Welcome to our world!

We are The Bergs – Richard and Mary.

Contrary to what our writing may at times suggest, we are a happily married couple of nearly 13 years (a second marriage for one and a later life marriage for the other). We both love to write. Richard was a newspaper reporter by trade for a good number of years and me, Mary, has written stories and poems for as long as I can remember. One quiet Sunday afternoon, an idea was born whereby we would each write about the same word or topic from our own perspective often sitting side-by-side. Here, then, are our views on everything from soup to nuts! Enjoy!

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The Evidence Shows…

We’ve taken off a couple of weeks (er…many months) and are back with the “bowl” word EVIDENCE. As usual, we take complete different spins on the word. Here, then, is our offering!

cluecharacters

Despite All Evidence to the Contrary

The evidence was obvious and overwhelming, at least to me.

Poor John “Buddy” Boddy’s braincase had been cracked wide open by a baseball bat wielded by none other than Jonathan “Jack” Mustard, legendary gridiron great turned sportscaster The murder took place in the observatory of Buddy’s Hollywood Hills party home as he peered through his 150mm Maksutov-Cassegrain during the wee morning hours. The dumbbell never saw it coming.

I was sure that I had more than enough evidence to take Mustard off the air for the rest of his life; but Buddy’s body was missing, and the other five overnight guests hadn’t a clue. I knew that I had no choice but to roll the dice and play the game if I was to come out a winner.

Who am I? My name is Victor Plum. I’m a billionaire software designer, and I’ve got “game.”

Let’s start with the party guest/suspect list. In addition to myself and Mustard, we’ve got Kasandra Scarlet, leading lady and consummate casting couch cover; Jacob Green, a man of murky occupation who, a couple of hundred years ago, would have been a highly successful snake oil salesman; Diane White, a child film star whose grip on the present is tenuous, at best; and Eleanor Peacock, a woman so filthy rich she can only marginally relate to life forms beneath her caste.

We had all received the party invitation, which had included an intriguing addition. Buddy had scribbled a note to each of us that he feared for his life and hoped that his true friends could help.

“True friends” was a stretch. To me, Buddy was, at best, a frequent associate; but who could resist a note like that?

We all arrived fashionably late and were met with enthusiastic greetings by our host. Dinner and drinks filled the night. We all asked Buddy about his strange note. He had no real evidence to support his fears, only a sense of being watched and a vague feeling of dread.

As the party wound down, we all bid Buddy good night and retired to our rooms. By morning, he was gone.

While the others buzzed about the shocking but not unexpected development, I quickly gathered my evidence. I knew that Buddy was dead, but I wanted to make sure I had what I needed to implicate the killer.

I had been around the board enough times to know that jumping into a room and announcing the perpetrator right up front would not work, so I bowed to tradition and let Scarlet take the lead.

She quickly sashayed to the spa and declared that Green had done the deed in that very room with a wrench. She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Buddy was about as handy as a thumbless Tim Taylor. He had wrenched his back several years ago attempting to do a cartwheel after six margaritas, but any wrench Buddy had owned was left behind when he moved from his old mansion to his new home in 2008.

Green was livid at the accusation. Buddy was his best bud, he said — an unquestionable quid pro quo kind of guy. He wasted no time in naming the real culprit. Without a doubt, he said, White had offed Buddy by whacking him over the head with a lead pipe in the library.

I stand corrected. Scarlet could have been more wrong. Not only was Buddy’s home too new to incorporate lead plumbing, the library had been remodeled into a theater not long after video had replaced print as the world’s primary source of entertainment.

White, although she said that she was flattered by being cast in such a central role in the intrigue, could not claim credit. She nominated Peacock for the honor, adding that she believed Peacock clubbed Buddy to death with a baseball bat whilst he was spying on the neighbors from his observatory.

Whaaat? Right location, right weapon, wrong perpetrator. Had she actually seen something?

Peacock frostily replied that she would not dignify the accusation with a response.

It was Mustard’s trip to the plate. The man sputtered something about Buddy having no enemies and expressed complete amazement that any foul play could befall the man.

Mentally, I rubbed my hands together in glee. Everyone had taken a shot, so my turn had come.

I dismissed the clueless Scarlet and Green in short order — no wrench, no lead pipe, no library, no supporting evidence. White was another story.

I questioned her and was able to determine she had only seen a shadowy figure in the observatory with Buddy when she looked out her bedroom window during a bout with insomnia. The baseball bat was pure conjecture because she had seen one in the hallway umbrella stand when she arrived for the party but it was no longer there. “Evidence” like that would not hold up in court.

I pounced.

I produced the bat, decorated with Buddy’s blood and Mustard’s fingerprints. Solid evidence establishing the bat as the murder weapon and Mustard as the culprit. Then, I led them to a large trunk in a storage room just off the observatory, opened the lid and produced another essential piece of evidence in the case — Buddy’s body.

Mustard was still proclaiming his innocence as the cops cuffed him and took him away. I knew he would. Despite all the evidence against him, Mustard did not kill Buddy. I did.

Back in my office, I removed the incredibly lifelike mask I had worn to the party and resumed my true identity — Professor Plum. Yes, I had killed Buddy for the sole reason of framing Mustard and taking him out.

I knew that Mustard, as an ex-jock, could not resist the urge to swing that bat sitting in the hallway when he arrived for the party, leaving a nice set of fingerprints. The rest was easy.

Victor Plum had been my first victim. I had primed Buddy’s paranoia by following him for weeks.

Next on my list is White. She came a little too close to derailing things this time. I’m not going to give her a second chance.

