"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I know, I know.

The old saying is, "As the crow flies," not crone.

But just one day after turning the older-but-more-knowledgeable age of 58,  I finally accept  that I have entered The Crone -- i.e., The Wise Woman -- phase of  my life.

No brag, my friends. Just fact.

Artist's rendition of me
I fought aging for a long while, oh, yes, I did. I mean, no, I never considered pulling a Renee Zellweger and drastically changing my appearance. (I'm a simple grocery store cashier, for crying out loud, not a Hollywood diva.)

But I must confess that even before I turned 40, I habitually spent every last cent of my pin moolah on all sorts of lotions and potions promising to erase lines, wrinkles, dark circles, discoloration...blah, blah, blah. Had to stay looking young, attractive, eyes bright, lips plump, yada, yada, yada.

Yeah, well, here's what I now have to say -- and firmly believe -- about that: Oil of Olay Shmolay.

What I have thankfully come to understand is this: Growing older gracefully has nothing to do with outward appearances. It's all about the beautiful, more meaningful, inner/spiritual and intellectually creative transformation that naturally takes place as a woman ages.

Seriously. I've researched this issue.

(Pay no attention to the half-empty bottle of Classy Lady, a sweet, white table wine from Danish Wines and Vines, Exira, IA, stashed behind my laptop.)

Granted, check your online Merriam-Webster and it defines "crone" as "a withered old woman."

Au contraire mon ami!

According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, author of several women's issues books, the woman in menopause, known mythologically as "the crone," her estrogen waning, is a woman at a crossroads in life, torn between the old way she has always known and a new way she has just begun to dream of. A voice from the old way, according to Northrup, tries to convince the woman to stay in place.

(Cue the Tune In To Menopause music station on Pandora.)

Brave by Sara Bareilles on GroovesharkBut, says Northrup, another voice calls her, insisting the menopausal woman explore exciting aspects of herself that have been dormant during her years of caring/focusing on others.

What I glean from all this Saturday night research is this: Through the discovery of those new, more creative/self-reliant traits shines The Crone's/Wise Woman's true beauty. And it has nothing to do with under eye concealers, my darlings.

Hollaback Girl (album version) by Gwen Stefani on GroovesharkBottom line? Evolving croneilogically, as it were, is all about the estrogen. Or lack thereof. And when it comes to blossoming into The Crone, less estrogen is definitely more empowering. Gives one a gutsy, learned-from-experience "Been There. Done That. Don't Mess With Me." mojo.

So what is estrogen, really? Well, the word, estrogen, per Wikipedia, comes from the Greek oistros meaning, literally, verve or inspiration, or figuratively, sexual passion or desire, and the suffix -gen, meaning "producer of".

Hence, waning estrogen obviously means we Menopausal/Postmenopausal Mavens tend to generate/produce our, ahem, verve and inspiration in, um, other, more amazingly strong and spiritual ways.

Hungry for more Ann Heise Kult, The Crone insight?

Fun Fact: Too much estrogen is, obviously, the evil, hormonal culprit that in sixth grade caused me to swoon over Don, a brown-eyed classic Bad Boy in my class who repeatedly replied to my giggly, eyelash-batting "Hi, Don!" with a mumbled, monotone "Go to hell, Heise."

I Will Follow Him (Chariot) by Little Peggy March on GroovesharkMoments later, convinced Don was merely playing hard to get in front of his friends,  I'd dreamily doodle Don and Ann = LOVE on the back of my paper bag-covered spelling book. Don was my Destiny...he just didn't know it.

Two years later, I am sure it was too much estrogen that induced my delusions, as recorded ad nauseam in my junior high diary, that "Don was staring at me in study hall today."

Where The Boys Are by Connie Stevens on GroovesharkNot only Don, but Rick and Gary and later, in high school, Paul, Pete and every other boy in study hall.

In estrogen-reduced Crone/Wise Woman retrospect/reality, not one of those guys was staring at me. Ever. Call it hormone-laced wishful thinking.

More Classy Lady please...

Now, at this point, Dear Reader, you may well be thinking, "At what point can one be sure she has successfully evolved into The Crone/Wise Woman?"

Frankly, my Dear Reader, I don't have a damn clue. To each her own estrogen levels. And they're a wily bunch.

But what I do know is this: Honest to Goodness, last night, after ushering in my 58th birthday -- older, wiser and clearly, sans estrogen -- I dreamed I ran into Brad Pitt at the grocery store, told him how much I loved him in Thelma and Louise, and then, giggling and batting my baby blues, I invited him over for dinner.  Without making one iota of eye contact with me whatsoever, ol' Brad mumbled a monotone "No." I shrugged my shoulders and yawned. "Your loss."

That Don't Impress Me Much by Shania Twain on GroovesharkAnd then, without further adieu, I simply turned and sauntered off, emotionally unscathed, self-respect in tact, leaving the Pittster agog.

Obviously, only a woman in her Crone/Wise Woman stage -- i.e., the spiritual mastery phase of a woman's life -- could so easily shrug off such a rude dis from the likes of  Brad Pitt and leave him agog.  Even, if only in her dreams. So, yeah. I am definitely there.

My point -- and I do have one -- is this: You will know, Dear Reader! You will know!


I Am Woman by Helen Reddy on GroovesharkP.S. If you haven't already, please vote wisely Tuesday, Nov. 4! Remember, our foremothers fought long and hard for women's rights. And we are still fighting. So much is at stake...

