Sunday, December 4, 2016


Another true story by our writing class' best humorist! And you thought the holidays were stressful! Thank you for sharing Valerie!


The story you are about to hear is true! The names have not been changed to protect the innocent. The actual events, which are about to unfold, all transpired in the god forsaken town baptized Palestine, Texas. This abyss is located 120 miles southeast of Dallas and 150 miles northwest of Houston. One might say that it is the Texas rendering of the Bermuda Triangle. What could possibly bring a person to such a place you ask? I blame my wedding vows for this predicament:” for better or worse, in sickness and health, till death do us part.” Apparently, this encompasses your spouse’s transfers for his company to unimaginable black holes of civilization. Let the nightmare begin!

The joy of the holiday spirit had permeated the house throughout and it had been transformed into a magical Christmas Disney wonderland. That year the entire Mickey and Minnie Mouse posse of characters enthralled my two little elves ages 5 and 20 months. The tree was bedecked with miniature plush replicas of: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Huey, Louie, Dewy, and of course the two little culprits Chip and Dale. Underneath the tree, the Disneyland Express could be seen and heard chugging its way around the perimeter.

The children cuddled against me as we sat on the couch in front of the crackling roaring fire for our traditional Christmas Eve reading of Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer and ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The little ones then hung their stockings with care in hopes that Santa would soon be there. The customary cookies and milk were lovingly placed on the hearth and the little angels were now nestled down in their beds while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

There were still Santa duties to be done. The presents were strategically placed under the tree and the stockings were filled to the brim as the children would soon see. Mama in her kerchief attempted to retire for a long winter’s nap, when all of a sudden there arose such a clatter, my scared son flew into my bed to ask what was the matter. I told him it was Santa out by the tree and that he needed to be quiet so he crawled into bed with me. When the child was finally asleep, I slipped out of the room to investigate the source of the commotion and what to my wondering eyes did I see, but my drunken husband passed out on top of our new fallen Christmas tree! Obviously, he had overindulged in Christmas spirits at the office party. After a quick recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, I made a grisly discovery. There were dismembered Disney character body parts strewn everywhere – arms, legs, heads, torsos, and tails. The scene resembled a horror movie. Perhaps my inebriated husband had suffered an insatiable attack of the munchies. Then there he was standing in the corner with part of Pluto hanging from his mouth. The mass murderer had been caught in the act. The dog did it! Explaining this catastrophe to the kids was my biggest concern at that moment in time.

Securing a body bag, the epic bulk extrication began. With all evidence removed from the scene of the crime, the next phase was mass cremation. The lovely town of Palestine did not have garbage service, so at 2:00 a.m. I was in the backyard at the burn barrel committing what surely must qualify as some sort of sacrilegious act. Somehow, I had the strange feeling that I had just been inducted into the Manson Family.

Returning to the living room to recreate some semblance of Christmas, the husband was removed from the tree and placed not so gently in bed. With the tree returned to its original vertical stance, the presents were rearranged and wrappings and dents repaired. Suddenly the unquestionable sound of a retching dog resounded in my ears. Now what? Undigested pieces of Santa cookies were spewing from his mouth along with some Pluto’s legs and Mickey’s head. Is this Christmas ever going to end? Another round of cleanup had to be launched. 

At 5:30 Christmas morning, mama had not yet been to bed. The stirrings of excited children were heard throughout the house. My son bounded into the living room and stared in utter disbelief at our now barren tree. “Where are all my Disney friends?” he demanded. This was going to have to be the performance of a lifetime! Then baby sister added to the festivities by uncontrollably crying over her defunct tree. With both tykes nuzzled in my lap, I told them about other children in the world that didn’t have any ornaments for their tree and how sad that made them. Santa wanted all children to be happy. The story continued with all little ears hanging on every word. I continued. “Santa woke me up last night and told me how proud he was of both of you and how special you were. He asked me if he could take the ornaments from our tree to hang on the trees of children who didn’t have any. They would wake up Christmas morning and be so surprised. It would be a present from the two of you delivered by Santa.” My beaming son gave me his high five of approval and the children simultaneously sprang from my lap rambunctiously ripping open their presents. That started the family tradition of donating ornaments and toys to less fortunate children.

At 6:30 a.m. the 24-pound turkey was placed in the oven. We were sharing our holiday dinner preparations with friends and the turkey and pumpkin pies fell into my domain of responsibility. The children remained in the living room gleefully entertained by their new toys. Suddenly my son started to scream. I rushed into the living room to see what was the matter. In the middle of all the presents stood the dog, bent over emitting unpleasant substances from both ends. The kids were crying so I explained that the dog must have eaten something that upset his stomach. If only they knew! This never-ending Christmas nightmare was getting old fast!

