every girl needs a greek chorus

a blog about hope

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Betrayed by My Peeps

The only good Peep is a stuffed Peep.

The only good Peep is a stuffed Peep.

Today has turned into “Health Maintenance Day.”  For reasons that I don’t recall, I scheduled a visit with my internist on the same day as my semi-annual dental hygiene appointment.  Perhaps I thought that confining my agony to one day every six months was a good idea.  Actually, I don’t mind the dentist.  My gums are great, so no one yells at me for neglecting them. I’m in and out in 30 minutes. It’s the doctor that I dread.

The doctor’s visit started last week with a routine blood draw.  I don’t care for those much.  You have to remember to fast the night before and drive to the office the next morning before you faint.  Of course, my blood pressure always elevates, and I might very well faint either from low blood sugar or from hyperventilating.  Either way, not good.

I don’t like the latex strip of drain tube that they wrap around your arm like an anaconda. I don’t like the smell of alcohol, and I don’t like that big wad of gauze that they tape to the wound that is going to become a half-dollar-sized bruise about 10 minutes after leaving the office.

More than that, I absolutely hate having a stranger slapping my arms trying to find my veins, because I have those shy veins that are invisible to the naked eye.  “Oh, it should have been right there,” the phlebotomist will say as she/he swivels the point of the needle subcutaneously (i.e., under the skin) like a snake searching its prey, while blood drains from my brain and pools just above the tourniquet.  I once had to send the phlebotomist to get her supervisor when she threatened to take the sample from my foot.

When I was first diagnosed with high blood pressure and sent for a nuclear stress test, the technician stabbed me six times before settling on the top of my right wrist to catheterize me and strapped on a 50cc syringe filled with radioactive material.  I swear, it was so big that if the lights had been turned out, I probably would have glowed.  Instead, they sat me in the waiting room in front of a television tuned to the “Maury Show” with inbred idiots screaming at one another over paternity issues.  I was the only one NOT surprised that my blood pressure peaked at 210 on the treadmill portion of the test.

About a year ago, a very capable phlebotomist pointed out the exact spot on the upper inside of my left arm.  “In the future, tell them that’s the sweet spot,” she advised.  By golly, she was right.  Maybe I should get an X tattooed on the spot.  Medical professionals don’t like to be told how to do their job, but everyone has listened to me after slapping both arms to find a vein.  And no one, but no one, is going to draw blood from the back of my hand.  I will draw blood from someone’s nose, first.

Today’s visit was about a 5 on the satisfaction meter.  My weight remains what it was last October. [Must they weigh you in your clothes?  Can’t each exam room have a scale, so you can strip down to your skivvies like you do at home?  Don’t they know that boots and a heavy sweater add 5 pounds?]  My blood pressure was 136/74, which is actually low for me.  Yay!  The beta blocker and statins are doing their jobs.  Then, the doctor came in.  After looking in my eyes and ears and listening to my chest, he sat down in front of his computer to go over my lab results.  My HDL (or “Happy” cholesterol, as I think of it) is so high that it probably keeps my LDL under control.

“Liver function, normal.  Complete blood count, fine.  Blood sugar, low 90s — it’s always low, you know. [Nope.  I had no clue.]  Cholesterol is good at 194.  LDL is 74, but triglycerides are 299.  You need to work on your diet.”

“What?  What will be left to eat?  I don’t eat fat or dairy.”

“Sugar and alcohol make the triglycerides go up.”

“I don’t drink more than 3-4 glasses of wine a week, and I’ve cut out sugar,” I protested. “I’ve lost almost 20 pounds.  What else can I do?”  For nine months, no sugary drinks, no sugar in my coffee, no ice cream, just the occasional (maybe once a week) dessert.  I apportion super thin cookies, which have 20 calories each, to one a day, or one little square of dark chocolate a day.  I don’t even have maple syrup with my daily frozen waffles.

And then, I remembered.

“Oh, wait.  I had that blood drawn last Monday, didn’t I?  The day after Easter, after two weeks of eating Peeps.”  The doctor started to laugh.

“I ate the Peeps because they’re fat free!  Oh, give me a break.”

“Well, we’ll see when you come back in October.”  As he left the room, I heard him chuckle, “Peeps!”


I know I say this all. the. time, but I am really going to give up online dating.  I’m proud to say that I annoyed two men on three dates in the past two weeks.  The one guy even tried a second date, but he moved to the kissing stage before I did, and boom!  He deleted me.  I’m too much of a lady to pass judgment on them in print, but I will say that I was relieved.  I will also say that I learned a little.  No divorced men.  No men who lie about their health.  No men in their 60s who have never been married.

My friend, Maureen, and I frequently compare notes on the guys we encounter on match.com.  We are similar in many ways.  We are both short.  We both have daughters.  We’re both blonde (one of us naturally, and it ain’t me).  We both live in the country in beautiful homes with large dogs.  We are both singers.  Well, she actually has a degree in music, which I can barely read.  I just have a degree in English, and, heck, everyone I know reads, speaks, and writes English, so that’s no big deal.  She, however, enjoys the outdoors.  I appreciate the outdoors — from the indoors.  Therein lies a key difference to all the rock-climbing, snowboarding, marathon-running, cross-country-cycling silver foxes on match.com who aspire to be Bruce JennerLance Armstrong — well, maybe that’s a different issue.

Located 15 miles north of Baltimore, Maureen and I have decided that we are geographically undesirable, although she attracts a better class of date than I do.  She actually had a guy from the DC-area (the most desirable demographic) date her more than once.  I can’t even get one to answer an email.  Her dates are professional men who take her to trendy restaurants and out kayaking and hiking (yeah, yeah, I take ownership of that).  Mine are all ax-grinders.

Do all short blonde singers look alike?

Do all short blonde singers look alike?

One of my recent dates tried to set up a date with her while his date with me was pending.  This is not the first time that’s happened.  I once dated a guy who turned out to have been one of her former boyfriends.  Maybe all short blonde singers look alike.

“You should put the photo of us singing together on your match.com profile,” I suggested.  “I have it on mine.  We’re standing side-by-side.  I wonder if anyone will notice.”

On my date with the guy who unwittingly was trying to date us both, he mentioned having been on an outing in the neighborhood where she lives, not too far from mine.  I seized my opportunity.

“Oh, yes, that’s where my church is,” I told him.  “St. James?  The old, historic church on the hill?”

“Really?” he was clearly uninterested.

“Yes, I’m the Senior Warden there, and my daughter went to school there.”

“Oh,” I thought I detected wheels turning.  “Did you say you sing?”

“Yes, I sing at St. James, and I sing with the Deer Creek Chorale.  I have a photo of it on my profile.”

I could swear he was putting it together, but I could be wrong.  That would make the perfect story, wouldn’t it? Alas, I’ll never know. Our date lasted a total of 90 minutes, which was a disappointment, not because I wanted to spend more time with the guy who showed up, but because I wanted to spend time with the charming man who had written the most flirtatious emails I’ve ever received.  Instead, we found out that our political ideals don’t match, our cultural ideals don’t match, and our geographical preferences don’t match.  I told him that before I agreed to go out with him, so he can’t say he’s surprised.  Another date courtesy of mismatch.com.

Well, I’m going to enjoy the last slice of My Sister’s birthday cake, orange and devil’s food marble with fudge frosting, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Pot Head

Blackened steakI was thinking about moving the other day.  As much as I love my house, which has taken 34 years to perfect, I’ve decided that it’s too much trouble for one little woman; the woodland pests (deer, ants, snakes), the icy gravel lane in the winter, the remote location.  The BFF and I really don’t need 11 rooms and three full baths.  I can’t get her to bathe enough, as it is, although she needs it, after chasing the aforementioned deer through the aforementioned woods all the muddy winter long.

I googled houses for sale in my neighborhood and found a solid brick rancher on a corner lot with a field across the road.  My imagination, as it usually does, went wild.  The price was great (sadly, it was a foreclosure).  A two-car garage and deck or terrace could be added.  The living room had refinished hardwood floors and a fireplace for my pellet stove.  There were no photos of the bedrooms or the two full and one half baths, but I imagined that they were serviceable, in a retro way.

Even the kitchen, with a recently installed stove and microwave and decent stainless sinks and faucet were usable.  The vinyl flooring was a mess.  No sweat to replace.  The refrig was missing.  No big deal.  I have a spare, if I have to use it.  The counter was a hideous red Formica.  Easily replaceable.  But I hesitated at the cabinets, which were plain, golden oak.  No trim.  No handles.  Probably strippable.  Probably paintable.  All things I have done a million times in my lifetime to other sketchy cabinets, but these cabinets were few…and far between.