Friday, October 03, 2014


So this happened...

A new 40 Days of Writing challenge was issued, and I wanted to sign up but the thing is...I really have nothing to say.

Actually, I have plenty to say, and muse over, and share my thoughts about, etc., etc...but considering the state of the world right now, I just don't think my pontifications (is that even a word?) carry any weight or importance at this juncture.

And yet...

Here I sit, in my backyard, on a 45-degree chilly autumn evening -- glass of Santa Maria Vineyard's crisp Autumn's Hush in hand -- yearning to contribute something to 40 Days of Writing...

For, you see, I still fashion myself a writer, though to be honest I have not written anything in months. I also fashion myself a photographer...have taken to shooting peaceful pics of sunrises and sunsets and butterflies and bees and flowers and trees...and the moon up above...

And a thing called lo-uh-ove...

Yes, as cliché as it sounds, love is what the world needs now -- right now.  And peace. And plenty of it.

I have had it up to here with  ISIS or ISIL or whatevah the hell that horrendous band of terrorists brandishing USA-issued weapons calls itself ...and the Ebola virus...it's all just pissing me off. And we're also bombing some gang of n'er-do-wells whose name I am sure I am not pronouncing correctly...starts with a K, sounds like Kardashian or something...

I mean, seriously? Most of us are just trying to muster the energy, the will, to get up every morning, brush our teeth, raise our kids, and earn a meager-ass paycheck to keep roofs over our struggling heads and now we have to worry about beheadings? And more bombings? And dying in our own vomit? WTF?

I did not sign up for ANY of this shit.

I know what I need to do.

I need to stop reading my Twitter news feed.

I need to just detach from all social media and pretend the world is not engulfed in total effing chaos.

But I know better. And denial ain't just a river in Egypt. Ba-da-bump.

Furthermore, if you must know, I am pissed at the Republicans/Tea Party/Obstructionists, the Secret Service, Faux News, the Koch Brothers, and Iowa Senate candidate -- and Koch Brothers puppet -- Joni Ernst.

I miss the ocean, my misspent youth, and my childhood friends in Cincinnati, OH.

On the upside -- since I last participated in the last 40 Days of Writing challenge -- I have inherited a dog, lost 30 pounds, and gained a passion for photography.

Indeed, for all its terror and tragedy, I somehow remain convinced that life overall remains a thing of beauty and delight. To live is good, damn it. Or is that just the wine talking?

Anyway, here is a helpful hint: If you MUST drink a glass of  Santa Maria's Autumn's Hush wine while sitting in your backyard on a chilly fall night, pounding out your life's frustrations on your laptop, be sure to drop a frozen peach into said glass of wine in lieu of an ice cube.

For while the world spins totally out of control, and uncertainty engulfs us, this much I know for sure: the frozen peach slice totally enhances the wine's deep ruby red tones and dark fruit aromas. Plus, it is a handy stand-in for an ice cube when your effing refrigerator ice maker is on the fritz.

You can thank me later.

Be The Peace!

Sunday, March 23, 2014


So I cried myself to sleep last night.

Try as I might, could not hold back the tears. Long time coming, I suppose. Long winter.

I'm like that guy on the old Ed Sullivan Show who kept all those plates spinning to that crazy, heart-pounding, anxiety-producing music.
Khachaturian / Gayne: Sabre Dance by Khachaturian on Grooveshark

Eventually, however, my plates always drop. Not just one at a time.

Crash! Bang! Boom!

Held my smile, though, until my husband fell asleep while we were watching (oddly enough) that old Sandra Bullock rom-com, "While You Were Sleeping", on Netflix.

There is this scene where Sandra, as Lucy Somebodyoranother, is trying to pull a Christmas tree up from the street, through her apartment window, via a rope.

Her apartment looked so cozy. So adorably decorated. Sandra looked so young, so cute, so spunky...

Big Girls Don't Cry by The Four Seasons on GroovesharkAnd that's when I burst into tears.

(I will leave you, my dear reader(s), to analyze the timing of the tears. Any armchair psychologists out there, please share your thoughts.)

I then dragged myself and a box of Kleenex into the bedroom, crawled under the covers -- clothes and all -- and bawled some more. But softly, so I wouldn't wake my husband.

During my bitchy PMS years, all I did was cry. And rant. And rave.

Don't cry nearly as often these days. Not since menopause. Rant almost never. Rave even less. On the outside anyway.

The lower the estrogen level, the higher the level of introspection. That's my theory. That, and -- speaking of no estrogen -- I am too damn old and tired most of the time to speak in sentences that make any sense.

So I keep it all in.

Which is why I tend to chomp on chocolate. If I am busy chewing, I can't scream.

Tears Of A Clown by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles on GroovesharkAs a writer, to keep my dark side at bay, I tend to write humorous stuff to keep myself and others laughing. An old trick that I gleaned from growing up with a depression-laden dad.

"Ex-Lax. Works while you sleep. Stay awake and fool it." -- My Dad


Anyway, they say the art of survival never ends. When writing doesn't do the trick, I take pictures by the boatload. I lose myself in sunrises, sunsets, swans, eagles, robins, old barns...anything to distract me from the emotional tornado blowing about my gut.

Once that funnel cloud of pent up feelings touches down, well...

Those spinning plates I mentioned earlier? Shattered. Shrapnel.  Aimed straight for my tear ducts. Ka-Boom! Like the Fourth of July!

