Use Your Head – It’s Your Best Self Defense Weapon

Here are some quick tips to keep yourself safe:

When you are out and about on own, walking, running, biking, etc., DO NOT WEAR HEADPHONES OR EAR BUDS–EVER! I know you think that you can listen to your music and stay alert, but the fact is that you actually can’t. If you are plugged in to your device, then you are not plugged into the world around you.

I was a martial artist for years. I also taught what I called “Common Sense Self Defense” for years. (I no longer practice as I pushed my body so hard that years later my rotator cuffs tore like tissue paper. The bad knee I got while participating in tournaments is still wonky to this day, and I now have to do that oh-so-graceful four-point stance to get up from the floor.)

I still observe the rules I learned a long time ago to keep safe. The ultimate best weapon truly is your head. Keep it in the game, be aware of where you are, who is around you, and don’t think for a second that something can’t happen to you.

I understand: bad things can happen to the most prepared and aware person. But you stand a far better chance of staying safe if you stay AWARE.

And one more tip: whenever you’re in your vehicle, LOCK THE DOORS. This also goes for when you get out to pump gas. Take your keys, your credit card/cash and lock up the vehicle while you pump gas. It is incredibly easy for someone to sneak around the side of your vehicle, open the door a crack and grab your purse, wallet, the cake you just picked up at the bakery (and wouldn’t THAT ruin your day?), whatever. Play it safe and make it a habit.

OK, that’s my lesson for today. I will be posting more common sense self-defense tips in the near future.

What I’ve Learned From Cats…so far

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Cats live in the NOW. They don’t worry about the future (why should they? Their owners take care of everything for them–we are merely their lackeys and general factotums.), and the past for them is just that – past.

Cats enjoy every moment of every day, whether they are sleeping, playing, eating, coughing up a hairball, whatever–they live moment to moment.

My cats (the torti-tiger is Nala, and the black one is Pookie), have sweet lives. They have a boatload of toys, fresh catnip on demand, several scratching posts (the favorite is the couch), delicious healthy food and fresh water twice a day, someone to clean their litter boxes each day, and of course they have US to wake up at 4:30am every morning to cater to them.

They have taught me to relax, be in the moment, to enjoy EVERYTHING. They have taught me to be flexible (not just stretching exercises, either), to go with the flow, and most of all, to enjoy the journey. Our sweet pet friends do not live as long as we do, but, as a dear vet friend once said to me, they learn faster than we do, so they don’t have to hang around so long to ‘get it.’

Any one who has lost a beloved pet knows the anguish and heartache of their loss, but most of us are lucky enough to realize that our pets have given us one last and most important gift: to keep our hearts open for another wonderful life to come into it.

So, be brave, open your heart, adopt a furry friend if you are able, and enjoy the ride with them. We are better people because of them, we learn what true unconditional love is from them, and we are changed forever for the better.

The Crabby Pants Journal

Welcome to the dark side– the Crabby Pants Journal.

This is a list of stuff that really chaps my butt:

  • There is no such word as REE-LA-TOR. It is realtor, pronounced “REEL-TOR.” Also, there is not such word as LIBERRY. It is library, pronounced “LIBE-RARY.”
  • When you fall down in a house, a library, a school, the workplace–in short, somewhere indoors, you say that you fell on the floor, not the ground. When you fall down outside, that is, where there is grass, cement, clay, etc., in short an outside surface, then you say that you fell on the ground. It annoys the crap out of me when people say that they fell on the ground when they in fact fell in the house.
  • People who have no idea what the true usage of a word is; that is, they make up some variation of it that makes no sense. Example: I overheard a waiter speaking with a customer who was talking enthusiastically about the new golf course in town. He had had a great game and that waiter, who proclaimed that he, too was a golfer said, “How did you find the degree of difficulticity of the course?” Seriously, people–if you’re going to say it, say it correctly. Sheesh.
  • It is correct to say “It’s not that big a deal.” It is INCORRECT to say, “It’s not that big of a deal.” Period.
  • The phrase “gulped at,” as in “he gulped at his drink.” This sounds like he held up his glass near his face and went gulp, gulp, gulp and didn’t actually drink anything. Shouldn’t it be “he gulped his drink?”
  • I just heard this one on a TV commercial. A pretty girl, sitting in her bedroom, looks at the camera and says, “When I’m on my period, I take <insert brand here>.” Really–she is ON her period? It sounds like she is ON a motorcycle, or ON a bicycle, or ON a fencepost, etc. It’s “when I’m HAVING my period.” You HAVE a period, you don’t actually GET ON a period. Period.
  • This one has me flummoxed. The saying goes: “You have to take the BAD with the GOOD.” Meaning that, for the good thing you like, there is something bad that you don’t like that comes with it. Example: I love my three cats. I don’t love it that I have to clean three litter boxes. But I do so because I love the cats (the GOOD) and so will take the BAD (cleaning the litterboxes). See how that makes sense? So why do I continually hear “You have to take the GOOD with the BAD?” Meaning that, for the BAD thing you DON’T like, there is something GOOD that you DO like that comes with it. Doesn’t make sense, does it?
  • When “jewelry” is pronounced “JOO-Lery.” Look at how it’s spelled; “JEW-EL-RY.” Enough said.
  • Opening up a Christmas card–and being showered in a pile of sparkly confetti. If this is supposed to make me happy, it doesn’t. It just means that now I have to vacuum–and I hate vacuuming. Thanks for nothing.
  • People who chew gum–honestly, it makes my teeth curl up. If they could only do it with their mouths closed, discretely, I could live with it. But no–we are treated to everyone’s dental work as they clop, clop, clop that gum loudly and relentlessly.
  • When did ending a conversation with “..so..” as if it were a logical end of the sentence become common? Example: “I bought this cute hat, took it home and put in on and it just didn’t look right, so….” SO WHAT?!? End the sentence already! “So” is no way to end a sentence–it’s just irritating.
  • When did the drive-up window jockeys/waitresses/sales people start calling me “sweetheart” and “honey?” Seriously, do I look THAT old? However, the cute young man bagging my groceries the other day called me “Miss.” It’s a little confusing. But that young man made my day. And made me feel a little cougar-y. 🙂
  • People, PLEASE learn the difference between “it’s” and “its!” Check your Strunk and White!
  • This world is NOT a trash can. PLEASE pick up your stuff–trust me when I say that the Clean-Up Fairy gave up on you a long time ago.
  • Pick up your dog’s poop. Seriously–if you’re going to have a dog, he/she is going to poop. So do us all a favor, and bring plastic bags with you and pick up the crap.
  • People who don’t EVER use directionals when they drive!
  • People who toss lit cigarette butts out of the windows of their cars (what? That fancy-schmancy vehicle doesn’t come with an ASH TRAY?!).
  • The now-common custom of people giving you your change with the loose change sitting on top of the bills, making me spill all the coins on the ground while I simultaneously try to stuff the bills in my wallet. Really–is it THAT hard to just give me change with one hand and the bills with the other?
  • Why oh why do my cats like to vomit at night? Nothing wakes you up faster than that “hucka-hucka-hucka” sound they make.
  • People who say “like” all the time – either something IS or IS NOT.
  • Tissues that come out of the box attached to each other like magicians’ scarves – just ONE at a time, please!
  • Weak coffee.

The Happy Pants Journal

Welcome to my Happy Pants Journal! This is for keeping track of all those things that make me happy (which I need to keep on file to keep reminding myself that wearing happy pants is way better than wearing crabby pants! (Another journal–stay tuned.)

What makes YOU happy? Think about it. It’s kind of like having a secret mad money stash that you can go to to buy yourself something insanely impractical, such as purple shoes, a vintage fez (c’mon–who doesn’t look snappy in a fez?), a bunch of yellow tulips, a new lipstick, a wild pair of earrings, a pair of bunny slippers or a handmade basket?

Here is my list so far:

Early morning

Twilight, just when you can  begin to see the stars

Driftwood

Really awful jokes (please refer to my post called “Really Awful Jokes”)

Seashells

Sea glass

Jewelry

Beads

Books

Show tunes

Massage

Cats

Cat videos

Fleece blankets

Really strong black coffee

Starfish

“While You Were Sleeping” with Sandra Bullock (did you know that my maiden name IS Bullock?)

