Thursday, December 31, 2015


Two things I don't do:

1. Go shopping the day after Thanksgiving.
2. Go out on New Year's Eve.

I always laugh and say, "There are AMATEURS out there!" suggesting that I am a PROFESSIONAL!

I used to be among the crazy people lined up at the Downtown Lazarus store to get whatever "Lazzie Bear" was being given that year. On December 3, 1979, the tragedy of eleven people being crushed to death at The Who concert in Cincinnati happened. The next year, on the day after Thanksgiving, I was in a crush of people at the air door at Lazarus, and a woman stumbled in front of me and I stumbled onto her back. Visions floated in my head of being crushed at that air door, like the people at the concert. I was able to keep from being injured and I turned around and left and have never again gone shopping on the day after Thanksgiving!

I don't drink and don't care to be around people who don't know how to drink! My usual New Year's Eve excitement includes: watching a movie; turn on the Times Square coverage at 11:45; kiss Gerald at 12:00; have a cup of eggnog with Les, listen to Dan Fogelberg's classic song Same Auld Lang Syne and then return to my movie!

And you say there's no excitement in my life!

Listen to Dan Fogelberg:

See the article about the Cincinnati Concert HERE.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


For one of my Christmas presents our friends Connie and Bob reproduced and framed my BLOG article from July 8, 2013.  See here:

Connie said that she had bookmarked the article as a reminder to herself to DE-CLUTTER and that she had been successful.

I have NOT been successful since writing the article and although I do not commit to New Year's resolutions, I am going to TRY this year to DE-CLUTTER!


This is the original article entitled THE STORY OF STUFF:

"NO MORE STUFF!" That is my new mantra. I don't want--or need--any more STUFF!

A friend and I are committed to "decluttering" our houses--and lives--she is doing better than I. Another friend, who is similarly suffering, sent the video "THE STORY OF STUFF" to me.

We moved to our current home on May 1, 1984. "STUFF" was stored overhead in both 2-car garages, the workshop, the attic and basement. I haven't seen any of that STUFF above the garages since 1984 and I recall some of the STUFF that is there; since I haven't needed the STUFF in all these years, why don't I just get rid of the STUFF? Why not give STUFF to needy families or donate to Goodwill? There are lots of options.

Somehow--one of our spare bedrooms is now full--of STUFF! I was going to have a "Fundraiser Yard Sale" and kept storing STUFF in the spare room, but Gerald hates all the work and little revenue associated with yard sales and he said, "I'll give you $200 NOT to have a yard sale!" I am easily persuaded as the spare bedroom will attest.

Whenever I bring home new "STUFF", Les will say, "I was just saying how we needed another one of those."

Oh, did I mention that I stopped at a garage sale yesterday and bought some "storage items"? One is packed with a bunch of picture frames I found while sorting STUFF in my library.

While sorting in the library, I found some books from authors I have no interest in reading; obviously I had gotten them for people who like Grisham, Baldacci, and Kellerman, but had neglected to give them to them. My brother said that he'd already read them and a friend will choose any she wants and then the rest to go Goodwill!

Succes d'estime!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


In a store, two days before Christmas, I was in the Express Lane as I had only two items.  In the next lane was a couple with an overflowing cart, with a huge bag of dog food across the top of the load. The woman began loading items onto the belt and as she picked up the dog food, another item fell to the floor. She and the man both leaned over to pick it up and I could see the looks between them and I heard an audible growl from the man.

OOPS! Another item fell to the floor and as they both leaned over to retrieve it I could see their tempers flaring and he slammed the item back into the cart. 

They noticed that I was looking at them, so NATURALLY (some would say it's NOT natural), I began singing, "Have a holly, jolly Christmas",  with my best Burl Ives homage.

They both began laughing and I said, "Just 2 more days!"

Monday, December 28, 2015


My brother likes to listen to a program on local radio on Sunday night called Looking Back. In the program, the radio personality uses the term "The Wayback Machine".  Of course people of my generation understand the reference because Rocky And Bullwinkle was a popular television show when I was in high school; it was aired prior to American Bandstand; we watched both programs daily after coming home from school.

I loved the characters, the segments with The Wayback Machine, Mr. Peabody, Natasha and Boris, Fractured Fairy Tales, Mr. Know-It-All, and Dudley Do-Right, but my favorite was at the end of each episode, which was always a cliff-hanger, and the announcer [I later learned was William Conrad] would intone dramatically, e.g.: one about Rocky being trapped on a mountain: "Be with us next time for AVALANCHE IS BETTER THAN NONE--OR--SNOW'S YOUR OLD MAN!" I loved the puns.  A friend and I would constantly be using "OR" references, much to the irritation of family, friends, and teachers.  I sometimes do it today!

Algebra was my first class of the day and my friend and I would be chattering animatedly about the previous day's Rocky and Bullwinkle episode. After tiring of hearing us, one day my Algebra teacher, Mr. White, said, "Great minds run in the same channel OR fools think alike." Touche, Mr. White!

Mr. White did not have a pleasant smell about him and I think that he wore the same clothes all week long. He wore different ties occasionally but his white shirt was dingy and his trousers were always shiny on the rear and one could see chalk residue on them from the previous day. [It just dawned on me that they were from a suit which, of course, was not washable and needed to be dry-cleaned; he probably couldn't afford to have them dry-cleaned!] He would also have little bits of toilet paper stuck to his face where he'd nicked himself shaving. I thought about giving him one of my father's styptic pencils.

