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Maverick Maddon will bring World Series title to Chicago

Charles HartleyWhen he talks, you listen.

Ideas flow from his outdoor, underground faucet. Lights flicker in your mind. You get excited, inspired and amused. You develop a new way of thinking about something because of something he says.

Sparks fly around your head. Talk more, please. Say something else. Fire at us another colorful, never-heard-before analogy or phrase to describe what’s on your mind.

You pull us towards your mind and heart. That which concerns and uplifts you matters. What you say and what you do are rare. This is all compelling. It’s theatrical. You are a person who has that ability to mesmerize anyone who sees or hears you. When you walk into a room, your presence fills it. People know you are there and admire everything about you. It is impossible to dislike you.

You are Joe Maddon, manager of the Chicago Cubs. Your team defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in the Major League playoffs. They now move on to the National League Championship Series.

As this playoff season continues, you will be interviewed by more press people. Americans who have never heard of you will ask “Who is this guy, Joe Maddon?” When they listen to you speak, they will get their answers. The sound and content of your answers will appeal to them. You are a curious man with an adventurous mind. You are not just about baseball although you excel at leading your teams to victories. Of all baseball managers anywhere, you are among the best.

Most people can’t quip well. You can. Most people aren’t funny. You are. Most people in your position are caught up in baseball and only talk about the sport, which is predictable and uneventful. You may talk baseball though you may not. You are a reader of classic writers such as Ernest Hemingway. You read that guy, Joe. A baseball manager who reads Hemingway is a maverick.

Unlike most men in sports, you don’t need it to be energized. You could be a stock broker, head of a pharmaceutical company, a priest, or a forest ranger. You have that type of personality. Most baseball people are seam heads. You know baseball — your teams win. But by the way you act and talk you communicate that life is about reading, thinking, exploring, tossing around ideas, tinkering, and doing the less obvious.

You believe in having a drink of hard liquor with your players once in a while. You don’t do this to impress people. You do it because it’s who you are. You take chances. You do not follow conventions.

You are an original man. The world needs more of these.

I could spend hours talking with you about religion, politics, the infield fly rule, life in Tampa and Chicago, jazz music, America’s educational system, and the importance of being whimsical.

You would offer your opinions about all of this. It would be entertaining and enlightening. Your thoughts would be those only you could create. Your name might as well be Joe Original.

Because of who you are and the situation you are in, you will lead the Cubs to their first World Series title in more than 100 years.

You’re the guy, Joe. Everybody who knows you and the history of the Cubs feels the excitement building.

This team has been waiting for someone like you. For 100 years they didn’t know who that person was. Now they found him. You have something in your character that no other baseball manager does. It’s elusive to describe. But it’s there. It’s charisma. It’s charm. It’s wit. It’s worldliness. It’s daring. It’s winning. It’s wonderful.

Cubs fans know it and so do I. Seam heads are sure of it also.

When you have a feeling about a person that they are special — I mean truly special — you know they will achieve the extraordinary. These types make their mark on history. Who else but you, Joe Maddon, could bring a World Series championship to Chicago? This would not be ordinary.

The answer is no one.

You are the wild card of baseball. In a few weeks when the Cubs have their championship parade, the best part will be when you speak to the masses.

Everyone — not just Cubs fans — will want to listen. And they will never forget what you say because it will be come from your mind.

— Charles Hartley

Charles Hartley is a freelance writer who has had more than 1,000 articles published in a wide range of media outlets focused on humor, sports, business, technology and consumers. He has earned master’s degrees in journalism and business administration and a bachelor’s degree in English and communications.

Depth of a salesman

Jerry ZezimaDespite the lamentable fact that I couldn’t sell skis in Vermont during the winter, or surfboards in Hawaii during the summer, or even beer to castaways on a desert island, mainly because I would have consumed it myself, I recently got a job as a salesman.

I am not getting paid (and I’m worth every penny), but I do get hugs and kisses, which are priceless.

My boss is my granddaughter, Chloe, who just started preschool and came home on her first day with — you guessed it — a fundraiser.

Fundraisers are an excellent way not only to raise funds for schools, but to deplete funds from the families whose children or grandchildren go to the schools that need to raise funds.

This is known, in many American households, as an economic downturn.

But if it helps kids, especially Chloe, I am all for it. Besides, I’d only blow the money on frivolous luxuries like food and shelter.