Nothing is going to get in the way of my master plan. In the end, nobody in my game will have a first name.

~~~~~~~

I Like to Party

The Evidence is Clear – Men Nap Because They Can

We had our annual summer picnic yesterday for my husband’s side of the family. Attending were his four sisters and their various spouses, his brother and a couple of offspring and offspring’s offspring. In all, there were approximately six men relatives and eight women relatives and two 7/8 year olds in attendance.

The party got rolling around 1:00 with everyone bounding into the house carrying their food or snack offering to the party. Hugs and greetings were exchanged while beer and wine was cracked open and served.  Before you knew it, the house was filled with Berg lineage all huddled around our kitchen island while laughter and good natured ribbing filled the airwaves.

By 2:30, my sister-in-law, Phyllis’s husband Tony had retreated to the living room and was slouched down at the end of our sofa with his eyes closed and gentle snores rising melodically from his mouth. Phyllis, apparently well accustomed to Tony’s spur of the moment naps, took no notice of him and continued to converse with the family. Someone mentioned her slumbering spouse to her and she simply brushed in off with a wave of her hand and a roll of her eyes.

As with most mixed gender parties, the women were soon out on the deck conversing about what it is that women converse about while the men continued to circle the kitchen island devouring the taco dip, painfully hot salsa and beer dip. The deck conversation had somehow turned to the feeding habits of rabbits (loosely derived from why our dog had parasites earlier this year) their custom of eating their own feces (we had just finished discussing women issues, bunions and plantar fasciitis), when the eldest Berg sister’s husband wandered onto the deck.

Phyllis’s daughter, Nicki, had just completed looking up on her phone “do rabbits eat their own poop”and we were laughing and coming up with different scenarios where that would or would not be appropriate when John, the wandering spouse, suggests that it has to do with the rabbit’s cecum and that humans have cecums too.

Well, thank you for that information Dr. John and by all means join the conversation.

John sits down and within minutes of taking his chair, his head is tipped back, his mouth lax and open and he too is making gentle rumblings from within his throat. We all looked at John and then at his wife who just shook her head in apparent disgust and the rabbit conversation and raucous laughter resumed.

I walked back into the house to see if the menfolk had run out of snacks or heaven forbid, beer, to discover that my husband’s middle sister, Dianne’s husband was now fast asleep on one of our recliners. By now, I am questioning our ability to host a party whereby our guests could stay awake. I looked toward my own husband to see if he too had found a little corner to curl up in, but was pleased to see that he was still awake and engaged in conversation with various family members. This is not to say that my husband has never fallen asleep at a gathering, but rather to say that I was pleasantly surprised that he was at this time awake and partaking in the festivities.

So what’s up with men taking naps at family events? I can honestly say that except that one time when maybe someone had a little too much to drink, I have never seen a woman doze off during a party. We talk. We busy ourselves picking up after others. We endure long, drawn out men conversations regarding their jobs, beer, tools, race cars and other interesting topics with a smile on our faces…not a yawn, but we do not lie back in a chair, close our eyes and begin snoring in the middle of a party!

After all guests have departed, I log onto my computer to research rather than just blame the male species for their lack of social graces in a festive setting. Is it a genetic defect? Does, as my husband claims, their blood leave their brains and rush to their stomachs to aid in taco dip digestion rendering them unable function for a period of time? Or, as I suspect, do they simply find idle chit-chat a complete waste of time and they escape into their own dream-like state to survive a family function?

According to the Pew Research Center, the evidence is clear. “More than four-in-ten (41%) men ages 50 and older say they napped in the past day, compared with just 28% of women of the same age.”

Okay, so they are in good company. But why? Why do they do it?

The Family Education Forum explains that, “Men take naps, women get cranky. Men do the things that they notice need to be done. They don’t mind being asked to do things. Women notice all the things that could be done. They do the martyr thing, try to do it all themselves, get exhausted and — once again — cranky, and then fly off the handle at the unsuspecting husband who would only be a martyr if it was truly necessary, and then would literally work himself into an early grave without complaint.”

Ah, so really, it’s the women’s fault. I see. But wait, why do they nap? So they don’t get cranky or so they don’t have to do all the work that women do?  And what does this have to do with party napping?

And finally, the evidence on naps, reports the Smithsonian, is that frequent naps of longer than an hour can signify a major health concern including cancer, heart disease and respiratory issues and are a warning sign that should not be taken lightly.

Oh my gosh, I’m calling 9-1-1 and giving them my brother-in-law’s addresses! I didn’t know. I didn’t realize. I thought they were just comfortable in my house.

I look over to tell my husband of my fears and concerns to see him sitting on the sofa with his fingers resting on the keyboard of his laptop while his head is back and his mouth open in pre-snore mode. He looks neither ill nor like he’s avoiding a cranky wife. He just looks peaceful in a loud, sort of snoring way.

I say don’t overthink it. Just let ‘em rest.

 

 

 

Tornado

Due to things within and beyond our control, we have take an extended sabbatical from Dueling Laptops. With a fresh bowl of words, we are back.

hers

factory

Life Is But a Dream

Once upon a time, there was a very tired woman who we’ll call Merry in an attempt to protect the innocent. Merry worked in a factory that produced widgets for all mankind (or at least for the general population of a certain county resting along the shores of Lake Michigan – north of Sheboygan and south of Green Bay). Merry worked so hard that her brain threatened to implode while her fingers bled.

Merry’s job was to take each of the incoming widget pieces and lovingly sort them so that the next person on the widget assembly line could skillfully finesse its parts into a final widget work of art. Merry determined which of the great and powerful team members who followed her would be best suited to perform such task and provided that staff the opportunity to delve into each assignment. Merry performed her duties with joy and anticipation. Each new widget order provided wonder and awe in the complexities and idiosyncrasies that it offered.

In Merry’s past life, she also served as the keeper of future production schedules, but it seems as though the increase in widget demands would prevent her from performing many of her past duties. These duties would wait until past the peak production season and then create their own tornado of activity. Merry looked forward to that less hectic time where she could look out her production window and watch the members of mankind partake in menial outdoor activities such as relaxing on a bike ride or strolling along the Lakefront with a fellow mankind-er or soul mate while she took advantage of her “down-time” to catch up on fun activities such as budgeting.

Merry increased her hours in an attempt to keep up with the incoming widgets yet the more hours she worked, more widget projects accumulated. Soon she began loading widgets orders into her car on nights and weekends so she could continue to sort them around the few hours she spent at home, but to no avail. It seemed that the widgets parts would reproduce during the wee hours of the night. The little baby widget pieces taunted her as she walked into her production room, “Sort me! Assign me! Pay attention to me!”

Merry frantically gathered all the baby widget projects and corralled them into her workspace along with the ordinary and complicated widget projects. With heart racing and fingers flying, she separated them into green projects and blue projects. She categorized them into Very Difficult, Difficult, Moderate and Simple and further divided them by Rush, ASAP, whenever the hell you get to them and bury them in backyard and then determined which team member to gift them to. Dazed, she completed each and every order that threatened to overtake her workspace. When each project was sorted, categorized and assigned, Merry stumbled out of the office blurry-eyed muttering “Keep smiling. The sun will come out tomorrow. Life is good. A bushel and a peck. Calgon take me away.”

It is Sunday. Merry has decided she needs a break so she can return to the war room on Monday with a fresh set of eyes and a song in her heart. So rather than go into the plant, she takes the day off by arising at an insanely late hour (5:30 a.m.), takes a long, leisurely shower (5 minutes) and heads to the kitchen where she fills her coffee mug with java and a liberal splash of creamer. Merry slips into her favorite chair and reaches down to grab her work laptop. Five hours later, she looks up from client invoicing and realizes her family is in the room. They are all going about their day as though she wasn’t in the room.

“Good Morning,” she sings out and they turn and look at her in shock.

“She talks,” her husband says in amazement.

“Grandpa, I thought you said she wasn’t really there,” her grandson says accusingly to her husband.

Her dogs growl at her as if she were a alien.

With 30 days remaining in production season, Merry sits in a catatonic state in her recliner. She stares ahead and reflects on what has become of her life. Her family no longer knows her. Her dogs want to attack her. Her team members look at her as if she’s the Grim Reaper handing out cyanide capsules.

“It’s all for the good of the cause,” she reassures herself. “Each and every one of these widget orders is way more important than life balance, health and well being. It’s my life’s calling. I’m needed.”

BEEP, BEEP, BEEP

Mary reaches for the alarm clock and hits the snooze button. It’s 3:50 Monday morning. She lies in bed thinking about the nightmare she just awoke from. “Widgets and production reports and dogs attacking. Crazy!” she thinks.

She shudders as the alarm resolving rings again. Mary reaches over, turns off the alarm and rises. She puts the nightmare in the back of her mind and begins the ordeal of getting ready for work.

“Twenty-nine more days,” she thinks to herself. “Twenty-nine more days and hundreds of tax returns to log in before the end of tax season.”

Mary steps into her office at 4:55 a.m. She has an overpowering feeling of déjà vu. Shaking the cobwebs out of her head, she quickly dismisses the thought and starts sorting the returns that seem to have reproduced over the weekend. Blue pile, green pile. Very difficult, Difficult, Rush, ASAP…

tax season meme

