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Please, don’t help

Michelle Matthews-DeLorgeI’m a grateful woman, most of the time. There are times when I can take people for granted, I’m human. I forget to say thank you or don’t show my appreciation enough. Then, there are those times when I’m really not grateful, not appreciative — not because I’m evil; I just didn’t want the help.

This letter is for husbands everywhere who help a little too much. Please feel free to copy and send to a too-helpful husband you may know.

Dearest Husband,

Love of my life. You are an awfully good husband. You’re attentive, caring and nurturing. A wonderful father. Most importantly, you love to help. You enjoy it. You say it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I would hate to be the one to take all those warm and fuzzy feelings away from you but, please, stop helping.

I hit the jackpot when I met you, I really did. You realize that being a stay-at-home parent is not an easy job. It’s tiring, and sometimes it will suck the life right out of you. So even though you’ve had a hard day at the office, you’ll come home and finish cleaning up the house.

I used to ignore it when you’d cook and forget to wash the pans, just putting them back in the cabinets. Contrary to popular belief, a good rinse doesn’t really clean silverware all that well. There has to be soap and a sponge involved. I appreciate the fact that you realize that I’ve been on my feet all day and that I might not want to stand at the sink and wash dishes but please, don’t help. Repetitive motion is good for me. It will help prevent osteoporosis, and you wouldn’t want me to get that, now would you?

When I do the grocery shopping, please help me bring in the bags and feel free to leave when you’re done. I really don’t need the help putting things away. There’s a method to my madness. It helps me tell you exactly where the crackers are when you’ve looked everywhere and can’t find them. Also, just as an aside, don’t forget the gallon of milk in the trunk. The smell of spoiled milk, spilled in a car trunk, lingers just a little bit.

On laundry day, I am most grateful that you will get up, round up the laundry and drag it all the way down to the basement for me. You’re awesome for doing that! Once in the basement, feel free to leave it there. There’s no need for you to overload the washer, forget to put in the detergent and have the clothes come up smelling worse than when they went in. You know I hate doing laundry — I would rather eat a teenaged boy’s toe jam then do it. I know you’re just trying to spare me the ordeal but please, don’t help.

There are so many other ways that you could help me, husband. You could walk the dog, make sure the trash is empty every morning, keep the faucets from dripping and the filters changed. You could take the children out for ice cream or backpacking through Europe as long as I get to stay at home. You could even help me by not helping at all.

Signed,

Your Loving and Grateful Wife

— Michelle Matthews-DeLorge

Michelle Matthews-DeLorge graduated from George Washington University with a B.A. in criminology. Her love of forensics has managed to seep into quite a few of her flash fiction pieces. A self-professed movie and TV snob, she also has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things musical. Before kids, she was a paralegal and an aspiring novelist. Today, she’s a stay-at-home mom and an aspiring novelist. When she’s not chasing twin toddlers, a kindergartener or catching up on the latest tween drama, she’s blogging at “Scattered Wrecks.” Her writing has been featured multiple times on BlogHer and Mamapedia. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and blended family of five.

View from the roof

Dad_Sam-300x200You know it’s been a hard winter when you find yourself shoveling snow from the roof top on a 30-degree day and think, “Sure is a pretty good day for shoveling snow from the roof.”

If you’ve ever shingled a roof in August, you know that shingling is torrid, sweaty business. Shoveling roof-top snow in January is pleasant.

That’s what I was thinking when my daughter drove up in her red ’96 T-bird before heading back to college. She gave me a worried look that clearly indicated that my activity had an even lower approval rating than the time I bought her “Scrabble” for a gift.

There was a time in my daughter’s pre-school days when I could do no wrong. I was the best fisherman, swimmer, juggler, runner, cyclist and teacher. More than anything, I was the best at giving her underdogs, those pushes in her yellow and blue swing, so fast and hard that I went under the swing as she soared toward the tree’s upper limbs.

