My Dad is 89 Today

My wonderful dad is 89 today.

I really don’t remember my biological father at all. But I remember my dad from Day One. He and Mom began dating after her divorce, and the three of us used to go on picnics together. During one picnic, Dad and I were off picking bright yellow buttercups, and I asked him if I could call him ‘Daddy.’ I guess it was okay with him, because on December 27, 1955, he and Mom married (with me as a short and wiggly 4-year old bridesmaid) in his parents’ front room at Mirror Lake, NH. I remember being especially happy about having cake afterwards; I now had my Daddy and cake.

He and Mom have been there for every important and even the not-so-important event in my life, from grade school on to high schools and the plays I was in and the proms I went to, then on to college, and on to working life and my own place to live, and later; one bad marriage and then one really good one (11 years so far!).

There are so many sweet and wonderful things I remember about growing up with Dad. When I was in grade school, I developed a serious eye infection that caused my eye to swell alarmingly. I had to have the fluid drained in a doctor’s office and my mom couldn’t stand to see me hurt. Dad went in with me and held my hand.

Each 4th of July, the Midway came to town, and set up rides and booths and games, with fireworks after dark. Mom had bought me a pretty orange-flowered dress she called a chemise, and I loved it. Dad said that he would take me out to the fair, just the two of us. I wore my new chemise and felt like a princess.

I remember feeling embarrassed that my parents hugged and kissed each other so much (and me, too). I knew that other parents didn’t act that way–I now know that my parents were and are the lucky ones.  After nearly six decades together, they are still as huggy and kissy as ever.

Dad taught me how to change a tire, build a good campfire (and how to put it out), use a jack-knife properly, how to target-shoot, how to dance, how to ski, how to ride a bike, how to drive stick-shift, how to skate, how to make a paper airplane and so much more. He even let me get a kitten when I was six; a sweet gray and white one we named Henny. He taught me how to take care of things so that they would last, and he taught me about accountability. He told me that I needed to learn to do as much as I could on my own so that I wouldn’t have to depend on ‘some man’ to take care of me. He taught me about honesty and earning my way.

When I started skiing, I really wanted a pair of the new stretch ski-pants that the skiers were wearing. I told Dad how much I wanted them. He told me how much he didn’t want to shovel the driveway, but that I could and therefore earn my stretch pants. I took that deal: I earned the money for them, took good care of them and wore them until they fell apart.

Once he took me out of school on a breath-takingly gorgeous winter day to ski at Wild Cat, one of the best ski slopes at the time. I remember it being so bright and cold, and seeing the ice glitter on the trees. Dad could ski like an angel, seeming to float down the slope so gracefully. To this day, he still skis and he is still as graceful as ever.

Dad was a professional photographer and took nearly everyone’s senior picture for the high school yearbook, as well as for all the sports teams, the band, all the school clubs and all the plays. When I got the lead in “The King and I” in my senior year, Dad took pictures all during the dress rehearsal. He stayed up all night so that he could present me with a beautiful photo album on opening night. He signed it, “My love, my life, my joy, my Jane.” I have it still and treasure it.

When I went to my first prom, he told Mom to take me out and buy me a dress. I heard him tell her, ‘buy her whatever she wants.’ I felt like royalty that night in my beautiful white gown covered with a net of lace snowflakes, white satin heels AND a rhinestone tiara!

He once told me years ago that he was afraid that he hadn’t ‘been there’ enough for me when I was growing up; I told him that he most definitely had. His answer was, ‘well, I was just terribly interested in everything you did.’ To which I replied, ‘Dad, that’s called BEING THERE!’

Today he lives a wonderfully healthy life, and studies all he can about healthy living, diet, exercise and positive thinking. He regularly skis, bikes, walks, kayaks and does yoga and meditation every day. When Mom was diagnosed with cancer, he immediately put her on the Cancer Diet (whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, small amounts of lean protein, no sugar, and no processed foods). This has literally saved her life. Today they are both healthy, fit people who enjoy life to the fullest.

Dad often says that he sees no reason why he shouldn’t live to be 100. I told him that I agreed–but told him if he was going to live that long , he needs to buy more pants!