Tracks Of My Tears by Linda Ronstadt on GroovesharkOh, the salty, stinging tracks of my tears! They burn!

I finally fell asleep last night sobbing into my cat, my mournful moaning well-muffled.

Dreamed all night about trying unsuccessfully to pull a pair of knee socks up and over my ever-thickening calf muscles.

Dream A Little Dream Of Me by Mama Cass on GroovesharkI have no idea what the sock dream meant, but I will bet you a dollar to a donut that young, cute, spunky Sandra Bullock will never have thick calf muscles.

Could I be bitter about aging?


Chocolate, please.

Chomp, Chomp.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


This time change is kicking my ass.

I overslept again this morning.

Must have been a deep, heavy sleep because I was overly groggy when I awoke. Full consciousness came slowly.

Must. Take. Inventory. Who, where and what am I?  Let's see...

My name is Ann. I am on the couch in my living room where I fell asleep in my clothes late last night while scrolling through Facebook and Instagram on my cell phone. I fancy myself a writer.


It's Day 11 of the spring session of 40 Days of Writing! Must get to computer!

Wait! What time is it? Must find cell phone. My cell phone will tell me what time it is.


Must have rolled over on my cell phone during the night.

What the hell? Map My Walk?
I Go Walking After Midnight by Patsy Cline on Grooveshark
Either I butt clicked that app or I was sleep walking.

At any rate, I am running late. No time to crank out a think piece for today's writing challenge.

Last night's dinner dishes piled in sink. Cats crying for food. And I promised myself, my family and my coworkers that I would shower today.

Yup. These 40 Days of Writing challenges consume my mornings before work. Sometimes, everything else gets pushed aside.

Perhaps it's time to map my hygiene.

Monday, March 10, 2014


How are you celebrating National Procrastination Week?

This year the national holiday devoted to putting off important tasks is March 8 through 14.

So if you've deferred beginning your National Procrastination Week celebration until today, March 10, you are certainly keeping with the spirit of this special week that recognizes the art of postponing our responsibilities.

It's an art I have dabbled in for as long as I can remember. I save my serious shilly-shallying, however, for National Procrastination Week.

Thus, on the first day (which was Saturday), I washed my sheets and never got around to drying them. Now, I always tarry when doing laundry, but leaving the sheets in the washer is what I am most beloved for around my house.

On the second day of National Procrastination Week (which was Sunday), I apologized to my husband for my dilly-dallying, promised I would get those sheets back on the bed, then promptly locked myself in my writing room for several hours.

Don't Stop Thinkin About Tomorrow by Fleetwood Mac on GroovesharkFinally, Sunday night, I dragged myself down the basement steps and threw the sheets into the dryer.

And as soon as I am done posting my blog offering today, I swear I am going to march down those basement stairs, grab those sheets out of the dryer and make that bed.

Actually (and much to my chagrin) National Procrastination Week was not designed to promote one's lack of self-regulation. It's true purpose is to encourage us to pursue more leisure activities that tend to be set aside while we are busy being responsible adults.

Activities like reading, for example.

Which makes today -- Day 3 of National Procrastination Week -- the perfect occasion for returning How Much Is That Doggie In The Window, an adorable little book I borrowed from our library back in...let's see...oh, yes!  May 2001. When my son, Daniel, now a college junior, was eight years old.

All hail Ann, Queen Of Sloth.

Ooops! Look at the time! Better hop in the shower. Gotta get to work. No time to get the sheets out of the dryer.

I'll make the bed after work.

Sunday, March 09, 2014


Listen, my child, and you shall hear
Of the late night streak of Mommy Dear,
On the ninth of March in Seventy-four
Hardly a woman remembers more
About a heart so broken that day, that year...

First, apologies, of course, to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

And second -- just for the record -- I never actually commanded my son, Daniel, to listen to the oh-so-enchanting yarn of how, when I was a high school junior, I streaked past my boyfriend Bob's house after he dumped me for some rich tart named Shannon.

Rather, I think, Daniel, now 21,  just happened to overhear bits and pieces of this ancient history over the years because I  have regaled somebody with the details of my youthful shenanigans every March ninth since I can recall.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do by Neil Sedaka on GroovesharkDid I mention I ground Bob's class ring into the cement?

Not that I was bitter about the breakup or anything.

I merely refused to let Bob have the last word. And that word was "boring." Yes, Bob had the nerve to end our three-month, hearts/flowers/poetry-laden relationship because, he said, basically, I was boring. Apparently Shannon, ahem, was not. If you catch my drift.

I was livid! He was supposed to be my prom date in a few months, for crying out loud! How dare he!?! Well, I'd show Bob who was boring! I immediately rallied my group of best friends and that night-- completely sober, I might add -- we ran, laughing and yelling sans clothes, past Bob's house.

We were usually a fairly tame bunch.
Girls Gone Wild it was not, by the way. Truth be told, although we weren't wearing our clothes, we were carrying them as we ran. Courageous, nonetheless, for a group of  high school girls whose naughtiest prank up until that  point was toilet papering.

Not that it mattered. Turns out Bob was on the telephone in his basement yakking it up with that frisky Shannon, so he missed my daring performance. Apparently revenge is a dessert best served cold...and dressed.

What did matter, however, is that when I was down and depressed after being dumped by a guy who thought me dull, my best friends were immediately by my side, making me laugh and, ultimately, celebrating the anything-but-dull me.