I did well in Algebra--with the help of my brothers--and although I am sorry that I do NOT remember Algebraic formulas today--I DO remember Rocky and Bullwinkle!  Hmmmm?  It's interesting that the term "Wayback Machine" is now an internet colloquialism for past events!

HOKEY SMOKE, Bullwinkle! We're still relevant!  Listen to the opening theme:

Sunday, December 27, 2015


We received several gift cards as Christmas presents. 

My nephew Mark's wife Kim and I went shopping on Boxing Day and I told her to choose between Olive Garden and Red Lobster to go for lunch as I had gift cards for both restaurants.

When I told Gerald where we had gone for lunch, he asked, "Were the gift cards burning a hole in your PALATE?"

I so love a good pun!

Saturday, December 26, 2015


I have often thought that BOXING DAY would be a great holiday!  My brother Les said, "You already do it because you're outside the stores waiting for them to open at 6:00 AM!"
 Read the article below:

Boxing Day in the United Kingdom is the day after Christmas Day and falls on December 26. Traditionally, it was a day when employers distributed money, food, cloth (material) or other valuable goods to their employees. In modern times, it is an important day for sporting events and the start of the post-Christmas sales.

For many people Boxing Day is a time to recover from the excesses of Christmas day and an opportunity to spend time with family, friends, and neighbors. Some people choose to go for a walk in the countryside, while other flock to the post-Christmas sales in large stores that often begin on Boxing Day. Some people even spend part of the night and early morning queuing to get into the stores when the best bargains are still available.

Boxing Day is also an important day for sports events. Traditionally, using dogs to hunt for foxes was a popular sport amongst the upper classes. Pictures of hunters on horseback dressed in red coats and surrounded by hunting dogs are often seen as symbolic of Boxing Day. Nowadays, fox hunting is outlawed. Horse racing and football (soccer) are now popular sports.

Boxing Day is a bank holiday. If Boxing Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday is a bank holiday. If Christmas Day falls on a Saturday, the following Monday and Tuesday are bank holidays. All schools and many organizations are closed in this period. Some may close for the whole week between Christmas and New Year.

Many stores are open and now start their post-Christmas sales on Boxing Day. This makes December 26 a very important day for many retailers. Many public transport services run on special timetables. Many people travel to visit family or friends in this period, so bus, plane and train services can be very busy.

There are a number of stories behind the origin of the term "Boxing Day". It used to be customary for employers to give their employees or servants a gift of money or food in a small box on this day. This is still customary for people who deliver letters or newspapers, although the gift may be given before Christmas Day. In feudal times, the lord of the manor would gather all those who worked on his land together on this day and distribute boxes of practical goods, such as agricultural tools, food and cloth. This was payment for the work that they had done throughout the passed year.

Other stories relate to servants being allowed to take a portion of the food left over from the Christmas celebrations in a box to their families and the distribution of alms from the Church collection box to poor parishioners. These traditions have evolved into the Christmas hampers that many large employers distribute, although these are now often distributed in the week before Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015


For the past ten years we have had our Christmas cards "created"; it's been a joint effort with my niece, Tracey, who is an artist, and my husband, who is her collaborator.  Previously I had been purchasing cards from The National Wildlife Federation which produces exquisite cards.  

When Tracey began making our cards she used eagles and cardinals as themes because Gerald loves eagles and Mother loved cardinals. 

Five years ago, I was inspired by our niece Carrie, who obviously takes great care in choosing her Christmas cards. (I always say, "Carrie sends the prettiest cards!") That year her card had, "From our home to your home" and it depicted a beautiful Federal-style house with a winter scene. I asked Gerald, "Why don't you take a real picture of our house and we could use it on cards?" Snow had just fallen and the trees were covered with snow and it was indeed picturesque. Gerald took the picture.

The middle picture above is that card.  Since then we've used Gerald's pictures of our marble fireplace, bubble lights, and a watercolor of the house which was a gift of a friend who grew up in our house.  Last year Tracey created a lovely collage of past Christmas cards (in the first picture above), which was a suggestion of another friend.  The third picture above is an eagle soaring over my brother's barn.

Several years ago I decided, for the next card, to have a picture taken of the sleigh on our porch  and have it filled with pretend presents. I wrapped an assortment of packages in different sizes with blue and silver paper, and coordinating bows. I filled the boxes with newspapers and magazines for ballast.

I thought that I had them arranged quite expertly for photographic effect, just waiting for Gerald to take pictures. However, silly me, before Gerald had the opportunity to take pictures, a thief came onto our porch and stole the packages!

We didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Did the thief actually think I had put actual presents in those boxes? I hope that the thief enjoyed the papers and magazines! I do hate it that I lost the bows, because several of the bows were lovely, and had been hand-made by Tracey.   Several people asked if I had reported the theft to the police.  What would I say?  That someone stole a bunch of weeks-old magazines and newspapers which would have been normally recycled?

In my after-Christmas shopping at Meijer's, I bought a perfect 4-roll package of blue and silver paper.  Yes, I decided to try again!  Perhaps the cats can guard the packages.  On Stormy, on Puff, on Einstein, on Louise, on Sasha, on Professor, and little Taupey!  (Oh, I'm confusing the cats from A Visit From Saint Nicholas!)

This is Gerald's picture:

This is Tracey's creation for that card:

This is our card for 2015:  SANTA'S AT OUR HOUSE, which has Gerald portraying Santa with "his finger aside of his nose"

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


My brother Bode and I both knew--and would sing--with total lack of embarrassment and with no encouragement, the Latin words to Adeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful).   