I am proud of my dad, and grateful to the heart for the positive influence he has in my life. There are so many more stories I could tell you about my dad; countless times he has been there for me, helped me, encouraged me, lifted me up and set me straight. However, the most important thing to know about my dad is that I love him with all my heart and am so glad he is my dad.

Talk Yourself Positive

I have lived most of my life saying things like, ‘today is going to be just awful,’ or ‘I am such a loser!’ or ‘everyone thinks I’m an idiot,’ or ‘I look terrible,’ or ‘I am so dumb!’ or ‘I never win anything,’ or ‘no one will ever like me,’ or ‘you are such a know-it-all; do you even realize how ridiculous you are?’ and on and on and on.

Well, guess what–whatever you put out, you get back. Simply put, it’s “COCI” (Crap  Out, Crap In); you put crappy thinking/words out there, guess what you get back? MORE OF THE SAME. So, if you are engaging in this senseless, self-destructive behavior, stop it right now. Seriously–just stop. You are literally hurting yourself and probably others.

Did you ever throw a stone into a pond? Once the stone drops in, the ripples run all the way out to the edge of the pond, and then ripple back. It is a law of physics that the ripples come back stronger than they went out. The same thing applies to us humans–what you put out, you get back even stronger.

What happens when you continually say these awful things to yourself? Just hearing the words over and over again like a poisonous mantra, makes you believe them. You actually become those terrible things you say about yourself. Worse, you create a palpable dirty energy field around yourself, like Pigpen from Peanuts.

Ask yourself this: would you say things like this to your best friend? Probably not. Most of us want our nearest and dearest friends to feel good about themselves. When your best friend says, ‘I look old/sad/fat/thin/whatever,’ you will rush in and say, ‘no, you don’t! You are beautiful/healthy/vital, etc.’ This is true because to you, that best friend IS all those things. You see what she can’t–that she is in every way beautiful, amazing, strong, witty, smart, and more. You see her without that critical eye that you cast on yourself.

So why not say good things to yourself? We are our own worst critics, and no one is harder on us than ourselves. We can stop being negative and hard on ourselves, and here’s how:

Look in the mirror, and instead of groaning and cataloging each and every flaw, say this out loud:

“Hello, Gorgeous/Smart/Wonderful/Amazing/Incredible/Fabulous/Terrific/<add your own kudo here>!” Say this every day at least once.

That’s it. That’s the beginning of change from negative to positive. Gradually add things such as “I am loved” or “I am great at what I do” or “I am appreciated” or “I am strong and healthy,” and so on. You can add whatever you like, just keep it positive! If someone pays you a compliment; say, about the shoes you have on, DO NOT say, ‘oh, these old things? I got them out of a dumpster.’ DO say ‘thanks!’ This builds you up and also acknowledges the person’s compliment. Recognizing and responding positively to a compliment is a gift you give back to the giver. They feel good about giving it, and will probably do it again. Remember, whatever goes out comes back.

Long story short, I stopped saying bad things about myself.  I am well aware of my age and all the strange and weird things that have happened to my once-flawless face and body. I know all too well that there are many things I can’t do any more, and I have long since come to terms with the fact that I laugh like a hyena in heat. Here is how I changed from negative to positive.

I began taking courses from an amazing teacher, and the courses changed my life. The courses taught me how to do these things for myself. I had never thought about how much influence I have on my own life. As with anything else we learn, we  need someone to show us the way to change, and to help us make those changes ourselves. Each of us has the ability to change our attitudes, outlook, self-image, relationships; everything. We do not need to be victims of circumstance, mood, or what others do or say.

Even things that are out of our control; say, on the way to work there is roadwork going on that slows traffic down to a crawl. Although we can’t change the fact of the roadwork, what we CAN change is our attitude about it. If we sit there fussing and fuming about being late, getting ourselves all worked up over something we can do nothing about, all we’re doing is sending our blood pressure sky high, setting ourselves up for a bad day, and as an extra little treat, probably giving ourselves wrinkles.