At her request, I got the pleasure of eating lunch with her monthly through the sixth grade. I helped her with spelling words over breakfast. She would laugh over silly sentences made up for each word, “Chair. The amazingly thin hippopotamus with a pink tutu sipped her tea in her majestic chair. Chair.” She spelled “chair,” giggling at my foolishness.

Soon her middle school years came and friends became increasingly important. “Dad,” she said. “You hang around too much when my friends are here.”  My role in her life was becoming smaller as time went by. I lost my ability to help her in math around ninth grade.

High school arrived with driving and cell phones and other competitors. Teachers often had the last word on subjects, and parental opinions were often dismissed. I found a bright spot in teaching her how to drive a 5-speed manual transmission.

Growing pains are a shared experience, and my daughter’s increasing need for independence loomed larger with each day leading up to her high school graduation and her departure to college.

From the vantage point of my roof, I look at my 19-year-old.  I can tell she’s afraid if she doesn’t leave while I’m two stories removed, that she may have to stay forever.  She’s also starting to worry about next summer and what it will mean to come back home. She’ll have rules to follow, a job to hold and household chores to be done.

I will most certainly say things to her that my father once said to me: “You can only be independent when you’re financially independent.” She’ll call me a “fun-hater.” Our relationship has played itself out over the years with different cast members.

My daughter says her goodbyes and drives down the road, her T-bird taking the curve with a swagger that only the young can manage.  I look on with parental disapproval mixed with a tinge of envy.  She has the makings of a charmed life.

I have no doubt that she’ll find a way to pay the bills but worry that she won’t pursue what makes her the happiest. That’s her challenge though; all I can do is support her and let her know that if she comes home, it will be business as usual. That may be just enough to keep her pursuing her dreams.

From my snowy roof, I look down the bend of the icy road, where her car swept past but left no trace, and see the limb where my little girl’s yellow and blue swing hung.  For a moment, I’m drawn back to that place in time, on a cool, summer’s day, when I could do no wrong giving her underdogs in June.

— Doug Clough

Doug Clough writes a column for the Ida County Courier in Ida Grove, Iowa, called “From our backyard…”  His work has appeared in Farm News, The Iowan and Boating World, and he served as a travel scout for Midwest Living. “I am a father of a salad bowl family (aka ‘blended’), a customer service manager, the possession of my Labradoodle and — in a former life — an English teacher. Someone has to enjoy that mix; it may as well be me,” he says.

Aging gracefully. Not as easy as it sounds.

I recently overheard a conversation between two gorgeous 20-somethings, all toned bodies, porcelain skin, mile-high legs, butts you could bounce a quarter off of, and boobs still up where God originally putVikki Claflin them.

One held up her wine glass, making a toast, and declared, “I don’t believe in plastic surgery. I’m going to age naturally.” Her friend nodded, and they clinked glasses as she declared with a self-satisfied smile, “Me too. I’m never getting anything ‘done.’ Those women are pathetic and self-absorbed.”

First of all, ouch. Secondly, you’re 12. Talk to me in 30 years. You have no credibility on this subject, so shut up.

There’s nothing inherently graceful about aging in a society that dismisses the elderly and worships youth. 50 is called a “senior citizen” in most restaurants, and quite frankly, if we died anytime thereafter, our kids would likely say, “Well, she had a good run.”

There’s nothing graceful about breasts that are within chatting distance of our navel, necessitating trading in our Victoria’s Secret “Come here, Big Guy” lace bra for a utilitarian cotton sports bra that shoves them back up to our rib cage and holds them tight so they won’t be mistaken for a fanny pack.

There’s nothing graceful about underarm waddle that rules out anything sleeveless unless we’re prepared to keep our arms pinned to our sides all day long. For days I forget that my triceps are unsuitable for public viewing, I now keep a burka in my trunk to toss over my tank tops.