The husband finally showed his mug around 11:00 a.m. He was a sight to behold with tree burn all over his face. He complained about having a headache. There may have been some sarcastic retort on my part about wishing reindeer had pranced on his head. Due to my age and failing memory at this writing, I am unclear on that precise point. Pies were completed and placed on the table waiting for the turkey to be done. At 12:30, it was time to remove the bird. Upon opening the oven door, I was surprised to find an unheated oven and a stone cold turkey. The oven element had failed. Dealing with a bad cold, my sense of smell was nonexistent that day. Standing there holding a foil pan housing a 24-pound turkey an unforeseen development took place. The bottom of the pan gave way and Tom turkey fell to the floor. Stunned, I found myself looking through now bottomless pan at the spectacle of my dog greedily licking his new found best friend.

The dog was immediately banished to the garage for his own safety, and the chaos continued. Realizing the uncooked pies were now MIA (missing in action) from the table, a full investigation ensued. At that moment, there was the sound of uncontrollable giggling wafting from the dining room. There they were my two little angels from heaven finger painting on the pristine white walls with uncooked pumpkin puree. Is Christmas over yet? HELP!!!!!!!

What else could possibly happen? As though on cue my husband entered and with great concern for only himself asked, “When is dinner? I’m hungry.” The till death do us part segment of my wedding vows rushed through my head as I started to step toward him. Concerned for his safety, I joined the dog in the garage.

Finally, I thought there might be an infinitesimal shred of hope that this miserable day might end. Guess again!  My son’s bellows quickly shattered that dream. “Mom the toilet won’t flush, and it’s throwing up poop all over the floor.” The concept of sewers was foreign to the inhabitants of Palestine. This would not be a simple plunger fix. This was a dirty job, but it had to be done. Armed with a shovel and a special unclogging tool, I made my way outside to the sceptic field of dreams. I was fashionably decked out in all things rubber: gloves, boots, poncho, and mask. Thus began the archaic dig to uncover buried treasure. After two hours, the dastardly deed had been triumphantly accomplished. Then the most unbelievable Christmas magic unfolded right before my eyes.

I was covered in poop from my head to my toe

I found myself wishing for some new fallen snow

It had been one hell of a day, I want you to know

When up in the sky there appeared such a sight

It was a shooting star with a very bright light

 I made my wish and decided to call it a night

As I disappeared into the house you could hear me exclaim

Merry Christmas to all and by this time next year, I hope to be SANE!

--Valerie S.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


       Another wonderful slice of life from a member of my writing class.  Many of us can relate to this one, and if not, put it in your pocket as someday it will all ring true to you!  Enjoy!


Last week my son-in-law was lamenting the decline of his aging Honda Pilot. Its speedometer had logged over 100,000 miles. The tires needed to be replaced for the third time. The air conditioner was sporadically blowing a fuse. The transmission was in need of a $2,500 plus service overhaul. Over the years, it had been a dependable and trustworthy family member. It had reliably transported the clan on their copious outings and adventures. It had safely delivered both their daughters home from the hospital. This automobile was an essential member of the household. Now the car was getting up there in years and beginning to exhibit signs of wear and tear requiring more service visits and more money. My son-in-law’s conclusion, “We need a new car!”

I could totally identify with this vehicle and its physical and cosmetic decline. Hell, I am this vehicle! Unfortunately, trading myself in for a new and improved version is not an option open to me.  Since the list for the joys of getting old can be correlated to the movie titled “The NeverEnding Story,” I will stick to the highlights as I see them.

I fondly remember the good old days when I could hold my liquor. College consisted of boundless keg parties and for those of us with palates that were more sophisticated, Ripple and Mad Dog were our poisons of choice. Recently, I was shopping in Safeway and stopped to taste Champagne samples offered by a vendor. There were three varieties available with one being a $100 Parisian brand and the other two, progressively cheaper. I started with $100 kind. I was given a sample in a diminutive plastic cup and smugly chugged the few drops. Instantaneously it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was well on my way to being inebriated. I declined the offer of more tasters and spent the next 30 minutes in the store trying to clear my foggy brain so I could drive home.” How pathetic,” I thought to myself.

Speaking of not being able to hold my alcohol anymore, heck I can’t hold my water either! My most pressing thoughts anytime I leave home are bathroom locations. Let us not forget the recurrent nightly bathroom excursions! Too bad you can’t earn frequent flyer miles for this malady and at least be looking for bathrooms in tropical exotic locals!