I remember when my daughters, Katie and Lauren (Chloe’s mommy), came home from school with fundraisers that my wife, Sue, and I had to bring around the neighborhood and then take to work so friends and co-workers could buy stuff after we had bought stuff, thus ensuring that the girls wouldn’t be known as the only kids in school with cheap parents.

Then, of course, Sue and I had to buy stuff from the kids of all those friends and co-workers, proving that we weren’t cheap. During the school year, however, we were practically broke.

Now, after enjoying fundraiser retirement for the past two decades, I am back in the sales game.

Acting on behalf of Chloe, the CEO (child executive officer) of this enterprise, Lauren handed me the 32-page sales brochure, titled “Prestige Gift Collection 2015,” which offered “unique gifts, kitchen helpers, delicious treats and premium gift wraps.”

The first person to whom I had to give a sales pitch was, naturally, myself.

“There’s a lot to choose from,” said Sue, who had already purchased several gifts, including Item No. 11, the Ho Ho Snowman Roll Wrap.

“I guess I don’t have to buy wrapping paper,” I said, though I was intrigued by Item No. 25, the Mystery Roll Wrap. Even more intriguing was Item No. 21, the Mystery Gift.

“What’s the mystery?” I wondered. “You order them but they never arrive?”

“Pick something else,” suggested Sue, who not only is a better shopper than I am but also, obviously, a better salesperson.

I perused the possibilities, including Item No. 29, the Sunrise Egg Mold (“If my eggs have mold, I’m not eating them,” I told Sue); Item No. 42, the Snap-Lock Containers (“We already have enough Tupperware to store leftovers for Luxembourg”); Item No. 47, the Professional Knife Sharpener Wand (“I’d bleed to death”); and Item No. 66, Cashew Torties (“Isn’t she an adult-film star?”).

I ended up getting a subscription to Sports Illustrated, so I could enjoy reading about people who are bigger, stronger, younger and richer than I am.

Then I took the brochure to work.

One colleague said apologetically, “I don’t even buy from my own kids.”

Another one said, “I have to go to a meeting,” and never came back.

Fortunately, several others fell for my irresistible sales pitch, which began, “I hate to ask this,” and generously purchased items I knew they didn’t need or want but bought anyway, probably because — and this is the key to salesmanship — they felt sorry for me.

I am proud and slightly flummoxed to report that I sold $87 in merchandise, which not only helped Chloe be tops in her class, but ought to make me Preschool Salesman of the Year.

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima, who served on the faculty at the 2010 EBWW, writes a humor column for the Stamford Advocate that is nationally syndicated through the McClatchy-Tribune News Service and regularly appears in the Huffington Post. He’s written two books, Leave it to Boomer and The Empty Nest Chronicles. He has won six humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and was named EBWW’s Humor Writer of the Month twice. He is currently president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Eight (legs) is not so great

Patty ScullIt’s a commonly held myth that we swallow an average of seven spiders in our sleep over a lifetime. It’s also widely known that FDA regulations concede to allow a certain number of insect parts per jar of peanut butter, like wing scales and roach feet. We turn a somewhat blind eye to these facts because simply put, it’s easier (not to mention less gag-inducing) not to think about them.

As a child in North Carolina, I held a superstitious belief to check the inside of each new roll of toilet paper for granddaddy long leg spiders. A few years into that thus-far unfounded belief, I checked the roll to actually find a daddy long legs scurrying out of the middle and over my hand, which was rippling with disgust. Screaming bloody murder, I dropped the toilet paper and let my bladder fill for a few more hours. This confirmation of my suspicion only intensified my psychotic derangement regarding these spiders. I had also heard somewhere that daddy long legs are poisonous enough to kill you, with one caveat — they have no mouths with which to bite you.

No mouth with which to bite, you say? Your apprehension may be somewhat allayed by this bit of information, now assuming we’re safe from the wrath of the Long Legs, right? Oh, quite the opposite my imprudent friend — they can still kill, should you swallow the body of one. Anyone who’s ever seen a granddaddy long leg spider knows that its name hails upon it for obvious reason, as its legs consist of eight long, hair-like moving strands that protrude from its tiny particle body, ascending and descending, landing around it on the ground in equal spaces, thus portraying the eerie look of a disembodied, floating spider head.

Shudder. I’m probably going to have nightmares for a week now.

After the toilet paper incident, like the typical, self-centered human being I was, I would have visions of waking up to a maniacal daddy long legs perched over my mouth, stealthily lowering its tiny, poisonous body into my unsuspecting face hole. I pictured the spiders of the South, in acts of willful martyrdom, amalgamating into one giant conspiracy theory whose sole mission was to kill off all the humans and take over the universe.

