Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015: The Year Of The Shark

Goodbye, 2015. You were a Year Of Many Lessons. Some of your Lessons, I enjoyed (driving and docking the boat, making fish tacos, the joy of simpler living); others, not so much (well...let's not talk about them). But, your biggest Lesson is one that I keep learning, and it is sometimes your Hardest Lesson of all.

That is why I call 2015 The Year Of The Shark. For ages and ages, it has been said that sharks have to keep moving or they drown. Even though this isn't exactly true for the majority of shark species, it's still accurate to say that there are some varieties of sharks who have to maintain forward swimming motion or they will, indeed, die. 2015 made me realize that I had to be very sharklike and only move forward, too.

It is hard to be disappointed, to suffer loss, to be angry, to be hurt, and to feel sad. But if I'm going to replay those feelings, or dwell upon the episodes that caused them, I'm paralyzing myself. The Year Of The Shark almost made me forget my mantra of "Do whatever you can and then move on, knowing you did what you could."


As I've said before, both here and on my defunct blog Stuff On Our List (co-authored with Jared years ago), I don't usually make actual New Year's Resolutions because I think of myself as being on a Continuous Journey Of Self-Improvement. Last year, I did make two, which I promptly forgot, but they sort of roll into my Big Three Resolutions, which are guideposts for my life and have not changed. They are:

1. Be kind.
2. Shut up.
3. Never say never.

Pretty self-explanatory for the most part: I try to make kindness my default in every situation; I try to listen more than talk, which can be a challenge for me; and I try not to deal in absolutes, especially in discussions. Rather than say, "I would never own a gun," I say, "I can't imagine a scenario in which I'd own a gun." Beyond this, I continue to be grateful and work on my patience. Remember--Continuous Journey!

Goodbye, 2015. I look forward now to 2016 and what and who it may bring me. Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you again for reading and commenting. I hope to give you much more for both in the coming year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Warm Holiday Wishes From The Dept. Of Nance

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. 
Cheer to all Whos far and near. 
Christmas Day is in our grasp, 
so long as we have hands to clasp. 
Christmas Day will always be 
just as long as we have we. 
Welcome Christmas while we stand, 
heart to heart, and hand in hand.

I've been sick with a nasty virus since late Saturday night and my strength is just now coming back. As The Grinch says, Christmas comes just the same, so with the help of My Men, we're hosting The Family for Christmas Eve as usual.  

Bless them, they'll overlook any dustbunnies and cat hairs we miss and focus on food and wine and togetherness, as usual.  They're the best.

May all of you have Hands To Clasp this holiday, Warm and Loving Voices to hear, and Time for Togetherness with those you love.  

And once again, thank you for Being There.  I am more grateful than you know.



Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Dept. Is Back And With A New Feature: Ask A Large Cat

The Dept. is back, and with a new Feature, Ask A Large Cat. Without any Further Ado, here is Piper, resident Large Cat, to answer your Queries.

Query 1: Is it Just Me, or is Christmas feeling Blah and Tedious this year?
Large Cat: I feel the same way. I don't even watch Nance wrap gifts this year; I just lie under the tree and sleep. Here in NEO, everyone thinks it is due to the weather, which is extremely warm and snowless. I think that's Zzzzzz.

Query 2: Do you think the rest of the world is laughing at us due to Donald Trump leading in the polls?
Large Cat: No. I think they are shaking their heads in dismay and pity. The laughter ended with the re-election of George W. Bush.

Query 3: Every year, I ask for a pair of navy blue or red leather riding style boots. They do not exist. I don't understand why. I feel like they should, and that I cannot be the only one who thinks so. What's the deal?
Large Cat: Look, I understand. I feel like my dish should always be full of either albacore tuna or, at the very least, wet cat food. Keep hoping. I do.

Query 4: Our dog--
Large Cat: Next.

Query 5: I keep reading articles about tipping everyone at Christmas. Is this really necessary?
Large Cat: I don't think so. It sounds like a New York Thing to me. If you get regular service from the same people all the time, like a regular groomer or a regular mail carrier or pet sitter, then I would give them a tip. But tipping everyone sounds worky. And expensive. And tiring.

Query 6: Are gift bags okay to use, or are they tacky?
Large Cat: I really prefer boxes. They are cozy, and I can curl right up in them as long as they don't have some off-putting tissue paper in there. Gift bags tip over and require jumping and depth perception and quick risk-assessment.

Query 7: Is your Christmas shopping done?
Large Cat: I am a Gift Giver all year-round, and there are lint-rollers in two rooms to prove it. Sometimes I re-gift my breakfast.

Query 8: What do you want for Christmas?
Large Cat: A cat in the White House. Tuna every day. No more dog visits, ever. More quiet.

Query 9: With such impressive photos coming back from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, and its myriad discoveries, do you think Pluto will be reassigned its planetary status within our solar system?
Large Cat: I wish.

This has been Ask A Large Cat, with Piper, resident Large Cat. The Dept. of Nance is pleased to be back after a Hiatus Of Sorts...sigh.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Grumpy: Maybe This Is The First Of A Series

A few things are making me Grumpy lately. My hope is that venting them here will settle me down. Then, if any of you seem a little Grumpy lately, too, you can offload your Crabbies in Comments, and we'll all Feel Better.

1. The Phrase "No Worries". This is a small thing, I know, but it annoys the hell out of me. What does it even mean? Is it really too uncool or Old Timey to say the more comforting, "Don't worry", which actually means something because it has a subject and verb? To make a statement like "No Worries" is idiotic, really. It's imprecise. It's...more like a title. "Ladies and gentlemen, help me welcome Verna Wetnoodle, author of No Worries." It is also patently untrue. Of course there are Worries! We live in a world of nuclear weapons, ISIS, insufficient gun regulation, and Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. If none of those things is a worry, then someone is overmedicated. Here is what a Proper Exchange should sound like:

Guest: Oh no! I meant to bring the white wine, and instead I brought merlot.
Host: Please don't worry. We're having chocolate for dessert. It will be perfect.

Instead, here is what some Hipster Doofuses (Hipsters Doofi?) would have us hear:

Moocher: Oh, man. We're out of beer, yo.
Guy: No worries, brah. T-Spot will hook us up.

If you're wondering who to blame for this inanity, here's an interesting article about its source.

2. Fear Of Commenting. In the decade that I've had this blog, so many people have told me that either they or others do not comment on the site because They Are Afraid To. This makes me both Sad and Grumpy because it's so silly. I am welcoming, kind, and pleasant to all of my commenters because I am so thrilled to have them! It is only when a commenter is rude that I might be rude or snide in kind. I know that the reason so many commenters are apprehensive about commenting is due to my own...persnicketiness regarding The Language. But I set all of that aside when it comes to the dialog in the Comments section. Comments are quick, personal, and informal, like notes you post on the fridge to your family. So relax! Let's chat. And my Regular Commenters are so nice!