I thought of my cooking equipment.  I thought of the number of cabinets in my own splendid kitchen and sighed.  Do I really want to return to the 1970s?  I have soooo much stuff, so many pans, so many gadgets, so much glassware and china and flatware and table linens.  Everything lovingly chosen for a specific purpose.  No “sets” with useless extras.

I could hang a pot rack again, but it wouldn’t hold everything.  I’d have to purge.  I gave a lot of things to The Daughter when she set up her own household, but there’s still so much stuff left in my conveniently-placed deep drawers and pull-out shelves.

I wouldn’t get rid of my two cast iron skillets.  One belonged to my grandmother and one was given to us as a wedding gift, holding a pineapple upside-down cake.  I use them both every week, and you can’t make a dark roux or blacken a steak or piece of fish in anything less substantial.  (Yes, I still blacken stuff, sometimes intentionally.)

Always blame the cook!

Always blame the cook!

I have two omelet pans, a Calphalon and a stainless-lined copper.  I already gave away a non-stick Calphalon omelet pan to The Daughter.  I blame The Veterinarian for those.  He was famous for his omelets and was always looking for the perfect pan.  I gave it to The Daughter because she makes omelets, and I don’t.

I have a non-stick 10” skillet and an enormous 12” Calphalon fryer with lid.  When I need that big pan, nothing else will do. I have a wok which I use more for deep-frying than as a wok.  I don’t deep-fry any more, but I wouldn’t part with it.  I have a cast-iron fajita grill and stove-top grill and a 12” griddle.  I might jettison the fajita grill.  It’s definitely superfluous.

That’s just the skillets.  Then, there’s the saucepans, stock pots, Dutch ovens, and gratin pans.  As outdated as they are, how could I part with my two remaining Club Aluminum saucepans, remnants of my earliest days of cooking?  You can really smash a potato masher into the larger of the two.  How could I part with the little Calphalon with the steamer insert, which, now that I’m cooking for one most of the time, is the perfect size?


My oldest saucepan was purchased with Gold Bell gift stamps.

I’ve ended up with two 3-quart Calphalon saucepans, thanks to the aforementioned woodland pests and, I suspect, bacteria.  I once carelessly left one of them unattended while I was boiling down some stock.  (Probably distracted by something stupid like the laundry or the BFF eating something inedible.)  The residue burned into the bottom of the pan so badly that I couldn’t get it out with soaking or steel wool.  It had become lumpy and completely unusable.  Thoroughly disgusted with myself, I threw the pan outside into the woodsy underbrush, where it lay for over a year.  (One of the many advantages of living in the woods without neighbors; you can chuck stuff into the brush.)  I trotted over to Target and bought another, this time, non-stick (so when it burns it will provide toxic fumes).

When the reject reappeared, in an accusatory manner, in the dead of winter, I retrieved it and was surprised to find that the black residue was gone.  I don’t want to know where or why.  I filled it with water, boiled it for 10 minutes, carefully observing it this time, and voilà!  Now, I have two 3-quart saucepans, one with a clear glass lid and one with a lid that strains the contents.  Both are useful, so neither is redundant, right?

The Italian gratin pan is a work of art.

I have two stainless-lined copper saucepans with lids and one solid copper for making candy (again, I blame the Dearly Departed for the excess).  There’s the enameled double-boiler, which also is small enough to make the perfect stovetop-to-oven casserole for one little woman.  There’s the Le Creuset Dutch oven in which I always make my butternut squash soup and Julia’s Boeuf à la Bourguignonne and a domed Dutch oven for my pot roast.  Don’t ask me to choose!  Same with my two stock pots, both of which have strainer inserts and one has a steamer basket.  I always strain my stock from one pot into the other.  How else could I make a clear stock?

I have two beautiful copper gratin pans, both works of art, especially the Italian one with the acorns on the handles, a spectacular gift from old friends.  I never part with works of art.

I have two roasting pans, one of which holds a 25-pound turkey on a rack.  What else could I use, once a year, on Thanksgiving?  Not that I’m roasting 25-pound turkeys these days, but, it could happen, couldn’t it?

I must not be the only one with a pan fetish.  The vacation condo that I stay in on Grand Cayman came equipped with a basic set of pans, two sizes of saucepans, two sizes of skillets, and a Dutch oven.  For the past three years, I’ve noticed that the other co-owners have added two skillets, a stock pot, and a roasting pan, some of questionable quality, I must say.  None of us is there for longer than three weeks, so you’d think the basic assortment would be sufficient.  I didn’t contribute to the pan collection, but I bought better knives and wine glasses.  First things first, I always say.  Now, if I could get them to replace the glass-topped electric stove with gas burners…

Yeah, my knife (not to mention sharpener) and stemware collections are subjects for other days.  I blame the Veterinarian for those fetishes, too.  How convenient!


I have been mostly inactive on the dating site.  I did receive the following email,

“Enjoyed reading your profile. It made me laugh, multiple times. 1st and last paragraphs are exceptionally honest, the others somewhat challenging. Understand not playing games, but playing nice may prove beneficial. But what do I know.”

He’s “currently separated,” so, probably, not much.  I answered,

“Thanks for the commentary!  I don’t know how to be less than honest.  I was with one man for 42 years and have no clue what men are looking for.  I can only be me.”

Pointlessly, he replied, “Sorry for the unsolicited commentary. It seemed you were a little frustrated and the scammers seem to pick up on that. It just takes a little time to get the hang of online dating, at least that has been my experience.”

I am happy to say that my profile seems to have deterred the scammers, as I have heard from just one in the past two weeks.  His profile name contained the words “sugary” and “muffin.” Before I ever read it — because, why would you read anything written by a man describing himself as baked goods? — his profile became “unavailable,” meaning that some other exasperated woman beat me to reporting him.  Get a load of what he wrote:

I pray that this letter meets you in good health. I really enjoyed reading your profile & everything you have to say about yourself …. I am a gentleman as respectful and considerate as I am passionate and focused. The most virile men, I think, are the ones that combine a steel core of resilience in adversity with a loving devotion to wife and family, and who want their families to be truly happy. [Points for that.] The small things matter: warmth, good conversation, and fun, the capacity to give and receive and to experience…I would appreciate it, if you could contact me on my personal email, so that i will contact you at my convenient and tell you more about me, my family and work…I’m not into finding girls in bars or parties i believe people i find here are responsible and are searching for the same thing. I humbly urge you to find time and convey your reply back to me .
Warm regards,
PS.. I went through your profile and pictures and I was like wow ,YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, Quite enchanting!!!!!”

“Enchanting.”  No one ever uses that word any more outside of Disney films.  I am quite taken with the idea that I could be “enchanting.”  I don’t think of myself as an “enchanter.”  I’m more the “annoyer” or the “defender.”  My enchantments would be more like the seductive Siren than the hapless Helen of Troy;  more luring ships to the rocks than launching them to my rescue.

Maybe I am challenging on the outside, but, honestly, on the inside, I’m really a cream puff, full of sweet crème anglaise, gently thickened in the perfect double-boiler.  Cooking is quite sensual, obviously, which is why I just can’t part with my pots and pans or my kitchen.  They’ve served me faithfully, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Happy Easter to all my Peeps!



Spring may or may not be upon us, but Peeps have been in my kitchen for about a month.  I remember when Peeps came in one shape (chicken) and one color (yellow).  On their website, the Peeps folks offer a year-round explosion of squishy rabbits, ghosts, pumpkins, reindeer, snowmen, Strawberry crème hearts, and sour watermelon and blue raspberry flavors, in colors like turquoise and lavender.

I’m a traditionalist.  Mine are yellow, and they are chickens.  Of course, they’re chickens, they’re Peeps!  Did you ever hear a rabbit “peep?”   Mine are purchased far enough in advance (and on sale the day after Easter) to become dry and crispy on the edges.  Of course, you can speed up the drying process by slightly slitting open the package.  Unfortunately, then I can hear them peeping at me.

Last week, I posted this on Facebook:

“OH, NO!  The package of Peeps has been opened!  Why did I do that?”

30 of my crazy friends wrote to agree with me.  Well, not all 30 are crazy.  I was surprised to find that even my most staid friends agree that the best Peeps are aged Peeps.  But, as my cousin said,

“Some are always willing to be eaten before their time.”

