Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year's Resolutions For Texas Drivers


(would someone please explain to me what this bumper sticker even means?)


It's that time of year, when everybody makes silly New Year's Resolutions.

Save more money? Why bother? Lose 10 pounds? What the heck for? If we have another decade like this one, we'll all be broke and depressed in no time. So why add to your woes by going on a diet?

Instead of the usual trite ideas, I have come up with some new resolutions that will make life better for all of us. Or at least, if my fellow Texans will follow them, they will make life better for me.

Please recite along with me:

1. I resolve to stop driving like a moron. If Lesley puts on her turn signal and wants to come into my lane, I will NOT speed up, block the lane, and glare at her as if she just called me a Democrat.

2. I resolve to buy a normal size car instead of an SUV the size of a Winnebago or a pick-up truck that can hold my horse.

3. I resolve to stay home when it snows. Or rains. In fact, as soon as I spot a cloud in the sky I will head home and stay there.

And 4. I resolve to take all of the stupid bumper stickers off my vehicle. Everyone in all of the other 49 states understands that a $50,000 Infiniti should NOT have a cheesy "Secede Or Die" bumper sticker on the back. I now understand this, as well.

Thank you Lesley (you are still reciting along with me, right?) ... I resolve to read your blog every day! And recommend it to all my friends! And - oh, what's that? You stopped reciting a long time ago? Well, happy New Year anyway. And remember, when driving in Texas, watch out for the other guy. He sure as heck won't be watching out for you.

~~~

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

I wish you love ...



joy ...



and peace on earth ...


Merry Christmas.

~~~

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How to not get a job

(proof that i am totally inadequate: i don't own any of these objects)


As I've mentioned in the past, one of my hobbies is sending out resumes. Some people would call this "applying for jobs." Having lower expectations, I just call it sending out resumes.

Well lo and behold, one of my resumes actually got me a job interview last week. It was interesting.

I'm afraid that at this point I can't offer any advice on how to ace an interview. But here is my step by step plan for not getting a job:

1. Wake up in the morning to find a zit on the end of your nose. Cover with makeup. Add makeup to the rest of your face so it blends in. Finish with powder. Realize that your face now looks like someone baked a cake on it. Wash off makeup and pray for zit to go away.

2. Arrive at interview a few minutes early. Walk into beautiful, modern office building, walk to suite 105 and stop in front of large glass doors, assuming they will open automatically. Feel like moron when they do not.

3. Attempt to open doors by pushing the wrong one. Smile gamely at receptionist, who is trying not to laugh out loud. Push the other one, which opens, thank God.

4. Wait patiently for 10 minutes while receptionist finishes a printing job, after which she says she needs to print a "proofreading test" for you.

5. Accept "test" with a smile and work on it for 30 seconds, correcting one spelling error.

6. Smile and shake hands with boss, who is ready to begin the interview. Hand over the test and read boss's mind: "What is wrong with this moron? She only corrected one spelling error."

7. Answer typical interview questions, realizing halfway through that you have not yet removed your winter coat. Ponder, in the midst of attempting to make your greatest weakness sound like a strength, whether you should take off the coat, which might give the impression of an awkward and unnecessary strip tease, or just leave it on, since honestly it is the nicest part of your outfit and hides the fact that you are not anywhere near dressed up enough and you don't even OWN a pair of high heels like the receptionist is wearing, and even if you did, you are not at all sure you could wear them all day long, five days a week.