3. People Who Talk Down To The Elderly. My mother, St. Patsy, is pretty damn sharp yet at 85, and it frosts my cupcakes when people half my age call her Sweetie or Hon. I'm talking complete strangers, like the clerk at the drugstore and the nurse at the Cleveland Clinic. Now, I know the temptation is very real:  my mother is short, cuddly-looking, and should pretty much be in the Picture Dictionary next to the word GRANDMOTHER. But how about "Ma'am" or, if you are her nurse, "Mrs. LastName"? It may seem innocent and even sweet, but that is how elderly people begin to lose their identities in society. My mother is still a Very Real Person, and she deserves to be called by her name or by a title of respect. It is a very insidious thing. Think of how you would feel if you were addressed by "Hon" or "Sweetie" in public by a stranger.

Okay! Not sure all this grumping inspired New Commenters, but I do feel better. Now it's your turn. What's been bothering you lately?


Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Pot Of Yellow Marigolds: Chapter Five Of Watching And Thinking Of Blueberries

"Oh, come on!" I grumbled aloud, "I was outside for five minutes." It was, of course, during those five minutes without my phone, however, that Rick had chosen to call me from work. I came in from refilling the bird feeder and saw the missed call and voicemail alert on my cell.

"Hey. Give me a call when you get a minute....Um...something in the paper...I want to tell you about."

When Rick says "the paper", I know he's talking about our local newspaper, to which we no longer subscribe. We gave it up in favor of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, a publication I feel isn't so negative, political, and amateurish. And honestly, I got tired of the delivery person dragging her dog right across my lawn every day, ignoring my walk and my wishes to the contrary. The Paper is available for free online, so Rick catches up with the town news that way and passes on information I'll find interesting. Usually, he tells me which of my former students has been indicted or arrested.

I sat down on the couch and called him back. "Nance," he said, "Tish's obituary was in the paper today. She died several days ago. It just says 'surrounded by family and friends' and that arrangements are private. She was ninety-three, did you know that? I wanted to tell you, to make sure you knew about it."

Instinctively, I turned to look over at her house right across the street. It has a For Sale sign in its yard now: that was one of the things to appear over the summer after the parade of workmen finally left. I'd only seen a realtor show the house a few times, and there's never been an open house there.

"Nance? Are you there?" I suddenly realized that I hadn't responded to the news that Rick had told me. Still looking at Tish's house, I spoke. "Yes. I'm sorry. Thanks for telling me. Oh, Rick, it's just sad, isn't it?" There wasn't time for anything more, and I had to let him hang up.

I stood up and went to my front door, opened it, and looked out to Tish's lonely, dead-eyed house. In a final eradication of her, the real estate company had placed a ridiculous plastic panda head about the size of a softball on the top step, clearly a key safe. Tish would have kicked that thing off, with the toe of her designer pumps, in the utmost disdain.

With tears in my eyes, I read her online obituary. It was, thankfully, lovely and fitting. It said that she married her highschool sweetheart when she married Barrington, and that she was a wonderful teacher and played golf wherever and whenever she could. When I clicked over to leave my condolences, I was the first one, and that made me sad. Two weeks later, there are still only five, but I considered the fact that many people may have chosen to or have been able to send theirs directly to her family.

I briefly considered placing a pot of yellow mums on the steps of her house as a tribute and remembrance. Tish always had two pots of yellow mums and marigolds there. But I decided that it would make me feel worse to watch them die and decay as November became more cruel and inhospitable.

Tish and Barrington always used to leave for Florida as soon as the weather got too cold for golf. Sometimes it was late October and sometimes it was early or mid-November. We would suddenly become aware that they were simply not there anymore. It became so routine that we stopped noticing after a while.

I know someday this will be true about the house across the street. That one day, after it is sold and lived in for many years by someone else, the story of Tish will not feel so poignant. That, perhaps, I might only think of it for a moment when I see, somewhere, a pot of yellow marigolds.


Thursday, November 05, 2015

Surviving Childhood, Off The Top Of My Head
Rick and I were out driving one late afternoon, and I was taking some time to enjoy the last of the Fall Foliage. Ohio is having a gorgeous Autumn this year, the finale being a particularly vivid display from the red maples, orange sweet gums, and some rich chestnut and mahogany oaks. Even the rather pedestrian yellow leaves appear more golden than usual. And before this spate of summery November temperatures, October ended with some chilly days, but the colours made it tolerable, even for me.

Anyway, as we were detoured through the neighborhoods of a little town, I was shocked to see a couple of children out playing in fifty-degree weather wearing what I thought was inadequate outerwear. "Is that girl barefoot?" I asked, my voice rising higher on each word as I stared out the car window, incredulous and horrified. "And where is her jacket? Better still, where is her mother? And neither one of those girls has on a hat or a headscarf or anything."

Rick turned to look at the two girls--ages probably seven and ten--playing on the sidewalk. One was attempting to ride a skateboard; the other was sitting on a step near the sidewalk talking to her. Both, to me, looked cold. The skateboarder had on a teeshirt and appeared barefoot; the older girl on the step at least had on long sleeves, but her face looked pink to me, and her arms were held close to her, hands dug into pockets.

"No, she's not barefoot. She has on pink slip-on shoes. They're fine. No one is cold but you, Nance. Pretty much ever." He made the right-hand turn away from the girls and we continued on our way.

There was no use arguing. He was right. Even during menopause, looking forward to Hot Flashes for their warmth (which never came), I was always cold when everyone else was warm. Even though I've put on some weight and am no longer brittle and teeny-tiny, I'm almost always cold. And trust me, no one is more annoyed by it than I am.

Beyond that, though, is the now Archaic idea of bundling up your children to go outside, or at the very least, covering their heads and ears. Let me tell you, this is one child who Never, Ever went outside in temperatures under seventy degrees Fahrenheit without a sweatshirt, jacket, or sweater, and The Headscarf. Oh My God. Patsy June was a firm believer in The Headscarf, especially when it came to me, though for the life of me, I cannot tell you why. In spite of The Headscarf (also known as The Babushka), which I was forced to wear, I had, in my childhood, approximately eleventy thousand ear infections. And this number could definitely be on the low side. And was I allowed to wear The Headscarf in The Cute Way, i.e. tied behind my head? Oh, ha ha. It is to laugh. NO! It had to be tied firmly and chokingly in the front, right in front of my throat.

"I bet you looked cute," approximately No One is saying right now. And they would be correct. Imagine a short, chubby dark-haired girl in braids with fat cheeks, thick bangs, and...wait for it! of fourth grade, cat-eye glasses, sporting a headscarf to boot. Here is a rough illustration for you of what I looked like for most of my childhood while playing outdoors:

And here is a Photographic Approximation of how I felt I looked as a child, playing outdoors:

(I know it's the queen, but keep the royal thing out of it.)

How on earth did I ever, ever make it to Adulthood?