I’m a woman who has eaten in many Michelin-starred restaurants (for lunch, when it’s cheaper and seems incredibly more chic to be indulging in a leisurely lunch and a bottle of wine at mid-day), but a finely aged, sugar-coated, airy confection rivals the finest meringues, and I do love meringues.

I once had dinner with about eight veterinarians at the now-shuttered Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia.  My friend, a Philadelphia native and holder of multiple graduate degrees, had been intimidated to eat there, but, she thought, if she could get the globe-trotting Veterinarian and me to go with her and her delightful husband, she could cross it off her bucket list.  As we were in town for a conference, she started adding people to the reservation, telling them (as you sometimes must do with veterinarians),

“You have to wear a jacket and tie, cowboy boots are ok.  It’s going to be expensive, but you can afford it, and I don’t want to hear any complaining, because this means a lot to me.”

(I love her.  She’s as direct as I am.)

We had a riotous time from the get-go.  In that elegant bastion of Frenchness in the wilds of urban America, where the menu was entirely in French, the maître d’ was gracious and accommodating and, by the end of the evening, was telling us jokes.  At the end of a dinner made excellent by the company of friends and great service, the dessert trolley rolled up to the table, boasting every manner of sweet imaginable, and about six different meringue-based confections.  I asked the waiter,

“Which meringue do you recommend that I have?”

“I recommend that Madame has one of each.”

And I did.  It rivals the time I was served 10 different chocolate desserts at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and the pistachio nougat on a pool of dark chocolate that the waiter in Dijon referred to as “dessert before dessert.”  (We had pre-ordered the Grand Marnier soufflé, which followed the nougat and preceded the petits fours which preceded the chocolate truffles.)

So, yes, I know my food.  And I know my Peeps.  They should be served aged, slightly crispy, and eaten rapidly.  A friend of mine says they’re great toasted over an open fire, but I don’t think I could bear to see my little friends go up in flames.


Let’s play match.com’s daily dating game “Which Do You Like?”Match game

The guy with a woman draped around his neck or the guy propped up on bed pillows.  Skip.

The guy in funky, Elton John eye wear with Rip Taylor hair or the unshaven guy taking a selfie of himself in a mirror but staring at the ceiling.  Skip.

The cute guy with a profile that could have been written by a four-year old or the serial killer squinting at the camera.  Hmmm.  This is a tough one.  The cute guy would be nice to look at for a couple hours, but I fear that his 12-year old self would monopolize the conversation.  Or, worse, that it’s a scammer.  Oh, well, let’s go with Cute Guy.  He won’t respond, anyway.

There are no winners in this game.  Of the many times that I have looked at a photo, made my choice, and written to someone, only two have responded.  One guy said, “We are not a match,” and the other said, “I am cruising on my sailboat and out of the country for the next two months.”  As the “experts” recommend, I am always polite and brief and ask a knowledgeable question about one of their interests that requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer.

For example, if you say you are a wine aficionado, I might ask, “Which wine do you like with turkey?“ because there are a lot of acceptable variables.  Could be a white.  Could be a red.  He could be a traditionalist or could be thinking out of the box (not of wine, I hope).  And wouldn’t I be an interesting date with whom to talk about wine?  Or food?

Or, if your profile photo is taken in front of the Eiffel Tower, “What is your favorite museum in Paris?” because I’m not wasting time with someone who would go all the way to France and not step into one of its many fine museums.  And wouldn’t I be an interesting date with whom to talk about art?  Or Paris?

Or, if you claim to be a pilot, I will ask, “Which airport has the best $100 hamburger?” because every general aviation pilot knows the joke about spending $100 in gas to fly to an airport to have a hamburger.   And wouldn’t I be an interesting date with whom to talk about aviation?  Or hamburgers?

Hmmm…maybe I should try dumber questions.  I bet these are guaranteed to get me a date.

To the guy who’s a homebody and likes to snuggle in front of a fire, “Would you like to take a nap on my comfy sofa while I clean the kitchen after I fix you a four-course dinner?”

To the guy in his alma mater’s sweatshirt holding a football, “Would you tell me all about that winning touchdown you made in high school?”

To the shirtless guy in swim trunks on a beach, “Want to compare tan lines?”

Finally, I have a word of advice for a particular gentleman who wasted my time for nearly three weeks:

If you initiate contact with me by commenting on my profile photos like a man besotted, writing “I would love to meet you” and “You are beautiful; let’s share a bottle of wine” and “You and your dog are beautiful; I could kiss you both” and you IM and email me multiple times with extensive information about yourself and your children and how compatible we are, and if I should respond favorably to all of this, and if you set up a future date with me, and if you subsequently never write to me again to confirm the date that YOU offered and don’t respond to my very brief inquiry (“Which wine should I have with my pizza, or should I look elsewhere?”) and if I google you and find out that you were lying about your age and, I suspect, your marital status, just know that the soft, warm breath of my dear friend, Karma, is breathing down your neck.

And with Karma for a friend, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Pessimistic Happy Thoughts

It’s another gray day interfering with the start of spring.  I’ve taken a bit of flack recently for being negative, angry, and a real downer, so I took one of those ridiculous online quizzes, which said I was a pessimist.  I’d blame it on the weather, but I’m just back from 10 days of friends, sunshine and warm breezes, and one of the best massages I’ve ever had in my life, so I have no legitimate excuse to complain.  I wrote a rough draft about my air travel nightmares, but I’m determined to write about happy things.  I’ll complain about air travel next week.

Ok.  So.  Here I go.  Happy thoughts…happy thoughts…

March SnowdropsOh!  I know!  When I came home, my snow drops that disappeared for a month under mounds of dirty snow were visible and blooming.  Usually when the snow melts, they’re brown and dead, however there is still a pile of dirty ice off my deck, but…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…

March Madness, baby!  While I thought my team wasn’t going to do very well, they’ve made it to the Sweet 16 (Go Green!), which was really exciting, but it’s, like, a miracle, and it will be a real nail-biter when they play for the Elite 8, maybe, so, I guess I won’t get my hopes up, and I know I’ll have to flip the channel back and forth when the game gets close, but…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…

Crab cakes!  I’m having a crab cake tonight!  All during the ice and snow debacle that was February, 2015, when I was trapped in my home for two weeks by a lane full of ice, I craved crab cakes.  Of course, I’d rather have one of my crab cakes, but this restaurant makes a decent crab cake, although the crab isn’t from Maryland, and the price is through the roof, but…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…

National Puppy Day!  Yesterday was National Puppy Day, so I went through my photos of the BFF when she was a puppy.  What a doll she was!  And so smart!  She was housebroken quickly, unlike my sweet but dimwitted Pomeranians, and never chewed the furniture, like my sweet but perpetually bored Shelties, or gnawed the heels of my shoes, like my ungrateful Shih Tzu.  No, she didn’t.  But who knew that my sweet little puppy would grow up to swallow inanimate objects like paper towels, socks, gloves, and underwear and has had emergency surgeries for swallowing a needle and eating a corn cob (she did husk it quite neatly, first), which cost a fortune, even though I got a professional discount, so…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…

OMG!  Number One Reason to be Happy:  I FOUND MY MOTHER’S BIRTHDAY PRESENT!!!   Break out the Champagne!  If you read this blog last October, you’ll know that I lost My Mother’s birthday gift the very day that I was to give it to her.  I searched my house from top to bottom and couldn’t find it anywhere and gave her a lame gift card, instead…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…

So, when I arrived home from my vacation last week and was getting into bed at 2am because my flight was delayed…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…and knocked over my bedside table…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…and had to pick up my phone, my lamp, my flashlight, my security alarm and tv remote controls, assorted dirty Kleenexes (so the BFF wouldn’t eat them)…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…THERE IT WAS! On the floor, where I’d looked for months.  Where I’d vacuumed.  Where I’d restacked the books I haven’t read yet.  Where I’d reorganized my slippers and picked up countless pens, paper clips and coins and wads of dog hair and dead stink bugs.

WHY DIDN’T I SEE IT BEFORE?  Am I going blind?  Stupid?  Crazy?  Is this dementia? Five months!  It took five months to find something that was in plain sight.  Next to my head, every single time I slept in my bed.  Now, I’m worried that it might be too dirty (it still was wrapped in tissue in the original Talbot’s bag).  And it’s too late to return it.  And it’s too small for me.  Should I wash it before I give it to her?  Then it will look used.    Should I give it to her now?  Maybe for Easter?  (No, I’m making an Easter project for my family—ha, ha, ha—more blog fodder.)  Mother’s Day?

