Warning! Do not go to garage sales. Things you buy there can create extra work for you.
My wife and I recently stopped at a garage sale late on a Saturday and found a set of Anchor Hocking milk glass plates with gold painted edges.
Even though the dishes were from the 1950s, they were in great condition and my wife was floored when the guy said he only wanted $5 for the set. We had expected him to say $15 or $20 so we had no excuse not to buy them when he said $5 for this beautiful set of dishes with their gold trim.
We got them home and I started putting them in the dishwasher for a quick cleanup when I discovered why they were so cheap.
“Stop,” my wife Madeline shouted. “You can’t put them in the dishwasher. It will wear off the gold paint,” she explained.
“So, how will we clean them?” I asked.
“Whose hand?” I asked suspiciously.
“The hand that has the dishrag,” she said, handing me a dishrag.
So, now instead of finishing a meal and putting the plates in the dishwasher for a quick and easy cleaning, we have to wash them by hand. And not just the plates, the cups and saucers, too.
That’s right. We have to use the cups and saucers that came with the set because we have them. I can no longer use my well-loved chipped mug from IHOP for my morning coffee, but have to sip from a milk glass, gold-trimmed cup that sits in a gold-trimmed saucer. And then wash them.
I also accidently discovered that gold-trimmed plates don’t do well in the microwave to heat food. The plates cause the microwave to spark and make mad scientist lab noises when being heated.
I asked Madeline how I’m supposed to heat up food now.
“Well, you just put the food in a plastic container, heat it, and then transfer it to the milk glass dishes,” she said.
“But then I have two things to wash instead of one,” I said.
“No you don’t. The plastic container you can put in the dishwasher after you rinse it out thoroughly in the sink.”
“What about if I want to reheat some coffee?”
“You put the coffee in that crummy old mug you have. Heat it and then pour the coffee into one of the good cups,” she explained.
“Then I have to wash out my mug and put it in the dishwasher.”
“No,” she said. “Then you throw that crummy old chipped cup in the garbage.”
So you see by going to that garage sale and buying those fancy gold-trimmed dishes we now have the convenience of a dishwasher we can’t use to wash our dishes and a microwave we can’t use to heat up food. And, I have a lot of extra work on my dishpan hands.
The only good thing is my wife went to a garage sale last week and bought a Malmac (plastic) white bowl with fake gold trim that matches our dishes. It can go in the dishwasher without damage and reheat food in the microwave without burning down the house.
It’s the only thing I will eat out of now. She should have bought two.
— Myron Kukla
Myron Kukla is a journalist, writer and owner of the West Michigan-based marketing company, Write Stuff. He wrote two books of humor, Confessions of a Baby Boomer: Memories of Things I Haven’t Forgotten Yet and Guide to Surviving Life. He also has just published two e-books, Chomp and Something in the Blood.
Every time I read that some male scientist has proven that PMS does not exist, I must laugh and laugh and laugh….and then sulk. Either that scientist does not live with a woman, has never known any women, or only socializes with those who project sainthood while in company, gnawing their couch pillows and eating their pounds of chocolate in private.
The older I get, the more I am just a mere pawn of my hormones, dust on the wind of my cyclical fate. No, the devil didn’t make me do it; the hormones did. They determine my mood, my energy, my libido, my good hair days, my behavior…my appetite for cheese and meat.
Where I am in the cycle means the difference between running out to greet my guy, just home from work, with kisses and cute monikers like Sugar Buns, Sexy Face and Pumpkin Head, or hiding behind the front door with an iron skillet in hand, cackling like the witch I am.
My bed is my best friend, and I will clothes-line anyone on my way when running to embrace it at 8:30 p.m. Every month I begin to yearn anew for one weekend alone to reconnect, a staycation where I stay in it for at least 24-to-72 hours straight. I’m not just TIRED. I am, to quote my mimicking husband, ”T-R-D - tarr’d!” Weary to the bone, my southern accent manifests itself in “ow’er” (hour), “toe-lit” (toilet) and “ire’un” (iron). I don’t yell at the kids anymore; I holler at them.