I did, dear Readers; I did. And it has been an Adulthood singularly absent of headscarves.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Meanwhile, In America...

Barry Blitt via The New Yorker
...The Politics are harshing my Zen.

Normally, I would not post any irreverent image of President Lincoln, but in this case, I can make the exception with a clear conscience.  If he had already been restive in his tomb due to the likes of Bush 43, Nixon, and less famous republicans who have disgraced varying degrees of Public Office, he is surely retching and spewing at the likes of the gop's frontrunners now.  Actually, knowing President Lincoln's sensibilities and esteem for his countrymen, he is probably more likely weeping with sorrow at what has happened to the nation he worked so hard to save.

How did The Party Of Lincoln end up with a Sideshow Barker as its Candidate? It was inevitable, I guess, when they allowed a loudmouthed bigot as their spokesman early on and not only legitimized the threadbare credentials of the Alaskan Airhead, but continue to countenance her.  The republicans also like to invoke conservatism and Reagan as if they are both Sacred Talismans, conveniently forgetting things like the skyrocketing unemployment in 1981, and the fact that St. Ronald slept through not only Cabinet meetings, but even an audience with the Pope, and that conservatism is, at best, an Ideal. It can't be an absolute prescription for a diverse, multicultural nation like the United States of America.

Of course, some polls have a different frontrunner, the equally alarming anti-science, history-rewriting doctor whose flip comment regarding the recent Oregon school shooting flummoxed even his Fox News hosts.  In typical somnolent, sotto voce style,  the good doctor vowed that he would never have been so meek as to have been slaughtered by a gunman without a fight.  He would have rallied everyone by intoning, "Hey guys.  Everybody attack him.  He may shoot me, but he can't get us all."  And then...he laughed. (abt. 5:02)  But you know those republicans; they hate political correctness.

Jeb! has begun to sound like the exasperated Student Council president who is upset because of student apathy about Sixties Theme Dress-Up Day.  As he reminded us not so long ago, he has "a lot of really cool things that [he] can do other than sit around and be miserable listening to people demonize [him]", leaving everyone wondering, of course, why he doesn't simply Go Off And Do Them. One can only imagine how many phone calls Barbara Bush has endured since June that have started off with "Mo-om! It's just not Fair!"

Don't worry; I won't go on.  I can't.  It's exhausting, isn't it?  And I have to keep telling myself that Last Time, Herman Cain was enjoying his Moment In The Sun.

(I know, who?  Oh, yeah...that one guy.)

It's all so very disappointing, though.  Sigh.

Let's say you're a registered republican; who do you vote for?  Play along in Comments.

(Readers: please remember that I do not, on principle, capitalize the republican party or any of its synonyms. It's My Thing.)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Prodigal Blogger Returns: Wine, A Wedding (?), Words, And Some Wee Wonderfuls

It would seem that I had been taking a sort of Inadvertent Sabbatical. I want to write, yet I feel sludgy and stumped--the worst sort of Uninspired. Perhaps my Indiscipline--bred of four years or so now of Retirement--has finally caught up with my brain and I'm a Dullard: not thinking too deeply, not reading much of substance or often, and not Energized. Jealously guarding my Zen, making the effort to Not Be So Tightly Wound, I wonder if I perhaps Went Too Far (if that's even possible).

Can I still blame everything on The Menopause? Or is it too late?


Let me rattle my head and see what's in there.

Rick and I had a jaunt up to Niagara-on-the-Lake, and were rewarded with yet another new winery. Luckily, we tasted with the winemaker himself, and after a slug of one of his gorgeous reds, I was moved to propose marriage to him, right in front of my (current) husband. Andrezj (now my secret fiance) raised his eyebrows and smiled, looked at Rick, and informed us that his son was a sommelier and head of operations at the winery (a mere technicality), and that he has been married for I forget, something like twenty-five years. Rick mentioned our thirty-four year marriage, which I waved off with my wineglass. Which Dear Andrezj then immediately poured the next wine into, which I also loved. New Philosophy: Marry first for money, second for wine, third for love. No explanation needed.

Hmm. If I left Rick and ran away with a winemaker, I would definitely miss conversations like this one, had briefly during a commercial break over the weekend.

Rick: (upon viewing a candy commercial for chocolate, possibly Lindt) I don't like that word, chocolatier.
Nance: (looking up briefly from a torrid series of games of Words With Friends) Really? What about it could you possibly object to?
Rick: It sounds like Musketeer and Mouseketeer and I just don't like it.
Nance: (rapidly finishing up her moves; hugely interested) Okay. Say you rank them in order, those three words, according to how much you like them, most to least.
Rick: (immediately) Chocolatier, Musketeer, Mouseketeer.
Nance: (despite knowing his disdain of all things Disney) Okay, now why?
Rick: Because I like chocolate, and the Musketeer can at least slice up the Mouseketeer.
Nance: Wow. And here I was thinking, 'same order, but because Three Musketeers is also a chocolate bar.'
Rick: That works too.

And, finally, a random list of

Small Things I Appreciate

1. M&M’S
2. Ice and Water in the refrigerator door
3. Recycling everything in one bin
4. Butternut Squash
5. Fleece blankets

Thank you for waiting.  I think I'm back.


Monday, September 28, 2015

It's Called "Eclectic" If Anyone Asks

Perhaps you're looking to spruce things up a bit At Home. Or, now that Autumn is here, you are feeling that Nesting Instinct--the desire to prepare your cold-weather cocoon. Lucky for you, I can assist you with that.

And it doesn't even matter if you're redoing say, your bathroom, and it might look like this one:

or if you're finally remodeling your entire kitchen, and your taste is more along the lines of, say, this:

Let's imagine, even, that you are redecorating your bedroom (or guest room) and have opted for a style more in keeping with this:

Did you pack off the last tyke to college or into a home of his/her own? Are you finally getting the living room of your dreams, one For Guests Only?

I have just the little accessory for any of those scenarios. It will slide right in seamlessly and add not only functionality, but the stylish finishing touch you will appreciate. It says so right on the package. Here, let me show you:


Hey.  You're welcome.

(All images via, except living room from; bass switchplate via Amazon, mine.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Driving Story In Which We Discuss Irony, Connotation, And Simile (And Any Other English Class Vocabulary You'd Like)

It was one of those rare times when I was zipping along on Rt. 58, driving admittedly well above the speed limit and with no one ahead of me for miles. Foolishly, I dared hope--no--believe that I was going to, as St. Patsy likes to say, Make Good Time for once on this damned road that is usually full of dawdlers, slowpokes, and Sunday Drivers.

Then I crested a hill and there it was, a boxy red car going Nowhere. I had to apply my brakes. On the highway. The speed limit is 55 on that particular stretch, and this car was travelling at a leisurely 42 mph. As is always the case with my fortunes, the double yellow line had appeared on the road as it became more hilly and winding, and I was stuck.