Dixieland jazz (sorry, progressive jazz sounds to me like people throwing trash cans and pots down the stairs)

Raspberries

Wine

The sound of the ocean

Macaroni and cheese

Moonstones

Sand dollars

Louise Hay

Terrible jokes

The 3 Stooges

Driving a stick shift

Hawaii

Kosher salt

Singing

Writing (duh)

Walking (I call them my “appreciation walks”)

Fine-point black Sharpies (GREAT for cartooning)

And as of today, September 7, 2013, the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival!! (burp)

What It’s Like to be a Grandma

(Actually, in my case, this post is about being a “LuLu.” That’s what my amazing granddaughter, Ava, calls me.  Well, she calls me “WuWu.” Close enough!)

I have two wonderful step-daughters, one from each marriage. I am very lucky to have them in my life, and I love them dearly.

When Ava was born (of #2 step-daughter), every picture of her, every little sound she made, every expression–all things were priceless and utterly miraculous. Every single thing she did was amazing. She took her first steps in our living room, and I remember her looking at us as if to say, “What? You knew I was going to do this SOME time!”

Now that she is two years and four months old, she is a constant joy and source of laughter. I have never been been so interested in another human being the way I am with Ava; everything about her is fascinating. She runs, she talks, she laughs, she cries, she plays games, she loves her dogs and her bunnies, and she loves all of us. At her tender age she is both brave and adventurous, cuddly and funny, outgoing and engaging, and has a great big personality.

Although I make my living writing, I am at a loss to explain logically how  feel about her. Just the fact that she is here in this world along with me makes me smile–she has become my North star, my reason for being the best person I can be, and my constant and abiding treasure.

I am the luckiest person I know.

72-Hour Emergency Kit

This is something I’ve carried around with me for years. I don’t even remember where I got it, but it’s useful and a good idea to at least be prepared.

72-Hour Emergency Kit

(Why 3 days? That’s usually the time it takes for services to come back on, etc.)

Food and Water

(A three day supply of food and water, per person, when no refrigeration or cooking is available):

  • Protein/Granola Bars
  • Trail Mix/Dried Fruit
  • Crackers/Cereals (for munching)
  • Canned Tuna, Beans, Turkey, Beef, Vienna Sausages, etc. (“pop-top” cans that open without a can-opener might not be a good idea, so make sure you have at least one working can opener)
  • Canned Juice
  • Candy/Gum
  • Water (1 Gallon/4 Liters Per Person)

Bedding and Clothing:

  • Change of Clothing (short and long sleeved shirts, pants, jackets, socks, shoes, boots, etc.)
  • Undergarments
  • Rain Coat/Poncho
  • Blankets and Emergency Heat Blankets (the silvery ones that keep in body heat)
  • Cloth Sheet
  • Plastic Sheet
  • Sleeping bag(s) in waterproof bag
  • Tarp (to use as tent)

Fuel and Light:

  • Battery Lighting (Flashlights, Lamps, etc.) Don’t forget batteries!
  • Extra Batteries
  • Flares
  • Candles
  • Lighter
  • Water-Proof Matches

Equipment:

  • Can Opener
  • Dishes/Utensils
  • Shovel
  • Radio (with batteries!)
  • Pen and Paper
  • Axe
  • Pocket Knife
  • Rope
  • Duct tape

Personal Supplies and Medication:

  • First Aid Supplies
  • Toiletries (roll of toilet paper- remove the center tube to easily flatten into a zip-lock bag, feminine hygiene, folding brush, etc.)
  • Cleaning Supplies (mini hand sanitizer, soap, wet wipes, shampoo, dish soap, SOS pad, etc.)
  • Immunizations Up-to Date
  • Medication (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, children’s medication etc.)
  • Prescription Medication (for 3 days)
  • Paper Towels
  • Trash bag

Personal Documents and Money (place these items in a water-proof container!):