As Der Bingle was Bode's favorite singer, we would channel Bing's version:  We especially loved Bing's rendition from the movie The Bells Of Saint Mary's.  Bing's version here also displays the
lyrics--in Latin!


Tuesday, December 22, 2015


I went to visit a friend at a nursing home and as I was leaving, there were car loads of people exiting their vehicles and heading to the building.  I asked, "Are you carolers?" and when they answered that they were, I asked if I could join them. The group was comprised of old, middle-aged, and young people, including one man carrying a baby! I asked how many were in the group and the leader told me 27.  I asked, "Is this your whole congregation?" and one of the women laughed and answered, "Just about!"  In further conversation she told me that her brother was a patient at the nursing home and this was their fifth caroling session for the day!

The pastor asked if I knew my way around the facility. I asked, "Yes, will you please come to sing for my friend?"   He answered that we could go to my friend's room first.  We sang as we walked down the hallway and when we got to my friend's room, one of the songs to be sung was Joy To The World.  One of the women started to hand me a sheet with the lyrics on there.  I said, "Oh, I know all four verses!" She said, "We only have two."

When it was time to sing the third verse, only MY voice rang out:

"No more let sin and sorrow grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make his message known
Far as the curse is found

All joined in for the chorus!

I would have gladly sung the fourth verse but the group was easing out of the room.

After we'd finished caroling throughout the facility, one of the women asked me to take a picture of the group; I said that I would try but I am not a good picture-taker!  I told her that I write a daily BLOG and that I am always on the look-out for "an adventure" and this would be my next article!  I said that I wanted a copy of the picture to use with the article. 

The pastor asked me to join them for dinner at Frisch's.  Of course, I was not going to let them pay for my dinner but they insisted;  when I offered him money as a donation to the church, he said to give it to the waitress! I said, "I already left that girl a generous tip!"

I just sent a check in a Christmas card.

Monday, December 21, 2015


My favorite rendition of Silent Night is by Barbra Streisand from her 1967 Christmas album.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Les and I will certainly miss David Letterman's Christmas show as we never missed it for twenty-six years.  With Paul Shaffer doing his imitation of Cher singing O Holy Night, the football toss at the pizza-topped Christmas tree preceded by what Letterman considered the funniest story he'd ever heard: Jay Thomas relating his encounter with Clayton Moore who portrayed The Lone Ranger.

The show would be culminated by Darlene Love's Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home).  Last year, at the end of the show, I wistfully said, "She'll probably not perform it again."  But Darlene was on The View and it was announced that she was going to perform It's A Marshmallow World At Christmas, but instead she performed her NOW classic rendition!

Saturday, December 19, 2015


I always thought that Judy Garland was absolutely luminously beautiful in the movie Meet Me In Saint Louis.  During an interview Judy's daughter Liza made a similar comment and she said it was because Judy was "falling in love" with Liza's father Vincente Minnelli during the filming.  Minnelli and that lighting director should have received awards!

Listen to the incomparable Judy sing Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2015


My favorite Christmas song by Elvis is Blue Christmas.  Listen with me one more time!

Thursday, December 17, 2015


Les asked, "isn't it interesting that two of the most popular Christmas songs were written by Jewish guys?" 

He meant White Christmas by Irving Berlin and his all-time favorite A Christmas Song written by Mel Torme as sung by the incomparable Nat King Cole.  Listen below:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


I recall the first time I heard my favorite Christmas song performed.  When I was in the sixth grade we were in a Christmas assembly at school and Lester Vincent, who was a classmate of my older brother Kenny, sang O Holy Night.  I learned later that it was a translation of a French song--Cantique de Noel--but even at that young age,  I was touched, moved, and impressed by the words, especially the second verse which contains:

"Truly he taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease."

Listen to Placido Domingo sing:

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


The number one item on both my Christmas list and birthday list: STRAWBERRY PAPER TOWELS. My kitchen is decorated with strawberries and I'm obsessive-compulsive enough to want everything to match.   For years Bounty and Mardi Gras offered them but over the years it became increasingly difficult to find them.  Gerald even checked E-Bay and other internet sites to no avail.

One birthday several years ago my niece had given me an exquisite piece of Waterford which I believe that I showed proper appreciation for it.

When my sister-in-law and niece from Gerald's side of the family came to the party, one was carrying a large, black, trash bag with a red bow tied around the top.

I immediately knew what was in it and I let out an exhilarated whoop: "Strawberry paper towels!";   the bag contained 26 rolls--a roll a week for half the year--of course I was excited!

The next time I was alone with my niece she asked if I had really liked the Waterford and I said that I cherish it. She then said she couldn't believe the way I'd acted about the strawberry paper towels and that I seemed more excited about those than I did the Waterford.


I explained that I knew that the Waterford was far more costly than the paper towels but I also knew that the others had also wanted to give me something I would truly appreciate and it was "our thing"!   I continued and told her that the sister-in-law and her daughter had searched for 6 months because they had given me a bag of 26 rolls of paper towels at Christmas and it was a challenge to find 26 more rolls.

My sister-in-law called today and said, "I haven't been able to find any strawberry paper towels;   how about if I get you an Olive Garden gift certificate?"

She and I have an ongoing joke:  although we LOVE to receive gift certificates, we hate to GIVE gift certificates because people know how much we've spent on them!

This year I have been able to find strawberry paper towels at Save a Lot stores.  While we were in Florida and North Carolina this past summer,  I went to numerous Save a Lot stores and returned home with THIRTY-SIX rolls!  The trunk of the car was filled with bags of paper towels and the luggage was piled in the back seat!

