It’s time for a respite.

We all need one. I don’t care who you are. And it doesn’t matter how or where you do it. We all need a break from the craziness of life. For some — just having your work world turned off for a few days and sleeping late, leisurely and unapologetically lazing around the house, maybe planning some local day trips — is just what the doctor ordered.

For me, the perfect place to turn off the world is at the beach. It’s sitting my ass — the same ass that sits in an office chair for 40 hours a week — in a beach chair with a good book. And if I’m lucky enough to have good weather, my ass will also sit in that beach chair for 40 hours during that week. Maybe more.

Yes, I will wear sunscreen.

I love to travel and I feel like I have had my fair share. But most times, traveling requires every minute planned. And — depending on your mood — that just doesn’t fit the bill.

This is where the beach comes in.

Humans are said to be 60% water, that’s why so many of us are attracted to the sea. It may be nonsense, but in my world I believe it. I can’t imagine not being able to get to the ocean within a couple of hours.

When I sit on the beach my blood pressure immediately drops. When I inhale the briny salt water of the ocean I feel like I am receiving a dose of therapy. I feel like I am home. The sand beneath my feet is like a shag carpet. Luxurious and soft. The more sand between my toes, the better.

I’m on vacation. A beach vacation. Mere feet of the salty water that beckons me. I hear nothing but seagulls and waves.

When I’m working, I have a habit of asking Alexa to play the sounds of the ocean when things get too stressful. And although it has a positive affect on me, it’s not the same. No amount of closing my eyes and meditating can make it real.

This is real. This is just what MY doctor has ordered.

It is the last full day of our vacation as I write this. I always feel a little melancholy when a vacation is over. This time especially because it was surrounded by my family. Quality time with my daughter and future son-in-law. Time with my husband away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It just makes it that much harder to leave this place. To head back to reality.

Monday I start back to work after a ten day break, but I will be ready. My mind will be clear. My stress levels will have declined.

Until Tuesday.

But have no fear! The ocean isn’t going anywhere, so I will return. Maybe in a month, maybe in a year. It always calls me back. And back is where I shall go.

The Christmas That Wasn’t. Again.

I was an army brat for the first twelve years of my life. That meant living far away from extended family. Mostly, our Christmases were quiet and included just the five of us. It’s pretty much all I knew, but it was always nice because our parents made Christmas special for us.

The very few Christmases we were able to spend with extended family were great. My memories of those years are filled with midnight mass and decorating my grandparents tree on Christmas Eve, while classical Christmas standards filled the air.

In my fifty-four years I have not missed a Christmas. I did have a kidney stone once a few days before the big day, but I rallied and was able to join in the festivities.

Then along came the pandemic. Covid-19 came upon us, sunk its rotten teeth into our flesh, and hung on for dear life. Here we are nearly two years later and still feeling its effects.

When it first hit, we were all fairly certain it would be cleared out within a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Memorial Day parades and BBQs were cancelled. Fourth of July fireworks were not set off. Thanksgiving dinner was spent with whoever lived under your roof with you at the time. Christmas and New Year’s were FaceTime sessions with friends and family.

As much as it sucked, we accepted it. Although I was disappointed we couldn’t spend Christmas with any family, it was what it was. The entire world was in the same boat.

2021 was a new year and filled with promise. We had the vaccine. People were joyous. Senior citizens were brought to tears at the prospect of seeing family for the first time in a year. Life would get back to normal.

And “normal” it became. As normal as it could get with the new accessory called a “mask” and with elbow bumping replacing hugs. Yet, birthday parties were planned, Memorial Day picnics commenced, Thanksgiving was spent with all the family and friends you could fit into your dining room.

Christmas Eve and Day plans were set back into motion. Invitations were sent out. Christmas was in the air. The Spirit of the season returned.

Things were going as planned. And then it happened.

Pretty much everyone in our over-sized family was exposed in some way to Covid. Omicron decided Christmas wouldn’t happen after all. To make things worse, a stomach bug struck those who weren’t exposed to the new variant.

The realization that this Christmas would be a repeat of last year hit. And it hit hard.