~~~~~~~

his

Tornado Adds Real Twist to Car Market

Sales of the Great Big Motors Corporation Tornado have skyrocketed since the world’s first production monster truck began rolling off the GBMC Beijing assembly line in early January.

“The popularity of the Tornado has exceeded our wildest expectations,” announced a beaming Gus Guzzler, GBMC founder and CEO. “We can’t make them fast enough to keep our dealers in stock.”

The car industry had scoffed when GBMC was founded less than a year ago, but it’s paying attention now. When falling gas prices had sparked renewed interest in larger vehicles, established car manufacturers had cautiously responded with an incremental increase in the average size of its models.

Guzzler, who had made billions in the lucrative nightcrawler rental market, saw an opportunity and pounced on it like a deranged banker on a real estate derivative. GBMC and its “Bigger is Better” battle cry were born.

GBMC_Tornado

Like its namesake, the Tornado is an environmental disaster. It’s fuel efficiency is measured in gallons per mile. GBMC touts the official EPA rate at 1.5 gpm, although it cautions that “individual gallonage may vary.” Proud Tornado owner Facebook posts put the current, unsubstantiated record at 3 gpm “with only a little revving.”

GBMC balances its fleet to meet federal fuel efficiency requirements with its GoCart model. That diminutive, single-seat vehicle, powered by a .3-liter engine, takes up less space than a Tornado spare tire.

Every Tornado comes with a complimentary GC strapped to its bed. The GC is not sold separately.

In-your-face, anti-environmental Tornado standard equipment includes an acceleration-triggered smoke-injector built into the tailpipe. The thick, oily black smoke belched by the Tornado when the injector kicks in adds all the dramatic flair of a Reavers raider in hot pursuit of a Series 3 Firefly at atmospheric altitudes.

“Owners are extremely pleased with this feature,” Guzzler reported.

Among Tornado exterior options are light bars, chrome running boards and flare launchers. Smallish buyers might want to consider an available escalator as an aid to reaching the driver’s seat. If the standard Royal Blue finish is not appealing, the Tornado can be special-ordered in camo.

Guzzler noted that owners have shown amazing creativity in customizing their Tornadoes. He added the GBMC has shown that it can match virtually any request made.

“We’ve been more than ready to add twists, including legally questionable ones, to make our customers happy,” Guzzler declared.

The Tornado interior is plushly appointed. Heated leather seats are derived from an assortment of soft, baby animal skins, including several endangered species. An eight-speaker Bose sound system comes complete with a country-western and heavy metal mp3 library. Cigarette lighters and ash trays are installed on driver and passenger doors. The entire cockpit is trimmed in rare Brazilwood.

Giddy with the success of the Tornado, GBMC has big plans for even bigger models.

“By the third quarter of next year, we will launch our new top-of-the-line Hurricane,” Guzzler promised. “Watch for additional announcements. The Hurricane is going to blow you away.”

HOLD

After a slight lapse of time, we come back strong as ever with the current bowl word “hold.”  The word tripped us up as neither could come up with anything worthy of writing about. We agreed that neither would lapse into poetry as a last resort. Throughout the weeks, we’d look at one another and say, “How is that “hold” blog coming along” and sort of grunt a response and move on. With our extended Thanksgiving weekend looming in front of us, we were determined to knock this thing out. Per usual, our stories couldn’t be further apart on the literary spectrum. We are gluttons for attention so please comment if the spirit moves you. Enjoy!

His

enceladus
View from a Survival Tent

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

“What’s in the hold, Captain?”

I cringed inwardly. I was expecting the question, of course. I had hoped it would not be asked so soon after we had emerged from the stasis pods.

“That’s ‘need to know’ only,” I told my overly curious co-pilot, George.

I didn’t really care if the only other crew member aboard the SXS Elon Musk knew what we were carrying, but I had been sworn to secrecy before launch. Time had been too short for questions when we boarded and were hustled into the pods. The ground crew had stowed our cargo after putting us under. Even I had not gotten a look at it.

“Oh, come on,” George pleaded. “I’ve got the same top secret clearance as you, and I really have a need to know.”

“Not the same thing, as I’m sure you’re aware,” I said.

I smiled. George could be persistent. Good thing I liked him. Even more saving to the relationship was being in stasis for most of the four-year trip out to Enceladus.