Now, I’m feeling anxious…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…Is there a troll under my bed playing with my mind?  Probably not…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…

The BFF is sleeping peacefully at my feet.  Did she eat something?  Is she sick?…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…The snow that was forecast for today hasn’t materialized.  Is it waiting to snow when I have to go out tonight?…happy thoughts…happy thoughts…There are buds on my camellia…um…um…I got nothin’ but happy thoughts…happy thoughts…


In my new quest to be “cheerful and upbeat” (“No one wants to be around someone

March Madness, baby!

March Madness, baby!

negative,” an online dating “counsellor” wrote), I also changed my profile photo to an upbeat, smiling photo of me in a dark green shirt with “Michigan State Spartans” on it.  I figured it was good for March Madness, shows I’m up on sports (which I am, BTW).  I also changed my profile name from some letters and numbers to include part of my real first name, so that, when if when (happy thoughts!) men write to me, they have a name to which to address their emails.  You know, put a name with the face?

I also changed my profile, yet again.  Last month’s was a dreamy, kind of sweet thing.  Now, I’m more my real self, i.e., funny and, as one guy put it, irreverent.  It opens with

“I am really tired of scammers (I get 3-5 each day) and am waiting to hear from a serious man who will follow through with a conversation.”

The aging hippie, that I rejected last fall, wrote and questioned if I really get that many scammers each day.  Unfortunately, he “followed through” by emailing me two days in a row, asking how many scammers had contacted me so far that day.  I told him four the first day and six the next (both true).  That seems to have shut him up, thank goodness!

My profile now says

“I was actually stood up on a match.com date. Can you imagine?”

A guy wrote and said he would like to make up for that and described himself as having neglected himself over the years, which his profile photo confirmed, and wants someone to help him get back in shape.  Sorry.  I was already in a relationship with a work-in-progress for 42 years and won’t do it again.

Yesterday, I had another email from the private pilot who emailed me last fall and never followed up on his date offer.  Maybe my name and photo change confused him?  Naw. Turns out he’s a scammer, because he wrote the very same text that he wrote last fall (“I used to keep a plane in Fallston”), but with the profile photo of a woman and his profile name changed to reflect her gender.  His masculine name was signed at the bottom.  Of course, the guy is 72 and may be confused by his own identity.  He probably can’t find things next to his head either.  Two delusional people are not a match.

In the new profile, I also indicated that

“I learned to put on my coat by myself when I started kindergarten and still remember how to do it (at least, as of this writing)…I make the best Key Lime pie…I can snuggle by the fire with my sweet dog, but she’s a slobbery kisser and steals food off my plate.”

I didn’t mention that she also eats socks and underwear.

I end with

“My alternative is to gain 20 pounds, let my hair turn gray, sell my house, move into a retirement community, and drink myself senseless on all that fine wine in my cellar, a lifestyle which, quite frankly, scares me to death. For heaven’s sake, save me!”

I should have known better.  One guy wrote, “I’d like to meet you, but I’m not sure you need saving.”

Oh, well.   That means more Key Lime pie for me, so, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Éirinn go Brách

From the daughter of Maggie Begley, the great-granddaughter of Maggie Doherty Tincher, and the great-great-granddaughter of Maggie Hegarty

From the daughter of Maggie Begley, the great-granddaughter of Maggie Doherty Tincher, and the great-great-granddaughter of Maggie Hegarty Doherty/Daugherty/Dougherty

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Like most Americans, I’m a mutt.  My biological ancestors came from various parts of Europe.  Through oral tradition, my maternal grandmother could recite the family tree all the way back to 18th century America.  She bequeathed the family Bible to my mother along with bits and pieces of legal and anecdotal records.  From eastern Kentucky, she claimed that we had descended from Daniel Boone, which I always doubted, because, apparently, everyone in Kentucky claims to be descended from the man in the coonskin cap.  She also said that her grandfather, Francis “Frank” Daugherty (alternately spelled “Doherty” and “Dougherty” and pronounced “darty”), had emigrated from Ireland.  Francis passed along that his mother was Maggie Hegarty, a name he bestowed on my great-grandmother.  My grandmother named my mother “Maggie” after her.

Now, my mother will tell you that she despises her name because, according to her, it sounds like the name of a “washer woman” or laundress. I realize that the Irish (as with my paternal Italian forebears) were held in low esteem in the 19th and early 20th century.  So, too, were my mother’s ancestors in the hills of Appalachia.  You’ve seen “The Beverly Hillbillies”, right?  Therefore, using the system of reasoning that I did not comprehend in 10th grade geometry, does it make sense that she gave me “Maggie” as my middle name?  “Suzanne Maggie” doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue.  It has neither an “Anglo-Saxon” nor Gallic (“Suzanne” is French for “Susannah”) ring to it.  At any rate, I am Maggie times four.  At least.  Who knows how many are buried on the ould sod?

Worse yet, when I was a child, St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in all its green glory.  I learned in my Catholic catechism class that green represented the Catholic Irish who rebelled against the evil English government, which was “protestant.”  My Mother was confirmed in a Lutheran church (can’t be more protestant than Martin Luther), when her family moved to Detroit, but I never knew them to belong to a church of any denomination.  I was a little ashamed to be descended from those quarrelsome protestant Irish, so I wore neither green nor orange.

About 20 years ago, on a trip to a conference in Nashville, My Mother and I stopped in the tiny Appalachian town where she was born.  On this trip to Kentucky, we visited with every surviving relative that she knew.  One of them, my grandmother’s first cousin, had a house full of Catholic artifacts that she had rescued from the local Catholic church when it was closed.  Why?  Because she was Catholic!  “Was her late husband Catholic?” I asked.  “Oh, no,” she replied and explained her family’s religious affiliation. Apparently, the sons of my great-great-grandfather Frank had remained Catholic.  The daughters, who married protestant men, became protestants.  Faith and begorrah!

In the 19th century, Catholic priests rarely visited the isolated community, until it grew enough to raise up a Catholic parish.  Francis married a local girl (Marticia Cole — and that name’s a story for another day) from a protestant family, and their daughter, Maggie Daugherty, married William Tincher, a protestant of Irish origins stretching back into the 17th century in the colonies.  My grandmother married a “Begley,” also an Irish name but a protestant family. Were they ever Catholic?  Who knows?  My Mother the Lutheran married My Dad the Italian Catholic, and now I, their daughter, who was raised a Catholic, is an Episcopalian (technically, a reformed Catholic, not a protestant).  I guess I can wear whatever the hell I want to.  Talk about mutts…

Thanks to Ancestry.com, I have been able to corroborate my grandmother’s anecdotal information on her family’s history.  Other than her grandfather, all of the family with Irish surnames who emigrated to the colonies were born in England.  The rest of  the hardy souls had English names.   Among them, Ancestry also corroborated that we do descend directly from Daniel Boone through his youngest daughter, Levina, not once, but twice, which would be kind of incestuous if the generations weren’t spread out so far.  Yet another story for another day.

Today, I’ll be Irish.  After all, St. Patrick was a mutt himself.  He was born in what was probably modern-day Scotland to British parents, who were Roman citizens, and kidnapped by Irish pirates into slavery and taken to Ireland.

Because I’m a mutt, I prefer my corned beef on rye, Champagne to Guinness, and garlic toast to soda bread.   I will salute the sainted Padraig with a verse from the prayer attributed to him, St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.


I’m on vacation this week and experienced almost three days without wifi.  Horrors!  When I was able to reconnect, I was met with the usual scammers.  Maybe it’s the sun.  Maybe it’s the rum.  Maybe it’s the companionship of old friends and the safety of being several thousand miles from home, but I decided to confront the scammers.

I received an email from someone who had obviously stolen a well-written profile.  He/she (because who knows who’s behind this stuff) wrote an ungrammatical email.  I thought I would be helpful and responded:

“Helpful hint:  When stealing a person’s photo and profile, it would be a good idea to write in the grammatical style of the original profile, if you wish to be successful at scamming.”

I’ve had no reply.

A 62-year old legitimate prospect emailed me, questioning what he called my “diatribe” about grammar and spelling, which I’ve included in my profile.  I replied, explaining that I receive emails from 3-5 scammers each day and was hoping to weed them out.  He responded that he hears occasionally from 20-30 year old women but had not heard from any scammers.  I’m sure you join me in my amusement that a 62-year old man with a full white beard thinks that 20-30 year old women aren’t scammers.