8. Drive home totally convinced that they hated you.

9. Spend the next week waiting for the phone to ring, because maybe they didn't.

10. Go back to blogging, where winter coats are never needed, insecurity is completely unnecessary, and bunny slippers are perfectly acceptable.

~~~

Friday, December 18, 2009

Step 3: A little panic sets in

(2 weeks to go till 2010! time flies whether you're having fun or not)



Two weeks till my BNNY year begins, and I'm already full of excuses why it just won't work.

First, my laundry room needs some shelves. Hubby suggested using some wooden supports and pressboard shelving he has lying in the garage. My first thought was nonono, we need to go to Container Store for a nice track system and white shelving. $200 easy. On second thought, pressboard shelving will do just fine.

Then, I had a job interview which seems irrelevant to BuyNothingNewYear except that I would definitely need to buy some clothes if I ever got a real job that involved people seeing me on a daily basis. I'll tell you about the interview another time. Suffice it to say that I don't think I will be needing to buy new clothes any time soon.

So far, surprisingly, Christmas hasn't posed that much of a problem. We bought TONS of great stuff for the grandbaby at garage sales. We got stocking stuffers for the kids and told them not to buy anything at all for us. And we even have a HUGE turkey in the freezer that some sneaky friends bought when we weren't looking.

Most importantly, we will have everyone around the table, eating and laughing and reminiscing, and - whenever hubby and I leave the room - talking about how we seem to be getting weirder and weirder every year.

Just as it should be.

I can't wait.

~~~

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Pageant


(sing, choirs of angels)


Dear Parents:

Greetings from the Children's Choir Department at First Congregational Church! We are all SO excited to see your little "angels" perform on Sunday. (Pardon the pun, tee hee hee)

Just a few notes (oops, another pun! silly me!) before we all gather on Sunday morning:

First, we will supply the angel robes but the children will need to wear white t-shirts, white pants, white socks and white shoes. A white pearl necklace would be nice for the girls. And white hair bows. Oh, and for the boys please buy a white top hat, white cane and white bow tie. Don't go to any trouble.

The pageant begins at 9:00 am, so we will need the children in the choir room promptly at 5:45. As you probably recall from last year, it takes quite a while to get them all lined up. Cots are available if you'd like to just sleep at the church the night before.

Grandparents and other relatives are more than welcome to attend. Please advise them to arrive before dawn if they want a good seat. We don't want a repeat of last year's stampede.

Please have your children listen to their rehearsal CD every day! They only have 25 songs to learn, and I am a little dismayed that some of them are still a little shaky on the harmony for the Hallelujah Chorus.

Also, if they could practice standing still for 45 minutes at a time that would be very helpful.

Just think! Next year they will be in the Kindergarten Choir!

See you on Sunday!

Love, Miss Lesley

~~~

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

punk-shoe-ation


(stuff your child's stocking with this book and i guarantee you they will punctuate the holidays with complaints)


Proper punctuation? Is very important. Here are a few examples:

Harold! My brother is on fire.

Harold, my brother, is on fire.

A woman without her man is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Let's eat, Grandpa!

Let's eat Grandpa!

As a general rule I believe that less punctuation is better - unless it causes misunderstandings such as accidentally eating Grandpa.

For a brilliant example of minimal punctuation, you really should read "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey. His name may be familiar because he was scolded severely by Oprah for making up parts of his book. But really, that was just a spelling error. He thought "fiction" could be spelled "m.e.m.o.i.r." Oops.

Anyway, his book uses virtually no punctuation which sounds bizarre but makes the story flow super fast just like this sentence which you must admit is whizzing along

So there you have it.

Slow, writer at work today.

Slow writer at work today.

~~~

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This one takes the cake


(lately there are lots of ads that make me go hmmmm)


I thought the caveman-who-failed-to-refinance ad was pretty funny (click here if you haven't seen it).

But no question, this is the best one yet:




Um, no offense, hairy caveman mom, but I don't think your lack of a college degree is the only thing preventing you from finding better work.