And that's what best friends are for, is it not? Whether we are 17 or 57, we help each other be our wild, courageous, non-dull selves every day. No matter what.

So ends the annual March Ninth Streaking By Bob's House The Night He Dumped Me remembrance.

This One's For The Girls by Martina McBride on GroovesharkThis one's for the girls!

Saturday, March 08, 2014


These days, I'm not one to spring.

Spring infers a certain bounciness, an enthusiastic bounding, if you will.

Since my estrogen packed up and left a few years back, it's more like me to traipse. Trudge. Take my good sweet time.

But spring? Nah.

So being prodded to "spring ahead" and push my clock up one hour before I go to bed tonight because Daylight Saving Time begins tomorrow at 2 a.m. makes me cranky.

As does losing a precious hour of sleep. Less Sleep Sunday. Bah! Humbug!

I'm feelin' a tad growly now merely thinking about it.

Not nice to mess with a circadian rhythm kinda gal like me. I drag around for at least two weeks, while my body and brain struggle to adapt to the change.

Being the stubborn rebel that I have always been, of course, I simply refuse to set my clocks ahead tonight, choosing instead to meander about my home Sunday morning trying to figure out what time it really is.
Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? by Chicago on Grooveshark

Or at least that's the way it used to be before the invention of computers and cell phones that automatically switch times for us.

Who looks at their stove or microwave clocks anymore ? And that damnable impossible-to-set clock in my car? It's been on Pacific Mountain Time for years. But I live in Iowa. Ba-da-bump.

Take my clock, please.

Anyway, while I mourn the 60 minutes of snooze time about to be lost as we move an hour ahead, I shall relish the thought of falling back an hour next fall.

In fact, if I could turn back time this minute, I would rewind to the year 1794, hunt down Benjamin Franklin -- who is credited with first conceiving the idea of Daylight Saving Time -- and throttle him.

If I Could Turn Back Time by Cher on GroovesharkSorry Ben. Like I said, I'm feelin' a tad growly...

Friday, March 07, 2014


It's becoming a habit.

Maybe an addiction.

John picks me up every night after work, we rush home, put on our comfy clothes, sink into our respective lounging furniture (his, the recliner; mine, the couch) and watch five, sometimes nine, old episodes of Frasier on Netflix.

We're glued to Frasier for even longer periods of time on the weekends.

If we could inhale Frasier, or be fed Frasier intravenously, we would. Especially after a particularly annoying day at work.

Netflix Nervosa? Comfort TV?  Sitcom escapism, circa 1990s? Or just two old farts with nothing else to do on yet another frigid winter's night?

Call it what you will. We're hooked.

Frasier by Theme on GroovesharkThe wry wit and hilarious antics of those snobbish-yet-lovable Crane brothers and their just-regular-folk family and friends make us laugh till our sides hurt. As therapeutic for the winter blahs as a double helping of mashed potatoes slathered in a pound of melted butter.

Last night, as I lay on the couch pining for Frasier's theme-song tossed salad and scrambled eggs, toying with the idea of pricing a one-way ticket to Seattle, John suggested we alter our Netflix fixation a bit. After one Frasier episode, we traveled back even further in time to 1982 and began watching Cheers. Four consecutive episodes.

Goosebumps galore for me as the soothing, familiar Cheers theme song caressed my ears. 

Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you've got;
Taking a break from all your worries
Sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away?

Hell, yes!

And away we went! There, right before our eyes, were our still-young and oh-so-likable TV friends from 32 -- count 'em, 32 -- years ago. I may not remember where I put my glasses moments before, but I still know everyone's name on Cheers. Sam Malone, that handsome (but not the brightest) barkeep/local sports hero...Diane Chambers, the cute and intellectually quirky waitress...Coach, Cliff, Carla, Woody...


Cheers was our must-see TV back in the day. The always-entertaining Cheers gang  grew to be as much a part of our lives as our real-life friends (back when we actually had a group of friends). Back when -- like Sam and Diane of yesteryear -- John and I were young, fairly easy on the eye, not quite knee-deep into our marriage and careers. Back when (if you can imagine) TV was truly worth watching.


A simpler, more successful, more contented time for us, the early 80s.

Or so it seems when a favorite old TV show evokes such overwhelming nostalgia, that excessively sentimental yearning for what once was but what is now irrecoverable. Formerly considered a type of neurosis, some experts now say nostalgia, in reasonable amounts, can serve as an ideal coping mechanism in times of stress or transition.

As a frazzled new mom after the birth of our son, Daniel, in the early 90s, for example, I often sought solace in TV Land, watching Leave It To Beaver and Andy Griffith reruns. There was something so reassuring, so relaxing, about those two TV classics  because they harked back to the 60s when wise parenting advice appeared ample.

After my son left for college three years ago and I faced the angst of the empty nest, I went through a 70s Mary Tyler Moore Show/Lou Grant rerun phase via YouTube, waxing ever wistful about my days as a young newspaper reporter, fresh out of college. A pleasing, albeit bittersweet, reminder of the successful journalism professional I once was and my continued passion for writing.

Today, as I tire easily while schlepping groceries for eight hours and I lose the will to smile (No, for the 18th time, that is not the bologna that is on sale this week), I must once again face the hard, cold, anxiety-producing facts that both my lovely, misspent youth and my excitement-filled heyday as an award-winning newspaper reporter have long since gone a glimmerin'. "I blog, therefore I write" is  my post-menopausal mantra.

