S is for Squandering & Spider Solitaire

New Thoughts on Words


Aging & Attitude

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred is the number of minutes in a year. The point is driven home by the song, Seasons of Love, (known as 525,600 Minutes because of the lyrics), in the musical Rent.

Nobody has more time, and nobody has less. We cannot buy time or give our extra to a friend.

What we do with our time is personal, a matter of choice. Many believe successful people use their time wisely while others question their definition of success and the genius of workaholics who ultimately are lonely.

Regardless, I have squandered my time. Yes, squandered, frittered away days, weeks and the past month. I have nothing to show for it.

Well, I take that back. I have played 2153 games of Spider Solitaire, and won 793. My winning percentage is 39% and longest winning streak is 37, losing 47.

When I rant that I am throwing away my life playing a stupid game instead of writing, Mr. Wonderful responds, “You’re retired, it’s relaxing you must get some enjoyment from it if you keep playing.” Reminded of a quote, “There is never enough time to do all the nothing you want,” I threw a wet sponge at him.

I planned to write the next posts for The Alphabet Series before going on vacation but when I achieved 37 consecutive wins, believed I could do 40 and kept playing.  That is when things fell apart. Playing Spider Solitaire became a segue activity.  I soothed defeat with other mindless online pastimes and spent hours checking email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the price of airfare to Italy instead of writing.

Blink and it was vacation time and my only accomplishment was losing.

Mr. Wonderful’s advice “Don’t  worry, we’ll  be away  twenty-one days, you’ll break this addiction, if you insist on calling it that.”

I did well, no computer; no email, Facebook, Twitter or Spider Solitaire. We had a fabulous family vacation.

The first thing in the door returning, Spider Solitaire.

….just saying

R is for Raucous- The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude

paula-deenNew Thought on Words

Raucous describes the commotion occurring around Paula Deen’s admission that she used the N-word. Lisa Jackson is suing Dean and her brother, Bubba Hiers, for racial discrimination and sexual harassment. Jackson, a former manager of one of their restaurants, is white and has stated; Deen never used a racial slur in her presence. However, during the deposition, when asked if she had ever used the N-word, Deen replied  “Yes.”

The Food Network immediately cancelled her contract. Supporters protested the television’s show knee jerk reaction.

Deen initially a no-show for an interview with Matt Lauder appeared on Wednesday’s, (June26th) show and that is when she shot herself in the foot.

Matt Lauer repeatedly asked about Deen’s motivation for appearing on the show and pressed her to say it was to stop the “financial bleeding”. Deen stuck to her message; she wanted to dispel the lies and tell people, she is not a racist.

Lauer persisted and demanded to know, “How could anyone use the N-word and not be a racist?” Since Deen admits to using the word, she is a racist. Lauer’s omnipotent view reflects today’s faulty thinking, implying that racism can be defined by the  use of a single word.

Dean continued ranting about how she was raised and what her daddy said about lying. The theatrics ending with her saying, “If there is anyone who hasn’t said something they regret, to throw a stone at my head and kill me.” It was a meltdown moment and there is speculation about a daytime Emmy.

Most contracts  have been cancelled, and many affiliations severed with the celebrity during the past few days, over her truthfulness. Think of all the people who are now out of work.

It is reminiscent of the Fairy Tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,”  in which a lone boy unknowingly speaks the truth that the king is in his underwear.

There is a race divide in the United States and more in some states than others.

We moved to Florida six years ago and labeled Northerners. When the following incident occurred I came to understand why.

Robert, a hired landscaper, was working on his own in our yard when it started to rain, big rain, a sudden heavy downpour. Robert was a husky African-American in his mid twenties with a good sense of humor. I called him Robert, he always called me Miss Claudia. I assumed it was due to our age difference. I saw him standing under a tree for protection, went to the garage to press the remote door opener and called, “Robert go in the garage.” He did so reluctantly and stood looking scared, barely inside the door dripping wet. I grabbed a towel, tossed it to him and suggested he dry himself off. His sad eyes were hesitant as he replied, “You sure, Miss Claudia.”

When the rain stopped our conversation became awkward as he said, “I’ll take this home to launder and bring back my next time.” My response was, “Don’t be silly,” and took the towel back. I was from the North but Robert had been born and raised in the South.

We have all been standing on the sideline letting the Emperor think he looks good in his new outfit and now we are throwing stones at the little boy who spoke the truth.