hahahahaha

~~~

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Dale Girls shop for a Christmas tree


Shopping for a Christmas tree was one of the highlights of the year for the little Dale girls. We took great care in selecting the perfect tree. You'd never know it from this picture, would you? Good lord, it looks like the Charlie Brown tree a month after Christmas, shortly before it burst into flames.

But still. We loved shopping for Christmas trees.

And so, just in time, here is the Dale Girls' Guide To Buying A Christmas Tree:

1. Wait for the coldest day of the year. In Connecticut, this could occur in August. You just never know. Always be ready.

2. Run down the stairs all together, screeching, "WE HAVE TO GET A TREE!!! IT'S TIME!!! LET'S GO!!!"

3. Wait for daddy to pour just one more glass of funny-smelling stuff, which he claims he needs to keep his hands warm.

4. Drive to the Christmas Tree Farm. Back then, boys and girls, this was a place where they grew actual, real live trees. They were all green, and had this wonderful scent, and none of them rotated or played Christmas carols. Yes, I am very old.

5. Throw open the car doors and race through the maze of trees, yelling "THIS ONE! I FOUND ONE! IT'S PERFECT!" Drag your tree to the center so you can show the other sisters why yours is the best.

6. Argue until your teeth are chattering so violently, your woolen hat with the festive red pom-pom on top keeps flying off your head.

7. Reluctantly agree to buy your sister's dopey tree even though yours is clearly superior, because daddy is sitting in the station wagon, revving the engine violently.

8. Drag the tree to the car, hoist it into the back, instruct younger sisters sternly to grab a branch and hold on for dear life because Santa won't come if they lose the tree in the middle of the highway.

9. Drag the tree up the back stairs, into the house, through the narrow doorways, and into the living room. Flop it around until you locate the fullest side.

10. Push, pull, yank, swivel, stagger and sweat until tree somehow miraculously lands in tree stand. QUICK QUICK QUICK, tighten up the screws.

Then stand back to admire your fragrant, green, real-life, crooked, spindly, well-loved Christmas tree.

(p.s. - watch out for the pine needles all over the floor. they can be a little slippery.)

~~~

Friday, December 11, 2009

Step 2: The Compact


(3 weeks till my BNNY year begins)


I'm so ready for this ... a whole year without buying anything new.

Of course, I once thought I was ready for natural childbirth.

Hmm.

Perhaps it will be wise to get some support in this new endeavor. Hence, I have joined The Compact.

No, it's not a secret religious society with robes and candles and spooky meetings. Though that sounds fun, too. The Compact started as a small group of people who pledged to buy nothing new for a year, back in 2006.

Here is a link to their blog, and their yahoo group, if you'd like to learn more.

I'm thinking that my biggest struggle will be with books. I have a long Wish List on Amazon, and I'm all set up for one-click ordering. I typically one-click about once a month.

But this week hubby and I gathered a bunch of books and VHS tapes and headed to Half-Price Books. They gave us 20 bucks, and we bought some gently-used books and DVD's. It was easy! Painless. Whew.

Let the countdown begin!

I'm ready.

~~~



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ads that make you go "hmmm"


(would you believe, it sometimes takes me 7 or 8 hours to finish my morning coffee)


There I was, innocently drinking my morning coffee and browsing the financial section of msn.com when suddenly - BLAM! - these weird ads caught my eye.

What they heck are they selling?

Why the heck are they selling it in the financial section?

And what the heck can I say about them that will explain why they caught my eye and maybe make you laugh and best of all help me avoid doing any actual work for the next half hour or so?

Let's see ... here is ad number one:



Ok. So are they saying the guy on the left is a "fat kid"? If so, they have obviously not visited a school lately. Any school. Pick one. I promise, this guy would be considered a skinny minny. Even if he's a very tall kindergartener.

Moving on to ad # 2 ...



Now I must say, Screaming Muscular Guy, I believe that you built SERIOUS muscle. But I don't believe your health is intact. People whose health is intact do not normally scream. Unless maybe you just realized that your new chest muscles caused your tattoo to change from a picture of your girlfriend to an abstract drawing of Barney Frank. That might explain it.

And now, ad # 3 ...


This is my favorite ...


Put down your coffee first ...




hahaha! Call me heartless, but this ad made me laugh out loud. Do you mean to tell me that if I fail to refinance my mortgage, I will turn into a Geiko caveman? I will no longer be able to afford a shirt? My hair will grow uncontrollably?

Or is this a picture of someone who DID take advantage of the Government Refinance Plan? Is this guy showing us a look of surprise because he just realized how much he can save by forgoing basic hygeine?

Or maybe it's a picture of a government official, who has recently been fired because his crappy plan only reached 85,000 people out of 7 - 9 million, which is indeed a sorry statistic.

I have no idea. But the longer I ponder, the less time I have for work. And the greater the possibility I will need to take advantage of whatever this Plan is.

hmmm ....

Guess I better go.


~~~

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Dale Girls celebrate Christmas


(left to right: karen, melissa and monica ... with the world's ugliest christmas tree in the background)


What was Christmas like in our noisy, creative, unconventional Connecticut household? I asked my sisters to write down some recollections, and today, I am excited to feature my very first Guest Post from my wonderful sister Monica!