In situations like these, find something that soothes you while you wait; music (sing along with show tunes!), books on tape (my personal favorite), instructional books on tape (hey, you could be sitting in that line of traffic learning Portuguese!), playing the harmonica (I always keep one in the car), teaching yourself to whistle the Star Wars theme, and so on. (I do not recommend texting or even talking on your cell phone–you still need to pay attention to what’s going on around you) So what does this do? It takes you OUT of the negative and INTO the positive.

So, the truth is that we all have the power to change our attitudes and outlooks. We can choose not to go into a bad mood, not to give in to negativity, not keep on berating ourselves for that last failed relationship. Whatever has happened, look at it, try your best to see your role in it, learn from it, let it go and move on. Anything that keeps us from living a good life is harmful to us. Those things that make us happy, lift us up, remind us of who we are and the great potential we have for good lives and good love–these are positive things. Keeping positive will keep us healthy, happy, fulfilled, and balanced. It’s easy to start. Just look in the mirror and say, “Hiya, Beautiful!”

Living With the Hobbies of the Husband, Significant Other and so on…

This post is for all of us who live with someone who is passionate about a hobby…or hobbies. In my case, my husband is a hardcore trainiac. He belongs to a couple of model train clubs, attends lectures, presentations and workshops, sets up modules for train shows and collects trains, railroad cars, track, and so on.

He and his younger brother, also a trainiac, attend model railroad shows together, and can talk for hours about trains, train tracks, train signals, train lore, and more. Between them, they have what has to be the largest and most comprehensive collection of photo albums filled mainly with pictures of train tracks and signals. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pictures of train tracks and signals.

My best friend is married to my husband’s younger brother, and we have taken our turns at flipping the pages of many of these dusty albums, making vaguely approving comments here and there–and wondering to ourselves what in the HELL is so special about endless pictures of what seems to us pictures of the same tracks and signals over and over again.

They will tell us eagerly that this track or that is the one that the National Association of Weiner Merchants specially-built club car traveled on, or that this track has a unique system of railroad spikes in it, or that THIS one was recently demolished so that another set of track JUST LIKE IT could be built. We don’t get it at all. To us, it all looks the damn same.

However, model railroading is a timeless and rather sweet hobby that many devoted men and women love passionately.  It harms no one, it doesn’t support the drug cartels, it doesn’t offend anyone, and it is a delightful way of spending one’s time–if you are a trainiac. As wives of trainiacs, we wholeheartedly support our guys in their hobby. After all, they could be out drinking and carousing with loose women or smoking stinky stogies. When they go off to a train show, they come home happy, chatty and full of news about their finds, the other trainiacs they ran into, and so on.  They proudly show us boxes of with what looks like several of the same railroad car.  So we kiss them and congratulate them, and we all are happy.

Here’s the thing: you may not like your partner’s *hobby; you may even hate it. But think of it this way, it makes your partner happy, and may even make them more amenable to your hobbies. My own passionate hobbies are going to bead and gem shows, making jewelry, reading, and writing. I come home from a bead show and pour out all my treasures on the couch for my husband to admire (knowing that he doesn’t know a bead from a bowling ball), and he is happy that I’m happy.

Look at the forest and not the trees–the forest being a happy, loving, fulfilled partner whose hobby may not be shared, but is appreciated. It’s just another example of the Golden Rule–do as you want done to you. (As for my best friend and me, just thinking about all those photo albums of train tracks makes us laugh every time!)

*Hobby, meaning non-creepy, non-life-threatening, non-painful, non-violent, non-dangerous, non-crazy, unhealthy or unlawful. You know what I mean.

Let the Old Hurts Go…

It’s been many years since I was in high school, and back then, there was no social media other than hand-painted banners for the school dance, next football game, bake sale, etc. I didn’t know one kid who had their own phone, and most families had only one of them and only one TV or radio. In my house, using the phone was a privilege, closely monitored by my parents. They deliberately kept the phone cord short (to those of you not familiar with the telephone technology of that time, phones used to have an actual cord) so that I couldn’t slip into a closet and talk. In that time, gossip flowed like forbidden wine and reputations were made or destroyed by mouth.