  • Legal Documents (Birth/Marriage Certificates, Wills, Passports, Contracts, etc)
  • Vaccination Papers
  • Insurance Policies
  • Cash
  • Credit Card
  • Pre-Paid Phone Cards

Notes:

  • Update your 72-hour Kit every six months (put a note in your calendar/planner) to make sure that: all food, water, and medication is fresh and has not expired; clothing fits; personal documents and credit cards are up to date; and batteries are charged.
  • Small toys/games are important too as they will provide some comfort and entertainment during a stressful time.
  • Paperback books, reading glasses, etc.
  • Pet food, dishes, water, leash, collar, carrier (be sure carrier has a waterproof label stating pet name, your name, address, phone number, & email), temporary litter box, blanket, toys, etc.
  • You can include any other items in your 72-hour Kit that you feel are necessary for your family’s survival.

 Pet First Aid Kit

  • • Latex gloves
  • • Cotton (balls, sponges and rolls)
  • • Cling wrap to bandage (such as Saran Wrap or Vet Wrap)
  • • Splint material
  • • Adhesive tape
  • • Small scissors
  • • Tweezers
  • • Needle-nose pliers (for removing foreign objects from wounds)
  • • Nylon Leash
  • • Towels
  • • Muzzle (soft fabric muzzle for dogs and restraint bag for cats)
  • • Thermal blanket
  • • Pediatric rectal thermometer; water-based lubricant
  • • Antiseptic (such as Betadine)
  • • Antihistamines (such as Benadryl, consult veterinarian for dosage)
  • • Antibiotic ointment
  • • Pepto Bismol
  • • Activated charcoal
  • • 3 % hydrogen peroxide (induce vomiting and cleaning wounds)
  • • Blood stopper such as Kwik Stop
  • • Sterile saline wash for eyes
  • • Emergency phone numbers for the vet and poison control
  • • List of all pet’s medications and dosages
  • • Board to strap pet with possible back injury
  • • Baby aspirin

Additionally:

  • • Pets (and children) read your body language. Be calm and don’t project hesitation or guilt.
  • • The popular antibiotic Baytril comes in a chewable tablet, so ask your vet about it.
  • • Use Pill Pockets, which are edible food-grade material you put the pill inside.
  • • Some pharmacists will put medication in beef, seafood or chicken.
  • • Try Flavorex, liquid medication that comes in pet-friendly flavors.
  • • Many pets will lick the liquid out of a spoon. Otherwise you can use a plastic syringe and squirt it into the corner of the pet’s mouth.
  • • Medicated creams can be rubbed into the hairless part of your pet’s ear, and it will be absorbed into its system.

What It’s Like to be in a Play

I used to be in plays in high school, and then I was lucky enough to be chosen as an ingenue for the Barnstormers (Tamworth, NH — a superb summer theatre company).

Being in a play is like falling in love.  Like a new romance, you start with the hand-holding and passionate kissing stage; which, translated into being in a play means learning your lines, getting your blocking down pat from the director so you know where you are supposed to be at all times when you are on stage. You even find yourself memorizing everyone else’s lines, just so you can be sure of your cues, and also how the other characters react to your character.

Then you move on to the ‘am I really in love or just kidding myself’ stage. You get all your lines memorized and work hard to be the best and most believeable character you can be. In doing so, you begin to BE that person. You start looking at the world through their eyes, their experiences, their interactions and relationships with the other characters in the play. You slowly realize that you are only part of the play, even if you are the main character around which the whole thing revolves. The play becomes a second family; you know who you are and who everyone else is, and how you all fit together.

Now comes the real test of love: opening night on stage with everyone in costume, and a full house out front. Your stomach turns as you hear the orchestra tuning up, and you know that it won’t be long until the overture starts.  The final notes are played, the audience applauds and the curtain goes up, and you go on—and the show begins.

In seconds, you know whether or not you are going to completely blow it, or trust in that cellular memory of all those rehearsals and memorizing lines before you slept. You take a breath, clear your head, and take that first step into the light.

Before you know it, the play is over. You are being hugged and are hugging your second family members, knowing that you did a good performance and, better yet–that the play went off without a hitch.