There’s definitely nothing graceful about menopause that requires daily sheet changes because we sweat the equivalent of a kiddie pool every night in our sleep, or sticking our head out of the car window, hair blowing backwards and bugs in our teeth like the family Shih Tzu in a wind tunnel because it’s TOO FREAKIN’ HOT IN HERE.

There’s nothing graceful about gaining 10+ pounds in your sleep because your metabolism changed overnight without warning, often resulting in the bathroom scale being tossed out the nearest open window, immediately followed by a pity party that would make a 3-year-old jealous.

Middle age is about learning to navigate the fine line between wanting to look younger, instantly deeming us vain and shallow, or choosing to do nothing and let nature take its course, frequently described as “letting yourself go.”

At 57, my brain feels 40, but my body hasn’t found a decade it prefers. Sometimes I look in the mirror and my mother is staring back at me. My mother is a beautiful woman, and I’d be thrilled if she wasn’t 20 years older than me.

Yes, middle age brings with it a plethora of good and valuable qualities like serenity, patience, a better sense of humor (which God had the foresight to know we’d need), new priorities and epic, bucket list adventures. It also lets in the Shape Shifters. Invisible little seam-busters that quietly, but seemingly overnight, shift your proportions into a body shape you’ve never seen before.

Even if you manage to avoid the menopausal equivalent of the “Freshman 10″ weight gain, you may arise one morning and discover that nothing fits. Your weight hasn’t changed, but dresses you wore yesterday, today you can’t zip up. Jeans you rocked for years now make you look like your favorite banana nut muffins from the local deli. Skinny jeans are out because of their now-striking resemblance to sausage casings on a Ball Park frank. WTH??

The morning I realized I’d been shape-shifted, I was standing in my walk-in closet wailing like the local Krispy Kreme shop had closed its doors, bringing Hubs running down the hall, assuming some tragedy had befallen me and I clearly needed his manly-manness to fix it.

“Are you okay??” he shouted as he got closer. “I’m fine,” I sniffled, “but I can’t wear these clothes. They’re all a size 8.” “But don’t you wear an 8?” he asked, looking confused in the absence of blood or anything requiring masculine intervention. “Apparently not anymore, “I said, “I grew.” “Well, why don’t you just buy a bigger size?” he asked with a proud smile, apparently believing he just uncovered the magic solution to an otherwise mysterious female woe. “Fine,” I replied, “You can take all these clothes to the Salvation Army, while I go to Nordstrom and replace them.” “Holy crap,” he stared at my closet. “ALL OF THEM??” “No,” I sighed, “just the size 8s. Oh, wait. Yeah, that would be all of them.”

In a gallant attempt to cheer me up, Hubs suggested we pursue alternate, less pricey solutions over wine and a bowl of guacamole at my favorite Mexican restaurant. As I stepped into his favorite date dress (the one I just wore a few weeks ago), I knew instinctively it wasn’t going to work. It made it slightly past my knees, then stopped, steadfastly refusing to go an inch further over my thighs and hips, no matter how I wiggled or maneuvered. Seriously??

Letting it fall to the ground, I then managed to kick it with enough velocity to send it sailing out the back door and into the neighbor’s herb garden, just as I burst into tears. Hubs walked up behind me, reaching around to my tummy, and whispered, “Don’t worry, sweetie. I just love your little Buddha belly,” rubbing it with the enthusiasm of a 3-year-old who expected a genie to fly out and grant him a wish.

Tell me he did not just call any part of my body “Buddha.”

I responded with a muttered “Thanks,” because I’m reasonably certain he meant that to be a compliment, but my brain was screaming “May your camel get fleas, then sleep in your tent.”

So it appears that grace comes not from what happens as we age, and more about how we handle it. Aging gracefully is less about stalling the inevitable and largely about acceptance. Letting go of what you can’t control and finding the joy in the moment we’re living. Right here. Right now. Cosmetic intervention will slow down the physical appearance of aging, but in the end, this journey is largely emotional. Part of the process is learning how to be less judgmental and kinder to the people we love.

I’m learning that that includes me.