Because I am so T-R-D and resentful about it, my ambition to struggle against the constant state of near-collapse in this home vanishes, but, proportionately, the need to complain about it increases. I roll listlessly back and forth on the couch and upbraid, “Look at this mess! How can you guys bear to live in it? Doesn’t it bother you?” Then I roll over and read my self-help manual: Half a Month to a New You!
The symptoms have gotten so much worse as I’ve gotten older; someday they’ll be permanent. I blame it, at least in part, on my pregnancies. The first trimester of each drove me to insanity via an inundation of hormones, bringing at least one huge spectacle of which I was the star. I have never fully recovered my equilibrium.
1) During my second pregnancy, I spent approximately two hours scream-lecturing my husband on the injustice of this whole “two to tango” business. It may take two to make a sweet bundle of joy, but only one of us will look like all that joy has been stored in our bubbly thighs and then sucked out of our flappy skin through our now enlarged feet. And it’s not the ones who care least about and get judged less on their looks — no! Women’s bodies are irreversibly stretched, stamped, enlarged and shriveled in the most unseemly way in the most unseemly places.
Men should have various body parts get flabby, wrinkle up or shrink every time they father a child. That’s called e-qua-li-ty.
2) During pregnancy with my youngest daughter, I challenged my husband to a fist fight. He did not accept.
3) During my last pregnancy I became crazy jealous of another pregnant woman. She had the audacity to confide in my husband that like me she was eight weeks pregnant. When I found out, I told him plainly with officious repetition that I was the only pregnant woman he should EVER care about, and what was she doing broadcasting her pregnancy to some near-stranger anyway? The poor man had to leave the house for a while because I was so “unreasonable.”
I still think I was justified. And I would have challenged that audacious, man-stealing pregnant lady to a fist fight, but I was pooped after yelling at Matthew.
I’ll be frank; I became a real Mama Jekyll, Mrs. Hyde. And Mrs. Hyde still comes around once a month for a week or two (gets longer every time). I howl and holler, eat hamburger patties and cheddar cheese a la carte and go on the rampage…then sleep it off, asking for a report post-nap of damage done.
It’s looking really bad for menopause. I think I’ll buy a lonely mountain cabin in which to stay during my “change of life” until I’m out of the woods, hormonally speaking. Don’t want to scare the grandkids or the neighbors, after all. If PMS is any indication, it’s going to be some ride, and I’ll be real T-R-D afterwards…but civilized again.
— Hillary Ibarra
Hillary Ibarra is a mother of four and a writer at No Pens, Pencils, Knives or Scissors. She has been published multiple times at the humor site Aiming Low. She lives in Arizona where she takes every chance to explore Native American ruins and natural wonders.
Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig. I’ve been besotted by them ever since I heard them purr, “Bond. James Bond.” I’m a sucker for men with British accents. And men who look good in tuxedos.
What’s not to like? Bonds are like wild, exotic animals. Elusive, dangerous, powerful, elegant…sexy. One kiss from them and you’re sure to be swept off your feet faster than you can whisper “Shaken, not stirred.” 007 has skills.
My only issue with Bond is that none of them ever chose me to be their lithe, lovely, provocatively named Bond Girl.
Why pick me, you say? Well, I’m smart, savvy, well seasoned, and I’ve got something those ultra-slim sirens before me don’t have — Spanx. That’s right, just think of the weaponry I could hide in there. And I’ve got skills. Super Momma Skills, like eyes in the back of my head and super sonic hearing. I’m also impervious to pain — I have walked on Legos. Barefoot.
I can do all those things a young beautiful Bond girl can do, and then some. Not only can I look quite fetching in a ball gown, I can run in heels, and catch things flung at my head in midair, even while driving. (Anyone who’s had a toddler knows what I mean.)
Years of raising teenagers has made me a formidable ally. I am acutely aware when someone wants something (especially money) or is hiding something (like the truth). More importantly, I’m dangerous and mysterious. Just ask the ladies at See’s Candy. They never know what I’m going to ask for or when I’m coming in. U-huh. Dan-ger-ous.
You’re probably wondering, can this delicate creature handle a weapon? Well, you and MI6 can rest assured that from what I have been told, I am quite handy — quite handy, indeed — with a weapon. I’m not bad with a panini maker either. Oh, yes, Mr. Bond, you would be in good hands.