Monday, December 14, 2015


It's OK with Gerald that I adore Sam Elliott because he adores Sam's wife, the lovely Katharine Ross.
We saw first Katharine in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and Gerald exclaimed, "Who is SHE?"  I asked, "You don't remember her from The Graduate?"  He had never seen The Graduate but we saw it together after that. Although she is probably best known for those two movies, along with The Stepford Wives, my favorite Katharine Ross movie is Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here.

Sam Elliott is an actor, writer, director, and producer and must rank close to Morgan Freeman in being the "King of Voice-Overs"! He is one of those actors (like David Strathairn) whose work I always watch.  We have had "Sam Elliott Marathons" --binge-watching anything and everything--available from Netflix, just because he has an appearance.  Les and I love Justified but I probably would not have watched it because of the subject matter, but when I learned Elliott was a guest, we just had to see the show!  It's the same with Parks And Recreation which I plan to binge-watch.

Although Ross and Elliott were both in the movie Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, they did not meet there.

In the 1970s we were on a shopping trip to Lazarus with another couple and I was dared to sit on Santa's lap.

Well, naturally, (naturally for me!) I readily obliged, and when Santa asked what I wanted for Christmas I said, "Santa, you never did bring me that LIONEL TRAIN I always wanted!" Santa replied, "That's because you weren't NICE!"

Gerald laughed uproariously and said, "Santa, I always tell her that's she's good;  it's just too bad that she's not NICE!"

Another time I was shopping with my sister-in-law Sheila and I sat down on Santa's lap and he was very accommodating and asked, "What do you want for Christmas, little girl?" and I whimpered, "Santa, you never did bring me that Lionel train I always wanted."  He said, "That's because you weren't a good little girl."  As I jumped from his lap, he gave me a pat on the tush!

Sheila said, "They must learn all that in Santa School!"

Sunday, December 13, 2015


At Ohio Thrift I was in line to pay for my purchases and I noticed the cashier's name was
"Amy Beth".  I said, "I bet that your mother was a fan of Little Women."  She chuckled and said, "Yes, and I became AMY BETH JO."  I said, "Really?  What about Meg?"  She said, "Oh, my last name is JOHNSON, so I just say AMY BETH JO."

I asked for permission to take her picture and then I also asked her supervisor.

I dislike it when people think it's OK to take one's picture without permission.  I've written before how I hate to have my picture taken and two of my brothers share this aversion.   My mother hated to be photographed and although I "inherited" the aversion from her,  I am sad that I have only three photos of my mother.

One of my brothers has had his picture appear in the local paper on numerous occasions.  Because he likes to have his picture taken, one of my other brothers said, "The most dangerous place to be in Fayette County is between him and a camera!"  I laughed and said, "That could apply to YOU also because you might do bodily harm to the photographer!"  One time, that brother threatened to break a person's camera for snapping a picture without his permission.  In the old days when using film, he actually pulled the film from a camera to ruin the film!

I told him that he was the "J.D. Salinger of Fayette County" as he has only school pictures, military pictures, and work IDs to haunt him!

Saturday, December 12, 2015


On December 12, 2015, the 100th birthday anniversary for Francis Albert Sinatra will be rightfully met with great fanfare and celebrations.  I daresay no other singer has had the long-lasting influence of Sinatra.

I became an appreciator of Frank Sinatra's music by osmosis because my mother loved Frank's music and she listened to and sang his songs.   My friend Cammy's mother also adored Frank and Cammy and I would listen to her mother's records on the "hi-fi" (oh, she was so lucky to have those albums AND a "stereo").  Our favorite album was Only The Lonely which included Frank's unforgettable renditions of Only The Lonely, Goodbye, Blues In The Night, Ebb Tide, Spring Is Here, One For My Baby, and Where Or When.  Those were "torch" songs and had great appeal for our teenage angst!

Cammy's all-time favorite song by Frank was Soliloquy from the musical Carousel and my favorite was Frank's rendition of Old Man River.  Listen here:

Friday, December 11, 2015


There are two kinds of people in the world: those, like myself, who can't get "enough" of Christmas music, and the others, like Gerald and Les, who get so tired of Christmas music that they threaten to blow up the stereo! To keep harmony (pun intended) in the family, I compromised several years ago and agreed to have no Christmas music in the house until the day after Thanksgiving.  Gerald got in my car BEFORE Thanksgiving and Barbra was singing "Silent Night".   He said, "I thought....." Before he was able to complete his sentence, I interrupted and said, "I only agreed about music IN the house; the car is my domain!"

My brother Bode and I loved to sing Christmas carols and it was usually to the embarrassment of everybody else.  One of my favorite stories: we were visiting Bode and family in Florida during the holidays and we went into a Mexican restaurant on Christmas Eve and over the loudspeaker was playing Bing Crosby's "When It's Christmas in Killarney". Bode looked at me--I looked at him--and we joined arms and began singing, at the top of our lungs. The other family members with us slunk away to a table in the hope of other people not knowing we were related.  Bode went to the Manager and asked to have the song played AGAIN.  Bode said that if people couldn't appreciate the exquisite irony of "Christmas In Killarney" on Christmas Eve in a Mexican restaurant, then they were hopeless.