It wasn’t just our family, I know this was happening everywhere. But somehow, this time it hurt. I woke up Christmas morning with my poor, sick husband in the other room, trying to convince myself it was just another Saturday. I decided I was going to continue my pity party from the night before with spiked eggnog and leftover holiday cookies.

Then I started thinking about our wonderful “Fakemas” we were fortunate to celebrate just this past Tuesday (if you missed my Family Christmas letter, click here) and how wonderful it was.

We had Christmas. We had a fabulous Christmas. It was just celebrated a little early. Some don’t even have that. Some are ill, others maybe don’t have family, some perhaps suffered a great loss, or other circumstances that didn’t allow them to celebrate in the usual way.

Instead I turned my disappointment into gratefulness. I put on my big girl pants with the elastic waistband and poured more eggnog. Except this time I drank to gratitude.

Did I miss my extended family? Yes, I did. Am I still sad? A little. But it’s ok. There is always next year.

Our Family Christmas Letter — Volume 8

I don’t really suffer from OCD, but the fact that I mislabeled my Christmas letters somewhere along the way is making me twitch. I was going to give you a long, drawn out story about how it happened but the details don’t matter. I’m making the executive decision to label this #8 although it probably should be #9.

I’m not very good at keeping a journal, so I have probably forgotten some details of the year. But like the way I live, I am going to fly by the seat of my pants. Enjoy.

2021 brought the second year of this pandemic. That meant more working from home, more online schooling, more gathering outside to see friends even when it was 27 degrees, and my favorite: fighting complete strangers for the last Covid-19 Vaccination appointment.

I truly believe we are going to be the new “Great Depression” survivors. I have become somewhat of a hoarder and I’m not embarrassed about it. Except depression glass has been replaced by toilet paper and gold has been replaced by paper towels.

The Kid graduated from nursing school in May. Aside from the fact that I couldn’t sit next to DH because we had to social distance with even each other and we sat so far away from the stage that we were in a different time zone, we got to have an in-person graduation.

I still cried and my heart still swelled with pride. Pandemic or not, that kid persevered and accomplished what she wanted even in the midst of a global shitshow.

DH bought a fancy blue sports car. Not just any car. A car that I lovingly refer to as “The Lost Lobster.” Maybe it means it should be red. Maybe it means it should be a 900-square foot cottage by the sea.

As for me, I’ve become so accustomed to online shopping that there is a delivery truck in my driveway approximately every eight minutes on any given day. I would invite the drivers in for dinner, but at this rate I would be feeding an army and I can hardly handle feeding the people who already live here.

I’m still not in the office. It has been twenty-one months since I’ve seen my co-workers. I mean, I’ve seen them over video. But it’s not the same. Somehow I forget and end up doing something stupid, like picking my nose or failing to brush my hair.

Although, putting yourself on mute so you can yell expletives is a nice perk. Until the time comes when you neglect to put yourself on mute to yell expletives. That was fun.

Another perk about not being in the office is not having accessibility to the office cafeteria eight hours a day/five days a week to get in the way of my diet.

The good news is I lost seventeen pounds while working from home. The bad news is I gained nineteen. Not sure how that happened, but thank god a new year is coming. I was worried I wouldn’t have a resolution to break.

This year we celebrated Christmas four days early because The Kid has to work. We have dubbed our new holiday “The Winter Equinox Fakemas” and it will probably make an appearance many times over the next several years.

The problem with hospitals is they don’t get to close on Christmas Day like the mall does. I would like to say I liked it better when she worked at Aerie, but that would make me sound selfish.

Overall, the year was pretty good in spite of Covid. Everyone stayed healthy and I’m hoping it stays that way. In the meantime, like toilet paper, I have stocked up on those at-home rapid tests.

I’ve always wanted to be a collector of something, but who would have thought it would consist of nasal swabs and paper goods?

Anyway, I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Here’s to hoping Covid-19 finally takes a hint and skips town. It sure does bring a whole new meaning to the phrase, “overstay your welcome” though, doesn’t it?

Halloween or Bust

What happened to Halloween?

