Three Small Words

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So, now that we’re heading into the glorious almost-holiday season (even though the stores have been getting us ready for several weeks), I figured I would share some thoughts on Halloween.

Halloween is now somewhat of a dreaded holiday in my house, since Morty is not a fan of anyone non-pack-related entering our territory (which includes house, lawn, driveway, and entire street to each end of the block. Extends to 10 miles if you’re the Mailman). I have tried a few things over the past few years–I have cordoned him off in the hallway with a baby gate (hysterical barking the entire time, with kids looking somewhat fearfully into the house), I’ve cordoned off myself in the front door area with baby gates (same thing, only the dog is closer now to the kids). I’ve shut him in the garage, I’ve shut the lights and hid in the backyard hoping no one would approach the property, I’ve given him Benadryl, I’ve tried training him with rewards if he sits in his place while I open the door…. you get the picture. Anyway, I’m always dreading it a bit and fitfully worrying weeks ahead about what my new plan of action should be.

Honestly, I’m not even sure why I put up with this, because I have to say that at least 50% (get ready, here comes some old biddy talk) of the kids are somewhat rude. Some of them with their parents standing right there. Now sometimes I’m dumb, because I know I should just grab the handful of treats and give them one by one, and tell the kids to buzz off. But sometimes, when they see that bowl, they become hypnotized, and they want to pick. So I let them pick. Who cares, right? Well, a 4-year old delicately picking and trying to decide is different from a 4-year old who sticks his/her hand in the bowl and grabs a handful. Even when I say, “just one, now!” I know it is exciting to get free candy. I know it’s an adventure and sometimes your parents aren’t watching. But honestly, do you really need to grab 4 pieces when you’ve already got a shopping bag full of candy? (the pumpkin head buckets do not hold nearly enough)

Anyway, I was better this year and just handed out the candy piece by piece—but they were eyeing what I was giving out, if I gave something different to one of the other kids (another dumb move, I should just buy all one kind), if there was a possibility for a different candy, etc. It felt like when Morty is waiting for me to give him a piece of cheese and he is looking at how much I have in one hand, wondering if he’s going to get all that’s in the other hand (even when he’s already eating some of it), longing for that other big piece that he somehow thinks he may not get to eat. BUT, I try to remember that kids will be kids, and I guess I’d be pissed if I got something weird like Mounds when everyone else got Reese’s.

So, there’s the grabbing a handful of candy even though I’m telling them to pick ONE, and Mom or Dad is standing there, not saying anything. There is also the forgotten tradition of actually saying, “Trick or Treat” after ringing the doorbell. I know I’m an old lady and all, but for Pete’s sake, it’s three small words to say, and I’ve spent like $238 on this candy, and eaten almost an entire bag because of this holiday, so, come on! Even 3-year old’s can master the expression. I remember my brother in law Dave complaining about an older kid who just stuck his hand out (no bag, no trick or treat, nothing), and I had that too, though some were not older kids! Listen, if you’re too young to form the words, that’s one thing (though–should you really be having that much candy?), but if you’re older than 3, you can darn well say it.

My favorite little “group” (two kids) experience went like this: (and to preface, I am hovering in the living room, listening for kids coming up the driveway, and ready to restrain my dog, so, I’m not miles away from the front door). Doorbell rings. Doorbell rings. Doorbell rings. HARD banging on the door. Doorbell rings. Banging on the door. Doorbell rings. (WTF?) I open the door and the littler kid is hitting his hand on the candy bucket….I don’t know what the expression is here, but you know how you used to pound one fist into your other palm as if to say, “you’re gonna get a beating…bring it on…” ? Well that’s what he was doing. He had to be maybe 6 or 7. I’m putting on my best pleasantries and trying not to be an old biddy. I reach into the bowl and the mean one who was going to beat me up asks if he can pick his own. I ask him which one he wants, and the other one (the Doorbell Assassin) says, “I WANT ALL OF THEM” and sticks his hand in. Well, I’m not gonna tolerate this crap. I say, “only one,” (he proceeds to grab) and then “only ONE now!” and I remove some from his hand. They finally ended up picking one each and walking away. I don’t think they said, “trick or treat” or “thank you.” I half-expected one of the parents to bring me up on assault charges for taking some candy away from the older kid.

