This and That

Musings on Being a Writer and My Life
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Pen Lust

  • November 30, 2016 2:54 am

pen

 

I suffer from pen lust—an overwhelming desire to acquire pens. When I go into an office supply store, I gravitate to the writing implements aisle like a junkie to a fix. Admiring pens is an art form for me:  what about the size of the barrels (because size DOES matter!), the thickness of the writing tip, the color of the barrel. Is the ink the same color as the pen I wonder? How does the pen feel in my hand—like it has a home there—or is it too think or thick—or does it nestle like a baby  to its mother’s breast?

If there is a little pad of paper to try the pen out—well, then I’m in heaven! I write my name, my maiden name and my initials either printing them or using cursive—or even a sort of calligraphy! Oh, what joy!

And it’s not just buying pens that entrances me.

When I get the tab in a restaurant, I feel a tingle of excitement as I open the folder the bill comes in. What kind of pen will be hidden inside? Will I immediately WANT that pen? Or will it be a cheap BIC stick pen? Sometimes I hold the pen just a moment too long—and ask the server where they got such a terrific pen, hoping that somehow, it will be given to me as a perk for being such a delightful customer.  I have never stolen a one from a restaurant—although I am sorely tempted on occasion. (Ok, full disclosure, I did take a pen once, but there were dozens of them—and it looked like an advertising gimmick.)

One time, at a doctor’s office, I admired the pen I was given to fill out a form. Imagine my joy when the receptionists said. “You can have it—we get them free all the time!”  I walked out of that office with a spring in my step and joy in my heart.

My late husband and I shared this obsession with pens. I had to carefully monitor my favorites to make sure they wouldn’t fall into his covetous hands! And, I must admit, I was not above tucking his pens into my purse when he left them around.

At any given time, I have at least three pens in my purse. I have pens everywhere—all different types. And it can take me a few minutes to decide which pen I want to use to write a check or sign my name. Often, when I’m given what I consider to be a substandard pen (the aforementioned BIC), I retrieve my own pen and use that. And I am delighted if someone needs to borrow one, because I can offer a selection of pens to that person. Needless to say, I always get mine back and I take my favorite one first.

Pen lust—alas, there is no cure!

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

 

 

 

Driving as a Contact Sport

  • September 21, 2016 1:53 am
woman-in-car

No Title

  • July 17, 2016 11:21 pm

It happened again—I had a great topic (I thought) for a blog post—and there was another national tragedy, the shooting and murder of police officers in Baton Rouge.

May the officers who lost their lives rest in peace, and may their families find comfort. I pray that the wounded will heal fully.

But, as I said the last time, maybe we need a distraction—or a reassurance that life, indeed, does go on and yes, we will survive.  

With those thoughts in mind,  I offer this blog post.

 

TV in Restaurants

I enjoy TV. I like watching favorite shows, and DVR many of them so I can enjoy them at my leisure.

But—and this is a big but, I hate TVs in restaurants (another thing I enjoy!)restaurant-1343327_960_720

First of all, I am highly visual, and I find TVs perched high on a restaurant’s walls to be terribly distracting. When I go out to eat, it’s not only because I don’t want to cook, but because I like the sociability of eating out. Conversations with friends, enjoying the restaurant’s ambience, and eating tasty food should be part of the experience. But, for me, those pleasures are diluted by the ever-present TV show that plays just above my companion’s heads. And because I am so visual, I find myself quite distracted by the TV.  I assume that other people feel the same way.

I wonder who thought that folks who are eating out needed the stimulation of TV.  I can understand it in a Sports Bar, where people go to cheer their favorite team, but  are they necessary in a restaurant that doesn’t necessarily cater to a sports crowd? And having a TV in the bar section of a restaurant might be a good idea—but placing TVs in the room dedicated to dining makes no sense.

There’s another problem with TVs in dining areas. In my most frequented local restaurant, the choice of programs can be questionable. First of all, I resent being forced to watch Fox News, but more than that, I hate to gaze at a dining companion, and catch sight of a gory “criminal procedural” program. What is less appetizing than pictures of the wounds someone sustained when being murdered? Or the reenactment of an autopsy? Why should I, as a patron, have to get the attention of a server and request that the station be changed?

I am not the only one who finds TVs distracting. Friends have been diverted from conversational topics by whatever is on the nearest TV—sometimes appearing to be more interested in the TV than their dining companions.

Wearing blinders when I am dining in these restaurants seems extreme— so maybe I need to think about eating in more upscale places!

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I Love My DVR

  • May 24, 2016 2:36 am

tv3

Our lives are filled with time saving gadgets. We have dishwashers, washing machines, leaf blowers, lawn mowers we can ride, computers and printers—and my favorite, the DVR. What a great gadget! I wish I could thank the person who invented it personally.

While we’re busy living our lives, doing necessary chores like grocery shopping or more enjoyable things like attending a child’s  dance recital or graduation or just hanging out with friends, the DVR is there, making sure that we don’t miss any of our favorite TV programs. It even allows us to watch one show while it dutifully tapes another show that can be accessed later. We can even read the newspaper or a book basking in the glow of the red light that tells us that yes, our beloved TV program will be ready when we are.