Maybe I can’t speak for everyone’s neighborhood, but in mine it is pretty much non-existent. This year we had TWO children come to our door. They were siblings, so that really only counts as one. Had we known our doorbell would receive one measly ring all evening, it would have been those kids’ lucky night.

We did better during the pandemic. Hell, we did better when Halloween was cancelled after the October storm of 2011 that knocked out power for seven days. Forcing us to live like common prairie people.

We live in a nice neighborhood with seventeen well-spread out houses, and trees, and a wide street. It’s safe as far as neighborhoods go. So what gives?

I have been scratching my head and the only thing I could come up with is it’s just too much work for so little candy. After all, they could go to the lakeside community just a few miles away where they would make out like present-day Ma Barkers.

A friend of mine who lives in this neighborhood boasted on Facebook the next morning, “we got 69 children!” Am I offended? Maybe a little jealous? Perhaps. But you have to give credit where credit is due. Kids these days are smart.

I took my child trick-or-treating on our seventeen-house street when she was small. Her little, orange, plastic pumpkin would barely be filled yet she was as excited as The Pointer Sisters. I can still hear her sweet cherub voice, “mommy, look how much candy I have!” with as much enthusiasm as she would have on that magical holiday morning just a mere two months later.

“Yes, sweetie, I see! Wow you really made out!” was usually my reply. All the while sniggering to myself, knowing full-well she was being duped. If she had really known what a lot of candy looked like, she probably would have requested emancipation from her parents.

In my day, “a lot of candy” looked like a worn-out pillow case coming apart at the seams. Which is probably what “a lot of candy” looks like to the lakeside trick-or-treaters five miles away.

Does that make us bad parents? Nah. She has wonderful memories of Halloween’s Past. I think so, anyway. I guess I should ask her. It’s too late for an emancipation, right?

Now, we have enough candy left over to feed the entirety of that lakeside community. Candy that would put that little, orange, plastic pumpkin to shame. Candy that I have hit nightly, but doesn’t seem to make a dent.

In case you were wondering, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups go nicely with a bottle of Chianti.

It’s Chianti, I tell you!

Next year I’ll have to buy less, I suppose. Oh, who am I kidding? You just never know who will show up. Next Halloween those siblings will hit the mother-lode. That is, of course, if they haven’t smartened up by then.

Our Family Christmas Letter – Volume 9 but really 8

I am aware this Christmas letter should be Volume 9 but I don’t know what happened last year. Either there wasn’t much to report or I was just lazy. I vote for the latter.

Move away from the tequila, 2021. Meme courtesy of Malicious Women Co.

Happy “Thank God This Year Is Almost Over” to you all! 2020 was a complete cluster-fart. How could any of us have imagined that we would be in a global pandemic by mid-March? The one good thing about that is I didn’t have to follow through with my New Year’s resolutions. Not that I would have anyway, but I feel like I had a valid excuse this time. I can’t remember what exactly that excuse was, but I’ll get back to you.

The Kid graduated from college in May. She was supposed to graduate with the traditional pomp and circumstance of a proper graduation. But, like everyone else who had a graduation this year, the pomp was cancelled due to the circumstance. It was quite disappointing. There were enough tears shed to cause a second flood. And that was just from me.

Instead it was moved to our driveway and included strangers walking by and a thing called Facebook Live. A pitcher of white sangria and some balloons made it feel less driveway-ee. My graduation speech was way better than what Oprah would have said probably. Just ask my parents. They were so proud. Oh wait, this isn’t about me.

DH is doing fine and dandy. We are both lucky enough to be able to work from home which brings on a whole new meaning to “spending quality time together.” The good news is no one is dead. We do have our own separate office which helps. I just need to stop screaming to the other room for him to bring me my lunch. I should probably invest in a cow bell.

DH is one year closer to retirement. I guess I’m one year closer to retirement as well, but there is quite an age gap between us so he’ll get there much sooner than I will. I remember how fun it always was that I was the younger one. No one warned me about this new development.