Without the pods, I would like him a lot less. One of us would be dead, and I probably wouldn’t have cared who.

As it was, we were in for a long couple of weeks of keeping each other company. Nobody, especially us, trusted the ship instruments to take us the last million or so miles to our destination. Too many things could go wrong in this crowded solar system neighborhood for us to remain asleep on the job.

“Do you even know what we’re carrying?” George asked.

“I do, and you will too, eventually,” I answered.

“Well, if I correctly guess what’s in the hold, will you tell me if I’m right?”

“We’ll see.”

I didn’t see any harm in that non-committal promise. I didn’t want George to get too squirrelly. I was confident that, with a little bit of misdirection, I could keep him guessing until delivery. The only condition I stipulated was that the questions could only be answered with “yes” or “no.” Besides, if George had even momentarily considered his childhood, he would have remembered that “we’ll see” means “no.”

So, he guessed — constantly — unless I called a timeout, or he hit his mandatory sleep period. Blessed relief!

I gave him quite a few hints along the way. Our mission was unique. Its more than $1 billion price tag had been internationally crowd-funded in record time. George never put the pieces together.

He was still guessing as we made our final approach to the designated landing site. All he had established about the contents of our hold was that it was “animal,” bigger than a breadbox and would not fit in his mouth. George was not a good guesser.

The landing was perfect. George was amazed after I keyed the door open, and he saw what was in our hold.

“What the hell! A stasis pod!” he exclaimed.

“What did you expect?” I countered. “You guessed that it was a living thing. Did you expect to see a food trough and litter box that were good for four years?”

“Who’s in it?”

“Still can’t tell you.”

“Chris, you are a bastard!”

“I know.”

With a little elbow grease and no small amount of robotic help, we were able to move the pod through the main airlock and onto the frigid Enceladus surface. We encased the pod in a survival tent, which we stocked with 2 years of survival supplies.

After setting up a video camera far enough from the tent to take in the entire scene, we quickly retreated to the Musk. We wasted no time on niceties like a countdown before we lifted for the return trip to Earth. If we wanted to get back before we were nursing home fodder, our window of opportunity was critically small.

I watched the moon grow smaller until it was time to head for the stasis pods. En route, I found Curious George with his eyes glued to the video feed from the surface camera.

Just microseconds before the Enceladus rotation took the transmission offline, I took a look at the monitor. Our former passenger had emerged from the survival tent. Even from a distance, the disheveled, badly-colored orange comb-over was unmistakable.

The man had finally gotten what he wanted. He was king of the world.

Hers

hoarders

To Have and To Hold

Hello, my name is Mary and I’m a hoarder.

Okay, so maybe I’m not your Hoarder – Buried Alive kind of hoarder, but rather I’m more of a Hoarder – Please Don’t Open That Closet Door or You Could be Maimed for Life kind of hoarder. Yes, I am a hoarder.

I hold onto things. I collect things. I have numerous versions of things. I have boxes of things. I have piles of things. My office is full of things. Our storage room overflows with things. My closet shelves have stacks of things. I have pretty wicker baskets that accumulate things. Yes, I am a hoarder.

I came by hoarding honestly. My mother was a hoarder and a bargain shopper – not a good combination. Growing up, our kitchen counter tops and dining room table collected stacks of mail, bills, coupons, newspapers and missing homework assignments until they threatened to avalanche to the floor at which time a new stack was started. Our closets were a “throw it in there and close the door before it implodes” kinds of closets. Kitchen cabinets were filled to near capacity and once it reached that status, you simply stacked. Soup cans on top of spaghetti boxes, spices on top of fallen down cereal boxes, cupcake liners stuffed into a cracker tin…you get the picture. She was a hoarder.

In my mom’s later years, she discovered garage sales. She purchased framed pictures of big-eyed children, stormy seas, cows in a pasture, and outhouses – she bought them all and brought them home. She acquired dolls and dishtowels and dining room tables and kitchen gadgets and pretty necklaces and brought them all home to add to her current holdings. When she passed away, we all wanted to want some of her things, but it was hard to want something that still held a piece of masking tape on the back of it proudly proclaiming .25 cents. Yes, she was a hoarder.

Sometimes I think I hoard because it is easier than finding a place for it or perhaps it is easier than letting go. Holding onto items holds that place in time. It holds a seven-year old’s transformation from stick drawings to people with round bellies and rectangle arms and legs. It holds plastic containers of clothes that no longer fit but reminds me of that feeling I had when I was thinner. It holds ornaments of basketball and soccer balls hanging from a red strings and Peanuts characters and ropes of wooden garland purchased during a trip with my mom and sisters to California. It holds memories of days gone by that I’m not ready to let go of. Yes, sadly, I am a hoarder.

In my mind, I see three tarps laid out in my driveway. One enormous tarp has a banner proclaiming DONATE. One massive tarp has a banner screaming TOSS. One smaller tarp holds a banner that meekly suggests, “keep”. In my fantasy, I sit on my throne of decision in the middle of the hoarding chaos and I pitch thing after thing onto the TOSS tarp. Periodically, I find a treasure that I will hold close to my chest and smile at as I relive that memory and then bravely and gently place it onto the DONATE pile hoping that it creates a memory for another lost soul. In the end, I gather up the few arms-full of my keepers and bring them back into my home to find their rightful spot. In my mind, I have stopped the cycle and I walk away from hoarding.

As we put up our Christmas tree today, my husband will curse and complain as he bravely wades through our storage room to retrieve the unknown number of boxes of Christmas decorations. Once the boxes are stacked in the living room, he will retreat to his office in the basement and wait out the decorating ordeal. I will open each box anticipating the treasures inside. Frustration will rise as I sort through strings of colored and white lights. Smiles will grace my face as I uncover handmade ornaments of a 4-year old. Tears will fall as I find an ornament given to me by a loved one passed on.

When it’s all said and done, six or seven half-filled boxes will remain with rejected contents. Perhaps I will take a deep gulp and TOSS or DONATE the contents of those boxes. Maybe I will realize that the memories that the rejected items hold are just that – memories, and they do not need physical placeholders to be relived.

Perhaps I will end the day relieved that next year the decorating process will be quicker, lighter, less emotional.

Perhaps.

New

The current “bowl” word is new. Predictably, the minds behind the word took completely different spins on “new”. SHE wrote a touching piece based on a recent wedding she attended. HE, a story that makes you wonder if the line between imaginary and reality are sometimes just a bit too close for comfort. Enjoy!