….just saying

Q is for Quagmire – The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude


New Thoughts on Words

We call them lose-lose situations, predicaments, or sorry plight. We feel squeezed in a trap; morass, swamp, or quicksand­­­­­­­­­. It is a quagmire. Quagmire is a noun meaning, “soft miry land that shakes or yields under foot, or complex or precarious position.” Both are difficult to get out of.

The joke about the Jewish Mother comes to mind. You know the one; A Mother buys her son two shirts. The next morning he comes to breakfast wearing one of them. The Mother says, “What, you don’t like the other shirt?” The son is in a quagmire, an emotional trap, and wonders how to get out.

As with all types of swamps, cranberry to quicksand, once immersed there are techniques to avoid drowning in quicksand, whether you are dealing with your mother or mud.

  1. Stay calm, panicking or wriggling around will only get you in deeper.
  2. Delay reacting while you think over the predicament.
  3. Slowly pull out one leg, and if the muck is only up to your knees, your best bet is to move slowly.

Now let us practice responding to the Jewish Mother’s question, “What, you don’t like the other  shirt?”

  1. Do not explain that you plan to wear the other shirt to the game on Saturday because it is a pastel color. Guaranteed, she will say, “So it’s not good enough to wear to the office. You’ll wear it when no one sees you, strangers.”
  2. Control negative body language, wait her out and let her keep the discussion going. She will continue with  something like, “Did you try it on? Does it fit? I can take it back.”
  3. This may be a good time to kiss her Good Morning, then respond with a question. For example, “How does this shirt look?” With any luck, she will say, “Perfect!” If her response is, “You look like your cousin Jonathan,” you could be in over your knees. Move slowly out the door saying you have an early office meeting.


                                                                             ….just saying

P is for Preposterous – The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude


New Thought on Words

We know preposterous means; absurd, unbelievable, or outrageous. However, after reading about Joe Muto, Gawker’s Fox Mole, I am confused.

I vaguely remember Muto being fired by Fox Television last April but was unfamiliar with the media blog Gawker, so I looked online. Wikipedia identifies the parent company, Gawker Media, and states “Gawker is a blog based in New York City that bills itself as the source for daily Manhattan media news and gossip and focuses on celebrities and the media industry.” Yesterday’s post featured a story about Donald Trump (I still want to call him “The Donald”) giving away suitcases of money.

Joe Muto, a graduate of Notre Dame, worked as a producer for Fox Television for eight years. Disenfranchised with their increasingly conservative view and refusal of co-workers to bring a fair and balanced approach to the broadcast show, Muto met with Gawker editors and when asked to prove he worked for Fox, provided two outtakes. I gather contacting human resources was not an option, and he may not have had an employee photo ID or pay stub. Regardless, Muto knew it was a crime, and although surprised Gawker posted the videos, does not blame them for his criminal record.

Muto’s sentence:

  • Ten Days of Community Service
  • Two hundred hours of private service at a Brooklyn literacy organization
  • A one thousand dollar fine
  • Forfeit to charity the five thousand dollar fee Gawker paid him

“John Cook, editor-in-chief of Gawker, called the sentence ‘preposterous’ and suggested Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. was trying to curry favor with Fox and its powerful chairman, Roger Ailes.”*

What is preposterous?

It is preposterous that Gawker cajoled Joe Muto into thoughtlessly providing outtakes and knowing it could subject him to criminal charges posted the videos.

It is preposterous that Muto now writes for Gawker. Some say the lucrative deal for his book, “An Atheist in the Foxhole,” cushioned the experience.

While cleaning trash in a city park Muto struggled to explain to a fellow community service worker why copying an outtake of Newt Gingrich fussing with his hair is a crime. The guy’s offense was getting drunk and stealing a cab for a joyride. It is rumored Muto answered, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Is  that preposterous?

….just saying

*The News-Journal, “Fox News ‘mole’ resurfaces with book” June 6, 2013

O is for Ordinary – The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude


New Thoughts on Words

“Honey, I’m home,” yells Mr. Wonderful* as he parades himself through the front door carrying a boxed Hamilton Beach toaster oven I requested he buy. I meet him in the kitchen as he continues saying, “You’re gonna love it,” his chest buffed out, ready to strut his feathers like he is a peacock.

“Great,” I respond as excited as he is, “Was it still on sale?”

“Yes, $37.99.” He answers and reaches for a sharp knife to cut through the cellophane tape.