Reality check: Cheers stars Ted Danson and Shelley Long are in their 60s and no longer corner television's youthful looks market. They no longer resemble hunky/sassy Sam and Diane as we remember them. Time marches on. It stops for no one. Not even TV sitcom actors.

Yes, we all, as we age, have plenty to think through and worry about as the world demands we redefine the meaning of our lives. But in the midst of the drawn-out tail end of one of the longest, coldest, dreariest Iowa winters ever, I choose to ignore reality. For now. At least until Spring, the season of renewed hope, officially breaks through.

Cheers Theme by TV Guide: 50 All-Time Favorite Tv Themes on GroovesharkAs such, I am jonesing a bit, craving the click on the Netflix laptop icon. Counting the hours till tonight after work when John and I rush home, put on our comfy clothes, sink into our respective lounging furniture (his, the recliner; mine, the couch) and watch five, maybe nine, more old episodes of Cheers.

Because -- acute Netflix dependency aside --  taking a break from all your worries really does help a lot.

Thursday, March 06, 2014


I like to think of it has finding my happy place, clearing my head, every morning before sitting down to write.

Making my bed. Doing the dishes. Sweeping the kitchen floor. Vacuuming.Throwing in a load of laundry. Changing the kitty litter.

Anything that keeps me from facing the most terrifying moment of a writer's day -- the blank computer screen -- is what I do every morning before turning on my laptop.

Procrastination, you say? Moi?

Heavens to Betsy, no!

It's merely the  "messy bed, messy head" writing theory I subscribe to these days while attempting to complete the spring session of the 40 Days Of Writing challenge.

It's Writer's Blockade Management 101, really.

For those not familiar with the "messy bed, messy head" school of thought, it's the idea that beginning one's day with the simple, nay, mindless, act of making one's bed, tidying one's bedroom, sets into motion an organized, productive day. A calm day. A happy day.

As a writer, I need to clear my head so that the productivity, the creativity, flows.  Hence, I clear the clutter from my immediate surroundings before honing my craft for the day.

It applies to anyone, of course. Not just writers. Who doesn't want an organized, productive, calm day?

The only fly in this "start with a clean slate" ointment for me? I only have an hour or two of free time each morning before I dash off to my grocery store job, and I do tend to putz about the house too long. By the time I actually sit down to write my old nemesis, deadline pressure, rears its ugly, anxiety-ridden head.

My stomach knots, my blood pressure soars, my mouth goes dry as the Sahara Desert.

Suddenly, I am subconsciously transported back to my newspaper reporter days. Why, there's my former co- news hound, Pat Kinney, pounding out yet another mile-long story on city sewer repairs while I, the education reporter, can't seem to scrape up even a nut graph regarding the school board meeting the night before.

Bupkis. Nada. Nuthin'.

And the deadline clock ticks, louder, louderlouder!

Somehow -- most days, anyway -- I managed to pull a news story together, just in the nick of time.

It was absolutely horrifying, and quite frankly, I would give anything to  relive, if but for a moment, my newspaper reporting  days. There is nothing quite like the rush, the sheer exhilaration, of facing a blank computer screen one minute and cranking out a story on deadline the next!

What A Feeling by Irene Cara on Grooveshark Oh, my! Look at the time! Gotta go schlepp groceries.

Day 6! Nailed it! WOOHOO!!

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


Ah, Lent.

That 40-day solemn season of spiritual reflection leading up to Easter that traditionally involves prayer, penance, repentance of sins, alms giving, atonement and self-denial.

And it starts today.

For most folks, self-denial usually takes the form of giving up an action or a food -- a personal vice, if you will.

Some people give up Facebook. Some people give up chocolate. I gave up watching soap operas for Lent back in '93.

"So what are you giving up for Lent this year?" one of my grocery store coworkers asked me the other day as I finished gobbling down my second glazed donut of the morning.

"Not sure yet," I said, licking the last remnant of the sweet treat's addicting, energy-giving glaze from my bottom lip.

Perhaps, being the first day of Lent and all, I should be totally honest here: It may have been my second donut of that particular morning, but it was like the 50th or 60th donut I had indulged in since I was supposed to give them up beginning New Year's Day.

Epic fail.

As such, there was no need for me to attend last night's Lenten preparative, the Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper at the local United Methodist Church.

Apparently, judging by the tightness of my size (like I'm gonna print that) jeans, every workday for the past two months has been Fat Tuesday for this ol' gal.

Yes, sadly, "A Donut A Day" has been my battle cry this winter. The downside of working at a grocery store, I suppose...the bakery is always open.

In fact, I deny myself no naughty, albeit comforting, foodstuffs of late. Candy bars, cookies, honey roasted peanuts...

It's just so damn cold and dreary.

Oops, guess I won't be giving up swearing for Lent.

Anyway, considering my 40th high school class reunion is roughly but a year and three months away...

No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature by The Guess Who on GroovesharkDonuts (and all their sugary, fiendish friends) it is.

Let us pray.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Once upon a March 4th dreary
Two folks pondered, weak and weary,
How love had mistreated them thus far
As they soothed their souls at a local bar...

Add a "twang, twang" and it might have had all the markings of a hit country western song ...back in the 80s.

It is, actually, the first verse of a poem I penned on or just slightly before  March 4, 1981, marking the one year anniversary of the day my husband, John, and I met.

Met again, I should say.

We had actually been introduced many months earlier on a blind date set up by my then-best friend. Apparently not impressed with each other that evening, we never spoke again until fate threw us together that cold, snowy March night.