Another drawback of aging is shrinkage! It reminds me of back in the 80’s when my children placed a large colored flexible sheet replica of an object or character in a heated oven and it would reduce to a small hard form. They were aptly baptized Shrinky Dinks. The same phenomenon has happened to me sans the heat as a catalyst. My three-plus inch loss in stature has earned me the nickname “Shorty” from my, now taller than me, grandchildren. Reaching higher than the second shelf in my kitchen cabinets has now become a futile mission without the aid of a step stool. My once powerful, well-toned body has lost most of its muscle mass leaving me to live in a squishy sack of osteoporosis-ravaged bones. My five-year-old granddaughter finds it very entertaining to make my spongy skin wiggle and jiggle like jello. Are we having fun yet, Shorty? 

I remember as a kid that one of my favorite cereals was Rice Krispies: Fill the bowl, pour the milk, and listen to the magic cereal snap, crackle and pop! Now days, to get the same sound effects all I have to do is walk!

As you age, memory starts to fade. I constantly find myself searching for some misplaced item. I ransack my house only to find the missing culprit right in front of me in plain sight or, as in the case of my cell phone last week, in the recycle bin! Don’t ask! It gets worse as your diligently seek the lost item and then suddenly can’t remember what it is you are looking for—a double whammy! Now what was I saying? I forgot—never mind!

My social life has definitely changed because of my advancing years. I find myself spending more time going to doctor appointments than I do having lunch with my friends. What is even more distressing is that some weeks I use my medical card more than my debit card. I actually think I have more doctors than I do friends on Facebook! Now that is depressing! It is sobering life moment when you have to accept the fact that your new BFF’s name (best friends forever) is fiber! How do I love thee—let me count the ways!

Another big change for me in my twilight years revolves around my sense of style. My fashion credo simply stated:  If it’s not the big C (comfortable) then it’s not for me! My old age idea of a sexy negligée are sweats at least one size too big! Evening wear attire consists of jeans, sneakers, and a clean sweatshirt. Well ironed clothes—gone! My thinking on this is:  If I don’t iron my clothes then people will think that my crinkly attire and wrinkled skin are all part of my effort to put together a fabulous matching ensemble. Besides, ironing my face would be painful!

Physical changes abound, and every day it seems like you have to adjust to a new normal for your body. Your aging teeth are clinging to life, and the dentist has banned you from eating anything sticky, chewy, hard, or sugary. Your once dazzling white smile has a grayish yellowish tinge. Glasses are your new best friend when you can find them. The phrase “What did you say?” becomes a daily part of your life as you struggle to adjust to hearing loss. What you hear and what is said is not always the same thing. Someone says, “Do you want to go to dinner?” Your reply,” You really think I am looking thinner?” Hearing loss can be difficult in social settings even with a hearing aid; background noise can totally isolate you from the social interaction. Your once unblemished skin is now host to a variety of alien growths and age spots. When your five-year-old granddaughter asks if you are part leopard you have no other choice but to smile sweetly and growl!  I often find myself relating stories about some old folk that I encountered or observed. Then reality sets in and I feel obliged to fess up and explain to the listener that these oldsters were my age. Then I feel better until the next time when I end up doing the same thing all over again!

I took out my driver’s license the other day and realized that I now actually look like the worst picture of me ever taken. I must need new glasses because that just can’t be! That woman is old! Say it can’t be true!

As my grandparents and parents aged, they fell into rigid routines of doing everything at the same time every day. I found it amusing and monotonous as a younger person! Well, guess what. I have become them! I eat my meals exactly at the same time every day. I go to bed 11 p.m. sharp and rise at 6:30 a.m.  I go for daily walks at a designated time. They would get upset if something disrupted their schedule, and I have become the same way. I have lost a lot of my spontaneity. I addictively crave the comforts and safety of my routines and my home. I must add that I have lived alone for the last 20 years and am sure that has been a major influence on my lack of spirit of adventure. Stepping out of my comfort zone gets harder and harder for me with each advancing year. When I was younger, I promised myself that becoming old and boring would not be an option. I was so wrong!

“Would you like some cheese with your whine Shorty?

I could go on and on about this subject, but I won’t. This last leg of our life journey is often referred to as the “Golden Years.” Frankly, on some days they feel more like the “Rusty Years.” They are golden from the standpoint that at this juncture you get to sit back and witness the fruits of your labor. You watch your adult children with pride and love as they follow and fulfill their own dreams.  Then a lightning bolt moment strikes, and they grace you with the greatest gift of all–grandchildren.  An Irish saying puts it all into perspective, “Children are the rainbow of life. Grandchildren are the Pot of Gold.” Therefore, I can honestly say that yes for sure these are my golden years!
And by the way, Squishy Shortsuff prefers chocolate with her whine!

-- Valerie S.
Nov. 15, 2016