I also have a secret weapon. I can make him laugh. How many Bond Girls can say that? After a stressful day making the world a safer place, Mr. Bond could use a martini and some comic relief.
I might not be as young as the lovely creatures 007 is used to frolicking with, but I think our newest Bond — the ruggedly handsome Daniel Craig — is ready for a mature woman like me. We have a lot in common, you know. We’re both in our 40s, we both like martinis, we both use eye-cream. Of course, I’d have one of those naughty Bond Girl names. Just call me Experiencia. Multa Experiencia.
— Linda Wolff
Linda Wolff writes the blog Carpool Goddess where she shares her adventures from carpool to empty nest. She no longer drives carpool, but that’s our little secret. Her work has appeared on Huffington Post, Yahoo! Shine, Scary Mommy, Better After 50, Generation Fabulous and others. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Sunday nights meant only one thing when I was a child: a drive to Lorain, Ohio, with my mother and father, to visit my Sicilian grandmother.
Grandma Monia, my mother’s mother, was a widow who lived in the family home with the youngest of her four children, my unmarried Aunt Helen. Grandma spoke very little English; she had arrived at Ellis Island, as did so many immigrants, early in the 20th century.
An only child, I was the youngest of my cousins. By the time I came along, my grandmother was so hobbled by arthritis and osteoporosis that she was confined to the house, and walked, doubled over, with the help of a cane on wheels. Because of this, her world was small. It contained a window, though: the flickering light of the black-and-white console television that my aunt had bought with her secretarial salary.
Grandma’s two favorite television programs were broadcast on Sunday evening—the Lawrence Welk and Ed Sullivan shows. She rarely commented during these broadcasts (and, truth be told, she could not understand much of the dialogue), but we knew which guests and segments held her interest. She would smile in approval at the harmonizing Lennon Sisters, for example. She would clap with delight at Topo Gigio’s antics; she certainly knew that he was an Italian mouse, and if she couldn’t quite make out what he was saying to Ed Sullivan, she was nevertheless charmed by his sweetness, especially when Mr. Sullivan “keesed” him goodnight.
Acts that were, in her view, less wholesome (dancers gyrating to the Twist, say, or a tad too much cleavage in a female performer’s costume) would elicit a frown or a shake of her head. She might be at a loss for English, but she was still a critic.
One such evening in her living room, with my parents engaged in conversation with my aunt and me preoccupied with my Barbie doll, we were startled by a most unexpected reaction from her. Ed Sullivan was announcing his guests for the evening, and one name filled her with excitement.
“Lollobrigida! Lollobrigida gonna be on!” she exclaimed.
Now you have to understand something about my grandmother. Italy, and all things Italian, reigned supreme in her estimation, and were surpassed only by the Pope, who was, in those days, Italian, too. All of the food that she prepared was Italian, including the bread that she baked twice each week, despite her arthritis; she regularly mailed dollar bills to an Italian orphanage; she loved Perry Como. She was so biased in favor of her language that she stubbornly refused to learn English, even when her children would beg her: “Ma, please. In English! Say it in English!”
The thought, then, of my grandmother welcoming into her living room the great Gina Lollobrigida, an actress who had brought pride and acclaim to Italy (despite her frequent décolletage, which, for some reason, my grandmother conveniently overlooked), was beyond thrilling. If there had been time, she would have asked Aunt Helen to place an overseas call to the relatives in Palermo, so that she could inform them of the great thing about to happen in America.
So focused were we on Grandma and her reaction that we hardly paid attention to what the estimable host was saying about his guest. We were now, with her, poised for the advent of the glamorous Lollobrigida.
The moment my grandmother had been waiting for had arrived. Ed Sullivan stepped to the microphone and announced:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome my next guest with a warm round of applause—the exciting star of Sea Hunt, Lloyd Bridges.”
And out walked a man in a scuba suit, legs splayed, flippers flapping across the stage.
My grandmother, crestfallen and confused, could only exclaim:
“That not Lollobrigida!”
— Marci Rich
Marci Rich blogs at The Midlife Second Wife and The Huffington Post. She won a BlogHer Voices of the Year award in 2012, the same year The Midlife Second Wife was named one of the top seven blogs for women 50-plus by The Huffington Post. This essay was one of five winners on a Facebook contest sponsored by Marlo Thomas. Read about that here.