I don’t know. I’m sure I could be a jerk sometimes when I was a kid, but I don’t ever remember complaining right to the person (WHO WAS GIVING ME FREE CANDY) that I didn’t like the offerings, or asking if I could have more than one (whaaat!!??), or grabbing at their bowl, or not saying “trick or treat” or “thank you.” I might assess the booty and complain at the end of the driveway, but never to an adult’s face. I really don’t think a little politeness is a big thing to ask. Maybe I really am just too old for this holiday!

And if you’re wondering what happened with Morty….. this year we had a big surprise. Morty, in all of his wisdom, now runs into the garage when he hears the doorbell ring. We do enter our house through our garage, so I guess that’s somewhat smart, but I had a big garbage pail blocking the door so he couldn’t attack the door and/or break the window glass with a rock and try to get at the invaders. He would then run out into the yard and bark, bark, bark. But it worked out rather well. Even though he knew I was opening the front door constantly, I guess he thought he would prevent sneak attacks.

All in all, Halloween turned out somewhat better than expected, but it’s not overly fun or cute any more. Some kids were great and gracious and had great costumes. Others were decidedly not. I’m thinking that maybe next year (if I do this at all), I’m going to have a large bottle or wine or liquor handy, for me and Morty, and perhaps we’ll both enjoy the holiday a little more.

Now—- onward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Woohoo!!


I Like Iceberg

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So, just a few random things from this week to take a break from reading about being hot in Italy.

First, a little story about nature.

I like cats. I really do. Folks say that you are either a cat or a dog person, but I don’t truly believe that, at least, not as a blanket statement for everyone in the world. I like both, and I’ve owned both, along with an iguana, mice (the pet kind and the home-invasion kind), a parakeet, guinea pigs, fish. If I could own chickens, a horse, the squirrel in my yard which is missing a tail, and a cow, I’d own them too.

Anyway. I like cats. But, they can be not-so-nice when they want to “play.” And by “play,” I mean batting at and torturing other smaller and not-so-savvy creatures in their vicinity. The first time I witnessed this phenomenon is in my old house, where my two cats ruled the basement. We also had some other small visitors who had the misfortune of attempting to invade Catdom. One day, as I was descending into the Netherworld basement to do my laundry, I saw a mouse wobbling around and walking in circles. It was certainly not scurrying, and mice are generally known to scurry. It was frightening and fascinating at the same time. I realized that this was the result of being batted around/pounced on by one or both of my cats. I don’t know if this was just a dazed mouse, or if it had suffered irreparable brain damage, but, it wasn’t nice.

Now, I get the whole food chain/circle of life thing, even if I still can’t appreciate it when I watch a video of a sickly/injured/young wildebeest (it’s always a wildebeest, isn’t it?) being taken down by a mighty (but also hungry) lioness.

Young Cathy: This is awful!! Why isn’t the cameraman trying to help the animal?

Dad: Because then it’s interfering with Nature.

Young Cathy: This is horrible! Can’t he help just this once? If he promises not to do it again?

Dad: No, because it’s interfering. The lion has to eat, too.

Anyway, my issue was that my sadistic cats weren’t actually eating the mice. They were just playing. Or practicing for when the next wildebeest wandered into town. I suppose I should be grateful that I didn’t have to deal with seeing disemboweled mice or the trace of a tail slithering into the maw of one of my feline companions, but still, I was somewhat dismayed by this “nature” thing.

So, moving on to present day. We have a few outdoor cats in our neighborhood, one of which is a Siamese cat which likes to sun itself on my front steps (Morty loves this), and basically saunter back and forth under the car and into the bushes at the front of the house. Recently, Morty was lovingly expressing his delight at the presence of something (could be anything…a truck…the mailman…a leaf…) out front, so I looked out the window to show him that I’m the Alpha and I can take care of things.