I had a guy, without a profile photo, IM me.  Bored, I asked him why he didn’t have a photo.  He gave me the typical, grammatically garbled explanation about not knowing how to upload photos.  I told him to go away and stop wasting my time.  I wanted to say, “If you aren’t smart enough to figure out how to upload a photo, you aren’t smart enough to date me.”

Finally, I had a delusional moment.  THE sweetest 41-year old man emailed me,

“What does a stunning woman need with a dating site? I can’t imagine you have difficulty meeting someone. In fact, I’d assume you have suitors lined up for miles waiting for their opportunity to approach you.”

After I picked myself up off the floor, I wrote back,

“Assuming that you are serious, I’m going to respond to one of the few real emails that I have received in almost eight months of online dating… currently, there are no available attractive, intelligent, sophisticated gentlemen in my age bracket within a 50 mile radius of Baltimore (consider that includes DC, Frederick, the Eastern Shore, southern PA, and Wilmington). Well, apparently, there are a few, but they all want women who are considerably younger than I. The ones who are 50-70 and look like my grandfather want someone 35-45…”

His adorable reply,

“Yes, I am sincere and I’m sorry that you’ve had nothing but disappointment and despair with online dating. Yes, sadly, there are a lot of people online who are fakes or just looking for sex but they don’t make up the majority.

If there are none of those types of men in your age bracket, then I suggest opening up your age range to someone much younger than yourself. There are many like me who are seeking a mature woman for dating and not for the cliche reasons: sex, money, etc.”

Well, my goodness gracious, pass this old lady the smelling salts!  If things don’t pick up here, I may expand that age bracket to 40-60.  I just might be a cougar, after all.  Bring on the tight leopard-print capris!  The false eyelashes!  The platform heels!  (No, wait, that’s how I broke my patella three years ago.)

OMG!  Could I really date someone young enough to be my son?  Even I am not that delusional.  Maybe I could fix him up with The Daughter…So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria! 

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How Many Donuts Can One Little Woman Eat?

If you have to eat breakfast, eat donuts!

If you have to eat breakfast, eat donuts!

I don’t know what possessed me, but I bought a half dozen Dunkin’ Donuts last Friday.  You see, I was about to go on vacation and had run out of my usual Eggo’s homestyle waffles, which I eat every morning with a cup of extra-strong PG Tips tea.

I hate breakfast.  I don’t get it.  You really can’t drink wine with it, so, what’s the point?  I don’t like eggs.  I don’t like food doused in cold milk, so cereal is out.  I don’t eat yogurt or fruit, not even orange juice with sparkling wine.  Blech.

I do love bacon, but, unfortunately, I have hypertension. My Mother has it, too, all 4’10” and 90 pounds of her. (5’1” and 118 pounds of me, for full disclosure). It’s a genetic, old age thing, my internist tells me.  I was diagnosed with it right after The Veterinarian died suddenly and my Legal Problems started.  (Yes, I anthropomorphize my Legal Problems as an evil Disney character with me as the forlorn Disney princess.  And we know how Disney fairy tales turn out, don’t we?  I mean, why does the witch even bother?  Am I right?)

I even took a nuclear stress test, which showed that blood was rushing unimpeded throughout my body.  I did the treadmill test for the full 10 minutes without keeling over (although my bp was something like 200 at the end and dropped to 140 within five minutes).  I think they figured if that didn’t kill me, nothing would, so they’re covering their butts with the beta blocker.  Anyway, it’s supposed to slow my heart rate from that of a hummingbird to a tortoise.  It’s probably more like that of the BFF chasing deer into the woods than that of a normal human being.  The beta blocker has to be taken in the morning with food.  Blech.

For the first two years, I made myself eat a piece of white or whole wheat toast with peanut butter every single morning.  Then, I discovered that I could eat a plain waffle (no chocolate chips, no blueberries, no syrup) every morning.  It’s sort of like feeding The BFF, who will eat anything you give her at 6:30 am, or any other time, for that matter.  I eat two waffles.  They meet my requirements for food that must be eaten:  hot and tasteless.  Not slimy or slippery.  Not musty, tangy, or stinky.

Donuts are great, but I’m really liking my new abs and want to keep them.  If I could eat anything, I would eat a pain au chocolat or an almond croissant or even a plain croissant, as long as it was made with real butter, with a caffe latte (café au lait, in desperation), every single day.  Of course, after two days, the coffee would be killing my stomach, which is why I also take an omeprazole and why I drink strong black tea with milk and sweetener in the morning.

The reason that I bought six donuts, was that I had run out of frozen waffles and decided to treat myself to donuts on the three days before I left on vacation.  Why buy waffles that are just going to sit in the freezer while I’m gone?  Yes, I realize that three days means that three donuts would have been sufficient, but it seems sort of chintzy to just buy three donuts, when you could be saying, “I’ll take half a dozen, please.”  So, I got two chocolate frosted for Saturday, two chocolate glazed for Sunday, and two plain for Monday, my travel day.  The plain wouldn’t upset my stomach, you see, and I wouldn’t risk getting chocolate on my new pants.

My flight was leaving at 8:50 am, a relatively moderate departure time, given that the last time I flew, my departure was 5:53 am, which means we were told to be at the airport two hours early, but the freaking airport didn’t open until 4:30, so what was up with that?  A sick joke, if you ask me.  You show up at 3:53, and the agent tells about 100 sleep-deprived people, “Oh, well, you’ll just have to stand here with your eyes glazed over, because we don’t really open the counter or the self-serve kiosks until 4:30.”  Really?  The computerized self-service kiosk is on a break?  Really?  Is that a union rule?

I checked in at home and just needed to check my bag.  There were three agents standing around doing absolutely nothing at the US Airways counter, except telling people that they weren’t open.  So, what were the agents being paid to do?  I want a job like that.  No, really, I don’t.  Who wants to be at an airport at 3:53 in the morning repeatedly explaining things to irritated passengers?

This, my friends, is why no one dresses up to fly any more and why passengers get crazy when they finally board the aircraft.  Of course, they aren’t listening to the safety announcement.  They are so exhausted when they finally get wedged into their seats that they pass out.  The airlines should treat them to donuts and coffee, if they want civility in the formerly friendly skies.

And when said passenger is waiting to take her beta blocker until she can obtain food from one of the unopened concessions, mayhem very well may ensue.  Nope, not even Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts is open for the weary traveler at that hour.

That’s the last time I had a donut — two months ago.  Maybe I should eat donuts more often, so I wouldn’t be tempted to binge on them.  Of course, that would jeopardize my other health issue, high cholesterol, which I also share with My Little Mother.  The way I see it, I don’t really have high cholesterol.  I understand my medical condition like this:  the total cholesterol number is around 200, which is not so good, UNLESS you are me.  My bad cholesterol is within normal limits (wnl, as we say in the medical biz).  My good cholesterol is way above normal limits (I don’t know how we say that).  My triglycerides are whatever they’re supposed to be.  Put them all together, you get what looks to be a disaster, so, yet again, the docs are covering their butts, and I take a statin.

The irony?  I lost 20 pounds last summer, yet my blood pressure didn’t drop a single point, and my cholesterol is unchanged.  I would feel cheated, but my goal was to see my waist again before I die, so I’m pretty happy with the whole situation.  Bring on the donuts! If I die of either hypertension or blocked arteries, I will be a good-looking corpse with a smile on her face and chocolate smudges on her clothes.  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


I just saw an eHarmony commercial, where Beth, a pretty young blonde woman, tells the founder of eHarmony that she “just doesn’t have the time to answer all those eHarmony questions.”  Dr. Founder asks her, “Beth, do you want fast or forever?  Only eHarmony.com takes the time to find you that perfect someone.”  First of all, why is Beth sitting across the desk from a psychologist?  Is she mental, as Ed Grimley would say?  Is Dr. Founder a family friend?  Poor Beth.  The commercial makes her look like a shallow nitwit who doesn’t have the stamina or brains to answer 20 minutes of questions about the complexities of life.  Yet he is encouraging her to join, so she must be the ideal eHarmony woman.  And, of course, we know that I am not.  [See Why I am a Proud eHarmony Reject]

Better yet, she should try to join beautifulpeople.com where the members vote on who is beautiful enough to join them as desperate losers on a dating site where the average age appears to be 32.  I saw a beautiful blonde model on one of the magazine shows talking about how they rejected her, so I checked it out.  Lots of average-looking young people pretending to be hipsters, like a reality show.  On the reality shows, they also appear to have Big Bucks (you can tell, because the women clutch small ugly dogs and always have red-soled shoes — maybe Louboutins, maybe not — red paint is cheap), but, within two seasons, they are filing for bankruptcy or going to jail or getting divorced and losing their Bentleys (probably leased).  No more eyebrow threading, back to tweezing.   No more Birkin bags, back to Coach.  No more knockdown drag out fights in restaurants, back to — I don’t know.  Where do has-been reality stars go?  What a shame to give up such a glamorous, classy existence.