Irritated, I poked at the buttons of the radio and looked for some music or some interesting talk. Traffic coming the other way had begun to pick up a little, and I sighed loudly. It figured. Even when it was legal to pass this guy, opposing traffic might make it impossible.

I also found it annoying that the car was called a Nitro, according to the chrome plate on it. There was absolutely nothing about this vehicle that remotely suggested "Nitro" to me, which evokes in my mind explosions or speed or power or that one American Gladiator--remember him? Certainly not a square, stodgy car like this poky thing.


As I fumed and fussed, I noticed the offending car rocking just a little. It was then that I became aware of a huge dark mass moving around inside it. It was large enough to obscure the rear window a bit, and completely block the rearview mirror at times. "Holy crap," I said aloud. "What the hell is in there?"

Route 58 goes directly through a hamlet which is almost entirely a school zone, and trust me, this almost kills me. It also has two train crossings and a ton of construction. As I followed Red Nitro and approached this mess, I watched with growing curiosity the shape-shifter inside the car. Once we cleared the first train tracks and orange barrels, things became suddenly clearer.

The driver must have put all the windows down from a central control because as soon as we started moseying through town, an enormous dog head appeared through the rear passenger window and began barking. Loudly and a lot. At everything. Then the dog turned around, and its head appeared in another window to do the same on the other side. This went on--from all four windows in random succession--all the way through the small town, and it may well have gone on for the rest of his ride, however long it took. I will never know.

Because coming out of that village, I took advantage of the broken white line and passed Red Nitro. But before I did, I had ample time to notice a decal I had missed until we meandered through that maddening, tiny burgh. It was this one:

The story doesn't end there. A few days later, Rick and I dropped in on my brother at his lakehouse, and he was recounting an adventure he had just had while mowing his three lots with his riding mower. "It was terrible," he was telling St. Patsy. "I stopped the mower and sat there with my legs drawn up. That thing charged me with its teeth bared, barking like hell. It was the biggest German Shepherd I ever saw. And all the guy did was stand way over in his yard and keep calling to it. That dog didn't even hear him, or act like it did. I finally yelled, 'Can you just come over and get it?' And the guy comes over with the leash, gets the dog, and doesn't say a word to me. Not one."

Guess what was parked two doors down?

I think that his decal is maybe overselling it.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Death, Be Not Proud, But At Least Be As Dignified As Possible

No matter where you live, I know you've all seen them. Even if you haven't seen one in actuality, you've at least seen them on television during reports of tragic deaths either by gun violence, traffic accidents, or even acts of terrorism. They're often spontaneous, many times poignant, and always well-meaning.

I'm talking about the makeshift memorials that appear at the site of a terrible and sad death. They are very common in Cleveland, for example, these displays of stuffed animals, candles, balloons, and flowers intermingled with hand-lettered posters and cards and notes and photos, even some paintings and sketches of the deceased or murdered. Along two of the highways I drive frequently are faded wreaths, their significance unknown to me. I have no idea who they mourn, and now they look dirty and bedraggled. I find myself feeling worse about the condition of the memorial than what could have happened there.

Then I feel guilty for being shallow. Then I feel resentful about the way our culture deals with death. Then I berate myself for being so complex in my own feelings about death. Then I push a bunch of buttons on the radio and try to think about something else.

Today, however, I saw an entirely different sort of Memorial. I was absolutely amazed, and you know that word is not one that I use lightly. Here it is; tell me what you think:

It suddenly appeared before me in traffic, and thank heaven I had enough time to snap a photo.  The back window is painted, for those of you who cannot make it out clearly, with the words "Rest In Heaven Angy Anne' 11-25-98  8-29-15."  

Never before in my life have I seen this sort of Mobile Memorial.  I have seen cars painted to announce softball championships, high school senior jubilation, graduation joy, wedding elation, birthday announcement, driver's license success, the fact that a certain team is bound for state competition, and to inform me that "Lordy, Lordy, Someone Is Forty", but never that someone is dead and that the driver wishes her to be at peace in the afterlife.

Let me add this to the List Of Things No One Should Do When He Or She Hears That I Am Dead.  Driving around with a back-window announcement of my passing is, to me, actually worse than posting it on PinTwitFace.  It is actually more undignified, if that is possible.  It is worse than passing it in a note during study hall or class or, if you go, church.  I would absolutely rather it be announced during, oh, almost any event except perhaps a Toby Keith or Miley Cyrus concert.  I would rather have it be a singing telegram sent to someone and performed in a gorilla suit--no!--a gorilla in a tutu--than have anyone drive around with the news of my passing shoe-polished on the back window of his Chevrolet.  Or Honda.  Or even her Nissan Leaf, as environmentally friendly as that car is.

Please, in Comments, tell me I am Not Alone.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

The Final Top Ten List: Ten Television Shows I Miss

I'm not sure if this is true or not, but I feel as if I watch far less television than I used to. Not only fewer hours of television, but far fewer shows. I'm sure some of it is due to no longer subscribing to cable, but I think some of it is also due to what's being offered as well as my own changing taste. A great many shows I liked are gone, or they degenerated into a big mess, or they simply wandered off into the vagaries and obscurity of The Capricious Television Schedule, which I can't, for the life of me figure out anymore.

For my last List Of Ten Things to celebrate my tenth anniversary of writing here at the Dept. here's my

Ten Television Shows I Miss, For Whatever Reason

1. House
2. Mad Men
3. thirtysomething
4. Downton Abbey
5. The West Wing
6. NYPD Blue
7. Two And A Half Men
8. St. Elsewhere
9. ER
10. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

It's a certainty that there are scads of others, but let's deal with these before I concur with your choices in Comments.

1. I miss seeing Hugh Laurie. In any incarnation, and every single day. House got terrible there at the end, but again, worth it to see Hugh Laurie. Where in the hell is he? Won't someone put him in something that I can go and see? Immediately?

2. Netflix is on my Smack List since they did that stupid thing of breaking up the final season of Mad Men into two 6-episode segments and forcing its subscribers to wait for it. SO DON'T MENTION ANY SPOILERS; I AM WAITING. And then, when it is over, I will miss it even more terribly.

3. This show was on such a long time ago, but I still remember thirtysomething and its characters vividly. It was talky and real to me, even though some critics said it was all "yuppie whining."  I didn't feel that way at all.  It naturally declined in its final seasons, but it was still terrific. Hey! Is it on Netflix?

4. I know Downton Abbey isn't over yet, but this year is its final season, and I am already In Mourning. It's the best highbrow soap opera around, and so sumptuous to look at.

5. Rick and I watched The West Wing in its entirety the moment Jared shared his Netflix with us. It was wonderful. So smart and so much talent on that show. Surprisingly, it does not seem dated at all, and you can do worse than to look at Jimmy Smits and Rob Lowe, not to mention the lovely women in the cast.