And, wouldn't you know, we were both on the rebound, our respective hearts recently and equally broken.

He, a writer, strong and able
Soggy Pretzels by Neil Diamond on GroovesharkHappened by the writer's table
Where she, an ornery but kind-hearted lass
Spilled gallons of tears into her glass...

I never did handle rejection well. And, in retrospect,  the half dozen Seagram and 7 Ups I had just downed in seemingly a matter of minutes did nothing to help keep my emotions in check that evening.

Anyway, cutting to the chase...John prevented me from drunk dialing my ex beau, we talked for hours, we were engaged by the 20th of May, married on August 23, had our one and only child, Daniel, on March 2, 1993 and -- against all odds -- John and I are still together.

Just think...Thirty-four years ago this morning, neither one of us had any idea how our lives would be changed forever later that night...

To say it hasn't all been easy would, of course, be an understatement.

But isn't that what makes for a great country western song, or any kind of love song, for that matter?

Here's to broken hearts, fate and second chances!

Happy 34th anniversary of the day we met again, darlin'!

Twang, Twang

Monday, March 03, 2014


I am not convinced this is the Spring session of the 40 Days of Writing challenge.

For starters, it's a Monday morning, it's freaking minus freaking 11 degrees outside, and -- judging by my frozen, numb feet -- at least that frigid if not colder in my attic writing room.

But, Polar Freaking Vortex be damned, it's Day 3 of the aforementioned writing challenge, so I am up here writing. Or trying to.

Baseboard heater? Check. Space heater? Check. Huddled under three blankets? Yes. Earbuds in? Of course. "Paperback Writer" cranked? YES!

Let's Go!

Heavy sigh.

Where oh where are the inspirational vibes that just yesterday and the day before were flowing through my veins? Like my feet, just not feeling them this morning.

There is some comfort, I suppose, knowing I can't be the only one besieged by a bad case of Polar Freaking Vortex blues. In fact, I know I'm not. I see it scrawled across the sad, winter-weary faces of my customers as they drag themselves through the grocery store where I work.

Day after bone-chilling day, they trudge by me, their carts heaped with mac and cheese, potatoes, cookies, chocolate...whatever comfort food it takes to survive yet another arctic blast.

Admittedly, we're all getting a bit cranky.

Yes, even I -- Miss Cheery Sally Sunshine most days with my friendly smile and  (if I do say so myself) unbelievable knack for making pleasant small -town chitchat eight freaking hours a day, five freaking days a week -- am getting a little testy.

And it's starting to show.

"You're not smiling today."  "You look tired." 

No shit, Sherlock? Have you taken a good look at yourself in the mirror lately?

Of course, I don't say that. But how many more times must I listen to "Damn, it's cold out there!" or "I hate winter!" or "It's gonna snow tomorrow!" before I snap?

I KNOW it's cold out there! I HATE winter, too! And if you dare to mention the freaking S Word ONE more time!


Jolly good thing my boss keeps me behind the cash register and not in the deli near the knives.

OK, well, I got that off my chest.Completed Day 3 of the 40 Days of Writing challenge, too.

Better conjure up what little bit of patience I have left  as I head for my day job where I am sure to hear everyone's winter woes once more.

The doctor is in!

Sunday, March 02, 2014


I felt like such a creeper.

Nevertheless, there I was, perched at my keyboard at 11:59 last night in a rather desperate attempt to be the first person to wish my son, Daniel, a happy birthday on his Facebook page.

Just what every 21-year-old hopes for. And what any 57-year-old mother in her right mind truly should not do.

But I did it! And, thanks to my stealth typing skills, looks like I beat someone named Tes Sullivan to the first birthday greeting punch by, oh, 25 minutes.

Not that Daniel noticed, as he -- and rightfully so -- was out on the town following a fraternity soire. And this morning my greeting is at the bottom of the Facebook post pile under the vague heading "22 others". The price I pay for insisting on being first. But I'd do it again in a New York minute.

I would have tweeted Daniel's natal day celebratory message had my cell phone been charged. May do that yet today.

I also sent Daniel a traditional, tangible birthday card via the United States Postal Service earlier in the week. A card shaped like a glass of beer containing 21 dollars... and chock full of tiny, multi-colored star confetti that, if it went as planned, fluttered in all its glittery glory to Daniel's apartment floor upon the opening of said birthday card.

Over the top? Possibly. But wait! There's more!

After pouncing on Daniel's Facebook page and securing my rightful place as his first birthday well- wisher, I got the bright idea to Google "number one song on March 2 1993".

Turns out it was "A Whole New World" by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle, from Disney's "Aladdin" soundtrack.

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we're only dreaming...

Clearly a positive, upbeat little number...
A Whole New World (Aladdin's Theme) by Peabo Bryson on Grooveshark

As opposed to, I discovered next, the depressing, albeit toe-tapping, ditty that was at the top of the charts the day I was born: "Don't Be Cruel" by Elvis Presley.

You know I can be found (bop doo wop)
Sitting home all alone (bop doo wop),
If you can't come around (bop do wop),
At least please telephone.
Don't be cruel to a heart that's true...

Don't Be Cruel by Elvis Presley on GroovesharkIronic, in retrospect,  how that song pretty much set the tone for my dating life -- or lack thereof -- years later.