Bode and I had our definite favorites: ONLY Nat for The Christmas Song;   ONLY Bing for White Christmas;  ONLY Elvis for Blue Christmas;  ONLY Judy for "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas;  ONLY Harry Belafonte for Mary's Boy Child;  ONLY Darlene Love for Baby Please Come Home ; ONLY Vince Guaraldi for Christmas Time Is Here; ONLY Gene Autry for Here Comes Santa Claus,  ONLY Burl Ives for A Holly Jolly Christmas; ONLY Perry Como for There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays; ONLY Nancy Wilson for That's What I Want For Christmas;  ONLY Peggy Lee for I Love A Sleigh Ride (Jingle Bells)
;  ONLY Giselle Mackenzie for It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas";  and only ONLY Rosemary Clooney for Suzy Snowflake (which Bode always sang to me since I was a little girl).  Listen below:

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Recently, a friend said that she saw a man spit into the kitchen sink; even though we know we spit into the bathroom sink when we brush our teeth, somehow, it is vile and disgusting to spit into the kitchen sink! [No amount of logic will make us believe that there's no difference!]

I asked my husband and brothers if they spit into the kitchen sink and one answered, "By the time we had a kitchen sink, we also had Kleenex!" Another said, "Well, I aim for the hole!"

I have NEVER seen a woman spit--in public--or in private! What is it with men and spitting? Do they have more fluids they need to eliminate?

I had a boss who used to spit on the floor in the plant. One day, I asked him why he did that and he answered, with surprise, "I have to spit." I asked, incredulously, "On the floor? Somebody might step in it!" He laughed and said, "You're in a factory!" I answered, "I still thought I was in civilization!"

Recently, driving down the street, I saw a man turn his head and spit onto the grass. I thought, "Well, maybe he thinks if it's OK for dogs to doo-doo, then he thinks it's OK for him."

My friend mentioned "mucous" and I commented that that was a perfect sounding word for what it means. My brother chimed in and said that he thought "phlegm" and "sputum" were equally disgusting-sounding words! My grandmother coined the term "hoicky gob" which all family members use!

Les said "EXPECTORATION makes it sound acceptable!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


At our local Save a Lot store, I noticed a sign on the exit door:  DUE TO THE HIGH WINDS, PLEASE RETURN CARTS INSIDE OR USE THE CART CARREL.  

 I thought, "Um, perhaps it's a new word for me." NOPE, it's meant to be "CORRAL", as in "CART CORRAL"!  

Below are other mysterious and confusing signs which I found on the internet:  

In a public restroom:


In a laundromat:

In a London department store:

In an office:

In an office:

Outside a secondhand shop:

Notice in health food shop window:

Spotted in a safari park:

Seen during a conference:

Notice in a farmer's field:

Message on a leaflet:

On a repair shop door:

Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers:

Panda mating fails; veterinarian takes over:

Cold wave linked to temperatures:

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges:

Hospitals are sued by 7 foot doctors:

And the winner is:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


I visited our Fayette Humane Society to purchase PAWS CAUSE CARDS.  The card offers discounts at restaurants-- El Dorado, Rax, The Rusty Keg, Streeside 62, Pour Boys, Center Pizza, Subway, Nagasaki, Little Caesar's, Amore Pizza, Hong Kong Buffet, and Dairy Queen--as well as offers from Prime Meats and Deli, Sunshine Cleaners, Craig's Shoes and Sports, Summer Breeze, EZ Oil Change, and Super Sport Barber Shop.

For the cost of $5.00 it is a great deal.  Rax also donated 500 $5.00 gift certificates for the first 500 cards sold. That is like getting the Paws Card Card free!

While there I viewed the renovations and as I was admiring the artwork encircling the walls, I learned a new word:  CHIRRUP.  In conversation with people present, one person there thought it was a made-up word by the artist.  I remarked that all of the other words were "real animal words" and I would check on chirrup.

I learned that chirrup is a noun which means the high-pitched sounds of birds.  TWITTER is a synonym.

My brother said, "It sounds like an example of onomatopoeia."  I replied, "Now your saying THAT is just showing off, sir!"

Hear the pronunciation:

Monday, December 7, 2015


As Les looked at a bookcase in the family room which contained shelves loaded with Santa music boxes, he let out an exaggerated sigh and said, "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing!" because earlier in the day I'd quoted our mother's belief:  "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well!"

My sister-in-law Sheila used to say, "There's no such thing as too many Christmas decorations!"  Les and Gerald disagree, especially after toting more than 100 tubs from the attic and a dozen more from the basement. [No, sadly, I am NOT exaggerating; Les said he quit counting after 100!] The family room is the Santa Room, the laundry room is the Nutcracker Room, the kitchen is the Oreo tin room, the hallway is the Holly Room, the dining room is the 12 Days Of Christmas Room, the living room is the Sleigh Room and the library is the Coca Cola, Elvis and Train Room! Mother's room is the Cardinal Room,  both bathrooms are the Christmas Seashell Room, the upstairs hallway is the Basket Room, the spare bedroom is the Poinsettia Room, our bedroom is the Miscellaneous Room and Les refuses to have his room "decorated"!

There MUST be a tree in every room, although Les says he knows there is NO law mandating that statement!  The Santa tree fell over yesterday because the ornaments weren't well-distributed. The "Button Tree" is decorated with buttons collected since childhood, with the top button being the cabbage rose from my wedding gown.  The Nutcracker Tree sets on the hamper in the laundry room and I hear Les' grumbling about it on Monday, Wednesday and Friday because those are laundry days. I reminded him that there are only 3 weeks left until Christmas.  On the kitchen table I have the Cookie Cutter Tree. The dining room has the 12 Days Of Christmas Tree and; the library has a Coca Cola tree and also an Elvis Tree; both bathrooms have trees decorated with seashells. The tree in the living room has the Waterford ornaments in the front, Gerald's Star Trek ornaments on one side, and my Wizard of Oz, Crayola, etc. ornaments on the other side. (Les said, "Sides? A tree doesn't have sides!"). Along the stairway are my mother's bubble lights and my sleigh ornaments.