Once upon a time, back when only the top half of Elvis was allowed on TV, there was no Match.com, no Christian Mingle, and no Plentyoffish.com. “Online” didn’t exist, let alone online dating sites to meet prospective marriage material. We selected our potential mates based on whatever was available, usually while still in high school.
We often met the person with whom we’d spend the rest of our lives when a classmate said, “So and So likes you.” After a few years of dating So and So, we’d marry and live happily ever after — or maybe not.
I became a “maybe not” when my marriage of a couple of decades ended. I started dating again a few years after Elvis, both top and bottom halves, went to that Big Graceland in the Sky. Even though society was much looser, there was still no easy way to meet your next mate. “Online” was barely part of the vernacular. Still, 41 percent of the population was divorced, so there had to be others on the singles scene, and perhaps 15 percent of those were not deranged. Unfortunately, the primary way to meet them was at singles events, events that included drinking and dancing.
I’d never been much of a drinker, and I danced like I was swatting insects. Nevertheless, during my first bar/dance singles evening, I ordered tequila. “Hi there!” I said to the guy on the barstool next to me. “Wanna dance, big guy?”
“Sure thing, pretty lady,” he said. “I’m Elmer, as in Fudd.” He climbed off the stool. His head came up to my chest. When we began to dance, I flailed like a lunatic. Elmer shouted up at me, “You can’t dance.”
I ran to a pay phone and called my ex. “Take me back,” I pleaded.
It took me a while to visit the dance/bar scene again, but the next time I slowly sipped wine, making for a more sophisticated version of myself, which was hard while sobbing. Still, a man tapped me on the shoulder. “Want to dance?” he asked.
“You look familiar,” I told him.
“I’m your veterinarian,” he said.
I stepped on his feet as we swayed, and had no idea what to say. Finally I whispered in his ear, “My dog has diarrhea.”
“Nice to see you, Mrs. H.,” he said, as he backed away. “I hope Wiggles’ stool gets better.”
The next time I ventured out, I didn’t drink at all. In spite of my former disasters, I felt more confident, and was ready when a cuddly looking guy sat next to me. He didn’t drink either, and said he wasn’t much of a dancer. Those two things were potential mate material! Afterward, we went out for coffee. “Where do you live?” I asked, as we sipped our brews.
“Right now, I live in an alcohol rehab facility across the street. As soon as I’m through with the program, I can go back to my wife and kids.”
There were more disasters. I even dated some. One gave me a book of duck stamps for my birthday; another sent a replacement when he was supposed to take me out; another drew smiley faces on restaurant checks.
Not one to give up, I went to more singles dances. One night a cute guy told me I was a good dancer! I figured anyone who thought that would put up with anything. I married him.
We’re living happily ever after. He won’t, however, take me dancing.
— Judi Veoukas
Judi Veoukas is a humor columnist for two weekly newspapers in the Chicago area, the Lake County Journal and the Gurnee Journal and has been published in Funny Times. Her columns have won first place twice as well as second place in the Illinois Press Association contest.
I have a friend Gail just like Oprah has a friend Gayle.
Their names are spelled differently, but they are the same kind of friends.
They tell us stuff.
Stuff we might not know about life and getting older.
Gail said to me a while ago, “One of the things I hate most about aging is alligator skin.”
I had never even heard of alligator skin.
I had never even thought of my skin EVER resembling an alligator’s.
Later that day, my eyes caught a pattern on the side of my calf.
Something I hadn’t noticed before.
I did some research.
Not much info.
One blogger suggested: “Hydrate.”
Gail says lotion helps some, but it doesn’t make the alligator skin disappear.
I think she’s right.
Mine seems here to stay.
So I guess it’s time to embrace my patches of alligator skin.
Or perhaps it’s crocodile skin.
Bernard Waber, author of the wonderful picture books about Lyle the Crocodile, died on May 16. Waber created one of the world’s finest literary characters, Lyle the Crocodile.
Lyle is not the type to sit around and grump.
He tackles life with gusto.
Even when the chips are down, you seldom see him frown.