— Vikki Claflin

Oregon writer Vikki Claflin writes the popular humor blog, Laugh Lines. Two recent pieces have been published in Life Well Blogged: Parenting Gag Reels — Hilarious Writes and Wrongs: Take 26.

My recent holiday humbug

Jan-Marshall-199x300I am simply pooped from partying in and out of my home. I have attended or hosted so many events and was guilt-fed so much food that I was contacted by three separate weight loss organizations to be their before example in a new advertising pitch.  I am not weighing their options or anything else.

The parties 

Granted, a few of the bashes were bombastic.

At the B party, there were the Baklavas who were sweet; Bill Blasé who came alone but didn’t seem to care; and Boobs Burkewitz who arrived with a couple.

The A party had the Aesops (she wore Sable); Al and Alice Alonzo from Albany who sold apples; and Absent-Minded Albert who forgot his pants.  All in all, the As were amiable.  Others were simply hell.

At this point I now owe so many reciprocal invites, which will then lead to more invitations until infinity, that I had to find a way to end the cycle.  I have created sure-to-discourage themes guaranteeing nobody will ever want to return a second time.  From my recent experiences, you, too, can learn how to make sure you are left alone, if that is your wish.

The surprise party 

Hide 10 people in a closet when the evening is warm and sticky (if only this week). Make everyone whisper for an hour, drinks in hand.  When the honoree arrives, everyone will be so zonked they will ignore him. He’ll leave thinking he is in the wrong house. Who cares?

The buffet 

Place small throw pillows on the floor for guests to sit on so they must balance their plates on their laps or someone else’s. Serve cracked crab with drippy Hollandaise sauce, corn on the cob and huge Margaritas.  Make an obscene remark that will embarrass the most sophisticated guest, who will then spit and splatter everyone. Do not worry about being asked to their home.

Do it by phone; keep desserts for yourself 

“Hi Mona, can you believe it’s already been a whole year since we celebrated my mother-in-law’s hip replacement?  And guess what! A famous hip-hop group, all whom have had the same surgery, all of them from a nearby nursing home, will entertain and then immediately thereafter, (sh! don’t tell mom) our seven-layer kale anniversary cake will be presented. Oh…you can’t make it? So sorry. Perhaps next year, sweetie.

For the future, unless it is a small dinner party (you can still count on me for the whine), or we can meet in a restaurant, leave me alone and I sure won’t bother you.

My guarantee — as an ole country song might have said,  “If the phone don’t ring, you’ll know it’s me.”

Happy 2014 or whatever! 

— Jan Marshall

Jan Marshall has devoted her life’s work to humor and healing through books, columns and motivational speaking. As founder of the International Humor & Healing Institute, she worked with board members Norman Cousins, Steve Allen and other physicians and entertainers, including John Cleese. Her newest satirical survival book, Dancin’ Schmancin’ with the Scars: Finding the Humor No Matter What! is dedicated to Wounded Warriors, Gabrielle Giffords and Grieving Parents. She donates a percentage of the profits to these organizations as well as to the American Cancer Society and the American Brain Tumor Association.

Frankendriveway

Brandi Haas“Honey, the basement is flooded…again.”

Fewer phrases can quicken a homeowner’s pulse than the dreaded flooded basement. There’s the mopping, the tearing up of carpet, the obligatory swearing, and, worst of all, the call to the plumber.

After administering what can only be described as a colonoscopy of our main sewer line, the plumber’s diagnosis was grim. “There’s a tree root in the pipes. We are going to have to dig up your driveway to get to it and repair it.” I asked the inevitable question, “How much?” The plumber took the next 20 minutes to measure, pace, smoke a cigarette, consult a magic eight ball and then checked his calculations on an abacus.

“It comes to $4,975,” he said while avoiding making eye contact with me (which makes sense, since my eye was doing that twitching thing it tends to do under duress). Now, the way I see it, when the plumber tells you the broken pipe is in fact under the driveway, necessitating the digging up of said driveway to the tune of $5,000, you have two choices: kill the plumber and bury him in a shallow grave or laugh hysterically. I chose the latter (which ironically still seemed to scare him).