I spy the aforementioned cat on the lawn across the street. It is looking at something, you know, in that bemused, catty sort of way. I further see that nearby, there is a small animal hopping in the air in erratic fashion. It looks to be a chipmunk. The cat pounces a little. The chipmunk jumps some more.

Now, I’ll try not to go into a tirade here, but chipmunks are somewhat the bane of my existence. I love them, they’re ridiculously cute, but they also tunnel in my lawn (along with who-knows-what-else), are probably ruining my foundation, and cause Morty to dig giant holes in order to find them. However, I’m not sure I can just look away at this torture show going on across the street. I decide that I am going to do what the cameraman should have done, and intervene on Nature.

I walk across the street, and try to shoo Cat away. Chipmunk is confused and probably more horrified about the giant human thing waving its hands, and runs/hops/wobbles away from Human and towards Cat. Cat is somewhat wary, but is more interested in Chipmunk. Cat goes to pounce on dumb chipmunk. Catherine tries to shoo (or call, either will work) Cat and direct Chipmunk, using Chipmunk commands such as, “you go this way…no…this way….here’s your chance to get away…..!” Chipmunk is still confused and likely terrified, and now adding heart failure to its probable brain damage.

Finally (I’m sure, to the fancy of my neighbors), I’m able to get the cat to somewhat walk away behind a nearby tree (dumb human, I’ll just hide here and get that thing when she leaves), and get the chipmunk to run in the opposite direction. I stand there, in my all-powerful goalie stance, to assure that Cat understands that Chipmunk will live another day to gleefully create additional holes in my foundation.

As I’m walking back across the street, glancing back occasionally to make sure Cat understands that I won’t tolerate any funny business, I see Morty watching me from the front door. It’s probably one of the funniest Morty-related things I’ve seen, mainly because of all the thoughts I imagine he’s having after seeing this show. Is he pissed? Is he in awe of his mighty Alpha, showing dominance over Cat and Chipmunk? Is he confused? Yes, I think he’s confused, or at the very least, unimpressed. But, I’m his Alpha-now-relegated-to-something-way-lower-based-on-this-fiasco, and he’s stuck with me.

Morty, impressed.

So now that I’ve warmed you up, and about to proceed into something wholly unrelated to cats/dogs/chipmunks, but it is the title of this post, so stick with me, I’m going to admit something here and now, and this may be shocking to some: I like iceberg lettuce.

Why is this shocking? Because, as we all know, iceberg is the lowliest of the low in the “greens” category (I have to say, “greens” because the only other “lettuce” we sometimes eat, which used to be the main thing in salads, is Romaine, which had a very bad year after that whole e.coli thing…. now we eat “greens”). I remember the first time (I think I was at a wedding) I saw a bunch of stuff that looked similar to the weeds I used to pick to make my pretend “salad” when I was a kid, and someone said, “Ooo, this is the fancy stuff—this is a new thing.” “What is it?” “I don’t know, it’s fancy.”

And when I tasted it, I was sure that there must be some mistake. Bitter, weird, not tasty, and so many different shapes and sizes that it was difficult to control with the fork. I couldn’t identify anything on the dish, except for something I was sure was dandelion weed (which yes, yes, I know, it’s been edible for years). Fancy=weeds from the lawn. Excellent.

Anyway, I know that iceberg lettuce allegedly doesn’t taste like anything, and that it has no nutritional value and all of that, but the individual leaves are at least big enough to put on a hamburger or chicken patty sandwich (decidedly un-fancy) without everything falling out all over the plate. And it’s not bitter and creating a whole ‘nother taste to interfere with my sandwich. Now, I have grown to tolerate “greens” and even almost like them when I’m looking for something flavorful (bitter and weird) to have in my salad, but they just do not work as well on a plain old sandwich.

I know it’s scandalous, and cheap, and un-fancy, but I like iceberg lettuce.

And cats.

And dogs.

And I guess chipmunks.


How to Know When You’re Getting Old (and a Woman…. and Hire Me to Take Photos at Your Wedding!)