As a kid we had one of those god-awful aluminum trees with the color wheel. That's why I've always had a "real" Christmas tree in the living room. Two years ago we bought an artificial tree and I hate it!  I now want an aluminum tree but was shocked to see the prices on E-Bay, etc.

Several years ago, an acquaintance came to the house, and not knowing that I decorate every room, said, "I used to say that I thought the Grinch lived here because you don't have any Christmas decorations outside!" I said, "I have the sleigh on the porch and wreaths on the doors--I don't have time to do any outside decorating!"

Last year I promised that I would decorate ONLY the downstairs but Les caught me decorating the upstairs bathroom at 2:00 AM! 

Last week,  he tried to extract the promise from me for this year NOT to go crazy decorating, and he said he's calling Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz,  Dr. Seuss, Dr. Doolittle, Dr. Welby, and Dr. Kildare to stage an INTERVENTION!

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Whenever she comes across an unusual word, Mona Lisa is fond of saying to me, "I looked in the dictionary for the word and there was your picture!" She just sent the message: "I looked in the dictionary for PARONOMASIA and there was your picture!"

Paronomasia means the love of puns.

I do love puns and my all-time favorite is about Mr. Opporknockity, the piano tuner:

Mr. Opporknockity was the world's greatest piano tuner and was justifiably proud of his work; he always guaranteed that he only needed to make one service call.  Once, a dissatisfied customer called and told Mr. Opporknockity that his piano needed to be tuned again. Mr. Opporknockity answered, "That's impossible, I can't do it, because OPPORKNOCKITY ONLY TUNES ONCE!"

My second is about Roy Rogers: CLICK HERE to see my BLOG article.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


CHANUKAH 2015 will be celebrated December 6-14.

ABC's of Chanukah

Everything you need to know about the holiday of Chanukah by Rabbi Shraga Simmons

Chanukah (Hanukkah), the Festival of Lights, begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, and lasts for eight days. On the secular calendar, Chanukah generally falls out in December.

This primer will explore:

(1) A Bit of History
(2) Lighting Instructions
(3) Other Customs

The Hebrew word Chanukah means "dedication." In the 2nd century BCE, during the time of the Second Holy Temple, the Syrian-Greek regime of Antiochus sought to pull Jews away from Judaism, with the hopes of assimilating them into Greek culture. Antiochus outlawed Jewish observance ― including circumcision, Shabbat, and Torah study ― under penalty of death. As well, many Jews ― called Hellenists ― began to assimilate into Greek culture, taking on Greek names and marrying non-Jews. This began to decay the foundation of Jewish life and practice.

When the Greeks challenged the Jews to sacrifice a pig to a Greek god, a few courageous Jews took to the hills of Judea in open revolt against this threat to Jewish life. Led by Matitiyahu, and later his son Judah the Maccabee, this small band of pious Jews led guerrilla warfare against the Syrian-Greek army.

Antiochus sent thousands of well-armed troops to crush the rebellion, but after three years the Maccabees beat incredible odds and miraculously succeeded in driving the foreigners from their land. The victory was on the scale of Israel defeating the combined super-powers of today.

Jewish fighters entered Jerusalem and found the Holy Temple in shambles and desecrated with idols. The Maccabees cleansed the Temple and re-dedicated it on the 25th of Kislev. When it came time to re-light the Menorah, they searched the entire Temple, but found only one jar of pure oil bearing the seal of the High Priest. The group of believers lit the Menorah anyway and were rewarded with a miracle: That small jar of oil burned for eight days, until a new supply of oil could be brought.

From then on, Jews have observed a holiday for eight days, in honor of this historic victory and the miracle of the oil. To publicize the Chanukah miracle, Jews add the special Hallel praises to the Shacharit service, and light a menorah during the eight nights of Chanukah.

In Ashkenazi tradition, each person lights his own menorah. Sefardi tradition has just one menorah per family.

To publicize which night of Chanukah it is, all eight candles on the menorah should be at the same height ― and preferably in a straight line. Otherwise, the candles may not be easily distinguishable and may appear like a big torch.

In addition to the eight main lights, the menorah has an extra helper candle called the "Shamash." As we are forbidden to use the Chanukah lights for any purpose other than "viewing," any benefit is as if it's coming from the Shamash.

Since the Shamash does not count as one of the eight regular lights, your menorah should have the Shamash set apart in some way ― either placed higher than the other candles, or off to the side.

The most important thing is that that your candles must burn for at least 30 minutes after nightfall. (Those famous colored candles barely qualify!) Many Jewish bookstores sell longer colored candles.

Actually, it is even better to use olive oil, since the miracle of the Maccabees occurred with olive oil. Glass cups containing oil can be placed in the candle holders of any standard menorah. Many Jewish bookstores even sell kits of pre-measured oil in disposable cups.

To best publicize the miracle, the menorah is ideally lit outside the doorway of your house, on the left side when entering. (The mezuzah is on the right side; in this way you are "surrounded by mitzvot.") In Israel, many people light outside in special glass boxes built for a menorah.

If this is not practical, the menorah should be lit in a window facing the public thoroughfare.

Someone who lives on an upper floor should light in a window. If for some reason the menorah cannot be lit by a window, it may be lit inside the house on a table; this at least fulfills the mitzvah of "publicizing the miracle" for the members of the household.