Between fits of laughter, a near-piddling, and the start of my Grey Goose and cranberry IV drip, I called my husband to break the news to him. “Well, if it has to be done, it has to be done.” My husband’s coolness under pressure is, surprisingly, one of his most annoying qualities.

“They are going to dig up the driveway!” I bellowed.

“Are you worried about the landscaping? It can all be fixed,” he tried to pacify me.

“Landscaping?! That’s the least of my worries. What if they dig up an old Indian burial ground? Which, of course, will most decidedly end with a poltergeist issue. Or worse, what if they find a pet ‘semetary’?! Do you know how many fish I have flushed in four years? That’s probably what’s causing all the plumbing issues. That’s all I need: a dozen zombie goldfish sloshing up the stairs to seek revenge on my lackluster fishbowl cleanings!”

“Zombie goldfish?” he asked.

“Yes! And remember that shaggy-looking beta that always stared at me with his one good eye?”

“You mean Daisy?” he said.

“Yeah, that’s him! You know he’s going to lead the zombie goldfish attack or become a poltergeist.”

“I don’t even know what a poltergeist is,” my husband’s patience was wearing thin.

“Do you know that 18 percent of marriages fail because one spouse lacks a working knowledge of horror movies of the 1980s?” My husband is a numbers guy, so I think my clever use of statistics will sway him.

“I have to go now, honey. Do not annoy the plumbers while they are working.”

Ten minutes later I’m down by the driveway asking the plumbers what I feel to be very valid questions. “Can’t this procedure be done laparoscopically? You know, a small incision, robotic arms, ultrasound? Come on, I have cable and high-speed Internet! We are living in a rapidly advancing world!” Needless to say, that guy did not appreciate my vision of the future of plumbing.

Epilogue
Frankendriveway is healing well, no worse for wear other than a giant, concrete scar. And happily, no ancient burial grounds were uncovered.

— Brandi Haas

Brandi Haas taught high school English for 10 years, then became a stay-at-home mom.  She’s inspired by Erma Bombeck’s humor: “When I was a kid, my mom read one of Erma Bombeck’s books and laugh so hard her shoulders shook and tears rolled down her cheeks. I would ask what was so funny and she would read excerpts. As a kid, I never understood what was so funny. Now that I am a wife and mother,  I know exactly what was so funny. Erma Bombeck saw humor in the everyday monotony around her and, by writing, she not only made people laugh but also encouraged other people to write. Like me.”

Want Smiles?

Alisa SchindlerAfter much debate, my husband and I decided that it was time to give up Smiles, our beloved, pet bearded dragon.

We brought Smiles into our family about a year and a half ago, after some exhausting pleading from our then, 10-year-old son.  When we took him home in his little plastic container, like the kind you get from takeout Chinese with air holes popped in the top, he was just a baby, no bigger than a green bean.

As we settled him into his new tank, finding a nice stick for him to perch on and a rock for him to laze, we fell in love. Or at least my husband and I did; unfortunately my son quickly tired of the huge responsibility of acknowledging him.  What? How did that happen? Weren’t you going to “die” without him?

Parents are such fools.

So day in and day out, I made his little salads and picked up crickets for some crunchy protein. My husband cleaned his tank when necessary, and took him out to wander our living room. But soon it became more of a job neither of us wanted. Making sure the children stayed alive was responsibility enough.

So we decided to find a family to adopt him and I put a notice on the parent board for our community.

“Friendly bearded dragon looking for a good home. Free with tank and accessories for a family who will love him.”

smilesI quickly received about five responses. I mean, really, who could resist that face?

One I discarded almost immediately. I didn’t like the presumptuous tone of the responder, “We will take him. When can we pick him up?”

Apparently they didn’t realize this was an adoption. There was an interview process and papers to go over with the attorney, uh, my husband, the attorney.