“Wait!” I demand. “Don’t open it! You didn’t get the red one. It says black, see.”

I point to the bold lettering on the box.

Hamilton Beach Toaster Oven


He says, “What’s the difference? They didn’t have a red one. Black, red, it makes toast, heats rolls, melts cheese.”

She says, “Black is ordinary, dull, predictable. Black lacks distinction. Red adds, pizzazz, makes a statement.”

He says, “Who needs a statement? I want toast in the morning, ordinary, plain toast. I add cherry jelly if I need pizzazz. Dull and ordinary is just fine by me.”

She says, “Fine? As in average, common and mundane. I want better than fine. Red adds color, interest against the black granite. I’ll take it back, where’s the receipt?”

He says, “What difference does it make, nobody sees it. It’s a toaster.”

She says, “I see it. Now I’m a nobody?”

He says, “Claudia, that’s not what I meant, you’re being ridiculous, why can’t you ever be happy?”

She says, “So I’m a ridiculous unhappy nobody.”

He says, “I didn’t say that. Don’t put words in my mouth.”

She says, “It doesn’t matter what you said, what you meant was, STOP being a pain in MY butt and settle for ordinary.”

He says, “Geezzzzzzzzzz, What if it only came in black, you’d have to be happy with black.”

She says, “Now I should fake it, pretend I like humdrum black. Did you look for chrome? Chrome, at least chrome would be different.

He says, “You’re right. I’ll take it back. Why be ordinary? God forbid we’re ordinary. Whatever you want. If a red toaster oven makes you happy, I’m happy too. Yada, yada, yada”

….just saying

*Mr. Wonderful is my husband of 42 years.

P.S. You can read the history of the toaster at The Toaster Page.

N is for The New Normal – The Alphabet Series

A New Normal

Aging & Attitude

O56C0464Canada Calgary Zoo – Lee Tickett

New Thoughts On Words

Toes that no longer wiggle, giggle or dance when asleep

But cry, some sudden leg syndrome is attacking our feet

Hands that can’t twist to open a door

Or flip pages any more

Kitchen tops decorated with items to not forget

A part of our brain we haven’t used yet

Ridge in thought

Like stiff knees reluctant to bend

Our grey cells will not receive or send

Exhausted and depleted

We long for comfort food

Meatloaf and mash-potatoes

But for the cerebellum it is repeated conversations

So what if we forget to lock a door, a date, the place, a score

We are old, invisible and small

Don’t pester and pest

Let’s explore!

Close your eyes, envision youth and come with me…. please,

To places we have never been

                                                               ….just saying

M is for Minutiae – The Alphabet Series

New Thoughts on Words


Aging & Attitude


Traffic on Granada Street was light.  An intense Florida sun warmed the car’s interior and made the steering wheel hot.  My plan was to leisurely drive home along the Tomoka River, when a young woman walking caught my attention.  She could have been me forty years ago, her long oval face and golden blonde hair looked so familiar.

Circling the block for a second look, I saw she wore a lively yellow and tangerine colored sundress exposing the right amount of skin.  Spaghetti straps tied in bows relaxed on her shoulders.  The dress was vintage hippie.

I parked, got out of the car and stood in the shade.  In the distance, she sat on a bus stop bench, her straight back and firm chin taken for granted, a slouch bag at her side, intriguing me.   I approached her directly, “Excuse me, can you tell me where Found Treasures Consignment Shop is?”  It was a ruse.  I had been there the day before to leave clothing and knew the exact location.
Looking up, she smiled and repeated my question, “Found Treasures Consignment Store?  Sure, go across the street and see that alley between the buildings?  She raised a hand wearing a mood ring and pointed. “By the Oak tree there’s like a narrow path that like…. you know what; I’ll show you.”

Closer, I saw freckles on her nose like I had.  Her platform sandals looked comfortable and practical. Her toenails painted cherry red.  She looked stylish, as I remembered myself to be.

“That isn’t really necessary.”

“Oh hush, I love that store.”

“Thanks, I’m fairly new to Florida and never sure where I’m going.”

“Me too, I’m like forever lost.  Where are you from?”

“New Jersey, I retired and moved here two years ago.

She came to Daytona for bike week and met her boyfriend.
“You know that show Jersey Shore?  You know that guy Mike, “The Situation”?  That’s who my boyfriend looks like, only he’s got bigger muscles.”  She chewed gum and blew a pink bubble announcing, “No way was I going home.  He’s like not the one, but it’s cool.”