I realized how much I like—no love—my DVR recently while watching a playback of a network TV show.  First of all, I was able to watch a half hour sit-com (my favorites) in 22 minutes. I was thrilled when I realized how much time I saved! I was able to skim over all of the ads which saved almost 10 minutes. That meant that I could watch almost three sitcoms in the time it would have taken to watch only two. What a time-saver!

But the best part for me was that I was not forced to watch any ads with Matthew Mc Conaguhy driving high-end luxury vehicles while talking to his dogs. That alone made using the DVR worth it.

Yes, The DVR is a great invention—easy to use, convenient and reliable. And it is my all time favorite gadget. It has saved me time and I have been released from the tyranny of Matthew McConaguhy!

Thank you, DVR.

 

Image –Pixabay

 

 

 

Ordering from Amazon

  • May 1, 2016 2:17 am

cardboard box

 

One of the great conveniences of the modern era is ordering stuff online. Because I live a healthy 45 minute drive from any decent retail (the nearest stores are Publix (groceries) and Wal Mart,  the expediency and ease of looking up whatever I want on Amazon.com has hooked me. In addition, I bought the Prime membership a couple of years ago primarily for the free shipping which was a money saver at Christmas—and now, of course, I enjoy all the perks of the endless TV, movies, and music that membership entitles me to. And getting the stuff I order delivered to my front porch in two days or less with FREE shipping –well, how can you beat that?

In addition, I don’t really enjoy shopping. First, there’s the drive to the store, finding parking, and then browsing through the thousands of items that populate a typical retail outlet. Temptation lurks all around and it’s easy to buy something because its cute –or it might be nice to have. Then you have to drag the bags or packages out to the car and then haul them into the house. Shopping eats up the better part of a day.

Online shopping eliminates many of these problems. You search for the item you want, read a description, decide whether or not to buy it–and then sit back with a good book.

Lately, though, I think that I’ve returned more stuff to Amazon than I’ve kept. The list includes a Kindle Fire  (which was a duplicate of an order), a pan, a Kindle Fire cover, and two jackets.

It occurred to me tonight as I was printing yet another return label that I’ve become quite the expert at returning things to Amazon.

I wonder if the experience of having to schlep the re-boxed and re-labeled items to a UPS outlet or a post office  so frequently will convince me to drive to the nearest mall and shop in person.

Nah! Ordering on-line is just too easy!

 

Picture Credit Pixabay

 

Full Moon Rising

  • November 22, 2015 11:38 pm

 

 

When I was teaching, we could always tell whenever there was a full moon by the children’s behavior. If previously mild mannered, cooperative children began acting slightly crazy and hyperactive, the teachers would console one another by predicating that the full moon was either upon us, or looming. Most often, on days like that, I’d check the nocturnal sky and the moon would be displayed in all of its rotund glory.

For the last few years, I’ve noticed something strange. Whenever I feel especially down or blue, it’s caused by, you guessed it, the full moon. How relieved I am whenever I see that huge yellow orb hanging in the nighttime sky!

Whew! Seeing the full moon reaffirms that I’m not terminally depressed and that I don’t need to rush to the doctor for a stronger anti-depressant. Rather, like the children I used to teach, the moon is causing some kind of disruption in my emotions.

I don’t remember the full moon having that effect on me in my younger years. Perhaps I was too busy dealing with the erratic behavior of my young students to be able to notice that I, too, was affected by the lunar cycle.

Now I know what it feels like to want to “Howl at the moon!”

 

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

moon-182145__180

Living the Disorganized Life

  • August 2, 2015 1:54 am

 

I am disorganized. There, I said it. Whew! What a weight off my shoulders.

I’ve spent the better part of the last five decades promising myself that I’ll get organized–only to break that promise thousands of times.

I admire organized people: the ones who always know where stuff is, who clean their files out every year, whose desks are cleared every day. I want to be one of them, to join their club.

I don’t know what it is about me. I set up systems and within days, I’m back to my disorganized ways.

Now, it’s  not that I can’t find thing—often I can—especially when I stack them in the same place each time. chaos pixababyBut too often, I have to tear my files, (such as they are) apart, to locate some important piece of paper.

My late husband was the direct opposite. He filed everything, labeled it, and once a year cleaned out his files. After he passed away, I was so grateful for his organization because it made everything easier for me. Now I worry that when it’s my turn to ascend to the pearly gates, my daughter will go insane trying to find stuff.

So, I think I better try to at least find the urgent stuff, re-file it, and resolve to keep it where it can be found easily.

At least that’s my intention.

Now, where is that list of blog ideas?

 

 

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

 

No Title

  • June 28, 2015 2:56 am

Uggs I thought that my readers might enjoy a short story today.

 

Boots

Emma loved her boots. It had taken her a whole year of babysitting the brats down the street to save enough to buy them. Before she went to sleep each night, she would count and tally the total of the bundle of bills that had accumulated in an old shoe box under her bed. Then she would subtract that total from the cost of the coveted boots.