That is the rollercoaster ride that is being in a play.

An Alphabet of Awful Children (with apologies to Edward Gorey) by Jane B. Fraser

A is for Alice,

Who pooped in a pot,

Then blamed the whole thing on her big sister, Dot.

B is for Beaumont,

Who stole from the store,

Hid all his loot, then went back for more.

C is for Carol,

Who once on a dare,

Put French onion dip in her mom’s underwear.

D is for Donna,

Who answered the phone,

“Everyone’s dead—please leave us alone.”

E is for Edward,

A liar and sneak

Who hid a dead mouse in a sock for a week.

F is for Fergus,

Who ate his own snot,

And left his bag lunch in his locker to rot.

G is for Gertie,

Who still sucked her thumb

And scratched, in public, her pimply bum.

H is for Hoover,

Whose teeth were pea-green,

And whose hands smelt of places they shouldn’t have been.

I is for Ivy,

Whose toenails were long,

And poked out her shoes as she shuffled along.

J is for James,

Who spat in the chowder.

Then blamed his brother, and couldn’t be prouder.

K is for Kendall,

Who picked at his face,

And left bits of skin all over the place.

L is for Lola,

Whose rank, rancid breath

Hastened the class turtle’s imminent death.

M is for Mitchell,

Who threw up a frog,

That hopped on the floor and was et by the dog.

N is for Nicholas,

Who feasted on flies,

And secretly snuck them into blueberry pies.

O is for Octavia,

Who sculpted with Spam,

And topped her creations with nasty toe jam.

P is for Pete,

Who cheated and lied,

And bragged of his exploits with unseemly pride.

Q is for Queenie,

Sneaky and sly,

Who doctored the family dinner with lye.

R is for Roland

Whose armpits were smelly,

And liked to pick lint from the hole in his belly.

S is for Selwyn,

Who peed in the hall,

All down the stairs, and all up the wall.

T is for Tilly,

Whose glasses were smeared,

And was fully as weird as originally feared.

U is for Ulrich,

Who farted while sneezing,

And set the whole household and neighbors to wheezing.

V is for Victoria,

Who flicked boogers at teachers,

And laughed as they shrieked, the unfortunate creatures.

W is for Wendell,

Who whimpered and whined,

And pouted and fussed while the family dined.

X is for Xander,

A fractious young man,

Who ate jalapenos straight from the can.

Y is for Yolanda,

Whose odor atrocious,

Made all her clothes stink something ferocious.

 Z is for Zenita,

Who barfed in the sink,

And left the whole mess, all curdled and pink.

Trans Fats and Why We Should Hate Them

What exactly are trans fats, anyway? You can find all the information you could possibly want to know about them on countless websites, so I won’t tell you here. But I will tell you that trans fats are bad and we should all hate them. Why? Because trans fats’ main gig for is to make unhealthy foods taste fabulously good. Respectable people who by day virtuously lunch on green salads and 12-grain bread can be seen after dark, driving stealthily up to the local McMakeYouFat wearing a fake mustache and a big hat. How does this happen? My personal theory is that, the more healthy foods you eat, the more you feel entitled to take a walk on the dark side now and then.

And that occasional foray can become a greasy slope. You approach like an ant to a pitcher plant, drawn by the seductive scent of mystery meat, fatty cheese and double-fried fish fillets. But once you slip and fall in, it takes a heroic struggle to get out—if you can. There are many “good fats” that should be part of our daily diet; these actually improve body function. But trans fats are just no good, and are certainly no friend to any of our body functions.

Trans fats are the bullies of the fat world. They will throw your sneakers up into trees and push your face in the dirt, all the while clogging your arteries with cholesterol. They know the extent of their badness, and they aren’t the least bit remorseful. They love it when the top button on your pants parts company with its buttonhole so violently that it bursts into flame. They are out to get us so fat and unhealthy that when the space aliens finally arrive to take over the earth, we won’t have the strength or will to resist. At that time, our only hope will be to offer them a triple cheeseburger and super-sized fries and hope for the best.