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I had the great pleasure of attending a family wedding over the weekend, and now that I am mostly recovered, I’ve had some time to reflect. After unpacking my bag (and all the little bags inside) and viewing the photos I took, I have come to realize that being a woman and maybe getting older (but just a little) can be arduous things, especially when it comes to a full night of family wedding fun. Here are some of the signs that you might be getting older (and/or a woman):

  • When you are packing an overnight bag for ONE night in a hotel, and an entire makeup bag is filled only with medicines, “just in case.” Ibuprofen for a hangover or any other aches/pains, meclizine (a family favorite!) for avoiding falling down/vertigo when you’re not even drinking yet, aspirin (in case you or someone else thinks they’re having a heart attack), chew-able pepto, prescriptions.
  • When you’re too senile to realize you should have just combined all of those medicines into one small bottle.
  • When you have hip pain on the day after.
  • When two days later, your hip pain is actually just some kind of bizarre muscle soreness in only your upper quadriceps and your first thought is that it’s because the toilets in the venue and hotel room seemed really low to the ground and the “crouching” situation is more difficult with heels on (sorry if that’s TMI, but this is a real thing that women suffer). The reality is that it’s probably just due to rising up from your chair 237 times in the span of a few hours (and perhaps you also had a few more drinks than you should have had).
  • When you pack three different bras and 3 pairs of shoes, one pair of which was specifically purchased for this occasion
  • When you don’t end up actually wearing the shoes you specifically purchased for this occasion
  • When you pack a hair straightener and a curling iron, and another makeup bag chock full of cosmetics, even though you have already done your hair and makeup.
  • When you completely forget how to use the camera which you purchased for your Italy trip just a few months prior. You forget that you have it set so that your pictures won’t turn out blurry, which means that you have to depress the button once lightly and then depress the button completely. Your mind and finger-function memory revert back to an old sucky camera you had, which also took blurry pictures (what’s the common denominator here, Catherine?), for which you were supposed to depress once and wait a second. Result:


  • When you don’t realize that just switching to the “video” button on the “new” camera means that it is automatically taking the video.  You would think that “VID” on the screen would be an obvious sign of what was going on, but instead, in your old age, you believe that you have to depress the shutter button in order to record (like your old sucky camera).  This means that you have multiple .02 second videos.  Result:

Thankfully, I had my phone which I could use to take other only slightly blurry pictures as well as videos which lasted longer than .02 seconds.

In the end, and to be fair, you don’t have to be “old” to feel a little poorly after a night of celebrating with family/friends/maybe more than just a few drinks,  And honestly, it’s probably more the fault of the “maybe more than just a few drinks” rather than the whole aging process.  I’m not sure whether I should blame old age or the drink for my bad camera skills, but I’m not too old to remember the following conversation on the dance floor:


Me:  I don’t even think I’m using this camera right— I think everything is coming out blurry, what the heck!?!

Eric:  Well, at least it will be an accurate representation of what you were seeing when you took the pictures!


So, maybe it was the drink.

Anyway, that was my revelation for the weekend.  Also, this is my formal apology to those of you who didn’t make it into my Facebook post because your pictures were too blurry.  



When tree vines were curtains….

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As I was walking into the park today with Morty , he found the first of 42674521 “areas of intrigue” to sniff/pee on, in an overgrown and bushy area. There were dangling vines and branches from a nearby tree which smacked me in the face and then became a private little umbrella under which to stand while he did his investigating. I thought to myself, “Oh, aren’t these the most lovely curtains?”

Of course, this was a somewhat odd thought to be thinking at such a time, or perhaps any time, really, but it was a throwback to my memories of being a kid, and the life of adventure that surrounded me in my universe (neighborhood block) of Kid-dom.

I have often wondered, and I know too, that others of my generation do, whether kids “these days” (and probably back to before my son’s generation) are really done a disservice by their ever-watchful, ever-paranoid and news-infused parents. I wonder if they are truly able to experience a sense of wonder, imagination, and adventure as I did, growing up. Sure, Barney and Dora taught them all about imagination and quests, but is that the same as being daring enough to go into the local “swamp” with their neighborhood pals?