Chastity, her best friend, went with her every time she stopped at the store to try them on. Emma would slip her feet into the boots, feeling the stiff leather as it touched her calves. The fur on top sometimes tickled her legs, but she didn’t mind.

The sales clerk had gotten used to seeing Emma and Chastity at the store. Emma even knew her name, Marcia Anderson. Emma would seek Marcia out and look hopefully at the woman.  Marcia would peer over the glasses that were perched on the end of her nose.

“Sure,” she’d sigh, “go ahead and try them on—again.” Then she’d shake her head and lean toward the other clerk and whisper something.  They both could barely contain their amused smiles. Neither woman would admit it, but they enjoyed watching Emma prance around the store in the camel colored boots.

Now the boots were hers. She carried the clumsy square box into her bedroom and set in on her unmade bed.

Emma reverently removed the boots from the box, and caressed them as if they were kittens. The special silk blend socks she purchased to wear with them made it easier to get them on.

She turned each foot this way and that, marveling at how the boots looked. Then she walked in front of her full length mirror, watching her feet. She squealed with delight.

“I can’t wait until everyone sees them,” she exclaimed.

Then Emma grabbed her beach bag and towel from the closet floor and rushed downstairs.

Her mother’s expression said it all. She raised the spatula she was wielding like an extension of her arm.

“For Pete’s sake, Emma. Why are you wearing those boots today? Aren’t you going to the beach? I told you they were impractical for Florida!”

Emma sighed and rolled her eyes. “You just don’t get it, Mom.”

The door slammed.

And  Emma clomped out into the bright sunshine and 80 degree weather.

 

Boots

  • April 4, 2015 2:02 am

winter-boots-258148_640

Emma loved her boots. It had taken her a whole year of babysitting the brats down the street to save enough to buy them. Before she went to sleep each night, she would count and tally the total of the bundle of bills that had accumulated in an old shoebox under her bed. Then she would subtract that total from the cost of the coveted boots.

Chastity, her best friend, went with her every time she stopped at the store to try them on. Emma would slip her feet into the boots, feeling the stiff leather as it touched her calves. The fur on top sometimes tickled her legs, but she didn’t mind.

The sales clerk had gotten used to seeing Emma and Chastity at the store. Emma even knew her name, Marcia Anderson. Emma would seek Marcia out and look hopefully at the woman.  Marcia would peer over the glasses that were perched on the end of her nose.

“Sure,” she’d sigh, “go ahead and try them on—again.” Then she’d shake her head and lean toward the other clerk and whisper something.  They both could barely contain their amused smiles. Neither woman would admit it, but they enjoyed watching Emma prance around the store in the camel colored boots.

Now the boots were hers. She carried the clumsy square box into her bedroom and set in on her unmade bed.

Emma reverently removed the boots from the box, and caressed them as if they were kittens. The special silk blend socks she purchased to wear with them made it easier to get them on.

She turned each foot this way and that, marveling at how the boots looked. Then she walked in front of her full length mirror, watching her feet. She squealed with delight.

“I can’t wait until everyone sees them,” she exclaimed.

Then Emma grabbed her beach bag and towel from the closet floor and rushed downstairs.

Her mother’s expression said it all. She raised the spatula she was wielding like an extension of her arm.

“For Pete’s sake, Emma. Why are you wearing those boots today? Aren’t you going to the beach? I told you they were impractical for Florida!”

Emma sighed and rolled her eyes. “You just don’t get it, Mom.”

The door slammed and she clomped out into the bright sunshine and 80 degree weather.

 

Picture Credit–Pixabay.com

 

Is Nothing Sacred?

  • March 27, 2015 2:13 am

 

 

In the last two years, my life has been turned upside down by the death of my husband and then my brother.

These deaths affected everyone in my family—including my brothers and sisters.

Shortly after my brother passed away, one of my other brothers was “zinged” (his word) by a Face Book “friend” over the death of our brother.

Which leads to the question, is nothing sacred?

My first reaction to my brother’s posts about forgiveness and kindness were to want to beat this woman up—and I am a pacifist. I was utterly astounded that anyone could be that insensitive. Making a joke about our beloved brother’s death was beyond comprehension.

But, is that what’s happening? Is nothing sacred?

I wonder. Religion is fair game and tradition is fair game. Does this lead to less civility?

I’m not sure. I do know this.

Some things are sacred.

Death. The loss of a loved one is a heart-wrenching experience. Memories are all that’s left. And the ones left behind are alone, lonely, and sometimes frightened. They need kindness, understanding and solace, not a lame joke about death.

Religion. A person’s religious beliefs should be sacred, no matter your own feelings about religion. I casually mentioned that I pray every day when I was out with friends a while ago. While they were respectful, they were incredulous. The idea of a mature adult praying struck them as somewhat odd.

Confidences. The secrets people share shouldn’t be fodder for gossip. I once knew someone who would worm her way into someone’s life, become that person’s confidant. and then regale everyone with the secrets her victim had shared. I admit that this is an extreme example, but gossiping is just as devastating—just on a smaller scale.

Being kind and caring in an increasing cynical and angry society isn’t easy. Personally, I’d rather be the exception than find myself mired in the muck of cruelty and insensitivity.