Two other families also didn’t make the cut. I rejected one for crimes against the English language; for using the word “there” instead of “they’re.” As in, “We think there so cute.”

We didn’t raise no illiterate lizard, so clearly they were out.

The other family asserted with strange pride that they already housed a turtle, dog, cat, hamster, fish and snake. Uh, if I wanted to give him to a pet store, I would have.

That left us with a nice sounding teacher with kids, and a family who wanted to give Smiles to their 10-year-old son who had been pining for one, as a birthday present. Hmm did they say a 10-year-old?

We went with the teacher family because they responded first, and his email trail back and forth with his wife begging her was extremely cute.  Oh yeah, I went in for the background check.

We set up a time, and as we waited for him to arrive, my husband and I skittered down memory lane with Smiles.

Remember when we lost him outside in the bushes?

Remember when he fell asleep next to the couch, his body flattened to the floor and we thought he was dead?

SmilesRemember when we bought that little leash and tried walking him?

Oh good times. So many smiles, Smiles.

When the teacher arrived to take him away, I saw by the alpha stance of my husband, chest out, dragon hanging, that he was ready to give him the third degree.

“So you’re leaving him in your classroom, and not your home?”

“He’s social. Will he have an opportunity to be taken out?”

“You’re going to leave him all weekend alone?”

The man stuttered and backpedaled and in the end, my husband deemed him unfit for adoption, and he cowered off empty handed.

Alone, my husband patted Smiles on the head and cooed, “I’m not going to let just anyone take you.”

You don’t mess with a man and his lizard.

No surprise, we’re still looking for the “right” family.

— Alisa Schindler

Alisa Schindler is freelance writer who chronicles the sweet and bittersweet of life in the suburbs on her highly entertaining blog www.icescreammama.com. Her essays have been featured on Mamapedia.com and Bonbonbreak.com as well as in the book, Life Well Blogged. She is a member of “Yeah Write,” an online community for writers, where she has won the Jury Prize multiple times in the group’s weekly essay writing contest.  She has just completed her first novel that she feels comfortable showing to someone other than her mother.

Lost in translation

Sandra-Moulin1-199x300People who travel to Europe are always amazed that Europeans are multi-lingual. Some arrogant Americans believe that every human should speak English, particularly those who choose to live on American soil. Others, like yours truly, are envious that Europeans live in such close proximity to other cultures so they can actually use the languages they learn by driving a couple of hours, and voilà, they’re in another country.

Americans are already multi-lingual. For example, I speak Ohio, Wisconsin, Maryland and Oregon. You laugh, but I’m not to amusing yet. I’ve discovered that men and women all over the world are multi-lingual in another way. Women speak the following languages fluently: often, long, whenever. Men speak: car, blame and dumb.

Women come out of the womb with an inordinate quantity of syllables. They are genetically wired to flap their jaws from day one. We speak often, using as many syllables as we can, and we do not discriminate as to time of day or night or even occasion.

Women come equipped with a detail app. We don’t want our listeners to miss anything so we gather adjectives to paint word pictures for our listeners. Men have difficulty with this. They want us to cut to the chase so they can get to the sports section. Women listen for key words, and we respond to them enthusiastically, even interrupting at times. This tends to irritate men who are trying hard to just articulate a response when coming out from under the barrage of syllables. Women are multi-taskers so we like to deliver several messages at a time. This makes men tired and has been known to send them into a mouth-open slumber in the recliner.

Men speak car, blame and dumb. Many, many are fluent in car, although some specialize in “Are you kidding, Ref?” The car language is lost on women. We go car shopping with our man, and while he’s checking out the handling and turbo, we are focusing on color and mirror. Mr. Wonderful has been known to watch car TV for up to 10 hours a week. He never tires of watching those wheels go round. Men can speak car to each other for hours at a time. Women are not interested in translation.