Since the mitzvah occurs at the actual moment of lighting, moving the menorah to a proper place after lighting does not fulfill the mitzvah.

The preferable time to light the menorah is at nightfall. It is best to light in the presence of many people, which maximizes the mitzvah of "publicizing the miracle" and adds to the family atmosphere. The menorah can still be lit (with the blessings) late into the night, as long as people are still awake.

The menorah should remain lit for at least 30 minutes after nightfall, during which time no use should be made of its light.

On Friday afternoon, the menorah should be lit 18 minutes before sundown. And since the menorah needs to burn for 30 minutes into the night, the candles used on Friday need to be bigger than the regular "colored candles" (which typically don't burn longer than a half-hour).

On the first night, place one candle at the far right, as you face the menorah. This applies whether the menorah is placed next to a doorway or by a window.

Another candle is placed for the Shamash (taller helper candle) which is used to light the others. It is not counted as one of the candles.

First light the Shamash, then recite the blessings, and then use the Shamash to light the Chanukah candle.

On the second night, place two candles in the two far-right positions ― and use the Shamash to light the left one first.

The third night, place three candles in the three far-right positions ― and use the Shamash to light them in order, from left to right.

Follow this same procedure each night of Chanukah... until all the lights are kindled and glowing brightly!


Watch animation of how to light the Menorah

Listen to the blessings for lighting the Menorah

Print formatted text of this blessing

The first two blessings are said with the Shamash already lit, but immediately prior to lighting the Chanukah candles.

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Asher kid-shanu bi-mitzvo-sav, Vi-tzee-vanu li-had-leek ner shel Chanukah.

Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the Chanukah light.

Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Shi-asa nee-seem la-avo-seinu, Baya-meem ha-haim baz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the universe, Who made miracles for our forefathers, in those days at this season.

This blessing is said on the first night only.
Baruch ata Ado-noi Elo-heinu melech ha-olam, Sheh-he-che-yanu vi-kee-yimanu Vi-hee-gee-yanu laz-man ha-zeh.
Blessed are You, the Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.
The following paragraph is said each night, after the first light has been kindled:
Ha-nerot ha-lalu anach-nu mad-likin Al ha-nissim vi-al hanif-laot Al ha-tshu-ot vi-al ha-milchamot She-asita la'avo-teinu Ba-yamim ha-heim, ba-zman ha-zeh Al ye-dey kohan-echa haki-doshim.
Vi-chol shmonat ye-mey Chanukah Ha-nerot ha-lalu kodesh heim, Ve-ein lanu reshut li-heesh-tamesh ba-hem Ela leer-otam bilvad Kedai le-hodot u-li-hallel li-shimcha Al ni-secha vi-al niflo-techa vi-al yeshua-techa.

After lighting the Chanukah menorah, families enjoy sitting in the glow, singing and recalling the miracles of yesterday and today. The first song traditionally sung after lighting the candles is Maoz Tzur (Rock of Ages). (click for audio and lyrics)

A number of other customs have developed, including:
•eating "oily" foods like fried potato latkes (pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts), in commemoration of the miracle of the oil
•giving Chanukah gelt (coins) to children
•spinning the dreidel, a four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side (sivivon in Hebrew)

What is the origin of the dreidel?

In times of persecution when Torah study was forbidden, Jewish children would learn anyway. When soldiers would investigate, the children would pull out a dreidel and pretend to be playing.

The letters on the dreidel are nun, gimmel, hey, shin ― the first letters of Nes Gadol Haya Sham – "A Great Miracle Happened There." (In Israel, the last letter is a Pey ― "Here.") One way to play dreidel is to see who can keep theirs spinning for the longest time. Or alternatively, to see how many dreidels you can get spinning simultaneously.

Another version of dreidel is where players use pennies, nuts, raisins, or chocolate coins as tokens or chips. Each player puts an equal share into the "pot." The first player takes a turn spinning the dreidel. When the dreidel stops, the letter facing up determines:
•Nun – nothing happens; the next player spins the dreidel
•Gimmel – the spinner takes the pot
•Hey – take half the pot
•Shin – add one to the pot

(Alternatively, you can play where everyone spins their own dreidel simultaneously. Anyone who gets Nun takes 2 from the pot; Gimmel takes 1 from the pot; Hey puts 1 into the pot; Shin gives 1 to the person on his/her right.)

On Chanukah we add "Al Ha'nisim" – an extra paragraph which describes the Chanukah miracle – to the Amidah prayer, and also to the Grace After Meals.


Friday, December 4, 2015


I like the word SCREAK. Although the definition is: "to make a harsh, shrill, sound", I have always thought of it as a cross between a shriek, a screech, and a scream. 

Screak is an intransitive verb of Scandinavian origin and is pronounced 
as "skreet".

After using "screak" in another BLOG article, a friend sent a message and mentioned that I had misspelled "Scream".   I answered that it was the correct spelling of "screak".   She replied, "But Spell-Check doesn't recognize it and Spell-Check is God;  you're always saying that people should use Spell-Check!"

I SCREAKED my answer, "No, Spell-Check isn't God, the OED is God!" 

My friend Gretchen likes to give me my comeuppance  by pointing out any of my Facebook transgressions.  She shared the Santa warning here.  I answered, "Make sure it's the OED!"

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Mona Lisa sent me the article (see here) "25 PARTY APPETIZERS THAT SHOULD BE BANNED FOR LIFE.

