how to use. A wireless router that works occasionally. Satellite radio that doesn’t work at all.

So farewell, Fireside Coffee. It’s been a great run and I’ll miss you.

For a little while.

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