And their husbands always look like some of these guys on the dating sites.  Five o’clock shadows, pudgy waistlines, loud sport coats.  (I take back that last comment.  A loud sport coat would be an improvement worn over a wifebeater.)  If a guy like that can spend enough on a woman to make her look like a million dollars, then an online dater should be happy with just about anything with a pulse.  Ahhh… now I get it.  When a guy says he wants someone 18-105, he knows he could play Henry Higgins and get himself a fixer-upper.  I thought they were just looking for something to cover with a burka.

Hmmm…  I wish the following guy had been required to take a test before he emailed me.  Of course, he probably would have passed, and there ain’t enough Hermès in the world to get me to date him.

I became suspicious immediately because his description didn’t match his photo (He said he had blue eyes, but the photo clearly showed brown.  “Teacher?”  I thought not.  I decided to ask him about it.  This is our written conversation in its entirety.

May have a nose longer than a telephone wire.

May have a nose longer than a telephone wire.


How to stuff a not-so-wild bikini

The wildest bathing suit I ever owned, c. 1971

At 100 pounds, in the wildest bathing suit I ever owned, c. 1971  –  The “hippie” glasses had lavender lenses.

I made the mistake of trying on bathing suits yesterday.  I know.  January is not the month for that.  I assumed that it would be a more pleasant experience than in recent years, having lost some weight and rearranged a couple of crucial body parts.  Unfortunately, I forgot that there was pasty white skin lurking beneath my clothes.  I went to a shop that only sells beachwear, so the lighting in the dressing room was forgiving and designed to make skin look pinkish, but it couldn’t disguise either the marks around my waist from my jeans or the elastic from my socks around my calves.

First, I had to struggle with size.  What size am I now?  My old suits don’t fit.  The tops stood away from my body, which horrified me that I ever wore such a thing in the first place, not to mention that it fit!  The first tops that I tried on were too small.  I wasn’t sure how to take that.  Should I be happy that I still have some womanly curves or concerned that I still have that pesky “arm pit fat” that I didn’t know I had until the surgeon pointed it out to me?

And I still have hips.  I’ve always had hips, even when I weighed a hundred pounds.  With hope in my heart, I tried on a size “small” bottom, but it dug into my fat — er — skin, so I went with the medium bottom, which I’ve always worn. The more things change, the more they remain the same.  There was a time when I wore real bikinis.  I’m always shocked when I see what I used to wear, but, like most of the fleet, that ship has sailed.

So, what style?  High-waisted bottom?  Skirted?  Low cut top?  Screaming red?  Horizontal stripes?  Metallics?  One piece?  Tankini?  I’ve always worn black and navy, so it would be nice to enliven my color palette (as the magazines say).

I decided on tankinis, those two-piece suits that allow you to cover up your midsection.  Since I never go into the water (except a hot tub or briefly into the pool to cool off), I like their convenience.  I prefer to sit in a lounge chair, basting and turning like a chicken, while I read the latest chick lit and sip on a cold drink.  This can take a few hours, so I usually need to visit the ladies’ room from time to time, and I have no patience with tugging at a one piece.  If the cold drink is an adult beverage, I may not be coordinated enough to manage it.

Timidly, I tried on a black number that was jazzed up with a little crocheted lace trim and a little skirt for the bottom.  I texted a selfie to The Daughter for her opinion.

“Lingerie?”  She jumped in her car and drove to meet me at the mall.  God only knows what kind of senility had overcome her mother.

I tried on another suit with a little ruffle around the bodice and the bottom.  Again, it was conservatively black, although the narrow ruffle was a print, predominately coral.  It had a built-in bra.  Much more appropriate for a 62-year old woman.  Surely, the Daughter would approve.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about what your daughter thinks,” the kind saleslady advised, as she took away a ghastly horizontally striped two piece in hot pink and navy.  “Age is just a number.”  Yeah, sure.  You just want to make a sale.  I’m the one who’s going to hear about it while we’re on vacation.

For many years, when I was in my 30s, I kept a New Yorker cartoon on my bathroom mirror.  It showed an older woman in a lacy, off-the-shoulder, debutante-style dress with a bow in her hair and a cameo necklace.  The caption read, “Clara never realized that time had passed.”  Of course, 30 years ago, “Clara” was seen through a glass dimly, but I kept it as a reminder.  Unfortunately, I lost that cartoon when we remodeled the bathroom, but, somehow, “Clara” has started appearing in my mirror.

“Maybe it’s the skirted bottom,” the helpful saleslady brought a plain bottom to the dressing room.  “Try this one.  It’s not as busy.”  She was right.  It looked sleeker and less like a tap costume.  Still, there was no bra in the top, and, no matter how perky my recent “rearrangement” left me, I felt a little too exposed.  I sprang for the ruffled suit and asked them to hold the one with the lace for the Daughter’s approval.  I met her outside the store.

“Listen,” I said, “they’re holding that black suit for me that you thought was lingerie.  I’m not sure I should buy it, so, when I show it to you, say you don’t like it.”

“OK,” she agreed.  We walked into the store, and the saleslady produced the suit.

“OMG!” The Daughter exclaimed.  “I love it.  You should buy it.”  Traitor!  I gave her The Look.

“You see,” she explained to the saleslady, “my mother is doing online dating now but doesn’t really present herself all that well.  She needs to be more exciting.  Mom, you should definitely buy that suit, and, if you don’t like it, you should give it to me.”


I have six weeks left on my Match subscription, and I think I’m done.  I’ve tried everything.  I tried being myself.  I tried being non-offensive.  I tried being someone else for about 24 hours.  Now, I’ve hidden my profile until my membership expires.  The Daughter is concerned that I’m wasting money, but it all seems to have been a money waster from the beginning.  I’ve emailed over 20 men who appeared to be “matches” and only heard from the one who said tersely, “We are not a match.”  I was advised that men like to be the pursuer and are turned off by women who approach them first.  I was advised that it’s a new world and that women shouldn’t wait for a man to approach them.  A Catch-22 situation all around.

Last week, I heard from multiple scammers, including another woman who claimed to be writing for her boss.  I also heard from one of the many inappropriate men on Match.  He was 65, never married, and agnostic with shoulder length hair (!), who described himself as an “underachieving wiseass…looking for a drama free woman.”  He wrote, “Would you take a chance on a hippie who is now attoning [sic] for his misspent youth?”

Oh, you have got to be kidding me.  I’m one of the few people of my generation who has never smoked weed.  I wasn’t a hippie when everyone flirted with being a hippie in the 60s and 70s, not even beads and peace symbols or even macramé plant holders. I still can’t stand the smell of patchouli.

In my Peter Pan collar and box-pleated skirt, sitting on the lawn next to my French instructor with cigarette in her hand.

In my Peter Pan collar and box-pleated skirt, sitting on the lawn next to my French instructor with cigarette in her hand.

My freshman year in college in 1971, I had a French language instructor who owned one pair of ripped jeans, two ribbed turtlenecks (one navy, one mauve), a pair of lace-up moccasins, and a necklace of beaded flowers.  Her fashion sense was to ring her eyes with kohl and plaster her lips with Max Factor Erace (that old grease-stick concealer).  We had a mutual dislike for one another.  I wore skirts and bell-bottomed slacks with real shoes and was the best student in the class.  It drove her nuts.

She also chain-smoked during class, one of those ghastly things that people are no longer allowed to inflict on others.  One day, she finished a cigarette, dropped it on the classroom floor, and, while rubbing it out, ground a hole through the bottom of her moccasin and burned her foot.  You know what they say about Karma…

In answer to your question, sir, “No.  No hippies.  No one of any kind who hasn’t gotten over their misspent youth or even their misspent middle-age.”