It was just DH and me for Thanksgiving as it will be for Christmas. We are playing the Responsible Citizens of the World by keeping our circle closed. I made a turkey with all the fixings for Thanksgiving. I’ve never done that before and I have enough leftovers to feed the entire Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I would invite you over, but we are in a global pandemic. Also, the turkey is starting to smell funny. My New Year’s resolution for 2021 should include “stop making science projects in the fridge.”

Aside from my science projects, I have started a new hobby called Watercoloring. Like knitting, I thought I was going to rock it. You know, because according to me I am naturally gifted in all mediums of art stuff. But like knitting, my work looks like a five year old did it. I apologize to all five year olds out there for being offensive. You shouldn’t be reading my blog anyway. Hell, you shouldn’t even be reading yet. If you can, then may I suggest “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss? That was a good one.

I started out 2020 going to the gym everyday after work, but then Covid hit and the gym shut down. Oh, I think I just thought of my valid excuse from paragraph #1 and I’m sticking to it.

I spent the first three to four months in quarantine eating all the things and drinking all the drinks that my car now knows how to get to the liquor store and the local bakery all on its own. I am currently trying to work feverishly to catch up on my 2020 resolution of losing weight before the new year hits. I thought I was doing pretty good, but it turns out my underwear are just stretched out.

Oh, I did want to mention a positive from this past year: For ages I’ve been trying to figure out how to check my breath and just like that — BAM — put on a mask and I get my answer. There is a silver lining to everything.

That just about sums it up. For the record, 2021 will not be my year. I said 2020 would be and look where that got me. This is called “nipping it in the bud.” I just remembered being proactive was one of my 2020 resolutions. Actually, no it wasn’t. But it’s never too late to change. Just ask my stretched out underwear.

The Year of the Pity Party

I am a self-proclaimed Party Animal but these days the party is more of the pity type. I used to “party” as they say, but something by way of a pandemic has put a stop to that.

Who am I kidding? Lately, the animal in me has been of the taxidermic variety anyway, but it felt weird saying Party Dead Animal.

Oh never mind.

Ok, so it’s not just MY party but I was invited against my will so that gives me the right to cry about it. Credit for meme goes to weheartit.com. Also, yes I see the typo.

With the exception of the first ten, maybe eleven weeks of this year, 2020 has been a complete asshole. Aside from the obvious, there have been more things cancelled than any of us care to discuss.

In my own personal life the first thing to go was my only child’s graduation from college. It was disappointing enough not to be able to see her walk, but then not seeing family and having to cancel our swanky rooftop restaurant reservations just added to the frustration.

I sent the event coordinator at said restaurant an email stating, “I’m sure this will be over in a couple weeks so let’s discuss then.” If an email could collect dust, I can assure you it would look like those stuffed animals your mother always complained about.

Anyway, it wasn’t over in a couple weeks. It wasn’t over in a couple months. In fact, here we are over eight months later and not only is it not over, but I feel like we are going backwards. We are nearing December and there is no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not necessarily afraid of the dark, but tunnels scare me on a good day, forget it if the lights go out.

What was I saying? Oh right…cancellations.

Then there are the birthday celebrations. Perhaps not as heartbreaking since we all get a birthday each year, but still disappointing nonetheless. I was going to put my pandemic birthday on the list of things to tell the grandkids one day, but it turns out we will all have a pandemic birthday. Some of us will get two. If we get to three I’m leaving. Although there really is no place to go except the middle of the ocean or the moon.

Seeing that the only thing that will keep me above water is a weak doggy paddle and the fact that space travel scares me more than dark tunnels, I’m kind of in a bit of a situation.

Weddings had to be cancelled, postponed or relegated to a field with the happy couple and an officiant with a bullhorn.

Ditto for funerals. Except without the happy couple and bullhorn. The non-funerals make me sad most of all and does nothing but conjure up thoughts of Eleanor Rigby.

Then we had some cancelled holidays.

Easter came and went without so much as an Easter bonnet. Our traditional family gathering was cancelled. The celebration of the resurrection of Jesus had to be contained to a 12″ computer screen and chocolate from our stash of leftover Halloween candy.

The Fourth of July for us consisted of catching a peek of some dime store fireworks the neighbors lit off. And that was only if we were lucky enough to be looking out the window at the right time.