_1070477

Something Old, Something New

“Crazy,” she thinks. “My wedding day.”

A non-traditional bride at 60, she checks her “wedding dress” – a clean pair of jeans, a lacy purple camisole and a soft cashmere sweater lined with colors as rich as the spectacular autumn landscape outside her kitchen window.

Something old, something new,

Something borrowed, something blue

Her old – a pair of her Mom’s earrings. Her new – two leather bracelets she had made for her granddaughters. The borrowed – a necklace of her sisters. The blue – an uncomfortable, but very blue, pair of panties that are driving her nuts. She is set.

Looking at herself in the mirror, she is neither pleased nor overly critical of her shape. She is comfortable in her skin, but would be happy with a bit less of it. She is who she is.

“Not bad for an old lady,” she declares to her reflection.

Soft gray hair the color of early morning fog, clear blue eyes that have seen their share of happiness and sorrow, and an easy smile that graces her face more often than not these days, she is in a place in her life that she could have only dreamed. Today she is marrying her friend, her companion, her partner.

Her man, whom she has known for 45 years, is a solid oak of a fellow with a sturdy character and a smile that reminds her of warm melted caramel. His waist-long, salt and pepper hair is tied carelessly back. She thinks of his face with its short graying beard, wild and crazy eyebrows that have their own personality and those eyes. Those eyes, those warm brown eyes, that welcomed her in four years ago when she arrived with an SUV full of what little bit of her life she could squeeze into the back of the vehicle along with emotional scars and open wounds that needed to be healed before she could become whole.

This leg of their journey was about to be completed. Today, in the yard of her grandparents’ home, she will marry her man. The maples that serve as an altar were planted shortly after her grandparents’ marriage in the 1930’s and their brilliantly colored leaves serve as carpeting under their feet. She and her man are declaring their love for one another before God and their families.

She takes one more look around and smiles at her son who has made the trip from the West coast, her dad, two of her sisters, her man’s family and a sprinkling of friends. She walks toward the altar where he waits. Their eyes lock as their faces break into wide smiles. The ceremony begins with a prayer, a song and a couple of stories about the bride and groom. Laughter fills the air.

As she begins her vows, she swallows hard and the tears fall. He reaches over and gently wipes her eyes. Her heart is so full of love for this man that the words seem stuck. She whispers her commitment to him and he follows suit. They are married.

They seal the moment with a kiss and are introduced as man and wife.

new

Wendy was into all things new.

Whenever she saw a commercial for something new on television, she felt that the pitch was aimed directly at her. It was almost as if they knew her.

They did. In fact, they were getting to know her better every day.

Only yesterday, Wendy had been roaming the aisles of her local Great Wall of China Super Mart, just checking for anything new, when she saw it. It was the latest VerySmart TV set.

Wendy’s old set, which was literally new 6 months ago, had been working just fine. This one was really new. For Wendy, it was a “must buy.”

The set was on sale — 30 percent off. On top of that, with the purchase of her 40-inch screen, she could get a second set of equal or smaller size for half-price. She left the store as proud new owner of two 40-inchers. Wendy could not believe her luck.

When she got them home, she knew just where to hang them. One went on the wall of her “open concept” living room/dining room/kitchen. The other went on her bedroom wall.

It was a smallish apartment. Now, she could watch TV from any room, even from the bathroom if she left the door open.

The great new features of the set included a camera and microphone. They would enable, the owner’s manual said, Wendy to wirelessly connect any VerySmart SpeakEasy19bs or higher cell phone to her sets for a big-screen HD MugTime experience.

That would have to wait. Wendy had the SpeakEasy18hs. The 19bs was new, so she had every intention of getting it as soon as it was released.

The operator’s manual didn’t mention all of the bells and whistles possessed by her new TV sets. After all, it wasn’t so much a manual as a “quick set-up guide.” The full manual was available for download if she desired. She did not. Wendy was not into details.

Unknown to Wendy, her new TV sets had a special feature. They were watching her. All the time.

With their super wide-angle lenses, the television sets were perfectly positioned to keep Wendy in view. Her apartment afforded no nook or cranny for her to hide.

Powered by an uninteruptible rechargeable battery, the camera was always on, even when the set was switched off. Along with a permanent internet connection, Netflix and a rudimentary web browser, the set came equipped with the very latest, regularly updated, facial expression interpreting software.

Wendy’s every smile, frown and forehead wrinkle were recorded and relayed to the set manufacturer. All of her likes and dislikes were automatically analyzed, sorted and sold to the highest bidder, along with the exact location of the television set generating the data.

Wendy had given the VerySmart Corporation a head start on getting to know her by completing a survey packed with her sets. By completing the questionnaire, which VerySmart stated would “help us better serve your needs,” Wendy got the warranties on her new sets, at no additional cost, doubled from the standard six months to a full year. Wendy could not believe her luck.

In exchange, VerySmart got Wendy’s age, income range, employer and many of her personal preferences. The corporation was very happy to learn about Wendy. A woman like her, obsessed with all things new, was a potential merchandising gold mine.

Advertisers soon knew that Wendy has a cat named Mittens. They learned that Wendy is a single, 42-year-old woman, who often works late and has a tendency to eat convenience meals. They discovered she loves Cheetos. They knew where she shops — everywhere she shops.

They knew when she was sleeping. There’s a pill for that. They knew when she was awake. There’s a pill for that. They knew if she had been bad or good — although Wendy was always good, for goodness sake. No pill for that, yet.

The good people at VerySmart soon knew more about Wendy than Wendy knew about herself. They even knew what Mittens did when Wendy was at work. Naughty, naughty cat.

The infiltration began with little things. Wendy learned, from a commercial strategically placed between the opening and first scene of her favorite program, that her supermarket’s weekly sales items included “new and improved” Cheetos and a new brand of cat food very similar to what she served Mittens, but at a much lower introductory price. What luck! She loaded up on both.

Within a month, Wendy’s entire weekly shopping list consisted of new items she had seen advertised on her VerySmart TV sets. She was amazed at how frequently an ad exactly matched her needs, often when she was about to run out of something. How could she be so lucky?

The time had come for advertisers to lock their grip on Wendy. As she was checking “suggested” programs on her television guide one night, she happened upon a eye-opener: All about Winnie.