Monica is a pianist, a dancer, a teacher, an author, and an expert on the Dalcroze method, which combines movement and music for children. She is beautiful, talented, and extremely witty.

I was 3 years old when Monica was born, and as babies tend to do, she immediately took over the role of smallest and cutest in the household. Fortunately, that left me free to ride my tricycle whenever and wherever I wanted, hide my food behind the radiator, and color on the wall behind the living room sofa. So it worked out fine.

Here are Monica's memories of Christmas:

~~~

Just yesterday, the director of the arts-based based school where I teach music and movement asked me what I thought of CDs that direct children to do specific movements, usually over bad synthesized music. She said she dislikes them, and I agreed. They don’t allow for children’s own creativity, if they’re too fast for the children they can’t adjust, and the music itself isn’t worthwhile. She told me some teachers had come back from a conference with such a CD, and asked me to make the case against them in the faculty meeting that was starting in a few minutes. (The task was made a bit more uncomfortable by the fact that some of the teachers were playing the incriminated CD, enthusiastically performing the movements, as we gathered for the meeting.)

It sent me to the internet in search of some quality alternatives, and I thought of the records we had as kids -- like those by Jim Copp (now on CDs) and my favorite, Come and See the Peppermint Tree (now a real collector’s item). We grew up hearing classical music, of course, and I also remember dancing around to what I think must have been Renaissance dance music, and another of Brazilian songs. No matter that I didn’t understand the words -- Mom also read me poetry in German (Ich und Du), explaining later that she thought the sounds and rhythms of the words would seem interesting.

She had some unorthodox ideas, but she was very careful not to let us hear any really bad music. She didn’t start teaching piano lessons until Melissa was 11, and said that was because she never wanted us to hear poor playing until our musical ears were formed. (It could also have been that she was way too busy with four girls until Melissa was 11.)

Although I loved drawing pictures of ballerinas, we didn’t have Suzy-Q’s ballet classes; we had creative movement with teachers now known for their innovations. Although I longed for the Twinkies and Wonderbread other kids took out of their lunchboxes, and was shunned when I revealed a cream cheese and olive sandwich, I’m glad now that we didn’t grow up on junk food. When I was sick and stayed home from school, she’d sometimes bring me a excitingly fresh pad of paper and new colored pencils, but not a coloring book.

So as Christmas approached, I longed for the latest fads in toys. I took the Sears “Wish Book” catalogue and painstakingly wrote out a chart of everything I wanted, complete with item number, quantity, weight, price, size if applicable, color choice, second color choice, etc. I didn’t expect everything on my long list, but figured I’d supply enough options from which to choose that she’d surely find *something* there that’d thrill me!

(Years later, in a freshman creative writing class in college, I put the wish list chart into a short story. The critique came back that it was simply not believable that an eight-year-old would actually do this.)

Until I knew better, I was crazy with anticipation, wondering which things she’d ordered from the Wish Book! The doll with the yellow braids? The red jumper (second choice navy blue)? The game of the year, with something that buzzed, beeped, or glowed in the dark?

Christmas morning was always wonderful, although my List was always ignored. I dreaded the calls from friends asking, “So what did you get?” They seemed to yawn relating their new clothes, toys and dolls under their tree -- the very kinds of things I’d written on my Wish List. In turn, I’d itemize my haul: “A construction set, a word game, craypas...” I didn’t mention the brownie mix. They wouldn’t understand. (Mom’s rationale was that we’d need something to do on Christmas after all the presents were opened, to help us through that afternoon slump all kids go through as a let-down from the morning’s excitement.)

Over the years, there was a dexterity game that required performing tasks “backwards” looking in a mirror; a wood-burning kit; a “Mille Bornes” game involving road distances in metric units or something; a record teaching French through a bizarre variation on Alice in Wonderland (I vaguely remember a group of menacing bears advancing while chanting, “Comment ca va, comment ca va, comment ca va...”)

No, there weren’t a lot of plastic toys, or Twinkies, or tutus... And there wasn’t a lot of money. But Mom was smarter than any of us could have realized at the time. She encouraged us to DO things and create things all our own, without coloring by numbers. She knew we’d quickly be bored with the latest bright plastic fad, but said we could always earn the money and buy them ourselves. We did one year -- a game called “Green Ghost.” It was the coolest thing ever, for almost a week.

And so the little ones that I teach now dance to my piano improvisations, not raucous CDs; they create their own ways of moving, not copying mine. They think their own thoughts, share their own ideas, and sing with their own voices.

Quite simply, Mom knew best.