As time went on and this scenario, in fact, did not come to fruition, my fears eased with each passing year until confederacies of evil spiders poisoning me in my sleep seemed a distant, foggy dream. Ever since moving to New York City, my current nemesis has been the mutant subway rats that stalk me home from work, although unlike my spider conspiracy, I’m pretty sure that every other New Yorker feels exactly the same way.

— Patty Scull

Patty Scull’s essays and poetry have been published in The Other Herald, Stepaway Magazine, Brooklyn Vegan, Short and Sweet NYC, and she is a contributing writer to Broke Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY.

When I learn to knit

Michelle Poston CombsI thought by this stage in life, I’d be more “together.” I thought by now I would carry myself with grace and kindness. I thought by now, I would be calm and knowing and able to weather the storms we all face in life without being crippled by anxiety.

I think the problem is this: I never learned to knit. I think if I could knit, then my life would be on a clear and unobstructed road to the golden years.

When I learn to knit, I’ll be granted access to the contentment that has eluded me. I don’t expect all the good things at once. I will have to pay dues first. At the moment, all I know of knitting is you are supposed to say “knit one, purl two.”  I have no idea what that means.

I know I’m not going to go from “beginner with the manual dexterity of a toddler” to “extreme sports: knitting edition” overnight. I am motivated, though. I have reached an age where I need to stop talking about how much I love the middle part of life and start to actually embrace the middle part.

When I learn to knit a scarf, I will be entitled to novice-level understanding. If I can knit a scarf, then I will have reached a point in life where I hang clothes up in my closet instead of kicking them off while walking down the hallway to my bedroom. I will also own a thoroughly stocked and organized spice shelf.

When I learn to knit socks, I will not consistently be one unexpected car problem away from being destitute. Living paycheck to paycheck will be a distant memory by then. I will bake pies that sit in window sills with little cartoon smoke tendrils rising from the pie. Children will gather under the window and devise nefarious plots to steal my pies.

When I learn to knit sweaters, I will have achieved the ability to make homemade gifts that people actually covet instead of endure. I will find grace that has eluded me. I will lay on the couch in flowy gauzy clothes while reading a book and no matter my position, I will look as though I’m posing for a work of art.

When I learn to knit fin mittens for homeless sharks, I will have found my cause. I will work for this cause, giving generously of my time. I will feel neither exhausted nor smug in my cause, just contentment. I will develop a twinkle in my eye that doesn’t just look like my allergies are acting up or that I’ve been hitting the bong.

When I learn to knit a muzzle, I will finally realize that I don’t have to say every thought that pops into my head. I’ll need a really thick muzzle, though.

When I learn to knit a life-size replica of Larry Flynt, I will finally accept myself as a sexual being. I will embrace the hot, sweaty goodness that is sex without the vague feeling that I’m doing something wrong.

When I learn to knit a pool boy named Raul, even though I don’t own a pool, I’ll embrace my aging body and cherish each roll or wrinkle. The veil disappears from my eyes, the veil that has forced me to view my body in a range from “disappointed” to “just no.” I will look at my naked body, the one that has carried me through all the years, and say “Look at that sexy bitch, right there.”

When I learn to knit a parachute for my husband to use at the Acme One Way Skydiving Emporium, I will learn to live with my husband’s quirks. I will no longer want to stab him when he drives like an aged grandmother. I will find humor in his jokes, even though I’ve heard the same jokes an average of 13 times a year for 20 years.

When I learn to knit house cozies, I’ll be able to coat my loved ones in a special Teflon that can only be obtained when you achieve master knitter status. I will be able to whip up stews with ingredients I have on hand. My refrigerator will no longer smell like it holds the contents from every science fair since the beginning of science fairs.

When I learn to knit, then I’ll find the peace I’ve expected for free as we age. I’ll grow wise and stoic. I will have easy answers to difficult questions for younger people who find their lives shift in a positive way when they heed my advice. When I learn to knit, I will lose most of the fear that has been my constant companion.

Perhaps, though, instead of relying on knitting, I should work on accepting me as I am right now. Today. Besides, it would take many skeins of yarn to hold this woman together.

— Michelle Poston Combs

Michelle Poston Combs can be found at her blog, Rubber Shoes In Hell. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Mock Mom, In The Powder Room and  Better After 50. She had an essay in Jen Mann’s latest anthology, I Still Just Want To Pee Alone. She appeared in the 2015 Indianapolis cast of “Listen To Your Mother.”