Maybe I should just misspend my “Golden Years.” Maybe I’ll keep that little lacy black tankini for myself.  Since the geezers my age think I’m too old for them, I can always blame it on senility, so who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Resolutely not making resolutions

I resolve not to make any resolutions for the year 2015.  Why disappoint myself?  I’m not going to follow them anyway.  I don’t even make it for a week.  I’m clever enough to justify breaking my own rules for any occasion, which defeats the entire purpose of making a change in my life.  Good grief!  My life mutates so much that I have enough trouble coping, without throwing any more changes into the mix.

Resolutions assume that I control my destiny.  Past experience tells me — not likely.  As Woody Allen allegedly said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell God your plans.”  I don’t believe in pre-destination.  I’m more of a reactionary than a resolver.  As they say in acting class, be a reactor, not an actor.

Resolutions assume that there is something about me that needs to be changed — desperately.  I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but, after losing 20 pounds last summer, neither my blood pressure nor my bad cholesterol dropped.  Thanks so much genetics!  It won’t do me any good to exercise more or eat more healthily, so I can cross those two resolution possibilities off my list.  I’m not sure I have any other flaws that are in dire need of correction.

Sun-damaged glory

Sun-damaged glory

Maybe I should moisturize more and stay out of the sun.  The humidity makes my skin softer, and the sunlight recharges my endorphins.

Maybe I should cut back on my alcohol intake.  Sadly, thanks to the POTUS, I can now bring back my favorite Cuban rum, legally.

Maybe I should quit smoking.  Too easy.  I don’t smoke.

Maybe I should cut out chocolate.  It’s an essential part of my carefully-controlled diet.

Maybe I should clean my house more.  No one sees it but me, so who cares?

Maybe I should cut back on buying shoes.  No, they need good homes.

Maybe I should just cut myself some slack.  January, the bleakest month, is no time to torture myself.

Nope, I’ll find every shred of hope I can to get me through January.  On Sunday, Downton Abbey returns, which probably calls for a real cream tea commemoration (ie, scones and clotted cream).  My vestry retreat follows the next weekend, which means we will pray, plan, and snack non-stop for almost 24 hours (and fellowship is really virtuous).  The aforementioned trip to the tropics follows, with deep-fried conch fritters and sitting on the beach, reading, and exerting about 0 calories a day.  My favorite show, Justified, returns for its final season, and watching all those folks in the “hollers” slugging moonshine and good Kentucky bourbon makes me thirsty.

In between, there’s a cavalcade of celebrities strutting down red carpets at the People’s Choice, Golden Globes, and the SAG Awards, which means I’ll have a big bowl of popcorn by my side, as I record all that blog fodder to feed our dark little souls!

Finally, Super Bowl Sunday is February 1, which, especially if the Ravens make the cut, means every manner of gut-bombing food and drink.  If the Ravens are out of it, I’ll be drowning my sorrows.


My friend Christine alerted me to a segment on “Good Morning America” about online dating.

“How honest should you be about yourself?” one of the slick hosts asked the viewing audience.

Apparently there’s a new online dating site called “Settle for Love,” which encourages people to present themselves “honestly.”  For example, don’t shave years off your age or post photos of yourself from high school, as some people do, apparently.  The founder actually posts a photo of his thinning hair, so prospective dates won’t be surprised.  I get that.  While I post photos showing me without make-up in my sun-damaged glory, there’s certainly been a lot of fudging from those that I’ve encountered.

“Getting real,” he says, “is the only way to find love…Admit flaws…Why don’t you show them right now?  Represent who you are.”

Conversely, they also featured “relationship expert” Donna Barnes, whose website describes her as “a New York University Certified Life & Relationship Coach, [who] specializes as a Heartbreak Coach.”  (Wow!  You can get paid for that?)  In terms of full disclosure, Donna also runs her own online dating site, which uses something called “Online Dating Protector” and ensures “genuine members.”  Apparently, they are genuine only as far as they need to be to follow Donna’s advice for finding love.

“Less is more,” she said.  “Too much information is a turn-off…An open book is not sexy.”

Boy, am I dumb.  My Mother taught me that honesty is always the best policy.  So, it’s ok to say that I’m 5’ 2” tall, which is only true if I’m tottering in heels, but it’s not ok to say that I know how to hang dry wall and really understand football, which is totally true?

In this week’s adaptation of my dating profile, I say that “I won’t sleep with someone on a first date (and probably not on a second or third, either),” which I readily can see is “not sexy.”  I also say, “Like my dog, I’m loyal and faithful but a much better kisser.”  Ahhhh…I see what my problem is.  I’m not trying to be sexy.  Now I’m really screwed, because I have no idea what that means.  I’m just scary little old me, stumbling through life.  Where are you, Justin Timberlake?  I don’t just need to bring sexy back, I need to find out what it is, if it isn’t being my true self.

Would you salsa with this woman?

Would you salsa with this woman?

Faith is probably not sexy, so I’ll drop the line about it being important to me, although I did say “I don’t proselytize on street corners.”  Oops!  “Proselytize” may be a high-fallutin’ word, so I’ll drop that, too.  Let’s see, be faithless, be younger, be taller, be helpless, be stupid, be crass, be promiscuous, be a liar.  I get it now.  Be like the people I see on reality television because no one wants reality any more.  Got it.

However, I simply will not use the ubiquitous phrase “I love holding hands on long walks on the beach at sunset and snuggling with that special someone in front of a roaring fire after a night of salsa dancing” that shows up on nearly every profile, male and female (yes, I’ve checked out the competition, such as it is).

I’ll delete, “Yes, I’m really 62 and holding up nicely.  Yes, my photos were all taken in the past six months.  Yes, I’m shorter than a supermodel.”  Be gone, “I’m sophisticated, which means that I know which fork to use and think camping means staying at a two-star hotel.” I can keep, “I’m a modern woman who swears when she drives,” because, truthfully, my bad language isn’t confined to the interior of my car. And swearing is sexy, isn’t it?  It isn’t?

There you go!  My 2015 New Year’s Resolution is to stop swearing — or maybe just swear less (justifying already, you see?) — so that I’ll be sexier, find my “last love,” and live happily ever after.  Perhaps I will try out the beach-fire-salsa line.  It must work for some people, right?  I might even learn to like snuggling with strangers on a first date.  Ha-ha-ha!  I love writing fiction.  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!


Why I am a proud eHarmony reject

grammarnerdI went on my first date in almost 45 years last week.  “How did I choose my date?” You might ask.  I chose my date the way that we English majors do. He was the only man who wrote in complete, grammatical, correctly spelled sentences. We pleasantly spent two hours listening to him talk (I think he only asked one question about me), and he was gracious enough to pay for my tuna sashimi appetizer and half-priced glass of chardonnay, although I popped out my credit card and made an offer to pay my share.  As I dashed off to a meeting, we concluded that we would “keep in touch.”

At least, he was literate.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but many of the people at the online dating services write incomprehensibly, so I can only guess how they would sound over a glass of wine and tuna sashimi.  A friend suggested that I should cut them some slack, as people tend to write in shorthand, these days, but, if you’re trying to impress a potential date, are you really going to use slang, incomplete sentences, obscure lingo, and basically write in such a way that she can’t understand what you’re saying, much less, who you are?  And if she has made it clear that she is an English major…well, let’s not state the obvious.

It’s true that the Veterinarian, brilliant though he was, was a questionable speller of ordinary language.  He could perfectly write any multisyllabic medical or scientific term, but he perpetually was confused by their, there, they’re and its vs. it’s.  He never submitted any article for publication without running it by his in-house editor, moi.  We attended the same schools and university, but he was a math-and-science guy, and I am a language arts person.  I’m crossword puzzles.  He was Sudoku. We complemented each other perfectly.

I don’t know how I became a grammar nerd.  I can pick out the word that doesn’t belong in a sequence at a glance.  Like a walking thesaurus, I can pick out synonyms, antonyms, oxymorons (or any moron), and onomatopœia and tell you when you need an Oxford comma or semi-colon.   I grit my teeth reading some of the memes and shared posts on Facebook.  I would worry about having OCD, but my house is a mess, and I’m happier in wrinkled jeans than in jeans with a crease.  It’s just a grammar thing, one weird flaw in my otherwise sterling personality.

However, while I can spell it, I don’t remember the Pythagorean theorem without googling it and am pretty sure I’ve never used it in my real life.  My tenth-grade geometry teacher once threatened to “hang [me] by [my] thumbs from the flagpole at 3:10,” if I couldn’t tell her why I could figure out a proof without being able to enumerate the steps.