And he seems quite content in his crocodile skin.
I’m going to work hard to be content, too.
After all, alligator/crocodile skin makes us all a bit more like lovable Lyle.
— Barbara Younger
Barbara Younger writers an upbeat, witty blog, Friend for the Ride: Encouraging Words for the Menopause and Midlife Roller Coaster. Healthline placed Friend for the Ride on its list of Best Menopause Blogs of 2013.
You know you’re getting old when you want to slap a young person for saying, “Me and her went to the mall.” Or when you get riled up because a friend who knows you rescue cats gives you a large paw-print magnet with the words printed on it: “Who Rescued Who?”
You stare at the magnet. It’s cute and thoughtful, but you can’t help hearing your fourth grade teacher Mrs. Meyer’s melodious voice in your head crying, “No, no. It’s supposed to be “Who Rescued Whom? Well, of course it is. What’s this world coming to?
Let’s face it — proper grammar is the last refuge of geezers.
Dammit, we know what’s right! I may not know how to hack into the NSA computers, but I can diagram the hell out of this sentence.
In my day, a hush of reverence enveloped the diagramming of an English sentence. Why, if you could diagram, you could conquer the world!
Whenever Mrs. Youngberg, my seventh-grade English teacher, sought a volunteer to diagram a particular sentence on the blackboard, I would thrust up my hand and walk quickly to the front of the class. Grabbing the chalk, my hands a flurry of anticipation, I’d diagram the subject/predicate/noun/verb/adverb/adjective, just like that. I Am Diagrammer, Hear Me Roar!
In my bones, I know that this is THE right way to understand a sentence, so you can imagine my consternation when Steve, my live-in linguist sweetheart, casually mentions to me over lunch one day that those beloved Reed Kellogg diagrams are passé, that “they don’t represent the language as it really is.”
“Syntactic trees,” he says in his most professorial tone, “are the only way to provide a visual representation of the underlying structure of a sentence.” He takes a sip of Earl Grey.
“Balderdash!” I cry in churlish response, fiddling with my spoon.
“Well, you can say ‘Balderdash’ all you like, but it’s true. A syntactic tree shows the hierarchical relationships that take place between the constituents of a sentence. The old diagrams just don’t.”
“What do your poor students think about this?” I say, leaning back in my chair. Steve teaches in the TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) program at a local university. Linguistics is one of the required courses.
“They get all nostalgic and defensive about the Old Way,” he says and reaches for a scone.
“Well, of course. They think they’re special because they were the big dogs of diagramming in their day. But you come along with your fancy-pants syntactic trees and tell them that everything they have believed all their lives is wrong.”
“That’s right,” he says.
“Can’t you see how this undermines their entire world view? I mean, if they were wrong about diagramming, what else might they be wrong about? It’s too much to bear.”
We stare at each other across the kitchen table.
“They hate you, don’t they?” I say.
“You know what you are? You’re the Grammatical Anti-Christ!”
“Yes. But what they hate even more is that I have fun with this stuff.”
“Well, then,” I say, standing up and planting my hands on my hips. “On behalf of all your students, I feel compelled to say: How ‘bout you take your syntactic trees and shove ‘em, sweetheart. We know what we know, and no one’s going to take our sacred diagrams away from us, you hear?”
Call me juvenile, but someone’s got to hold the line.
— Rosie Sorenson
Rosie Sorenson is the award-winning author of They Had Me at Meow: Tails of Love from the Homeless Cats of Buster Hollow. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others. In 2007, she won an honorable mention in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.
Editors of the popular Not Your Mother’s Book anthology are looking for submissions for three upcoming books.
Have any fun, hip stories about dieting, dating or menopause?
Consisting of real-life stories written by individuals 18 years and older, NYMB is tailored for a mature-audience readership,” says Dahlynn McKowen, CEO, publisher and creator of Not Your Mother’s Books.
“Stories may contain language and situations akin to a PG-13 or TV-14 rating. While not all stories will fall into this rating system, the series will not focus on death/dying, cry-your-eyes-out sad selections, but only hip, fun, modern and very-much-today-type stories that will entertain our readers.”
See NYMB’s website for answers to frequently asked questions, including copyright, payment and deadlines.