Taking stock of my metabolism

Molly StevensOver the summer, the American stock market surrendered $2.1 trillion in value over a six-day losing streak. If you are like me, understanding the complexities of a market correction is as baffling as reading a prospectus. People are concerned, fearing a future of rummaging through bins of dented cans to meet their recommended daily allowances.

I sympathize with investors’ shrinking portfolios, but I am confronting a serious personal disaster that has more to do with inflation: I have an underperforming metabolism.

It turns out while others mourned losses from risky hedge funds, I was realizing capital “gains” in my “piggy” bank. And my assets were growing out of control!

When I was a baby, Carnation Evaporated Milk and Karo Syrup had deep enough pockets to convince my mother’s generation that this concoction was superior to breast milk.  It wasn’t my fault (or my mother’s) that suckling on this sugary formula altered my brain chemistry, setting me up for carb cravings as powerful as a bull market.

During a period of aggressive growth, I bought into commodities like devil’s food cake, Mom’s apple pie and Twinkies. I never gave much thought to balancing caloric debits and credits. When I wanted to drop a few pounds I simply skipped dessert for a few days. My mitochondria were slaving away 24/7, working harder than migrant workers in a blueberry baron.

But suddenly I was shocked into facing this reality: I was the victim of a metabolic correction. I continued to eat, drink and frolic in rich dividends, while my energy requirements bottomed out. And the waste applied itself to my waist.

Even Social Security doesn’t declare someone in my generation fully vested until age 66. Who presented my metabolism with the option for early retirement?

I was on the verge of a full-blown depression when a co-worker updated me on the latest research about ideal body mass index (BMI) for “mature” adults. It seems that a BMI of 18.5-24.5 does not provide security for those over 65. Instead the key to a longer life is BMI diversification in the range of 23-33.

My metabolic correction was actually protection — against premature death and a long-term relationship with Jennie Craig.

Now that I’m not doomed to a lifetime of Special K, I’ve turned my thoughts toward plumping up my 401K. And like an answer to a prayer, I just got an email from a nice person from Nigeria offering me some fabulous returns for a one-time investment.

While I wait for the money to roll in, I’m washing down some blue chips with a Sam Adams, knowing these empty calories are contributing to my longevity.

— Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens arrived late to the writing desk, but is forever grateful her second act took this direction instead of adult tricycle racing or hoarding cats. She blogs at, where she skims over important topics, like her love affair with white potatoes and why she saves user manuals.

Never too late

Foyne MahaffeyI’ve always loved cellos.

They look beautiful and so do the people who play them no matter what their appearance while on break. Player and instrument, the two become one. The way a player has to drape around his or her cello makes it clear that they are a couple.

I have always been especially drawn to slow, deep pieces full of break-ups and job loss. Cello and angst to me equal one perfect evening. It’s the vibrato, the shaking left hand heartbeat, that gives it soul and sex appeal,capable of taking us on winding mental journeys.

It looked so easy and natural. Well It’s not and it’s not and I have a whole new respect for the art of vibrato. This time based on experience.

I played winds my whole life and it’s really tough to wrap your legs around a flute or hug a clarinet from the back while you’re playing it. Cello lines are curved to match the human body, and they are Renoirs as they lean back on you probably thinking about how lucky they are. A cello smells like wood, or at least varnish, and has a softer feel than the hard linear metal of a flute, but even clarinets that are made of wood are constructed with rings or metal keys between your skin and the instrument at every point of contact. Clearly, you’re not welcome except to provide air. Kandinskys.

The size of a cello is perfect, too. It’s not so small that you feel like you have to baby it, but not so big it intimidates a student the way stand up basses do. A short person has never even considered a bass. To me, basses are the coolest by far, but big and scary and look like something that should be leashed. Cellos welcome your caress.

Upon my retirement, I decided to keep my mind active. Tutoring involved people, as did volunteer work, tour groups or taking classes. After 34 years of being with 25-40 kids all day every day, solitary activity was more up my alley, so I decided to do something I had always wanted to do and that was to learn to play a cello.