The traffic was heavy now. We stood on the sidewalk waiting for an opportunity to cross. Standing in the hot sun, my mind wandered to the time I was her age and realized how lost she was.

A yellow corvette exceeding the speed limit created an opening in the traffic.  She looped her hand through my elbow and we rushed arm and arm across the street.

Standing on the cracked sidewalk, she turned to face me, patted my thin windblown hair in place, and asked, “Did I tell you I’m going on tour with Tony Bennett?”

Tony Bennett, the singer?  I thought her too young to know a favorite of mine.

“Yes, THE Tony Bennett! You know cause of Daytona’s Music Festival, he, well, Mr. Bennett was performing at the Peabody.”

“Ms. Witch”, my friend Michelle, that’s what we call her cause she’s nasty, we’re like playing Beach Volley Ball and there’s this fight. Witch got into it, scratching, and pulling hair, using the F word and the N word.  I got my tanning lotion and walked away.  Mr. Bennett’s daughter, Toni, saw the whole thing.  She liked me, like right away.  Said I had character or something.  Like, she just gave me a backstage pass.  I started hanging around, helping, and now we’re going on tour.  You know, he’s not Lady Ga Ga, but it’s cool.”

We arrived at the Consignment Shop and opened the door.  A tinker bell jingle announced our entrance. Women’s cast off clothing, many with designer labels packed the shop.  Displayed on the walls were glass necklaces, teardrop crystal pendants, and Swarovski pearls.  Coordinated outfits in shades of green, their potential enhanced by pink accessories, were arranged on hangers.

“I love this stuff.  Look at this.”  She wrapped a four-inch wide black plastic belt with a rhinestone buckle around her waist, shook her head, and returned it to a rack.”

“Minutiae,” I mumbled.

“What did you say?” she giggled.

“Minutiae, little stuff, the details of life.”

“Mi-nooshee-sha, I love that word! What does it mean?”

“Small, insignificant things that don’t seem to matter, then do.”

“Oh, my God! I’m trying this on.”  She exclaimed and slipped into a dressing room carrying an old dress of mine.

It was made of rich black crepe fabric.  The neckline flowed off the shoulders leaving a v shape in the back. Two panels buttoned creating a peak-a-boo above the waistline of a pencil thin skirt.  Its hem had hit the crest of my calf.

“I’m buying this.  It’s like the perfect dress!” she said emphatically outside the dressing room, twirling, as I had done, her blue-green eyes so young and true. I smiled remembering that pleasure of certainty.

“You look great in it.”

She did. I felt light-headed as a wave of emotion cascaded through me.  I had worn that dress to a friend’s wedding, a business conference, and my fortieth birthday party.  “Do you need shoes?”  I asked reminiscing about an elegant pair worn with the dress.

Tasteful, is how to describe them, the heels not too high, the straps not too tight.  I kept them. They were barely worn.

“I got black flip-flops.”

At the cash register, she counted six singles and forty-two cents turning her head with perfect range of motion to ask, “Do you have children?”

“A daughter.”

We left to say goodbye.

“It’s been cool meeting you.”  She said hugging me.

Happy my dress would be going on an adventure, but not wanting to give my secret away, I hesitated then whispered, “Don’t live your life in regret.”

I strolled toward my car, looking back.  The late afternoon sun filtered through the oak trees creating a shadow on her diminutive figure and the sun’s glare caused me doubt she had really been here, while my wedding song, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” played in my head.

...just saying

L is for Limericks and Lobbyists – The Alphabet Series

New Thoughts on Words


Aging & Attitude

The words limerick and lobbyist make me laugh.  A limerick is a nonsense poem that follows a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA). The intent is to be humorous and obscene, many consider a clean limerick an oxymoron. Edward Lear is credited with popularizing the amphibrachic meter.

A limerick needs to be bawdy if not dirty.  This video Grandma Sis’s dirty limerick  captures the art form wonderfully. Please note the yellow sectional couch wrapped in plastic they are sitting on.

Competing with Grandma Sis is not easy, but I hope my first attempt (using L words) will bring you a chuckle.

There once was a lady who worked in Londonderry

She was lazy, lascivious and ordinary

She dressed in the nude

And was extremely rude

But somehow was paid anyway

    Lobbying is the practice of trying to influence decisions made by government officials. President Ulysses S. Grant’s  frequent visits to the Willard Hotel lobby to enjoy a cigar and brandy popularized the term. The hotel is a short walk from the White House. Washington wheelers and dealers knew where to find him and  pay for his drinks.