Men also speak blame. As they are programmed from delivery to never show fear, they turn their fear into rage and blame. Don’t ever expect a man to say, “Whoa, I’m really scared.” He would express this by saying, “Why the hell did you do that?” Women must realize that when a man is blaming her for throwing the open yogurt into the garbage can, that the man is really scared of raccoons. (There needs to be an English/Man dictionary, and I am just the person to write it.) Men also speak fluent dumb. For example, the other day, Mr. Wonderful asked on the way out the door to the country club holiday gala, “Are you going to wear that?” “No,” I said. “I am just getting in the car with this on until we get there, and then I’m going to change into a wait person’s uniform.”

Ah, the joys of communication. And we haven’t even addressed speaking thumb.

— Sandra Moulin

Sandra Moulin, a freelance writer from Wilmington, N.C., is a retired master French and humanities high school and college teacher. She has self-published two volumes of humorous essays, Before and Laughter and Laughterwards. She writes for four local publications and gives humorous workshops and presentations.

My mirror doesn’t work

Elaine AmbroseWhen my eyesight became weaker, I purchased a new lighted mirror with a 10X magnification so I could apply mascara without guessing the actual location of my eyelashes. The first time I looked into the mirror I screamed and jumped back in horror because there was a ghastly old woman staring back at me! I want my money — and my face — returned!

The illuminated, colossal reflection exaggerated the erratic road map of lines, wrinkles and crevices that sprouted around my eyes like jagged lightning bolts surrounding deep, bloodshot sinkholes. Why didn’t someone tell me my face resembled a damp shirt that been forgotten in the dryer? At least my friends also have failing eyesight so they may not even notice.

I flipped the mirror over to the normal view and was relieved because my poor vision couldn’t detect any flaws. I prefer that side now. For security and insecurity purposes, I have taped a warning label into the magnified side of the mirror.

It’s called a vanity mirror for a reason, but I refuse to channel my inner Queen of the Snow White movie and ask the mirror on the wall who is the fairest one of all. I know the answer and not even a flamboyant skit by the jolly Seven Dwarfs could make me laugh now because that would just add more unwanted lines.

After surviving the shock of magnified reality, I looked again at my eyes. These green orbs have been dilated, examined and corrected since I was 10 years old. They have peered from dozens of ugly frames that included cat-eyes with rhinestones, black square nerd glasses and delicate rimless beauties that cost a month’s mortgage and broke every time I sneezed. My eyes survived surgery for holes in both retinas and continued to work after a failed attempt at laser treatment. Best of all, these irreplaceable body parts have allowed me to write and read books and to see the wonders of the world.

These eyes cried with joy when I held my precious babies, widened with amazement when I visited 32 countries around the world, leaked buckets over physical and mental pain, and focused with passion as I stared into my husband’s loving eyes. Six decades of visions are stored within my memories as on-demand movies after a life full of adventure, tears and laughter that I have been privileged to see and experience. I have earned each and every line around these well-worn eyes, and I intend to earn many more.

Next week I’ll don my newest pair of spectacles and prepare the list for our family Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll check favorite recipes and pull out the good dishes and silverware. I’ll arrange festive pumpkins and colorful leaves into a happy centerpiece and imagine the cacophony coming from the children’s table. Then on the day of the grand feast I’ll witness the generations gathered around the tables squabbling over the last drumstick. With the blessed ability to see, I’ll give thanks for the abundant vision before me.

Today’s blog was fueled by a 2011 Jacuzzi Barbera from Mendocino County, Calif. I found this complex and vibrant wine on a recent trip to wine country and recommend the explosion of tastes with flavors of blackberry, raspberry, strawberry and vanilla. Preview their wines at www.jacuzziwines.com. And, it’s okay to pair red wine with turkey.

— Elaine Ambrose

Elaine Ambrose is an author, publisher, blogger and humorous speaker from Eagle, Idaho. Her national bestseller is Menopause Sucks. She blogs at “Midlife Cabernet.”

Reflections of Erma