Thanksgiving would be normal, right? Wrong.

Another large family gathering cancelled. I was not happy about this development because now I have to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in my life. I don’t even know how to defrost a turkey. Is there such a thing as Thanksgiving chili? I’m pretty good at that.

Then to add insult to injury, after much deliberation and anguish, the only child I was speaking of earlier had to be uninvited to come home because it was too much of a risk. That brought on many, many tears from me. Sure, some of my emotional distress could be blamed on menopause. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Finally, we have the mother of all holidays — Christmas. The resurrection of Jesus had to be put on the back burner, but no way will we still be in this pandemic for His birth. Or will we? I guess there could be a Christmas miracle. A Christmas miracle in the form of a vaccine, perhaps?

I could go on and talk about New Year’s Eve, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We rang in 2020 and look where that got us.

A Pointless Post About the Weather. And Clothes.

I live in New England where the weather can be unpredictable. There are often times when I have come upon the problem of what to wear. Especially this time of year.

I mean, I am certainly no fashionista. Just ask my daughter, nieces, and well, anyone who has half a sense of style. The consultation of a color chart to make sure black goes with white is quite necessary in my life.

Please remember I’m from the 80s where you matched your socks to your pocketbook, so getting dressed is as difficult for me as putting a square peg into a round hole.

But I’m not talking about my fashion sense. Or lack thereof.

I’m talking about clothes you wear according to a change in the barometer. It’s not like headaches, and colds, and painful knees aren’t enough, but we also have to worry about our attire.

It’s October here. You know, like it is everywhere. Last week I wanted to pull out my riding boots. The ones I’ve had since 2008 because I have thick calves and these days it’s nearly impossible for me to find boots that I can zip past my ankles.

I googled “when is it appropriate to start wearing boots” and my answer was, “October.” Do you want to know why I googled that? Because I woke up sweating and it was only 6 o’clock in the morning.

I quickly looked at the weather app, and saw that I was sweating for a reason. The temperature was going to climb up to 90 degrees. Certainly 90 degrees in October is different from 90 degrees in August. Right?

Not really. No. Actually. It’s not. I suspect I would have looked silly in boots when it was still technically flip flop weather.

I had to forego my entire outfit — the one that included my beloved boots — and hit the closet again to see what I was feeling. Well, what I was feeling was a sundress and sandals. But that didn’t seem appropriate.

I realize the alternative is to just wear nothing, but I’m afraid the little fact that I went into work wearing nothing but my birthday suit would cause heads to turn, and not in a good way. I would most likely lose my job and end up in jail for indecent exposure. Although I always thought going viral for something would be fun, this is not what I had in mind.

If there were still newspapers, I can only imagine the headline. “Middle Aged Woman Loses Mind and Job Over What to Wear.” With a picture of my face on a body that has been blurred out by Photoshop. All I can say is, thank god for Photoshop.

I guess that means I have to wear clothes. At least to work. Back to the drawing board. So, does black go with white?

What I Learned from My European Vacation

Eight hours. That’s how long it takes to fly nonstop to Rome from New York. But after you factor in packing, traveling to and from the airport, and going through customs, it feels more like eight days.

Is it worth it?

Yes.

Even though the customs agents ask a million times if you have any goods you’re going to sell, it’s worth it. Even with people pushing and shoving, cutting you off, and trying to sell you useless crap, it is totally and completely worth it.

Then after a day and a half in Rome, the flight to Lisbon, Portugal is another three hours. A car ride to Porto, yet three more.

Worth it. For so many reasons. One being the beauty. Two, spending time with people you adore. Three, the experience.

Anyway, when you spend an extended amount of time with the same people, you can pick up some habits from them.

I am a definite habit-picker-upper. I cannot go to North Carolina to visit my parents for even a day without coming home sounding like an Appalachian pageant queen.

So, the habit I picked up from one of my travel mates (who shall remain nameless)?

Let’s just say it’s never a good idea to respond to a “hello” from a colleague by saying “hey hoe” in a staff meeting. “Hoe” as in not what you garden with. That will be 1% off my raise come appraisal time. If I keep that up, I’ll be owing the company money. Or begging for it in the street.