“I don’t know, Mrs. Smith.  I just looked at the figure, and it came to me.”

“That’s not possible,” she blustered.  “You need to go step-by-step, logically.  Here, try this one.”  We spent the next 20 minutes with me giving her answers without being able to follow a “logical” process.  She did not pin me to the flagpole, but she did threaten to keep me from advancing to Algebra II (which I breezed through the following year, by the way).

Now, I have taken my illogical self to online dating.  It was suggested that more intelligent men (ie, the kind who use the Pythagorean theorem in real life) are on eHarmony.  Match.com isn’t selective enough, I heard.  You pays your money; you gets to pick.  With eHarmony, you are required to take a lengthy “Relationship Questionnaire” to determine your match criteria before paying them huge sums of money to find the man of your dreams.

I don’t know what happens after you finish the quiz, because they rejected me.  Halfway through answering questions about my assertiveness, my faith, my goals, etc., eHarmony congratulated me with a hearty “Most people don’t make it this far!”  I found that a little weird but spent another 10 minutes thoughtfully considering my answers, some of which were met with a cryptic “Do you really mean this?” message.

My answers were all over the spectrum, not just on one end or the other or even all in the middle.  I thought I was being really thorough and assessing myself carefully.  Heck, I may not be expecting the man of my dreams on eHarmony, but I wouldn’t want to be as poorly matched as I have been on Match.com.  I hit the submit button and waited for what seemed like an unusually long time.   Finally, this popped up

Badge of Honor

Badge of Honor

Huh?  It’s a dumb online questionnaire for a dating site, not an application to the CIA.  I googled “eHarmony rejects” and read of people who were rejected because they were homosexuals (not I), atheists (not I), independent (could be) or assertive women.   Ding-ding-ding-ding-ding!  We have a winner!

Several writers suggested that the eHarmony matrix (the mathematical probability of matching people) doesn’t allow for “complex thinkers.”  Well, there you go!  It’s “mathematical.”  It’s “logical.”  I am not.  I don’t see anything in black and white or even shades of gray.  Sorry, guys, I’m all over the place.  I’m creative, a singer, actor, dancer, writer.  I just don’t fit into neat little boxes.  Oh, well.

Well, it’s time to read this over for grammatical errors before I post it.  “Spell-check” doesn’t work.  I constantly re-read my posts on this blog and pick up errors and edit them.  Honestly, I don’t know how you can stand to read some of my posts!  I am my own worst critic.  Maybe that’s my biggest problem.  Maybe I need to lighten up.  Who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!



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How I wandered into online dating

Tasteful lady disguise, 2014

Tasteful lady disguise, 2014

Have you heard the pop song, “6-2” by Marie Miller, with the refrain “Lord, I don’t care what he looks like”?  The Daughter and I laughed about it when we first heard it, as the singer goes on to ask God for her ideal man, which changes as the song unfolds.

Last week, I ventured into the world of online dating for the second time.  I chickened out the first time after accepting a 30-day free trial offer.  With the Daughter’s help, I carefully crafted my online profile, trying to sound intelligent and witty.  Besides an essay, I was asked to describe myself and my preferences, which you can opt out of by selecting “No preference.”  Well, you know me, I have plenty of preferences and made clear what they are.  I even indicated what would be a “deal breaker” (eg., smoking).  Despite all this, within 12 hours of posting my profile, my inbox was flooded with “likes,” “favorites,” and “winks” (don’t ask—I don’t get it, either).  I found that I was “matched” with men who didn’t match me in any way, shape, or form.  Not only were they from more than 50 miles away, but I didn’t match what they were looking for in a date.

For example, the very first match I got was for a man in Manhattan (NY, not Kansas).  He sounded very interesting, a professional in the world of the “theater arts” with an “advanced degree.”  But 200 miles is a little far for my first foray into what is, essentially, a blind date negotiated by strangers and computers.  More improbable matches followed, so I did what most of you might have done, I took it down after less than 24 hours.

Last weekend, after speaking with several mature, sophisticated friends who found their admirable spouses through online dating, I decided that I might have been too impatient.  They told me it takes six months or so to weed through the unsuitable and sometimes downright creepy people.

This time I paid for one of the “better quality” services, thinking the internet gods would be more selective, but, alas, it continues to be a nightmare.  Yet again, in the first 12 hours after my profile appeared, I was bombarded by likes, instant messages, emails, and those pesky winks.   In the first 24 hours, a man, who did not fit my profile preferences, not only asked me out for a drink but sent a follow-up the next day commenting that he had driven through my community and thought of me and demanded that I respond or click the “Not Interested” button.  Guess which option I chose?

Geeky teenager blossoms into swan,  Senior Prom 1970

Geeky teenager blossoms into swan, with the future Veterinarian, Senior Prom 1970

Actually, I have no dating experience. A smart-mouthed teenager, I didn’t have a single date until my senior year in high school.  Yep, I was Sweet Sixteen and never kissed.  A male classmate told me, “Oh, sure, lots of guys think you’re cute, but you’re such a— such a lady that they’re afraid you won’t go out with them.”  All those Seventeen magazine articles about good manners and the right clothes hadn’t helped at all.

And then, out of the blue, one guy was impressed by my smart-mouthed remarks in our Sociology class, where we both challenged the teacher’s theories.   That guy turned out to be seriously smart and kind, with an intense focus on where he was going in life, a love of music, theater, and art, not too shabby to look at, with great manners and even an appreciation for — ME!!!  Knowing a good man when I saw him, I asked him out, latched on, and never looked back.  I don’t think he ever knew what hit him!

Since then, I have learned a lot about men.  They are all perfectly happy to be 12-year old boys, emotionally.  They may excel at surgery, weld intricate pipes, command ships, or create the latest information technology, but, at heart, they never got past the age of 12.  Their bikes now come from Harley, and their toys are more expensive and dangerous, but they remain boys.  They buy expensive seats at sporting events and concerts instead of performing, but they live vicariously through their favorite athletes, action heroes, and rock stars.  The most immature still think women in men’s magazines haven’t been airbrushed, or, even worse, they simply don’t care.  I don’t know any real women striving to be Barbie (except the ones I see on reality television), so these guys will be waiting a lonnnng time.

I bring this wisdom to my current online dating experience.  When asked to describe their perfect match, I actually saw a man say “a C-cup is a bonus, a D is a definite match.”  OMG!  Do you understand why I’m frightened?  It’s unnerving that he thinks that the woman in my tasteful, ladylike profile picture is waiting for him to call.  Oh, wait!  He’s not a thinker.  He gets the big red X.

Most of the divorced men want a woman who will “appreciate” them, who are “kind,” “patient,” and “calm.”  WHOA!  You work out those issues before you talk to me again.  I ain’t that woman.  Then, there are several Mr. “I can’t wait to spend time snuggling with you.”  Ewwww!  On a first meeting?  In a public place?  Get a dog, buddy!  Better yet, get a therapist.

Or, how about, my late wife was “a real stunner, turned heads wherever she went, but I don’t expect I’ll find that again.”  Oh, really?  Well, since it’s impossible to compete with that, let’s not try.

Of the many men who have “favorited” [sic] my photo, I sent an email to one who sounded witty and compassionate and had some very similar life experiences.  I guess he is not as confident as my high school boyfriend, because I’ve not heard back.  OK.  Works for me.  Maybe I just scared the 12-year old boy in him.

Sadly, I’ve also seen widowers who detail how they cared for their late wives in hospice.  It tears at my heartstrings, so I say a little prayer for them and move on.  Either they aren’t ready to date, or they’re manipulative.  Finally, my least favorite are the 62-year old men, in poor physical shape, who want a women under the age of 50.  I look at my 62-year old self and think, “You’d be darn lucky to have me!”

This could be my dating dilemma.  The Daughter says I should consider if a man is worthy of me before responding.  Seems a little arrogant, but I think that’s the same advice that I’ve given her.  I’m not looking for a lifetime commitment.  I’d just like to have dinner or go to a movie with a sane, intelligent, adult male, not a 12-year old boy.  I guess, I’ll just have to be patient.  I enjoy being with my daughter, mother, sister, and girlfriends.  Stay tuned.  As the song says, “Lord, take your sweet, sweet time.”  So, who am I to complain?  Life is good (mostly).  Soli Deo Gloria!