Years later, if you stayed in the same town you grew up in, you might be called and thought of permanently as “Pee Pants” for the one time you had an accident in gym class, or “Cry Baby” for the time someone beaned you in the nose with a basketball. An embarrassing, horrible moment in your life was out there in the high school world, and took on a life of its own, causing you shame and pain over and over again. Each casual joke or comment could turn your outlook into mud in a second. Everything hurt, and if you were like me, you pushed all that hurt way down were it festered and grew more fearsome.

The person you were then; scared, unsure of yourself, constantly trying on different personas each day so that you wouldn’t feel so “you,” is not who you are today. Everyone, no matter how they appeared to us at the time, was scared and unsure. That is part of being young and growing into the person you are becoming.

Today you are not that scared kid trying to fit in. Holding on to those old fears and re-living those hurts and slights do not hurt those who inflicted them on you in the least. But they do hurt YOU. Allow yourself to let them go–let them ALL go. I realize that so many people have had terrible things happen to them, things that have scarred them for life. These things are hard to let go, but you must let them go in order to survive and be the person you were born to be. Easy to say, I know. Trust me, it’s taken me decades to let my own grip go, and I still have flare-ups from time to time.

I’ll pass on some of the tips I’ve used to leave my old hurts behind me. They may sound wacky, but they do work:

THE FLUSH-O-GRAM: Whoever hurt you, did you wrong and so on, is probably living their life with no memory or realization of the devastation they caused you. Get yourself a few sheets of toilet paper, fold them to make a small thickness, then write that person’s name on it. Throw it straight into the toilet and flush. (If you feel the need, relieve yourself on it before flushing.) By the time you push the handle down, you may already be laughing. Any time you feel anger or resentment of that person coming back, remember the time you “flushed” them.

THE BURN NOTICE: Same as the flush-o-gram, only use regular paper and toss it into a fire. (Please observe standard fire safety when you do this.)

THE UNIVERSAL MESSAGE: You can do this anywhere, including your car. (I have banished many bad memories this way myself.) Address the person or situation that bothers you and tell them exactly what they did and how it hurt you. Say this at least three times. I know this sounds “woo-woo,” but the message you send will be heard and felt at some level by the person to whom it is addressed. Even if it makes no difference to them, YOU have said it, and having said it frees you of it.

Once you have done this, you are on the way to healing yourself and pulling out that nasty weed that has been taking over your mind, heart and soul. Any time you feel that sneaky weed creeping back to re-root itself, repeat the process. You can also seal that process by a simple daily affirmation such as: “The past is past. I forgive and more on.” Forgiving doesn’t mean you accept or condone what happened; you are forgiving to help yourself.

Don’t let that old incident keep hurting you; you don’t deserve it. Each time you reinforce the forgiveness, you grow stronger, more loving, more kind and more able to accept yourself as the amazing and unique person you are. There is no one like you in the world, and you are here for a reason. You are important, and you are loved. You may never know this, but believe me, whatever you look like, whatever it is you do, whatever you say; someone is looking at you with admiration, thinking, ‘wow–I wish I looked like her/him, I wish I could say something clever like she/he did, I wish I could do what she/he is doing.’

You are not defined by uninformed ignorant things that were said to you or about you. High school is over, and your real life is now. Let go of anything unpleasant in the past, it’s not who you are. Learn all you can from the past and let go of all the crap, prepare the best you can for the future, and live in the NOW.

No Excuse for Not Wearing Jewelry

Ok, that didn’t sound right. If you are one of those folks to whom less is more, then you have my admiration. I personally can’t do it. I don’t feel like myself unless I am wearing at least 12 pieces of jewelry.

I design, make and sell beaded jewelry (see my Etsy store at, and am fortunate enough to be able to sell my earrings at two wonderful hair salons.

But besides my own stuff, I love other jewelry as well. That said, I’m a cheap jewelry fanatic–sterling silver is my metal of choice, and my favorite stone is moonstone. (I can fall in love with a gorgeous ring, and then, upon seeing the astronomical price tag, fall just as quickly OUT of love.) I adore bangles, and even though I make my living as a technical writer and am therefore constantly typing, I enjoy the accompanying jingle-jangle of my bangles.