Her accompanying note read: "For the undisputed Queen of hors d'oeuvres who not only knows how to spell them, pronounce them, and cook them, but also knows the difference between them and canap├ęs!" 

 I read that the literal translation for hors d'oeuvre is "out of work"; all I have to say is that your appetizers look like a lot of work. 

Here's hoping for some rumaki at your next get-together!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Our friend Bill Horne was a professor at Southern State University, a columnist for The Highland County Press, and a candidate for political office numerous times.  He handed out polished rocks and I have quite an assortment adorning the shelf above me.  I think of Bill often but especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas when I reflect on this column.  He died on December 2, 2010;  this was his final column which was published on December 1, 2010.  

A Column by Bill Horne

Folks, I missed getting a column in last week for the first time in almost seven years. My wife has been very ill, and I also needed some hospital time for testing. To top all of this, our computer crashed.

I used to think I was getting old; however, I must now face the fact I am old, things are now beginning to wear out.

The Thanksgiving holiday gave me some down time, a commodity that is rare in my life. This quiet time also gave me a chance to put things into perspective. This “free” time gave me a chance to do some introspection and also watch some football.

Warning! This article is different than my customary topics. Life is fantastic, maybe fabulous is a better word, and is also very short. But most importantly, it is the greatest of all gifts. During the everyday rat race to support our lives, many of us forget to live and enjoy life.

So, the following are some random thoughts that I have had since I last communicated with you. In President Kennedy’s inaugural speech, he said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

We now seem to have more takers or users than givers. Too many of us don’t even want to give the time to serve on a jury or give an hour of our lives to vote.

We refer to “our” government as “the” government as if our government was a separate entity from the rest of society. I am constantly requesting that my students use “our” instead of “the.”

We don’t even want to take 30 seconds to properly dispose of our fast food trash. Instead of doing the right thing, we pitch it out the car window.

I have had the good fortune to watch 10,000 to 12,000 local citizens pass through my classrooms over the past 26 years. The good thing is that I remember many of the students who wanted to learn. One student who stands out in my mind, from about 15 years ago, I referred to my super “C” student. Other students sometimes thought this was a putdown, but she and I knew she earned mostly “A’s” with a smattering of “B’s.”

She accomplished this through the desire to learn and hard work. The sad thing is as the years pass on, more and more students feel they deserve a good grade just for enrolling in a class.

As I observe people, whether it is in a class or in a local store (I only shop local stores), or in meetings, I notice many people have a scowl on their face. Fewer and fewer people, it seems, smile. I attempt to smile and speak to people I pass in a store, at school or on the street, and more often than not the response is a distressing look that sends me the message I must be some kind of an idiot.

The days slip by one at a time, and we can remember very few of them. Right now, please, would you look back one year and see if you can remember more than five days. Those days where things happened to you don’t count. Things like a car accident, a flat tire, a raise in your paycheck or the loss of a job are things that just happen to you.

I am asking you to recall the days where you made a memory. You are going to be surprised by how few there are. We allow ourselves to get into the rut of a daily routine where each day is just like the days before and the ones to follow. At the end of a week, I ask my students to do something over the weekend that they will remember for the rest of their lives. To begin each week I ask, “Did anyone do anything that they will remember?”

Sometimes, from a whole class there will be no response. More than one response is extremely rare. In the freest country of the whole world, we seem to be spending our lives without living them. This old hog farmer hopes you will try to make a memory this week.

Owning shiny things is not important, fancy stuff to impress ourselves does not make much of an impression on others. New cars, fancy jewelry, big houses don’t impress other people; they just make us feel better about ourselves. For example, cars are meant to get us where we want and need to go. The “old timers” had a saying, “You can’t take it with you.”

Dreams of the young are extremely important. The best question you can ask a child is, “What are you going to be when you grow up.” It doesn’t make any difference what they answer. The goal is to start children thinking about their future.

When they have learned to write have them make a list of their dreams. Some of the things on their lists will be very simple, some will take a lifetime to achieve, and some will not ever be accomplished.

For those of us no longer young a bucket list will suffice. Just make a list of those things that you want to do, see or experience, and do them. If some of the things on your list will stretch your physical abilities, mental capacities or nervous system, so be it.

The last thought, is you and I are solely responsible for the attitudes of the people around us. This is just a thought for each of us to contemplate. (Please, remember I warned you.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


I have posted more than twenty "CRINGE--FAYETTE COUNTY TALK" articles since 2010.  A friend recently said that I should publish new ones.

Interestingly, he is the same person who mangled the pronunciation of DEMONSTRABLE (see the article from November 24,  2015). 

He didn't realize that he is "the gift which keeps on giving" (to use a cliche)!   He is the one who uses "TASKED".  

Just last night he said DISTRIBUTE but he pronounced it as  DIS-TRA-BUTTE!  In the same conversation he pronounced RETROSPECT as "RETRO-SPECT" with the emphasis on the RETRO!  

I kept pronouncing DISTRIBUTE to him as DISS-TRIB-YUT and he kept pronouncing it 
DIS--TRA--BUTTE and could not distinguish the difference in pronunciation.   He said, "That's the way I've always said it."  Once again I countered with, "I hope you didn't say it in public!" 

However, I must praise him because he quit saying "ANYWAYS" rather than "ANYWAY"!

Recently I have heard the following screamers, although they have been previously published in  other "CRINGE" articles:





TOWARDS rather than TOWARD

Aron and Ziggy (my husband's grand niece and her husband) refer to these examples as "FAYCO";  thus, the name shall be FAYCO in the future!