She read the summary of this “new hit” and found that it was a situation comedy drama, which meant it would feature a canned laugh track and one or two characters who either cried or swore during each episode.

The show centered on a 40-something single woman and her adorable, but mischievous kitty, Snowshoes. Wow! It would be like watching herself starring in a television show, and it was new! How could she resist?

The opening episode was a total immersion experience for Wendy. She absolutely loved Winnie’s apartment kitchen. That hot pink single-cup coffee maker! To die for!

Wendy eyed her own basic black single-cupper with distaste. Well, that would have to change.

Winnie’s appliances! They were all that new, fingerprint-proof stainless steel. Wendy’s would have to go.

The premiere episode gave Wendy a new mission. Although she was a woman of modest means, she now knew where all of her disposable income would be going. It might take a while, but eventually her and Winnie’s worlds would be identical.

Somewhere, deep inside the VerySmart Corp., a technician typed a few keystrokes to reprogram Wendy’s TV sets. Recording Wendy’s life would no longer be necessary.

Most Unpleasant of Topics

We reached into the bowl and pulled out a real stinker of a word. If it offends any of our loyal followers (all two of you), please forgive us. This too will pass!

FArt pic

Oops, I made a fluffy

 The subject of this little poem
Can turn a man out of his home
It turns a happy couple sour
Because of its enormous power 

Sometimes it sneaks out of a crack
Sometimes it takes you quite aback
No harm, no foul you’d like to say
But it will surely rule the day

 It starts as such a tiny rumble
It has no voice, but just a mumble
You try to wish it far away
But rest assured it has a say

The bubbles start to build and gather
Until they put you in a lather
Just set me free; I cannot stay
Inside this cave, there is no way

You work yourself into a snit
And then you just relax a bit
You think you’ve nearly pulled it off
Until you hear the gag and cough

Thunder down under, let ‘er fly
Roar from the rear, a stinkie pie
A heinie hiccup, a poison dart
Ah yes indeed, the word is fart!

rainbowfart

True Facts about the Fart

Ah, this word was not one of mine, but I am quite ecstatic about the opportunity to share the many facts about the word that I have learned over the years.

Now, when I say “facts,” I am referring to the facts as I recall them. I’m old, curmudgeonly, and I never let actual “facts” get in the way of my memories.

Do not challenge any of the things you are about to be told. These are my memories, and no one will ever convince me that they are anything but completely accurate.

The chief component of the fart has been with us since the beginnings of life. Methane, heated by the sun, bubbled freely in the primordial soup, churning and mixing the amino acids which eventually became us.

“Primordial,” by the way, is soon to become a new Campbell’s “Healthy Request(®) ” offering. Look for it on your supermarket shelves.

Although fart has always been with us, the modern word is derived from the German infinitive “furzenzimmer,” which, freely translated, means “to clear a room.” The noun is also rooted in the German word, “furzenraketetreibmittel,” which can be translated and condensed as “rocket propellant.” Is it any wonder the word has been shortened to four letters to do double duty as both verb and noun?

Fart has played many roles throughout human history, both standing alone and working in tandem with other syllables. The very first instance goes back to the time of the Romans, the national group who became Italians in 1953.

The Romans found and trained the greatest fighter to ever perform in the Colosseum. I speak, of course, the most famous gladiator of all times, Fartacus.

Fartacus fought and defeated wave after wave of deadly Christian Ninjas for decades. This greatly amused Roman citizens who had become disenchanted with bread and circuses.

Fartacus was finally felled in 1851 by the divinely enhanced swordsmanship of St. Fartholomew. He was honored for this deed by being named “Patron Saint of Cheesecutters.”

The next famous instance of “fart” joining forces with other letters to become a famous name took place in what is now France with the man who conquered the world, Napoleon Bonafarte. Bonafarte is most famous for his 1913 victory in the Battle of Waterloo, where he soundly trounced the troops of Russia.

Back then, for those who might be confused, Russia was known as the Soviet Union. That evil empire fell just last year when Bolshevik leader Vladimir “The Impaler” Putin toppled the czar.

To celebrate his triumph, Bonafarte wrote and performed “The 1812 Overture.” The French were so grateful to Bonafarte, they sent him on a permanent, all-expenses-paid vacation on the legendary resort island of Atlantis. He was never heard from again.

Beyond history, my richest vein of “fart” material, by far, is found in the various branches of the entertainment industry. My parents, for example, were immensely entertained by the TV program Kids Make the Darndest Smells, which was hosted by Fart Linkletter.

Little-known fact: Linkletter immigrated to the United States from Canada as Gordon Arthur Kelley.

His name was changed by Ellis Island immigration officials, who thought the new name would help him better fit into American society and give him a leg up on a comedy career. They were right.

Moving to the entertainment music branch, who could forget the folksinging team of Fart Garfartel and old what’s-his-name? The hit parade was topped for several months by their biggest song, “That Smell.” Garfartel went on to enjoy a momentary career as an acclaimed actor.

Well, I’ve got a lot of other memories stored in this old cranium I haven’t even mentioned, like the vast world of fine fart and the many famous fartists whose works hang on fart gallery walls throughout the world. I’ve got to save some of these treasure troves for those conversational times around the 4 pm dinner table in my independent living facility, after residents are losing their belts and before they head back to their apartments with their containers of leftovers.

The subject of farts is very likely to come out during these happy minutes of remembrance sharing.

I think I’ve made my point. The next time you suddenly find a powerful, unmistakable aroma wafting into your nostrils, producing a barely controllable urge to wretch, remember the fart’s noble place in Humankind. Don’t start pointing fingers.

If you are the doer of the deed, don’t cower and shrink from attention. Step forward and proudly proclaim: “That was me! And you’re welcome.”

 

Drum Roll Please….Today’s Word is “In”

maxine in love

Only Fools Fall “In” Love by Her

I did a little research before writing this as I was curious what the “experts” say you need in order to be “in” love rather than “to” just love. According to Aish.com, you need to:

  • Have “us” time
  • Connect through the day
  • Give appreciation
  • Try new things
  • Praise your spouse’s physical appearance
  • Make your spouse laugh

Have “us” time

Hmmm…our “us” time during the week consists of a quick kiss and “love you” right before I walk out the door to go to work. Total “us” time = 15 seconds.

Connect through the day

We talk on the phone at lunch if I don’t have a meeting. He gives me the daily report – Did our older dog Izzy eat? Did either or both dogs poop? What he did after he got up and before he called. He then asks me how my day is going and I normally reply with a “don’t ask” and we leave it at that.