But to get to the point, I meet so many women who say, ‘oh, I just don’t know where I would wear these earrings/bracelet/necklace/ring, etc.’ Really? You do go to the store, don’t you? The library, the mall, out to lunch,  out to dinner, to the movies, etc., right? So what are you waiting for? If you are drawn to a pair of earrings, just GET THEM. Wear them, love them, enjoy them, and every time you see yourself in the mirror, you’ll be happy.

Each day should be its own celebration. So buy those sparkly dangle earrings you keep picking up and putting back down–there’s a REASON you like them. The real reason is that you secretly know that you will look and feel fabulous wearing them. So unless you’ve fallen in love with a pair of genuine grass-green Columbian raw emeralds set in platinum, GET THEM. (If you can afford the emeralds, GO FOR IT!)

We don’t know how long we will live, we don’t know what the future holds for us, we don’t know what’s around the next corner. So why not face all those challenges with courage, confidence, hope, joy and lots of jewelry!




The Night Singer

The Night Singer by Jane B. Fraser

Susie trembled in her sleep. The Bad Dream was coming and she couldn’t stop it. Since her parents had died in the car accident the Bad Dream came often.

Aunty Ruth, her father’s older sister, was her only relative and had grudgingly taken Susie in. The woman had lived a peaceful life with her two cats and was not happy about the sudden necessity of raising a 9-year old girl.

Susie wasn’t happy, either, especially when Aunt Ruth told her it was either live with her or go to an orphanage. Secretly, she felt that an orphanage might be preferable to being with Aunty Ruth and her endless nitpicky ways, but didn’t say so. Life had changed so quickly since the accident, and along with her constant sorrow, now there were many chores to do each day before she could go outside to play. Aunty liked the dishes washed, dried and put away after every meal, and the furniture had to be dusted daily. Susie also had to make her bed each morning and sweep the kitchen floor every other day.

“If you’re going to live here with me, you’ve got to pull your weight and help out,” said Aunty, her bristly gray-brown eyebrows pulled down to her small and rather beady eyes. “I’m not getting any younger.”

Two months to the day that her parents had been buried, Susie wanted to run away so badly her chest hurt. She had been washing a big platter the night before, and it had slipped out of her soapy hands and smashed to pieces on the floor. Aunty had sighed heavily and shooed her away when she tried to pick up the pieces.

“Don’t bother. It’s my fault—I should have known better than to let a child touch a valuable piece of china like that. Your great-grandfather, Josiah Wadlen, brought that from England for your great-grandmother. All these years it’s been in the family and never a chip—until now.”

“I-I’m sorry, Aunty—I didn’t mean to—“ Susie stuttered.

“Never mind. Just go up to bed.” Aunty turned and, without a good night to Susie, swept up the pieces of the platter.

“I hate her, I hate her!” Susie whispered to her favorite doll, Mrs. Lolly.     “I want to go home! I want Mummy and Daddy!”

She sobbed her hurt and loneliness into Mrs. Lolly’s flowered dress. Gradually her tears tapered off, and she fell asleep with her thumb in her mouth, something she hadn’t done in years.

Downstairs, Aunty Ruth sat in her rocking chair in the living room and addressed her two cats.

“Heaven knows, I wish Bob and Lucy never had that accident. I’m as sorry as I can be for poor Susie, but what do I know about raising a child? What in the world am I going to do?”

The cats’ eyes glowed in the semi-darkness, and she went on.

“Look at me. I won’t see 50 again, and I never did want a husband and kids—and now I’ve got a 9-year old girl who missing her folks and I don’t know what to do to help her.”

The gray cat stretched and yawned, displaying sharp teeth. It curled up around the sleeping tiger cat and rumbled contentedly. Aunty Ruth rocked in her chair and watched them sleep.