I got pigeon-holed into woodwinds at an early age when all I could take at school was a little plastic recorder like instrument that was called a saxette. It was a gateway instrument ultimately leading to hard-core clarinet use in the high school marching band. They needed players for football games, and tight ends had nothing to do with it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my woodwinds, and play them still. They’ve been great to me through the years, automatically providing passionate peer groups and talented friends and I do have an emotional attachment to my Armstrong open hole flute which was lugged gig to gig when I was trying to be Jethro Tull. Playing while balancing on one leg is not easy. Woodwinds certainly can provide the same sort of emotional expression that cellos do, but you can’t cry and play at the same time.

So here I am, retired and the proud owner of a cello. I’ve been taking lessons at a local LA music store with an absolutely gifted young guy half my age who is not only a fantastic player but an unusually good teacher.

I am excited about going to lessons every Saturday. It’s therapy, only with a cello between your knees. There you face your insecurities, fears of embarrassment and failure. You are attempting things that are hard and confusing and sometimes you want to run out of the room.

For people who have already lived a successful professional life, feeling like an idiot may be new. Hopefully you’ll have a teacher who remembers what it was like at the beginning. I’m lucky. This kid I’m learning from is an absolute master teacher. I would have quit many times over had he not had understood what a teacher is supposed to do.

Sure, I’ve left a lesson or two on the verge of tears, feeling so frustrated at the slow pace of my improvement. After all, my biological clock is ticking and the reality is I’ll probably not live long enough to ever get as good as I want to be or even play a recognizable song.

Luckily there are those other times. Days when I feel like I am doing pretty well, and still quite capable of learning, which at my age can be very reassuring.

Weekly lessons have given me something to work toward, something to do with my time that doesn’t leave me feeling guilty the way binge watching “Project Runway” would. I have always taken lessons to simply learn how to play the instrument in my hand at the time — guitar, flute, clarinet and piano. That’s why I started cello, but that is not entirely why I continue.

I know I’ll never be great, maybe not even good, but I am doing something I have wanted to do since I was young, trying something new and difficult and humbling. I will continue to go to my lessons and practice hard until I can play rings around the hundreds of 7-year-old Japanese kids working out of the same books I am. Like I said, humbling, but totally worth it.

Find a good teacher and learn to do that thing you say after the phrase, “I’ve always wanted to…

— Foyne Mahaffey

Foyne Mahaffey, co-author of In Motherwords, Unconventional Wisdom For Mothers Raising Daughters, has been a teacher, singer, comedienne, lyricist and writer for stories in Utne Reader, ReThinking Schools, Educational Leadership and the blog, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” in Northshore Lifestyle. On her blog, she posts humorous pieces about contemporary life and other craziness. The blog has been hit on more than 5,000 times, substantially passing the number of times Ms. Mahaffey has been hit on herself. She currently lives in Los Angeles where she is hoarding water and waiting for earthquakes.

I’m afraid of the toilet!

Laura Fahrenthold

It’s true! I’m afraid to step foot in my bathroom, much less use the toilet for fear it may drown me.

Can you say hello bushes?

Hello bushes.

And can you say “hi!” to the nice man at the 24-hour gas station down the street?

Hello nice gas station man at the 24-hour gas station down the street.

Everything was peachy until the downstairs toilet took on a life of its own, complete with gurgling sound effects. It’s as if a monster moved into the sewer pipe.

Now what? How could I possibly get a plumber to fix it if not kill it on such short notice? The answer is, you don’t. Next coupla days, maybe even tomorrow, sure, but not today, lady.

Great. Now what? Time to channel my inner Girl Scout, that’s what.

La, la, la.

Don’t look now while I pee on the daisies.

At least the kids are gone, otherwise I never would’ve gotten away with it.

“That’s disgusting, Mom,” they’d say.

“What do you expect me to do? Drive all the way to the gas station every time I have to pee? I have work to do. I’M ON DEADLINE! I don’t have time for this except when it’s important, if you know what I mean!”

But they wouldn’t be home for another day, meaning I could get away with it until the plumber came.

Back in the house, I smelled something like rotten eggs but didn’t think a lot of it. I looked at the dogs accusingly. They looked back at me wide-eyed.

“Ok, which one of you did it?” I asked, surveying the floor for a little surprise package. Only there was none.


I opened cabinets.

Nothing gross in there.

I looked through the fridge for dead food.




A few hours later, the smell had become unbearable. Only now I knew exactly where it was coming from — the basement.

That’s when I opened the door and was greeted by a basement full of pooh.

You name it, whatever my neighbors flushed down their toilets ended up on my basement floor, including…are you ready for this? T-shirts, diapers, a paint brush, two metal hangars, tin foil, tampons, even a fishing bobber. Wait, is that a baby stroller? (Just kidding!)