We then talk during his break at 5:50. I am typically driving home from work or on my way to some after-work activity. After I unload how my day really went, I then ask how things are at his job. Predictably, things are not going well and he regales me with the failure of some piece of equipment that is “holding up the line” and I grunt acknowledgement as if I understand what it he’s talking about. I don’t understand “linkers” and “stuffers” any more than he understands why a late Form 2553 makes me crazy.

That’s it. That is our daily connection. I can see why this is invaluable to staying “in” love.

Give appreciation

Yeah, we are all about that appreciation thing. Let me give you a couple of examples of our eternal gratefulness we have for one another. A typical conversation of appreciation in our household goes something like this.

Him – “Hey, thank me. I emptied your dishwasher.”

Me – “Oh yeah, thanks. I took your dogs out, but I left the poop for you to clean up.”

Him –”Hmm…you have my undying gratitude. And, well, I got your coffee ready for the morning.”

Me – “Hon, you’re the best. Did you even notice that I cut your grass?”

The gift of appreciation runs rampant in our house. There is nothing but a constant exchange of feel good between us. It’s just huge in staying “in” love!

Try new things

It is true, we are at the truly adventurous period of our lives. I mean really, when you’re cresting the top of the age hill struggling to avoid sliding over the hill, why would you not tempt fate and take on new and exciting things.

We went on vacation this summer to Michigan – a short trip across Lake Michigan for us. Our trip pretty much centered around fitting in as many brew pubs as we could fit in during a three-day vacation. While at two brew pubs, I tried one beer and an ale. This was new stuff for me. I am not a beer drinker. Quell my beating heart, I was living life on the edge. My husband, on the other hand, tried 50 or 60 new beers (well, maybe a slight exaggeration). He is a risk taker (and a beer drinker).

We did try something else new. We went on a dune buggy ride. We sat in the front seat next to the driver as he careened up and down these massive sand dunes. We looked at each other with huge smiles on our faces. My heart was in my throat, but it was the coolest thing we’ve done in years. They might have something there.

Praise your spouse’s physical appearance

I have to say, we are not much for complimenting one another. I remember back several years ago. I was looking in the mirror studying my face while my husband lay in bed outside the bathroom door. I said something like, “I can honestly say that I do not think I am pretty.” Yeah, I was in fact fishing for a compliment or at least a half-assed argument about my statement. Instead, my husband says, “Well, Hon, neither one of us are much to look at.” Ouch. Love hurts!

I occasionally emerge from the closet with my work “outfit” on and my guy will say, “Is that new?” I respond, “No,” to which the man says, “Oh, you look nice.” I look at him to see if he is talking in his sleep. To my surprise, he is not.

Every time my hubby dresses up for an event, I tell him that he looks nice. He replies, “I feel like a monkey.”

We are all about the praise.

Make your spouse laugh

We got this one.

Today, I was driving us to a romantic anniversary dinner at a local pizza place with our grandson in tow. We were driving down a local highway that has a relatively new stop sign right before a large factory. I reached the stop sign and stopped. Yes, I stopped at the stop sign and remain stopped. I looked in the rear view mirror at my grandson and glanced at my spouse. I continued to hold tight at the stop sign. My husband looks at me and says, “Why are we waiting here forever?” I reply, “Huh?” and realize that we have been sitting at the stop sign for an undetermined amount of time without any sign of traffic. He asks if I am waiting for the sign to turn green. I start laughing. We are all laughing. I am laughing so hard that I’m hissing.

A half mile down the road, we come across a stop light. I stop for the light and immediately press the gas pedal and move forward. I then slam on the brakes. The light is still red. I look at my husband and burst into a gale of giggles. I almost ran that red light. Again, we are all laughing. My grandson says, “Grandma, I hope you don’t pass out from laughing.”

One day, I received an email from my husband. Subject: Ziggy and the Hidden Treasure. In it, he described the adventures of our puppy and a pile of hidden dog pooh. It was the funniest thing I’ve ever read. (See weighinonlife.wordpress.com blog from March 24, 2014.) I laughed until my side hurt.

My husband is a funny guy. I am a funny girl. Life with the two of us is funny. We don’t have to try to make each other laugh. We just laugh at/with each other…sometimes on purpose.

If he Aish.com article is true, I think we are in trouble. We scored 2 out of 6. Maybe we are one of those couples that claim to “love” each other, but are not “in” love with each other. I don’t think so though.

I think I am crazy “in” love with my spouse of 12 years. He knows that we both operate just fine without an overabundance of “us” time. He can fill his side of a twice a day, 10-minute conversation and that works for me. We appreciate a good laugh in taking on each other’s chores which wouldn’t be worth doing them near as much if it didn’t give us a few guilt bombs to toss at each other. We take our thrills when we get them at our comfort level and every now and then he tosses me a bone and tells me I am pretty. We laugh with each other and at each because we find humor in the people we are.

Here’s to being “in” love!

in-2

by Him

I’ve always wanted to be “in”

I’ve always wanted to be thin

I’ve always wanted a nice grin

I’ve always wanted a cleft chin

I’ve always wanted handsome skin

I’ve always wanted Rin Tin Tin

I’ve never played the mandolin

I’ve never sampled bathtub gin

I’ve never loved a manikin

I’ve never visited Berlin

I never know quite where I’ve been

I’ve never wanted to begin

Drinking tea with saccharin

I’ve always wanted a “good” twin

I’d like to grow a dorsal fin

And take a sports car for a spin

I always have admired sin

I’ve always wanted discipline

To buy and fly my own zeppelin

It looks like I may never win

Light

The word of the day is “light”. One might think after reading our offerings that we have absolutely nothing in common. This would not be far from the truth! Enjoy!

dragon

Light

There I was, routinely guiding my Parrot Bebop over a nearby-enchanted forest, intensely watching the camera feed on my battered laptop, and there he was! Clearly visible in a small clearing, unmistakable, a dragon!

I jumped into my red Nissan Juke, the Ruby Rocket, and sped to the location. Surprised to be discovered, he was hostile, at first. After much cajoling and whining on my part, he reluctantly agreed to an interview. A lifelong dream realized!

Me: Thanks for agreeing to this, Mr. Dragon. I’m a big fan.