Susie was having the Bad Dream again. She was in the middle of snarl of stairs, twisting and zig-zagging wildly in all directions. She was supposed to climb them all; for what reason, she never knew. In the dream she was always filled with fear and urgency, and as she climbed, the stairs grew splintery and dangerous.

Moaning softly, she twisted and turned in the sheets trying to escape. Then suddenly, the stairs were gone and she woke up. Her body was covered in a light sweat, and there were tears on her cheeks. Her chest hitched in jerky breaths, and her heart was pounding.

“I got away!” she said to herself. Her Minnie Mouse clock on the nightstand read 3:07 am. The house was quiet, and the light from the streetlamp poured over the end of her bed.

She was still trying to decide if she was really awake when a small kitten walked into the light shining on the end of the  bed and sat down near her knees.

“Where’d you come from, Pusscat?”

Susie was delighted. Neither of Aunty Ruth’s cats liked her and always hissed at her. Maybe Aunty had gotten her the kitten she’d begged for. She sat up and looked closely at it, then realized it wasn’t a kitten at all.

Its ears, although catlike, were set lower on the head than a cat’s, and curled up slightly on the ends. The eyes were the color of the deepest purply-blue crayon she owned, and the pupils were not slitted like a cat’s, but round. Its fur glowed in the half-light and looked iridescent, like the inside of a seashell. It sat with its plumy tail wrapped around its feet and regarded her. Delicately it extended a paw to her.

“You’re pretty!” breathed Susie, and touched the proffered paw. As soon as she did, she heard a soft, bell-like voice in her mind.

“W-what? Are you talking to me?” Her eyes opened wide. “You’re not a cat at all, are you? But where did you come from, what—“

The softly chiming voice told her not to be afraid. It knew all about her, it said, and all that had happened to her. Gently, it patted her cheek, put its head near Susie’s, and sang a Healing Song. Susie lay back against the pillow, smiling. This time her thumb wasn’t in her mouth when she fell asleep; she was too big a girl for that.

In the morning, Susie surprised Aunty Ruth by skipping down the stairs, singing “Old MacDonald.”

“Morning, Aunty!” Susie wrapped both arms around Aunty’s narrow waist and hugged her. “I’m awful sorry about breaking that platter last night. I promise I’ll be real careful from now on.”

Aunty Ruth awkwardly patted Susie’s back and said, “That’s all right, child. Now let’s see about breakfast.”

As she walked into the kitchen, she thought with some humility, “I ought to remember what my own momma used to say to me—things don’t matter, but people do.” She smiled at the thought of Susie’s unexpected hug.

That night, the kitten-like creature came to Susie again. It praised her for what she said to Aunty Ruth.

“Funny, she doesn’t seem to be so picky or mean today,” Susie mused. “Maybe we’re starting to get used to each other.”

The creature agreed, and said that trust and love can change people if they let it. Susie must be the one to reach out, it said, because Aunty Ruth wasn’t used to thinking about anyone but herself for so long. The indigo eyes glimmered with gentle humor. She had made a wonderful start, it said, and walked up beside Susie’s head. It softly stroked her forehead with its paw and sang a Learning Song.

Weeks and months passed, and gradually Aunty and Susie became more comfortable with each other. Together they worked out a schedule for chores that seemed fair to them both. Susie got better at washing dishes, and Aunty Ruth became better at holding her tongue. They even discovered that they both liked playing Scrabble, and made time to play every evening.

Susie began to trust and then to love her aunt, and the sorrow over her parents began to lessen. She never forgot them, but her sharp grief gradually softened. Astonishingly, Aunty Ruth became quite adept at reading stories with her, and even began a tradition of having a special tea party on Sundays. She took a new interest in making special treats for Susie, and it became harder for her to remember life without her. Even her cats began to warm to Susie; one day she came home to find both cats sound asleep on her bed.

The little creature visited Susie less and less. Sensing her new strength and happiness, it smiled to itself. One night it appeared for the last time when the girl was deep in dreams; good ones this time. It pressed its silky head to Susie’s, and sang a Growing Song.

Far away from Susie and Aunty Ruth, a small boy cried in his sleep, the tears soaking his pillow. The angry voices of his parents had kept him awake and afraid for hours, and his chest hurt from holding his breath. He was afraid that this time his father would leave and never come back. In his dream, he was all alone, and he sobbed in fear.