Packed like sardines in a tin can. No one cared. “Push push shove shove.” That seems to be the theme song over there.

Europeans are unaware of the term, “personal space.” I am the type of person who, if you are not at least arm’s length away from me, I am offended. These people will not only enter your personal space, but they will take it. And with no apologies. As someone from New York, this is an offense of colossal proportions and people should be thrown in the clinker for stealing another’s space.

The street peddlers in Rome are a force to be reckoned with. If you don’t buy what they are throwing at you, you are a “cagna.” It’s nice to know I am a bitch in another country. I felt right at home.

I pretty much can’t eat anything fried, processed, acidic, or fatty because I suffer from GERD. During my visit I didn’t have one single bout of it. Do you want to know why? Because they eat the way people were intended to eat, and not like an African bush elephant. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything processed. Everything is fresh, and the portions are small.

Fresh spaghetti, fresh sauce, small portion

Dinner isn’t until at least 9PM. We didn’t eat before 10PM. The streets are alive, people can actually walk around in public with wine, the joy was palpable. I wanted to stay forever just to be able to experience this every single day.

The breakfast that we are accustomed to does not exist. Unless you go to a touristy area. The sign outside a restaurant that says, “American Breakfast here” will make you feel at home like the African Bush eleph…er, I mean, American, that you are. Otherwise, you need to be accepting of croissants, fresh breads with jam, fresh fruit, and cappuccino. Forget about a normal cup of coffee. It doesn’t exist.

Chocolate croissant. Heaven.

Since we’re on the subject of food, there is no need to tip at a restaurant (or anywhere for that matter) because they have an actual salary and don’t get paid in peanuts. Also, you can sit and enjoy your meal for hours. The servers will not bother you and will not bring the bill unless you specifically ask for it. And when you do ask for it because it’s been six hours and you have things to do, you know, like go to bed, they will respond by saying, “Are you sure? There is no rush.”

As someone who is always rushing, it was a little off-putting at first. But by the end of the week, I realized this was something I want to do for the rest of my life. I enter a state of calm when I even think about it.

No, your eyes do not deceive you. That is indeed a wine truck.

Drugs are legal as long as you are carrying 5 grams or less. The smell of marijuana was everywhere. I believe I got a contact high from it. And guess what else? There is no Heroin epidemic over there. Let that sink in.

The Sistine Chapel is a glorious site to behold. As long as you have the patience to get to it, that is. You have to walk through a maze-like museum first. We felt like beef cattle on the way to a slaughter. It was terrifying. The ten thousand signs on the way let us know we were on the right track. And once we entered the Chapel, I didn’t realize it. “Why are all those people standing in the middle of that floor looking up?” Oh. Right. Michelangelo.

The cattle and the signs, signs, signs. Everywhere there’s signs.
Stained glass and chandeliers. In McDonald’s

Even the McDonald’s was breathtaking. And instead of a plastic three inch princess, you get a beach towel. That actually absorbs water. Amazing. The plastic princess doesn’t do that.

You’d think they were drinking camel urine

I discovered I like port wine a little more than I thought. Not enough to partake in it on a regular basis, but enough to sit through a tasting. The “children” in our party — don’t worry, these children are both of legal drinking age — did not appreciate it. Youth is wasted on the young.

How could you not appreciate port wine with this view?

And the piece de resistance? The afternoon “siesta.” Or in Italy, a riposo. Businesses (apart from the touristy areas) shut down. Like, close and lock the doors, for up to two and a half hours, every single afternoon. This is called self-care. And we should take a page from their book.

In a nutshell, we all need to drink wine in the streets, take two hour naps daily, eat healthy foods, and slow down. I know I would be a better person for it. Wouldn’t you?


Our Family Christmas Letter – Volume 6

It’s that time of year for our family Christmas letter. I’m a little late because I suffer from a major case of something called “Procrastination.” I’ve added that to my New Year’s resolution list in the past, but I’ve always procrastinated working on my procrastination. So, I replaced it with “exercise more.” That one at least lasts halfway through January.