6. Speaking of Jimmy Smits, he was in NYPD Blue also, but I always enjoyed the character of Andy Sipowicz, played by Dennis Franz, the most. He was so endearing and so human. The dialog in that show was tremendous and tough. I still use the phrase "get out in front of it" all the time to mean "admit something at the outset."

7. When the comedy Two and a Half Men first aired, I loved it. It was funny, fresh, and original. After the second season, it became tawdry and awful and relied solely on sexual innuendo and then outright sex for its comedy. I'm no prude, but I need something more intelligent. So sad, an opportunity and cast wasted.

8. St. Elswhere was another very human drama with comedic moments and a hugely talented cast which included, if you recall, Howie Mandel, among the others like Denzel Washington, Mark Harmon, and Christina Pickles. (He was really very good.)   Another one to look for on The Netflix!

9. ER was stocked with breakout stars like George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, William H Macy, and Goran Visnjic, oh, too many to name. I cried so many times while watching this show. And laughed. And got angry. It was just that good.

10. The absurd and hilarious soap opera Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was one of the funniest things I ever saw in my life. I was only 17 when it first aired, and I can remember my father laughing and laughing while he watched it.  Mary Kay Place was incredible in that cast.

Which shows do you miss and why?  Let's reminisce in Comments.

Thanks for celebrating Ten Years of My Blog with me.  I hope we'll celebrate Ten More.  And I hope you'll continue chatting away on this and other posts in the series.


Exposing The Big Lie: Updating Ten Random Nance Facts

Without any further ado, here are the Ten Random Nance Facts again, with the explanations following, exposing The Big Lie.

Ten Random Nance Facts

1. I don't wear my wedding or engagement ring.
2. I have only mowed the lawn once.
3. I once referred to Mike Tyson as a rapist right in front of him.
4. I was almost kicked out of Monticello at the age of 43.
5. I am allergic to rum.
6. I sprained my wrist opening a multi-pack of Cracker Jacks.
7. I always signal my turns, even when backing out of my driveway.
8. I was called "an excellent writer" by Conan O'Brien on his TV show.
9. I have never seen a Star Wars movie.
10. I have never tried marijuana.

Let's see how you did.

1. True. Because my skin is so highly acidic as well as allergic to the nickel in yellow gold, I had to get white gold rings. The rhodium wears off rather quickly, so it's just easier not to wear them at all. I don't wear any jewelry anymore.

2. True. Mowing is Rick's department, but I did it one time in order to say that I did it. I was not excited.

3. True. We were coming out of a Cleveland Cavaliers NBA game, and Mike Tyson had attended. He was drawing a crowd outside on the steps of the arena, which irritated me. As my family and I passed by, I loudly stated, while looking straight at him, "I have no idea why anyone would make such a fuss over a convicted rapist."

4. True. Turns out that, back then, asking about and making reference to Sally Hemings was not entirely appreciated. It was suggested to me that I might enjoy cider by the fireplace outside at one of the outbuildings.

5. True. I have drunk it both knowingly and unknowingly, and each time it has caused me to break out in hives, flush, and itch, and it makes my face swell up. It's the only booze to do so. (Thank goodness.)

6. True. Pathetically, this happened when I was about twelve, and I had to actually go to the emergency room. Can you imagine the embarrassment. Of everyone?

7. True. I like to feel that I am overcompensating for all of the jerks who never, ever use theirs.

8. True. In the heyday of my other blog, The Brian Williams Tie Report Archives, which enjoyed a lot of fame and international press, Brian Williams was interviewed by Conan O'Brien and he brought up my blog. He actually read several entries aloud and asked Williams about it. In the course of discussion, O'Brien said, among other nice things, that I was an excellent writer.

9. False. I've seen the first one. Wasn't Harrison Ford so adorable back then?

10. True. I was never even tempted, to be honest. Back in highschool, I was downright terrified, mainly because my dad's best friend was the Chief of Police in our city. And I simply had no desire. Still don't. Not a judgement, just a personal preference.

So there you are. Surprised?


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Today's Top Ten List: Favourite Summertime Dishes
Even though I love to cook, I don't do a whole lot of it in the Summertime. Yes, it's often too hot to heat up the kitchen, but Summertime is for easy living and lighter cooking. I also like to take advantage of seasonal foods when I can and my own herb garden as much as possible.

Here, then, are

Ten Favourite Summer Dishes At the Dept. of Nance

1. Strawberry Pie with Cream Cheese
2. Beer Can Chicken with Garlic and Herbs
3. Cold Tuna Pasta with Peas, Lemon, and Fresh Dill
4. Grilled Louisiana Shrimp Skewers
5. Grilled Flatbread Pizzas
6. BLTs on Toast
7. Corn on the Cob
8. Corn and Tomato Salad
9. Vegetable and Pesto Pasta
10. French Potato Salad with Tarragon

Every single one of these foods screams out Summer to me and my family.

1. June is Strawberry Time in NEO, and while I refuse to pick my own (too worky), I'm happy to pay for lovely farm berries at a stand. I make my own pie, my own glaze (not that fake blood stuff), and on the bottom crust, I smear lightly sweetened cream cheese. It makes a heavenly contrast and keeps the pie from getting soggy. So good.

2. Even though it has a decidedly Hillbilly Connotation, a whole fryer cooked this way is incredibly moist and flavourful. I stuff the half-full beer can with fresh herbs and five or six whole garlic cloves. Make sure to plug up the hole from the neck with an onion or potato and enjoy terrific chicken.

3. Such a nice meal on a hot day. I use small shell pasta, white albacore tuna, real mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, a whole bag of frozen peas (don't cook them, just drain the pasta over them), and a ton of fresh, fragrant dill. You can go lightly with the mayo. There is plenty of flavour from the rest of the ingredients. Dash a little Old Bay in there. I do.

4. I love this marinade recipe I found and tweaked--whether it's "Louisiana" or not--and shrimp is so quick. It's got Red Hot, lemon, oregano, Old Bay...and it only needs an hour and a half to marinade and moments to grill.

5. This is our Saturday night supper almost every Summer. Grilled flatbreads topped with my basil pesto, diced fresh tomatoes marinated in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and fresh mozzarella. Period. I'd get more fancy, but why mess with what works and what Rick loves?

6. Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. I cannot get enough of them in Summer. When they peak, we eat BLTs. We'd eat them every day if we could, but that's not healthy. I insist on toast; Rick prefers not. We both agree that there has to be Miracle Whip. No lettuce on hand? Not a dealbreaker.

7. There have been many, many times that Rick and I have made corn on the cob our meal. And then gone out later for ice cream. Hey, we are grownups now and we can do that if we want. There will only be Real Butter on the corn at the Dept. Ever. I always get a dozen. We never eat it all at once, but I use the leftovers for...

8. Corn and Tomato Salad is also an entire meal for us sometimes and a favourite leftover for both the boys if they happen to drop in. Fresh, rough-diced tomatoes and cut-off leftover sweet corn with a red wine vinaigrette. Period. Salt and pepper to taste. So Good.