It took the plumber less than 10 minutes to reach my door this time. I guess having four inches of raw sewage on the floor constitutes a true emergency, grumbling toilet aside. Soon, two village officials and the police were there, too. The police? Really? The plumber called the police?

Yes, really. He called the police. You see, when they lifted the manhole cover on the street in front of my house, it was backed up almost to the rim. We’re talking eight feet of raw sewage water! If it blew, there would be no stopping it. I could be looking at a tsunami of human hazard going you know where — directly into my basement.

The plumber looked scared. The officials looked scared. Even the police officer looked scared.

I actually hugged the guy from the pipe and drain cleaning company. It only took about 10 minutes for him to do his thing — pump the excess water into the tank on the truck and clear the pipe.

It was now only a small emergency, not a giant one.

First things, first. The insurance company hired a professional cleaning crew to attack the basement. A lot of stuff got damaged and thrown away but these are only things, I decided. Next was figuring out what to do with the culprit — this giant tree in the side yard.

Its roots had grown into the sewage pipe, which was apparently my responsibility to fix. Ah, the joys of homeownership.

The Charmin definitely got squeezed out of me: $2,700 for the tree removal plus $2,500 for the insurance deductible, but we were back in business.

— Laura Fahrenthold

Laura Fahrenthold is a New York City crime reporter turned upcoming author. She writes about widowhood and parenting her eyeball rolling teenagers on her hit blog,

Turf wars

Ronda ParsonsThere exists today in America an ongoing war that our history books have overlooked.

For never before in the history of the world have so many good men fought so hard and spent so much money in the pursuit of so little ground — that half-acre suburban dream known as the green lawn.

I know that you have seen them at every hardware store in town, war-weary lawn veterans loading up flat-bed carts with grass seed, fertilizer and weed-control products. They stand at the checkout, grave-faced, inadvertently spying what other weekend soldiers are purchasing in the hope of deciphering their battle plans. As they leave the store, they linger over rows of the latest tillers, cultivators and blowers. “Next year I’ll have to look into getting one of those if this new clay buster doesn’t work.”

My husband is a 30-year veteran of the Turf War, a decorated General who earned his rank through his determination to weed out scourges known as thatch, fungus, crabgrass and moles. He will stop at nothing to fight these usurpers. Armed to the teeth each fall with power tools and rakes he implements his plan with the gung-ho spirit that would make any Marine sergeant proud. I, on the other hand, am just a mere draftee in this yearly skirmish. I hold up the ranks, rake in hand, pledging each year to begin taking a two-week trip to Canada each autumn.

I knew last week he was getting ready for this year’s battle when he looked over his newspaper at breakfast and said in a dreamy voice, “I wonder if I should get the lawn plugged this year.” Later in the day I caught him reviewing the grass with the precision of a pre-battle scout and making endless lists while sitting at the garage workbench, his seasonal war room. As he handed me a list of battle rations to pick up if I happened to be at the hardware store, not realizing that no woman happens into a hardware store, he turned to me and said, “You know honey, I really think this year I’ve got it figured out. My lawn will be great.”

Bless him. His optimism is inspiring. Churchill would be proud. For even though his procurement list included special sprinkler heads and thatching spring blades, I knew that his perfect lawn was nothing but an elusive dream. Yes, his lawn would grow green and lush, at first. Then the mole bivouac would encamp under his velvety lawn and the gentle spring breezes would scatter crabgrass and dandelion seeds like fairy dust, while humid nights turned his lawn into a giant green fungal petri dish. But I kept quiet. Even generals need a dream.

About a week ago we ran into a friend of ours who had sold the family’s home and downsized into a condominium. He had a glow about him. He eyes were shining. Was that a spring in his step? “Wow, you look great,” my husband said. “How’s the new place coming?” And as the sun glinted off his relaxed, tanned and smiling face (I swear even his teeth seemed whiter), he replied, “Super. I no longer have to worry about the lawn.”

Well, I had best run. My general is away on business for three days and will want a full lawn update when he phones home tonight. I wonder how long it takes to have sod laid.

— Ronda Parsons

Ronda Parsons is the author of Creating Joy & Meaning for the Dementia Patientwhich was published by Rowman & Littlefield in May 2015. Many of her essays have been published in newspapers and magazines. With a background in sales management in two Fortune 100 companies, she now devotes her time to the pleasure of writing.

Reflections of Erma