Unsettling, yes. But I couldn't stop there. Oh, no. Kept on Googling. The top song nationwide the day I turned 21 in 1977?  Debby Boone's classic ripsnorter, "You Light Up My Life". 

So many nights
I'd sit by my window
Waiting for someone
To sing me his song.

Cry me a river, Debby. I invented window sitting.

In fact, I spent an inordinate amount of time sitting in my dorm window the afternoon of my 21st birthday, waiting for someone named Tim to, if not sing me his song, at least wave as he walked by. He did neither.


However, long story short, a fun-loving freshman lad named Mike Ring (a dear friend across the miles to this day, I might add) surprised me with a delicious Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake, my girlfriends threw a surprise part for me and, save for my father ignoring my birthday altogether, I enjoyed my big day.

Yes, that's right. My father apparently forgot my 21st birthday.

Which explains, I suppose -- now that I think of it -- my elbowing Tes Sullivan out of her first place Facebook post, and the birthday card stuffed with all that tiny, multi-colored star confetti which more than likely is still dotting Daniel's apartment floor.

Juuust wanted to make sure he knew I remembered...

Happy 21st Birthday, Danny Boy! I love you!

P.S. I have no idea what song is at the top of the charts on this, your special day, darling. Suffice to say, I have probably never listened to it, and most likely wouldn't recognize the recording artist's name. I'm just that old and out of the loop.  As you may recall, I, for the longest time, was convinced Gwen Steffani was singing "Ain't No Harlem Bat Girl", not "Ain't No Hollaback Girl". Hugs!

(Spoiler alert...it's the edited version.)


Saturday, March 01, 2014


"Rabbit, Rabbit!"


I said it. First thing this morning, the first day of the month.

And now a hefty portion of good luck shall be bestowed upon me throughout March.

Or so the old English superstition goes.

I first heard about this good luck charm, as it were, back in my early news reporting days. A fellow news hound, Regina Maritote, (Regina, are you out there?) explained it to me while on deadline.

Lord knows I always needed a bit o'luck on deadline...

Anyway, I did a little research (and by research I mean Googled), and a variation of this superstition calls for one to walk backward down a flight of stairs on the first day of the month while saying, "Rabbit, Rabbit".

Oh, those English are a fun-loving group of folks.

Anyway, I cannot recall if good luck came my way or not, but I thought I would give it a whirl this morning (sans walking backward down the steps) seeing as it is March 1...

...which, as it turns out, is World Compliment Day.

Unlike Valentine's Day, there are no greeting cards necessary for one to be involved in World Compliment Day. Just hand out a sincere compliment to someone today. Brighten their lives! Perhaps they will pay that compliment forward, making someone else's day a little happier. Then, before we know it, today might be the happiest day in the whole world!

Lord knows the world could use a bit of happiness...a lot of happiness, actually.

Anyway, do you know what I am happy about today?

It is the first day of the spring session of the 40 Days of Writing challenge! WooHoo!

Back to the keyboard I go, attempting to write something every day for 40 days. I've participated in two of these sessions over the past couple years. It is no small feat.

Which is another reason I uttered, "Rabbit, Rabbit" this morning. I'm a little rusty in the daily writing department. Can use all the luck I can get. Consider today's post my warm-up exercise.

Anyway, during all my Googling this morning on the history of "Rabbit, Rabbit", I learned that today is also National Pig Day. A day set aside each year to celebrate our pink, cloven hoofed pals. Contrary to most first impressions, pigs are very intelligent -- not to mention, social -- creatures. Which is why it is a sin, in my opinion, to raise our country's bacon providers in those nasty, inhumane, corporate confinements. I imagine it's quite depressing for the pigs.

As such, I bet a pig could use a compliment now and then.

For instance, here in rural Iowa, it shouldn't be too hard to find a hog farmer and cheerily offer, "My, that's a good looking pig you've got there! And smart, too!"

So cheers to March 1! A new month! A day to speak complimentary words to brighten someone's day! "Rabbit, Rabbit"! Good luck to all!

Paperback Writer by The Bealles on GroovesharkAnd to my 40 Days of Writing group...Welcome Back! I've missed you!

Saturday, February 01, 2014


Christie Brinkley
Uncanny, isn't it?

Uptown Girl by Billy Joel on GroovesharkThe resemblance, I mean.

Just a couple of  ageless uptown girls, me and that ridiculously still-stunning super model Christie Brinkley.

Guess Who
Perfect hair. Dewey cheeks. Defined brows. Long, lean legs that don't quit.

Hard to tell who's who in these pictures (hint: I am the one at right sporting the princess crown).

Of course, Christie turns 60 tomorrow and I am still a mere 57. But the timeless beauty we share knows no age...

OK, so I'm delusional. And my picture has been, um, slightly altered (as has Christie's, my friends and I hopefully suspect).

Truth is, my hair is graying terribly at the roots, my cheeks are slightly ruddy, my brows are unkempt, and my legs are short and thick as old stove pipes.

I am also depressed as hell after reading this week's People Magazine and learning just how ageless Old Lady Brinkley really is as she hits six freaking decades. She absolutely looks half her damn age (if not younger).

How does she do it?

Well, for starters, Christie reportedly eats sheep milk yogurt with fruit and wheat germ for breakfast (of course she does), and takes some dietary supplement I can't pronounce. Her snack consists of melon and walnuts and a turmeric-enriched drink that boosts energy. And her lunch is usually some combo of beans and veggies left over from the night before.


Her "sweet treat"?