9. Vegetable Pasta with Pesto is another use for leftover corn on the cob. And every other farmstand vegetable you cannot resist. I just made it for a big family dinner. You can saute or grill small zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, mushrooms, onions, eggplant, green beans--anything. Boil up your pasta (I used spaghetti). Toss the vegetables in the pasta, add fresh grated asiago or parmesan, and mix in basil pesto and a glug of good olive oil. At the last minute, add fresh halved cherry tomatoes and kalamata or ripe olives and leftover corn off the cob, and toss.

10. Tiny new red potatoes are wonderful for a potato salad. I boil them, then make a dressing with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, and garlic with my hand blender. I chop up some fresh tarragon and add it. The only other thing I add is sliced scallions. (Salt and pepper are a given for everything.)

Don't those all sound Summery? What do you always make when Summertime rolls around?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Today's Top Ten List: Random Nance Facts--Spot The Lie

You and I have been together for quite some time now, some of us ten whole years. In many cases I have shared a great deal of my life, yet I remain a stranger to you. I'm sure some of you feel as if you know me quite well, and probably you do. Well enough, anyway. Today, I'm going to toss out some bits of trivia about myself, and hidden amongst the ten is One Falsehood. See if you can spot it.

Ten Random Nance Facts

1. I don't wear my wedding or engagement ring.
2. I have only mowed the lawn once.
3. I once referred to Mike Tyson as a rapist right in front of him.
4. I was almost kicked out of Monticello at the age of 43.
5. I am allergic to rum.
6. I sprained my wrist opening a multi-pack of Cracker Jacks.
7. I always signal my turns, even when backing out of my driveway.
8. I was called "an excellent writer" by Conan O'Brien on his TV show.
9. I have never seen a Star Wars movie.
10. I have never tried marijuana.

Alrighty! You have your mission. Find the One False Fact up there, and let me know in Comments. I'm interested to know why you think it's The One, too.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Today's Top Ten List: Things I'm Not Doing Anymore

Life is short, and let's face it: mine is probably more than half over. I'm not going to waste any more of the time I have left on things I don't like if I can possibly help it. 

Here, then, is my abridged list of

Ten Things I'm Not Doing Anymore If I Can Help It

1. Attend Kid Parties
2. Send Cards
3. Drink Bad Wine
4. Attend Baby or Bridal Showers
5. Clothes Shop for Myself at Macy's
6. Get a Haircut
7. Eat at Mediocre Restaurants
8. Be Uncomfortable in My Own Home
9. Use Any Electric Hairstyling Tool
10. The Dreadmill

1. Kid parties are loud and chaotic affairs which are, by definition, full of children. This is a stage of my life that I am thrilled to be done with and have zero interest in revisiting. And allow me to say that the amount of Actual Parenting that takes place in general Anywhere by the current generation of "Parents" is approximately a teensy weensy bit. If any. I think you understand my position here.

2. I hate all cards. I don't get the point. They are ridiculously expensive, and once you get them and look at them, then what do you do? I do not save cards. It's a terrific waste of money. Send me an e-card. Send me a text message. For a death, I write a lovely letter in which I share a remembrance of the departed and offer comfort and a specific service if I can. And do not get me started on Christmas Cards, which have become ridiculous in many cases.(My next-door neighbor used to mail a card to me. Why?)

3. As you all know, I am a collector, appreciator, and enthusiastic drinker of wine. I don't really think I am a Wine Snob. But I'm not going to drink any more crappy wine just because It Is Wine and people know that is what I drink. "I'll get you a glass of wine," someone says at an event. And I am sitting there with a glass of awful chablis or red something, gamely choking it down. Never again.

4. All gift showers are tedious, trying events at which the women are marking time until they can safely leave without hurting anyone's feelings. Now they are huge, catered events in some cases, held at halls and arenas with ice sculptures and dancers. No, we don't want to play little games or win candles and pot holders and picture frames. We just want our cookies and a chance to leave. I will just be sending a gift to the house.

5. I used to shop at Macy's in my hometown all the time. Then, seemingly, it was taken over by aliens from the planet Sad-N-Dowdy. Last year, I walked in, and after a half hour of wandering all over the female clothing departments, I finally found a salesperson. I said to her, "What happened to this store? Where would I find clothes that are...I don't know...not this?" I'll spare you the rest, but suffice it to say that she could not help me and I have not been back.

6. Last year at this time, I got a short, choppy pixie, which after a week or so, I regretted steadily until about last week, when I finally liked my hair again. Then I went to get A TRIM. But the stylist did not do that, and she gave me A HAIRCUT instead. From now on, I am cutting my own bangs, and that is the only haircut I am getting for the rest of my life.

7. There is a lot of bad food served at restaurants, and it's depressing. I'd rather eat out a lot less often and pay more for a truly excellent meal. Most restaurants in our area are putting out food that is nowhere near as good as what I can make in my own kitchen, and with fresher ingredients. I'll save up and go to a pricier place, or get good Chinese takeout.

8. In the winter I don't mind wearing a sweater or snuggling up in a blanket if I'm on the couch in my jammies in the evening. In the summer I don't mind having the ceiling fan on. But I am not going to be shivering or sweating in my own home in the winter or summer, either. This is Civilization, and we work(ed) hard to have money to be able to have heat and airconditioning. Especially heat. I am not going to suffer in my own home.

9. From highschool through more than half of my teaching career, I was a slave to either hot rollers or a curling iron. I even had a curling iron with the metal hot roller bristle thingies! It's like my hair was my hobby or a Lifestyle Choice. Now, if it can't be accomplished with a blowdryer and a round brush at the most, tough.

10. I'm over it. Period. Dr. B., my neurologist, was horrified that I was even using a treadmill to begin with. And I hate it with a passion. (Hence my name for it, dreadmill.) It's no wonder that it used to be a prison device for hard labour punishment. I'd rather bundle up in the winter and risk a fall on icy sidewalks. I'm not kidding.

I can't wait to hear what you all are ready to cut loose and say "Never Again" to.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Today's Top Ten List: Hateful English Language Errors

Here's the thing: I might be retired, but I will always be a Defender Of The Language. It causes me actual physical pain--emotional pain as well--when I have to witness errors in The Language. The errors may be spoken or written; it really doesn't matter. They make me wince, and some are so terribly egregious that it's a Good Thing that I am generally opposed to personal firearm ownership. Succinctly, Everyone should be glad that I am not Packing Heat, or stupid people would be stacked up like cordwood.

I'm not talking about a typo here or there in Comments, or the general lapse now and again in subject-verb agreement in a particularly thorny complex sentence involving multiple interruptive phrases. I make those errors, too. I'm talking about easy things. Things everyone should have mastered way back in elementary school or junior high school at the latest. Sadly, however, as we all have seen time and time again, this is not the case.