2018 was the year of ailments.

I am now into my fifties and my body knows it. It did not need a memo, reminder, or even a gentle nudge. Some things are just very reliable. I should be proud.

My knee is giving me more problems and the other feels like it needs to follow suit. I guess it has “FOMO” syndrome. Thanks to my twenty-year old daughter, I know FOMO means “Fear Of Missing Out.” My body may be old, but my brain is young and cool. Although, if I didn’t have a twenty-year old kid, that may not be the case.

Hmm, it makes me wonder if my life has just been a big sham the last seven years or so.

I threw out my back recently which is something I’ve never really done before. I’m not sure how I did it. I do know I was in the basement after my twelfth trip from bringing Christmas decorations up the stairs when the pain struck.

There’s nothing like a limping, bent over fifty-one year old woman, who pees her pants with every sneeze, giggle, and cough. I should have asked for a cane and a case of “Depends” instead of an iPhone for Christmas. Oh well. There’s always next year. But by then I may need a walker and bladder reconstruction.

I had a kidney stone episode this year. I thought it was ovarian tumors at first and went and got poked and prodded, tested and scanned by at least three different specialists. The bills for all that are just now arriving. The gift that keeps on giving. Thanks, Santa.

DH is good. If you recall, he lost the peripheral vision in his left eye a couple years ago. The downside is he can’t see my loveliness when I’m standing to the left of him. The upside is I can do amazing tricks, like flip him the bird when he’s pissing me off. It’s really quite fun.

He had his very first kidney stone episode this year. He now knows what childbirth feels like. Hearing him say, “how do women have more than one baby,” while doubled over the toilet bowl from pain-induced nausea was a proud moment.

The Kid got the flu at the beginning of the year. Even though she had the flu shot. She recovered from that after some motherly love and care. That was not fun for me. Seeing your kid suffer doesn’t have the same satisfaction of watching a man in kidney stone hell.

Oh, did I just say that out loud?

DH gets more handsome every year. What kills me the most is his pant size. That hasn’t changed in twenty years. Umm, can I pray for another kidney stone attack?

The Kid is doing really well in college. Can you believe she just finished her first half of Junior year? And I thought my knees made me feel old. I think I should start letting my hair go grey so I can get the full effect.

I started to bond with our German Shepherd. Finally. After four years, he no longer looks at me like I’m a pork chop. Now I can sleep with both eyes closed without worrying he might want a midnight snack.

We went on a nice holiday again this year. Two years in a row. Ireland was our choice this time. I’ve been before and fell in love, so I couldn’t wait to show my family how beautiful and green it was.

But like Turks & Caicos last year where it rained the entire week when it never rains, Ireland was in the middle of a drought when it never has a drought.

I was really upset when DH proclaimed that Ireland reminded him of New England in August. if you’ve ever seen New England in August, then you’ll understand what he meant. I argued with him and told him he was wrong, but brown is brown no matter what country you’re in.

I believe I need to stop planning vacations. It just doesn’t seem to work out for us. Next summer it will be feet in the kiddie pool on the back deck.

I just realized we never put the deck furniture away for the winter. Chores. They are the bane of my existence.

Speaking of chores, I pretty much got out of all of mine. I hired a house cleaner, use a grocery-delivery service, and DH decided he likes to cook so there is dinner on the table pretty much every night when I get home. Having a husband who works from home certainly has its perks.

That about sums up 2018 for our family. I gotta close this letter as I have presents to wrap, cookies to bake, and…eh. There’s always tomorrow.

Snowpooling

I’ve been waiting two years for someone from our town to go to The Kid’s college. Why, you ask? To ride-share, of course.

I mean, it’s not that I mind the six hour round-trip drive. Typically, I love to drive. I always have. It’s just that that trip can be a bit trying on, well, everything. From my ankles to the ends of my hair.

Ok, so my hair doesn’t really hurt. But you get the picture.

And I pretty much do it alone. Since DH has lost most of the sight in his left eye, he has terrible night vision and really can’t, shouldn’t, drive once the moon comes out. And most of the time I’m coming back from getting her from school when it’s dark.