Dragon: My first impulse was to burn you to a crisp, but my race has a longstanding tradition of watching over humans — the good and the stupid ones, anyway. Besides, people probably knew you were out there in the woods. If you mysteriously disappeared, it would bring search parties, publicity, other things I don’t need.

M: Well, thanks even more for that, Mr. Dragon. Has anyone ever told you that you sound a lot like Sean Connery?

D: I get that a lot, mostly from people who have watched Dragonheart a few too many times. You can call me Pete.

M: Peter Dragon. Hey, you aren’t by any chance, the author of Line in the Sand, are you?

P: No, I’m not. Neither did I pen Sitting under the Grandstand, by I. Seymour Butts. Are we done revisiting your childhood?

M: Sorry. I’ve always wanted to interview a dragon. You’re so mystical.

P: I’m just another one of God’s creatures. Other than my multi-millennial age, I’m nothing special.

M: Nothing special? You’re kidding, right? None of the other creatures breathe fire.

P: Breathing fire is just an illusion perpetrated by your species through popular media. No living being can breathe fire. The first breath would scorch its lungs and result in instant death. You’ve got to be the one who’s kidding. How did humans ever get so close to the top of the evolutionary ladder? You must have bumped your heads a lot on the way up. Is your brainpower as much a myth as my fire breathing?

M: What? I’ve seen it on Game of Thrones. You know George R.R. Martin would never write anything not based on fact. How can you deny having this ability?

P: Hold on there, laddie. I said we didn’t breathe fire. I didn’t say we couldn’t produce it.

M: So, how do you manage that illusion?

P: Without going into a lot of complicated anatomical detail, let’s just say that dragons have a far greater ability to manufacture and store methane than humans. You wastefully vent it into the atmosphere, often in socially unacceptable situations. The composition of our teeth includes significant amounts of rock and metal. Whenever we snap our jaws just right as we discharge accumulated methane, presto! Instant flamethrower.

M: That’s quite an evolutionary accomplishment. It was developed as a defense mechanism?

P: No, this trait is rooted in the fact that dragons have never been able to digest raw meat very well. I’m not saying that flicking our Bics has not also been useful for both defensive and offensive purposes. Things can get a little toasty during mating season.

M: Flicking your Bic. That’s very ’70s, but it reminds me of a question I’ve always wanted to ask my first dragon. I realize I’m taking my life in my hands, here, but I’ve got to go all juvenile on you one more time, OK?

P: OK, but I have a feeling that I know where you’re going with this. Fire away.

M: Here goes. Hey, buddy, have you got a light?

insomnia_fairy_face_by_oddfae-d70nz0f

By the Light of the Silvery Screen

10:12 PM – I’m off to bed after dozing in my recliner and missing the realtor walkthrough on the latest segment of Flip or Flop. At this point, I can only hope they avoided a flop. I turn off the living room lights and shuffle down the hall to get ready for bed. As I pass our bed, I contemplate skipping the bathroom rituals and falling right here, right now into bed. Brush teeth, wash face, put nightgown on after removing sweats and tshirt. Day is done, gone the sun.

10:28 PM – I click off the nightlight and sink into my new Temperapedic bed with my pillow top Stearns and Foster mattress, adjust my head and feet so I am neither laying flat nor bent like a pretzel, insert my preventative ear plugs and close my eyes. Sleep, beautiful sleep, take me. I am your slave. My eyelids are heavy and I quickly begin the mini-dreams that preface full-blown REM. Good night moon.

11:03 PM – I awake with a start. My 8-year old puggle is either having a good or bad dream and is whimpering like a baby. I reach over and give her a rub. “Izzy, wake up. It’s only a dream.” She gives me a low growl as if to say, “Why in the hell did you wake me up.” I lie there waiting for sleep to return. After 10 minutes, I turn on the television. Tarek and Christina are flipping yet another house on HGTV. They just found a rat in a back bedroom. Too much excitement. I turn to my side to minimize the light coming from the screen and will myself to fall asleep.

11:58 PM – I am still awake. I hear the garage door open. My husband is home from work. Izzy yelps a greeting to her master and slips out of the bedroom. I cannot greet him. I cannot talk. The threat of complete awareness is too great. Tarek and Christina are knocking out a kitchen wall. Sweet angel of sleep, hit me over the head and knock me out.

1:12 AM – Awake again. The hubby and the dog are lying next to me – both gently snoring in the soundness of their sleep. The light from the television has been extinguished for the night. I begin counting actual sheep in my head. They look as though they jumped out of my grandson’s coloring book. One-two-three potato, four. Who gave the damn sheep potatoes? I contemplate the consequences of taking an over-the-counter sleeping pill at this hour of the night. I decide that if I am still awake at 1:30, I’ll take half a pill.

2:21 AM – All is well; all is hell. I cannot sleep. The Simply Sleep I took at 1:30 simply is not putting me to sleep. My eyes are full of sand so blinking is causing me extreme discomfort. I pray for one of two things – morning light or death. At this point in my insomnia, I would graciously accept either option.

4:27 AM – I must have dozed off. I do not remember the 3:00 hour. I must get up in an hour and a half. I have a meeting at 7:00. I have a huge dilemma – stay in bed and toss and turn or get up. I decide to split my decision and move into my old sleeping haunts. I stumble into my office and drop into the recliner that I’d slept in before our new bed arrived. It served me well after my knee replacement. I tuck the Christmas lap quilt around my shoulders, turn on HGTV and open up my laptop. I decide to write a blog about light while I wait for 6:00 AM to arrive.

6:42 AM – I have slept the sleep of the dead for the last 2 1/2 hours. I wake up with the open laptop lying cockeyed at my side. I try to focus on the clock. The light coming into my office confuses me. Jeff, who is creating magic in a bathroom has replaced Tarek and Christina on HGTV. My eyelids are heavy as the Simply Sleep has simply worked it’s magic somewhere in the last two hours. In the recesses of my mind, I realize that there is no way I will make the 7:00 meeting that it took me two weeks to schedule. I know I should get up. I know I should get to work. I’m so tired.

7:01 AM – I right my laptop and shoot my boss an email. “I am sorry, but I have a stomach bug and will not make it in today. I’ll reschedule the meeting tomorrow.” Mission accomplished. I set my laptop on the table next to my recliner and settle in the chair. I close my eyes. Day is here, sleep is near. I doze off dreaming of rats and sheep remodeling a bathroom. It is a baaaaa-d dream.