Here are my

Top Ten Hateful English Language Errors

1. Loose instead of Lose
2. Apostrophe S to make plural nouns
3. Lead instead of Led
4. Women instead of Woman (and vice versa)
5. Saying SH for the S in words like Start, Stop, Straight
6. Saying Southmore for Sophomore
7. Omitting Apostrophes in Contractions
8. Not Using the Oxford Comma
9. Its/It's
10. I Could Care Less

This list has changed quite a bit since I stopped having to read and grade student writing.

Briefly, then:

1. This will never stop--never, ever--hurting my feelings. I honestly feel that knowing this one pair of words and its correct usage can determine someone's potential for serious intelligence. I honestly do. I wonder if I can be friends with anyone who cannot use/spell them correctly.

2. This. Another dealbreaker. I have seen signs like this before: Apple's and Pears $1.59 lb. How do they decide that Apples is the one that gets the apostrophe, but Pears does not? What is the logic?

3. At least this one is understandable, given that there is already a word, the metal, that is spelled and pronounced LEAD. I get it.

4. I am constantly astounded by the fact that these two words have become not only interchangeable, but identically pronounced. WHAT IS HAPPENING? WHO IS DESTROYING MY LANGUAGE AND WHY?

5. Shtart. Shtop. Shtraight. Exshtreme. Shtrict. Why are some people pronouncing these words this way when they are not spelled this way?  This phenomenon started at about the same time as the Vocal Fry and Uptalking. It is with great regret that I must name First Lady Michelle Obama a major  offender in this.

6. I don't hear it often, but when I do...daggers.

7. I blame lazy text messagers for this one, primarily.

8. Always use the last comma before the conjunction for items in a series. Always. How bothersome is it, really? Just do it.

9. Pretty much, I've come to the conclusion that being able to choose the correct its/it's is genetically predetermined. It cannot be taught. You either have it, or you don't.

10. This idiom will needle me until the day I die. Probably at my deathbed, some nurse or bystander will walk by and remark to another stranger something about the weather or the upcoming elections or the latest gossip, and the last thing I hear before I Cross Over will be, "I could care less." And at that point I will be too weak or sick or dead to say, "NO, YOU IDIOT. IT IS 'I COULDN'T CARE LESS. BECAUSE IF YOU COULD CARE LESS, THEN WHY DON'T YOU GO AHEAD AND DO SO? IT IMPLIES THAT YOU DO, IN FACT, CARE SOMEWHAT." How ironic, right?

So, tell me in Comments which Language Lapses irk you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Today's Top Ten List: Ways To Turn Around A Bad Day

Sometimes, as my niece says, you "wake up on the wrong side of the day." If you don't manage it Right Then, you're in for a shitful, crabass, lousy twenty-four hours of feeling out of sorts. Other people might even have to Suffer. That's not Nice, and it sure isn't Fair. So Jared and I are here to help you with these

Top Ten Ways To Turn Around A Bad Day

1. Call your mother
2. Read something extremely nerdy about something you like
3. Make future plans with a good friend
4. Have a piece of pizza
5. Tell a friend you love him/her, and mean it
6. Clean or organize something
7. Bake something
8. Go for a drive
9. Go shopping
10. Wallow a little

And now Jared explains:

1. I’ve said it before: I don’t care how old I get, what’s going on in my life, or whatever, sometimes, I just need to call my mother. Sometimes, we will talk about what’s actually going on. Sometimes, I’ll just say “Mom, talk about something smart so that I know that people with brains still exist,” and she does just that. And it's perfect. She will say something, offer a bit of advice that we both know I won’t heed, and it STILL makes me feel better. She’s the smartest person I know, and it restores my faith in people immediately, frequently, and hugely.

2. I love NBA Basketball more than almost anything in the world. It is beautiful. It is fluid. And it is everything that all aspects of life should really be. I try to find the most intensely analytic and in-depth stuff about it that I can and read the hell out of it. Always makes me feel better. It's an addiction.

3. If I’m at work having a real bullshit Tuesday or something, I immediately send a message to my best friend in the office inviting her to get a drink on Friday. She almost always says, “Absolutely. I think we deserve it.” We do, goddammit. It gives me something to look forward to. It isn’t about the booze. It's just about having something to do with someone worth spending time with. No matter what happens during that single bad day, there’s a good chance it won’t jeopardize Friend Time at the end of the week.

4. This is easy. If you don’t get it, I can’t help you. Doesn’t even need to be good pizza. Just has to be pizza. If pizza doesn’t make your day better, just go to bed and stay there because you cannot be helped on that particular day. Pizza is great and awesome and not stupid or bad.

5. I’m very close to the people whom I bother to be friends with. Otherwise, why the hell have them, right? Sometimes, it's nice to call my friend Baker Cakes, or Matt or someone and just chat for a bit and hit them with an “Alright, dude. I gotta run. Talk soon; love you.” And they reciprocate. And it is nice. It helps to remind you that you have people in your life who you CHOSE to include and who you not only can feel that way about, but who also feel that way about you. No obligation there. Genuinely, two friends that love each other. Very solid.

And now me:

6. There's a bit of The Martyr in me, so if I'm miserable, I sometimes like to Go All In and really feel miserable. My theory is, I might as well reap a benefit, too, from all of this Misery. So I'll vacuum, scrub a floor, clean out a few cupboards, or tackle a major thing, like the hulking desk in the home office.

7. I don't bake often, so this has another side benefit, especially for Rick. Baking also requires more careful attention than cooking; I really have to measure carefully and use a mise-en-place. Pretty soon, I'm focused on that and not my irritation.

8. Many times, my bad mood is a result of needing a Change Of Scenery. If I am back home, I get in my little car and zip off to Wherever, sometimes just heading out to a road I wish to explore or out to pick up a Little Doodad I think I need. If I am at the lake, I take the boat out for a leisurely cruise.

9. I detest the phrase "Retail Therapy." It sounds terribly cliche and sexist. Sometimes, however, I do go out shopping to get out of a bad day. But it's not for shoes, a purse, or clothes. I usually go to some Off-Price Bargain Outlet store and look for housewares or decaf coffee or chew toys for Zydrunas, who destroys them in fifteen minutes.

10. It is terribly important, however, to acknowledge and honor your feelings. You are having a bad day! You can't rebuke yourself and shame your emotions. One of my longstanding mantras is "Wallow a little and bitch a lot." By all means, then, first recognize that you are having that bad day. Or, as Stuart Smalley, alter ego of Minnesota Senator Al Franken used to say, "Face It, Trace It, Erase It."

Now, besides reading the Dept. of Nance (!), how do you fix your Bad Day?


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Today's Top Ten List: Lies My Parents Told Me

Growing up, my mother and father told me all kinds of things. On balance, most of them were Very Good Things, and I listened to a great deal of them. But like most parents, they also told me a lot of things that were simply Not True. Sometimes they were Nice Things, sometimes they were Comforting Things, and sometimes they were Folksy Things that were passed down for eleventy generations or merely things that became part of their DNA once my eldest sister Patti was born and the Parent Gene was flipped to the On position.