I have come up with this ditty.

There once was a President who had a hobby

He liked to hang out in the Willard Hotel lobby

When he was there he’d collapse in a chair

Light up a cigar and blow smoke into the air

And listen to political folly

My next limerick hopefully captures more recent shenanigans.

In 1995 Congress strengthened lobby laws

Although compromised, registration still has flaws

With a flick of a pen, Super PAC’s are in

Lobbyist’s spend a fifth of their time drinking gin

We still hear politicians clapping their paws

If you would like to try writing  a limerick click here limerick poem.

Please share your efforts in the comments section. It was fun but harder than I thought.

….just saying

K is for Kaleidoscope – The Alphabet Series

Aging & Attitude

New Thoughts on Words

Remember looking through a kaleidoscope as a child, the view filled with wonder and excitement.

For me, it was like going to Lowe’s Paradise Theater on Fordham road in the Bronx. There was a hole in the ceiling that allowed patrons to peak at the moon and stars while enjoying a movie. I did not know it was pretend until a teen, and stepped outside to daylight after the show.

As with a kaleidoscope, once the device met my eye, I traveled to an exotic place where imagined shapes and colors lived.

The kaleidoscope, invented by David Brewster; a scientist experimenting with light polarization around 1815, quickly became a popular toy with sales reaching two hundred thousand in three months time.

Webster’s dictionary defines a kaleidoscope as an “optical instrument which by an arrangement of reflective surfaces exhibits an infinite variety of beautiful colors and symmetrical forms of its content.” The effect achieved by angling mirrors towards each other to create multiple reflections.  Usually bits of glass or paper are put in the cylinder’s “object chamber” to be reflected, although it could be anything, including liquid.

Paul Dewa explains how a kaleidoscope works in his you/tube video.

We are familiar with the inexpensive cardboard and wood cylinder type but there are many others resembling art forms.

Frank and Janet Higgins worked with stain glass for years and called their studio “Kaleidoscope”  but did not design and build kaleidoscopes until the mid-90’s. Their aim is “to make high-quality playthings for grown-ups, concentrating equally on innovative design, the internal images and the external presentation.”  That means, they strive to be the best.  You can view the slide show at Picture Trail.

What makes a kaleidoscope fascinating is perception. We reflect differently on the same thought or memory, and the hope that change will make life better.

….just saying



J is for Junk Drawer – The Alphabet Series

New Thoughts on Words


Aging & Attitude

Mr. Wonderful, my husband of 41 years, walks into the kitchen and asks, “Have you seen that what-ch-ma- thing?”

I know exactly what he is asking about because he has on glasses and is holding a plastic tube of wood glue.

“You know that who-GA-ma-call-it you wanted put back.” He says stammering and shaking his head; eyes focused on a ceiling corner in an attempt to retrieve the information.

I enjoy his sputtering, because early he yelled at me, “You’re always right, you’re right, you’re right, but you can’t make me do it.” After a discussion on health became a fist fight about right or wrong.

Now, his stretched out slippers let his toes hang over the sole, so they smash into the floor molding. He hip hops about, flamingo style, scrunching his face like a shriveled prune and swearing, shit, shit, shit, but gets no sympathy.

Then he blurts out the real issue, “Why can’t we have a junk drawer?”

Yes, you heard right, we do not have a junk drawer. I am philosophically opposed to the concept and wonder why people accumulate items, they do not want and have no need for, useless items, in a kitchen drawer.

“Why would we need a junk drawer, we have somehow managed for forty years without a drawer of unwanted rubbish.”

“Marshal says every man needs a junk drawer, all the guys have one, I’m the only one who doesn’t.”

I get it, that the junk has possibility. It’s too good for the garbage and might some day have a use, or kept just in case.

“So Mr. Wonderful, if you had a junk drawer, what would you put in it?” I ask.

“The who-Ga-ma-call-it I’m looking for, golf balls and golf tees, I don’t know, STUFF!” He answers.

“Don’t you keep golf balls and tees in your golf bag? And the what-ch-ma-thing is in your tool box.” I reply.

“You’re right, you’re right, I hate it when you’re right!”

…just saying

       (Mr. Wonderful improvises)GE DIGITAL CAMERA