~~~

Friday, December 4, 2009

Step 1: Unsubscribe


(4 weeks until my buy-nothing-new-year begins)



I have to confess, I've done a little advance shopping. Hubby and I bought a Blu-Ray player (on Black Friday, no less!) and a new TV for the bedroom. A year from now that might seem like a huge, unnecessary splurge. Or I might be at the mall, drooling and twitching and quivering as I wait for Macy's to open on January 1st.

We'll see.

In preparation for BNNY (which I could really use a catchy name for, if anybody has any ideas!) I decided to unsubscribe from all of the automatic emails I receive from retailers. I was amazed! Without even realizing it, I was receiving emails on a regular basis from:

Blockbuster
Amazon
JC Penney
Costco
800 Flowers
Victoria's Secret
Dell Computers
Crate & Barrel
West Elm
Staples
CB2
Kirkland's
The DMA Bookstore
Bath & Body Works
Pottery Barn
Anthropologie
American Blinds & Wallpaper

Not any more. Y'all are history. Now I won't even know that Costco has a new shipment of Motorola 3G Android Devices. That sounds pretty creepy anyway. Do I really want an Android Device in my pocket? I don't think so.

I also won't be reminded on a daily basis that JC Penney is having THE BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR!! on 30,000 items.

I won't know that the Dell computer I bought for $1,000 a year ago is NOW ON SALE FOR ONLY $299!! complete with Windows 7, which ACTUALLY WORKS!! unlike the crappy Vista I have.

I won't be THE FIRST TO LEARN!! that Amazon is offering FREE SHIPPING!! IF YOU SIMPLY BUY 1,234 ITEMS AND USE THE SECRET CODE 1234BUYBUYBUY!!!!!

Oh dear.

I'll definitely need a new hobby.

I can feel my hands twitching already.

~~~

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My One-Year Anniversary!


(happy birthday, my turn to talk!)


One year ago today, I started my little blog.

I did lots of things wrong:

~ I made the posts way too long. I'm pretty quiet in real life, but I tend to ramble in Blogville.

~ I really didn't have a focus. Successful bloggers build a following by sticking to one subject. Not me.

~ I talked about my childhood and the "good old days" which of course nobody really cares about. Just ask my kids.

But along the way, I somehow gained some loyal followers and made some good friends.

Let's see ... there's Fran, who was one of my very first followers. She is an English teacher - which would automatically make her one of my favorite people anyway. She's also hysterically funny, in a dry British sort of way.

Then there's Amanda, who could not be more different from me - and yet, we seem to understand each other perfectly. Where else could that work out, except in Blogville? Amanda doesn't know it yet, but she will be writing a best-selling cookbook one day. Count on it.

There's The Retired One, who helped me learn how to be funny without rambling so much, and who has the funniest police reports in the entire world. (not to mention the most beautiful photographs)

There's Lily, a sweet and supportive friend who will be publishing a book very soon. Her Bloggy friends will all rush to buy a copy! Me included, of course.

There's Rae, a former nurse who really should have been a writer all along. She finds the best topics to write about! I find it hard not to steal her ideas on a daily basis.

My newest friends include Ellie, who writes amazing poetry, and Anni, who is a fellow Texan, and Plainolebob, who has just about the most unique blog I have ever read.

I'm sure I'm leaving people out - and I do apologize. I haven't even mentioned the family members and "real" friends who read my ramblings and laugh along and tell me to keep going.

My point is, I expected blogging to be all about the words. The stories. The serious, introspective thoughts from the pit of my deep, black subconscious.

But it ended up being all about you. My friends. In real life and in Blogville.

Thank you for reading.

I love you all.

I hope you'll stick with me for another year.

~~~

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