When I was a kid, big leaves, “berries,” and pine cones were used to make pretend salad for “dinner.” A hole in a tree could be anything from a troll’s lair where stolen objects were hidden, a portal to H-E-double hockey sticks (or possibly China), or even possibly your bank vault, where you hid important items. Of course the problem would be that making a withdrawal could result in being dragged to the Underworld, or bitten by a troll, but these were the dangers of growing up outside of the backyard or a play group.

We’d search for wild animals, we’d search for “moon rocks” (I still don’t know what those things were exactly, but I’m sure I haven’t seen one since I was a kid) (and no, I’m not talking about the super-cannabis things, which I didn’t know about until I tried to see if I could find a picture of a moon rock), we’d scour the sidewalks and bushes in hopes of finding some pennies so we could buy Swedish Fish at the bakery.

We configured how we could build a mud hut in the swamp (we could run away from home and it could in a pinch be used in case of nuclear attack, which was eminent), we looked for rocks that might have gold in them- surely gold and moon rocks could fund whatever comforts we needed. In fact, we were always trying to figure out ways to make money, so we could save for the church/bazaar, more Swedish Fish, or something more exciting, like Lik’M Sticks at the ballpark. I always longed to be one of those kids with an “allowance,” as begging my mother and random change on the sidewalk was not a steady and dependable income. An allowance was something only existing on TV shows (if you caught them at the right time and had finished your homework and were allowed to watch them). But I suppose that’s a post for a different day.

We considered whether it was true that the mushrooms we found would kill us if we ate them, we considered whether our parents would kill us if they knew we had ventured past the tree at the end of the street, we thought of tales to tell as to why the street lights were on and we hadn’t yet arrived home.

During my trip to Italy, I had a conversation with a newly-met cousin-in-law (https://www.facebook.com/RizzosAstoria1959/ ) and we were talking about how different it is for a kid growing up in Italy (today) and having the bravery as a parent to actually let your American kid go play down the street with the other kids in the Italian neighborhood. We talked about how everyone in the (Italian) neighborhood knows everyone, and knows everyone’s parents (and their parents, and their parents’ parents), and how everyone looks out for each other. We talked about how it used to be that way in America.

Here in American suburbia, we barely know the names of our neighbors (I’m talking about anything past the ones that immediately surround our houses), there are not tons of kids playing outside on the block, and the “go outside!” play area is generally the backyard. My neighborhood doesn’t even have sidewalks. I know this isn’t always the case, and that there are pockets of newly built neighborhoods and cul-de-sacs where you may see two or more kids playing together, who aren’t actually related, but I think it’s becoming more rare by the second (and it doesn’t happen every day).

Anyway, I could go on and on about this, but I’ll leave it here. I really consider myself lucky to have grown up the way I did- to have the opportunity to always fuel my imagination and to create worlds and adventures which existed outside of the TV console and past the confines of my own yard. I know it’s a very different world that we live in, but I don’t believe it is necessarily a better one, in some respects.

Did you have similar adventures, growing up? Share them here. And, while you’re contemplating, I’m going out to collect some leaves and berries for dinner.



Starting Anew

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So, my old blog has mostly bitten the dust. I let it go dark for quite a few months and never thought to try to save everything–even when I tried to access it as a commoner rather than admin, I was getting certificate errors, which was a real pain in the you-know-where. After much research and hemming and hawing, I decided to change my host (they include the SSL certificate without extra charges, see end of post), pay up front for an entire year so I could get the reduced rate, and, here we are.

I have managed to find many of my old posts, and they will eventually be posted in the “Ye Olde Blog” tab to the right. With this new blog, I will be including my regular types of posts (for those of you who know me already), along with newer sections on travel, critiques, and “hire me” types of services (Proofreading/editing/wedding officiating).

Thank you for joining me once again on this journey. Feel free to contact me or become a subscriber. Now, Andiamo!

Blog hosting info: So far, I haven’t had any difficulties with using this host; it has been easy to use, and when I had an issue with my SSL, their help desk/customer service actually resolved my issue. So, here is their link (and I will receive a commission if you sign up, just so you know!): https://www.siteground.com/index.htm?afcode=13a335cdb31da639ffc3bb7ac1f6b387