When I found out a girl from our town — whose mother is a friend of mine — was going to be going to The Kid’s school this year, I jumped up and down for joy so hard I peed my pants a little.

Someone to carpool with. Finally.

I realize it won’t always work out with schedules, etc. But it will work out sometimes. Even if just once or twice. And that is good enough for me.

Luckily, this Thanksgiving is one of the times it worked out. My friend was doing the retrieving, and I am doing the returning.

Except my friend kinda got the short end of the stick. For her retrieval, “they” were predicting a snowstorm. But hey, she’s tough. I knew it wouldn’t ruffle her feathers much. Besides, it wasn’t going to be all that bad. We’ve had worse.

Except this turned out to be one of the craziest snowstorms we’ve had in a long time, this early in the season.

The three-hour drive took exactly twelve. Door-to-door. No lie.

46492327_2188611901173284_3306288957154656256_n
Smooth sailing at 1.5 hours. Little did they know what lurked just ahead. Makes you want to scream at the screen, “don’t go in there, DON’T GO IN THERE!”

The storm they were predicting came on us strong and fast. No one was really expecting the velocity of which the snow and ice bore down in these parts. I don’t believe anyone, including the highway department, was prepared.

Roads quickly turned to sheets of ice. From what I was hearing, all the highways and byways pretty much from Virginia to Ohio to Connecticut transformed into “Disney on Ice” within minutes. With Cinderella being played by the Snow Miser.

Before she knew it, my poor friend, along with her passengers, were at a standstill.

A more-than-five-hour standstill.

Stuck. With thousands of other commuters. On the roadway to a major bridge. One that had shut down due to multiple accidents.

There was nowhere to go. Nothing to do. But sit. And sit. And sit some more.

As the mom of one of the occupants of this vehicle, I was a little anxious. I trusted my friend whole-heartedly. It wasn’t her driving I was concerned about. I was concerned they would run out of gas, get stuck on a snowy highway, and freeze to death (yes, I watch too much television, read too many books).

I had a daughter who was a bit distressed and sending anxiety-ridden texts to me. “Mom, I’m never getting home,” “It’s freaking me out,” “I feel trapped.” And finally, “I want tacos.”

Twenty-year-old people and their appetites. Ne’er shall an icicle, snowflake, or semi-crisis keep the hunger away. Stomachs on Kriptonite. There should be a superhero named after that.

My friend, who is amazing, kept the mood fun and light, spirits high. They broadcast their adventures via Facebook Live, which, let me tell you, was quite entertaining. Saturday Night Live had nothing on these three and brought a whole new meaning to “Carpool Karaoke.”

If they weren’t already on the road, I would have suggested they take their show on, you know, the road. Ba-dum.

Screen Shot 2018-11-21 at 5.15.41 PM
A clip from their “Live” session…my amazing friend (left) with her gorgeous daughter (right), and mine (back), trying not to lose their minds. I’m guestimating this was around Hour Eight of the total “drive.” Hour Three of the standstill. (Permission was granted to use this photo by the inmates, err, passengers)

They were pretty resourceful on this trip. My friend’s daughter, using the highway to void. Because when you gotta go, you gotta go. Whether that toilet is on the inside of a bathroom, or on asphalt. Nature is nature and does not discriminate.

All of them figuring out how to turn half a bag of chips into a gourmet meal. Rationing water like they were lost on the prairie. Skills that will carry them throughout their lives.

What I found most humorous was the conversation they had with the man in the car next to them who was smoking a “blunt.” I suppose that’s a good way to deal with a situation like that. Although, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Just so you know, in my day it was called a “joint” or a “doobie.” There is nothing else in this world that shows my age more than having to ask what a “blunt” is. All this contemporary lingo got me like, “gag me with a spoon.”

Finally, they made it home. I think there was a little bit of each of us that wasn’t sure when it would happen. They were tired, a little worse for the wear, and totally freaked out. But they were safe. My friend is a rockstar. All of them are rockstars.

And those tacos? Have you ever had them at two-thirty in the morning? Me either. But I’m told they were pretty good. No blunt necessary.