A soft paw reached out of the darkness and gently patted his tears away.

A Tribute to MooMoo

Today we are sad. Our sweet little friend, MooMoo, an adorable black and white male kitty belonging to my sister and brother-in-law, died unexpectedly during the night. It could have been a stroke, seizure, who knows–and who could have predicted this. It just must have been his time.

I was there at the time my sister adopted MooMoo from our local shelter. He was a real crowd pleaser, and everyone in the shelter enjoyed how personable and funny he was. My sister fell instantly in love with him, and adopted him on the spot. He was about as laid-back as a cat could be, and seemed happy with everything and everyone. He even made friends with my sister’s Number 1 cat, who made it clear he was NOT pleased about having a brother.

MooMoo was hilarious. When my brother-in-law was painting the ceiling in the kitchen, he set up a platform just below the ceiling, and MooMoo spent a lot of time up there. Not only did he enjoy the view, but he frequently de-hatted my husband walking below the platform. He would wait for Doug to put his hat on, then swoop a paw down and snatch the hat.

MooMoo was a social butterfly, and was confident that everyone he met would be thrilled to meet him, and they were! My granddaughter, Ava, made friends with him right away, and they got along very well. Any visitors to the house received a thorough sniffing of shoes and legs, and were then offered the opportunity of patting him.

One of his favorite spots was lying on the back of the sofa against the window sill, on his back with all four feet up the air. This way he could keep an eye on things outside, and still catch a nap. When my sister and brother-in-law were measuring their living room wall to make sure that the furniture would all fit, MooMoo laid down, back against the wall as if to say “cat goes here.”

There was no place that MooMoo didn’t love to explore. It wasn’t unusual to find him sleeping in a space in the kitchen cupboard beside the cookbooks, or resting on the counter, hoping someone would open the breadbox so that he could steal the bagged bread. (He was among other things, a carb-o-holic.)

He loved people, catnip, getting into boxes and bags and under beds, hopping up onto laps to be petted, and mainly being a little feline ray of sunshine.

We loved him dearly and will miss him sorely.

Really Awful Jokes

A dear friend and I once worked together at a company which shall remain nameless. Let us just say that we badly needed the coffee break mid-morning each day to share some of the worst jokes of all time. Our families call us the new Henny Youngman and Shecky Green.

Proceed at your own risk. Insert rimshot at the end of each joke.

JOKE #1: A man walks into a seafood restaurant and asks the waiter, “Do you serve crabs here?” The waiter replies, “Sure–we serve anyone. Sit down.”

JOKE #2: A man walks into a seafood restaurant and asks the waiter, “Do you serve shrimp?” The waiter replies, “Sure, Shorty–sit down.”

JOKE #3: A tourist driving in Maine stops at a crossroads and reads a sign that points in two different directions, both reading “To Portland.” He notices a small house near the road, with an old man sitting in a rocking chair, watching him. The tourist calls out to the old man and asks, “Does it matter which way I go to Portland?” The old man looks at him and says, “Not to me it don’t.”

JOKE #4: Back in the Old West, a man burst through the barroom doors of the local saloon and started yelling, “I WANT TO KNOW WHICH OF ONE OF YOU DIRTY SNAKES PAINTED MY HORSE RED!”

Everyone stopped what they were doing and stared at him. The man spoke again, “I SAID, I WANT TO KNOW WHICH ONE OF YOU LOWLIFE, FILTHY, SNEAKY RATS PAINTED MY HORSE RED!’

Just then a huge man appeared in the doorway. He was at least 6′ tall, with muscles as big as watermelons. An ugly twisted scar ran down from one eyebrow to the tip of his hairy chin, and his eyes were mean and menacing. He was holding an enormous pearl-handled six-gun in one hand and a big Bowie knife in the other. He said, “That would be me, son. Problem?”

The first man looked him up and down, then said, “Er, no. I just wanted to let you know that the first coat was dry.”

(More to come as I remember them.)