Orange rolls...yum
Not the three Rhodes Orange Rolls With Cream Cheese Frosting I just inhaled while typing this sentence. Nope.

If the former Mrs. Billy Joel is craving something sweet, she reportedly drinks cold coconut water.


Hey, I've tried that stuff. It tastes like crap. I prefer a bottle  of ice cold Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino to douse my sweet tooth. And it goes great with my daily glazed donut, thank you very much.

Christie's top fitness rule is, according to the People article, "Get Moving".

"Listen to this, honey," I called out to my husband. "She does at least 10 minutes a day on her Total Gym machine.  Blah, blah, blah."

"You sound bitter, dear," he replied.

Green Acres by Eddie Albert/Eva Gabor on GroovesharkSniff. Oh, the long-ago Uptown Girl dreams of a nowadays Green Acres Gal.

And, as if it couldn't get any worse, Christie Brinkley, at the ripe old age of 60, also multitasks to stay fit.

"I do leg lifts when brushing my teeth," she is quoted as saying.



Seriously??? I usually have to rest my elbows on the sink mid-brushing because my cankles ache.


Oh, what the hell. Might as well grab my toothbrush and one of my three-pound hand weights (buried back in my closet) and give it a whirl. It may be the only way to beat my Christie Brinkley Uptown Girl Sheep Milk Yogurt Multitasking 60th Birthday Blues.


Small town girl
She's been living in her orange roll world...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


It was not love at first sight.

More of a strong like.

But I had always said I wanted an older home with a big front porch, and lots of wide, dark, wood trim on the inside. And that is exactly the kind of house we bought after we left Ohio and moved back to Iowa following the birth of our son, Daniel, in 1993.

It has been our affordable cottage (with a great front porch for morning coffee) for two-plus decades. Save for some foundation/driveway work, new windows, kitchen and bathroom flooring replacement a dozen years or so ago, and, more recently, a bathroom wall treatment re-do, our tiny, two-bedroom house has not changed much.

Over the years I have channeled my inner Mary Bailey in hopes of refurbishing our cabin-esque dwelling with cheery "It's A Wonderful Life" determination and fervor, using gallons of  discontinued paint and inexpensive curtains.

However, I must confess, I eventually came to resent this old house. Particularly its yellow Formica kitchen countertops. I craved stylish granite. I yearned for, nay, obsessively desired, new carpeting, an upstairs laundry and on and on and on. Seemed like everyone else I knew had updated/remodeled their homes, or built or bought brand new (pouted Pouty Pouterton).  But nothing of that sort had ever been in our very tight budget.

And oh, the clutter that had accumulated!

Home by Phillip Phillips on GroovesharkThen one Saturday morning last summer, with the help of my dear friend/tireless home organizer, Angie, I began my own house update of sorts...an attitude repair project, one might say, beginning in our dark, dank basement.

I tried channeling my inner Mary Bailey.
Tote by dusty plastic tote, we sifted through what seemed like tons of faded pictures, decades-old Christmas cards,  outgrown shoes, scrapped clothing, and an odd assortment of chipped juice glasses and tarnished flatware.

We also unearthed many treasured keepsakes of school years and professional careers gone by.

Save. Toss. Save. Toss. Toss. Toss.

Daniel's once-prized pacifier that he had abandoned at eight months of  age but I had apparently packed away for posterity? Tossed.

Yup. I had to make some emotionally brutal decisions that day.

But eight hours and 28 bulging contractor-strength garbage bags later (yikes!), I could actually see the basement's back wall and most of the floor. And I could feel the heavy, old-house loathing in my heart slowly lifting...

Angie had inspired me! The basement purge I had declared I was beginning on Dec. 31, 2007 (OK, so I have a tendency to procrastinate...if you'd known my dear, departed dad, you would understand) was, finally, at hand!

Once the basement was cleaned out and smelled like Renuzit Apples and Cinnamon air freshener,  I  moved on to the attic...then I attacked the bedroom closets and dresser drawers...the cabinets underneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks...

I was a decluttering/deep cleaning/organizing machine!

And when autumn arrived, my husband, John, and I raked leaves till our arms ached, and tidied the yard and garage. We made some minor repairs.

Granted, after several weeks of long-overdue attention, it was still a small, old house -- with yellow Formica kitchen countertops --  in need of further repair.  But where chaotic clutter once ruled, a cozy contentment now reigned. I stopped whining about the imperfections and started appreciating the sturdy shelter the house had provided my family for so many years.  I found myself savoring a newfound sense of strength in my home's simplicity. 

On our last afternoon of raking and yard clean-up a few weeks before Daniel's long-anticipated arrival from college for Thanksgiving break, I was bagging up a pile of leaves that had collected just around the corner from our back door.

And that is when I finally, officially, fell in love with this old house.

For there, hidden beneath the leaves, were the indelible, albeit weathered, handprints Daniel and I had  made in the once-freshly-poured cement during those aforementioned foundation/driveway improvements so many summers ago.

I bent down and slowly traced with my right index finger the ever-enduring outlines...

Granite schmanite.

There is not a newer, bigger, more modern house anywhere that can offer me such a precious memento of my son's love.

Oh, Home Sweet Cozy Old Home! My dear, stalwart friend!  Thank you for reminding me that sometimes, what matters most --  a family's love for one another -- grows best in an older, simpler, smaller house where the heart's memories remain steadfast and (unlike yellow Formica kitchen countertops) never go out of style.