Here then are the

Top Ten Lies My Parents Told Me

1. You're Prettier Than All Of Those Contestants
2. Just Ignore Him/Her And He/She Will Leave You Alone
3. If You Don't Bother The Bees, They Won't Bother You
4. You Don't Need Makeup/Only Whores And Streetwalkers Wear Makeup
5. Piercing Your Ears Is A Tragedy
6. It's School, Not A Fashion Show
7. The Best Thing For A Headache Is Putting Your Hands In Warm Dishwater
8. 8th Grade Is Too Early To Be Shaving Your Legs
9. You Think Too Much
10. We're Not Having Any Pets In This House

I know. Bless their hearts.

1. Both Mom and Dad said this every single time we watched any beauty pageant throughout our lives, and they said it to all three of us girls. We all rolled our eyes because it was Patently Absurd. Some of those women were gorgeous and had perfect bodies. We, ranging in age from Patti--seven years my senior, to Susan, five years my junior, could not possibly imagine how any of this could be remotely true.

2. Absolute bullshit, and almost every day in my family it was proven False by my brother, who terrorized me daily with taunts about my weight. I could never suitably retaliate because he was invincible physically and emotionally. We're very close now, but growing up was hell.

3. Someone needed to tell the bees. I suffered an unprovoked attack--twice--while minding my own business. I didn't even disturb a nest or flight pattern. Ouch.

4. I was in my sophomore year when my mother found my mascara and face powder. She immediately tattled to my father, who gave me a terrible lecture, including the above quotes. Ironically, in later years, every time I would show up at Mom and Dad's without any makeup, my Dad would ask, "Are you feeling alright? You look pale and a little wan." Sigh.

5. In the seventies, everyone was wearing cute earrings. Except me. I waited until I was eighteen and went to the jeweler to get mine done so that I could do it without parental permission. When Dad found out, he was devastated. Somehow, though, I managed to survive it. So did he.

6. As everyone in the universe knows, School IS a Fashion Show. It shouldn't be, but it is. Even as a teacher, it was still, for me, a Daily Walk On The Runway.

7. Oh, St. Patsy, you really thought you were the clever one with this. We all knew what you were up to.

8. No! No, it wasn't! Not when you are mostly Eastern European and your legs looked like gorilla legs and you had to dress for gym. I ended up surreptitiously shaving them while home alone after school one day and took off about a foot of skin on my shinbone because I pushed too hard on the razor. That's another story.

9. St. Patsy still tells me that I Think Too Much. I am not one to brood, but I do analyze. But not overmuch, usually. How is Thinking a Bad Thing?

10. Oh, this one was the biggest lie of all, perpetuated by my mother. For a complete list of the TEN pets "not allowed" in our house and the full explanation, click here and read the post over at Stuff On Our List.

Your turn. What Little White Lies did Mom and Dad tell You?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Today's Top Ten List: Some Simple Things Which Make Me Happy

by Sally Dean

Sometimes, when dear Lester Holt is keeping me informed from The Nightly Newsdesk, I get a little overwhelmed. "Stop, Lester. Please stop already," I beg him from my chair. The world is a complex and Profoundly Irritating place. It would seem that not everyone has adopted my New Year's Resolutions of Choose To Be Gracious and Choose To Be Grateful. Or my personal mantra of Make Kindness Your Default.

It is times like these that I must Reach Within for my Personal Joy. Here are

10 Random And Simple Things Which Make Me Happy

1. Getting That Bug
2. Putting On My Jammies
3. Time With Zydrunas
4. Going For A Ride
5. Surprising Someone
6. Catching A Fish
7. A Really Good Tomato
8. Date TV On Netflix
9. Fleece Blankets
10. Yahoo! Comments

Oh, I know. You thought some of these would be so much more Zen and Meaningful. Or perhaps that they would be more Intellectual and Artsy, like The Complete Works Of Shakespeare and Champagne and my fake Vermeer and stuff like that. Those make me happy, but not in the Same Way. And not Simply. Let me explain.

1. Isn't it a great feeling when you finally find that mosquito that kept buzzing in your ear? Or you shoo that huge fly out the back door? Or you smack that hideous spider before it finds a hiding spot? That little burst of happy that.

2. Sometimes, I need to Give Up On The Day. Getting out of my outfit and into my jammies is The Best Feeling Ever. It says, "Okay! We're all done here. You've put in Your Day. Nothing more is required of you. You are Off Duty." Instant Happiness.

3. Zydrunas, my sons' dog, is a big, exuberant Boxer/Bull mix. He smiles all the time. He is a Dog Full Of Joy. He is always thrilled to see me, period. So what if I am covered with bruises for weeks later? Totally worth it.

4. I will go for a ride, and it doesn't matter what the conveyance. I love car rides, boat rides, bike rides, you name it. Zydrunas and I both love long pontoon boat rides at the lake. Pack me up and take me on a ride; there is no need for a destination. I like to be driven around to look at stuff.

5. I hate surprises myself, but I love surprising other people, whether it be by my unexpected presence, a Just Because gift, or a terrific piece of news. My mother is spectacularly fun to surprise. Her entire face lights up and she keeps repeating, "Oh REA-lly?" until you cannot stop laughing long enough to assure her, yes REA-lly.

6. For the most part, fishing is a great way to Do Nothing, but look like you are actually Doing Something, especially if you just use a bobber. It is possible to go hours, even DAYS without catching a fish, but when I do, it's still a thrill. It makes me very happy to feel that little tug, the pull, and if it's a bass and it jumps above the water, even better.

7. If you dislike tomatoes, this means nothing to you. If you like/love tomatoes, then no explanation is necessary.

8. How I love The Netflix, and how I love Jared, who pays for it and lets Rick and me use it. We look forward to setting aside nights for binge watching House of Cards and Mad Men and other series. When a show has run its course, we are legitimately sad. But before then, so happy!

9. Even in summer, I have nights when I need to cuddle up under a blanket for comfort. It might be because air conditioning is chilling me, or I've eaten ice cream, or there has been a cool front, or I've had a migraine. And in cooler/colder seasons, they are a necessity. Yes, they grab and retain cat hair like Velcro, but nothing comforts me like fleece blankets.

10. Man, I don't even bother reading the "articles" over at Yahoo! anymore. I skip straight to the Comments and start there because that is The Best Place On The Interwebs to laugh your head off. Oh, sure, there are a few serious, relatively cogent comments, but the majority are 9's and 10's on the Unintentional Comedy Scale, and then there are the people who are either trying to be funny or are trying to provoke controversy and outrage. The other day, one commenter merely replied "Shut Up." to an article about Donald Trump's candidacy. Wouldn't that make YOU happy?

How about a quick list of Your Little Happies? It's always fun to stop and acknowledge a few Simple Joys.


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