Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Grownup doctors should go on grand rounds with a 5-year-old some time. They might learn something about bedside manner, or in this case, couchside manner.

Maddy’s toy doctor’s kit has been getting a workout lately. Yesterday, she laid out all her instruments with the precision of a brain surgeon, while inviting me to have a seat in the waiting room, which was the bench in our entryway.

It was realistic because there was a stack of really old magazines there from my recent round of basement clean-up.

Then she ushered me in to the examination room, which was the couch. With a warm but professional air, she informed me, “I’m Dr. Maddy. Do you feel sick, kind of sick, or really, really sick?”

I wasn’t sure what her Health Maintenance Organization would think of that intake assessment, but I chose “kind of sick.”

She launched into a virtual ballet of medical procedures, and they were realistic, too, because their purpose was known only to her. I got a plastic “shot,” and she winced in vicarious pain. I had my knees tapped; her forensic medicine antennae went up when she tapped my left knee but my right leg flopped, and vice versa.

I had my heart listened to via a toy stethoscope positioned at about my collarbone. Finally, I was invited to make an invisible, pretend protein spill into the tiny toy bedpan, which Dr. Maddy ceremoniously carried across the room and dumped out in the sink of her toy kitchen.

“How do you feel now?” she asked, her eyebrows knit together in concern.

“Oh, much, much better. I’m all cured!”

She was elated. “OK! Thanks for coming!”

There wasn’t even any co-pay. Now, that’s what I call a satisfactory encounter with the health-care system.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth
take heed lest he fall.
-- 1 Corinthians 10:12

A man fell through the ice and died last week near our town. An avid and experienced outdoorsman, he and two buddies had been ice fishing for three hours that afternoon. Just as they were getting ready to leave, he plunged through.

People ran to help. They threw out a 75-foot line; they made a human chain with their bodies; one laid on an eight-foot stepladder to try to get closer, but then crashed through, too. One of those trying to save the fellow’s life was 94 years old.

I know, I know. It was a freak accident. Ice fishermen know exactly what they’re doing and how to stay safe.

Even so, I’d say walking on water, frozen or not, should be reserved only for the Fisherman above.

But what do I know? I’m still living down The Dipsy Doodle Crying Wolf False Alarm incident of a few years ago.

See, my friend Cindy and I were enjoying some late-winter sunshine on a walk around Lake Zorinsky in west Omaha. It was really warm out. We came around a bend, and there, ‘way off on the ice in the center of the lake, we could see three people ice-fishing.

Daredevils! Idiots! On such a warm day!

We tsk-tsked as we walked, squinting across the frozen lake to their little encampment.

Then, for a few minutes, our view was obscured by a wooded area. When the open lake came back into sight, we looked out again . . .



We had nothing to throw out to them, and were terrified to go out there. We were too far away, anyway. Cindy couldn’t see quite as well as I could, and wasn’t as sure as I was. But I made her get out her cell phone and call 911.

The guy wasn’t moving. Why doesn’t he save himself? What’s taking so long?!? Two people drowned! And this guy losing hope . . . despondent . . . and man, his toes had to be cold by now.

Just then, here came a screaming fire engine, responding to our emergency call. A guy dashed to the water’s edge, making frantic hand signals out to the person whose head was sticking up out of the water. . .

. . . but at that moment, we finally saw that he wasn’t, indeed, clinging desperately to life in the icy water. He wasn’t in the water at all. He was just hunched down low on his seat with his fishing pole in front of him. He stood up and waved back to the would-be rescuer, giving a thumb’s up signal and the A-OK sign.

Meanwhile, the two other fishermen, who we thought had sunk down to Davey Jones’ locker, came running out of the restroom to join the would-be rescuer. They had an animated conversation complete with gestures in our general direction, which Cindy and I could “read” to mean that they were exasperated with those two hysterical broads across the way who had called in a false alarm.

They shook hands. The fire engine left. The two marched back across the ice to join their perfectly warm and dry friend and resume fishing. We could see no evidence of any cracks or disturbance in the ice whatsoever.

You know that Cingular ad? Doot doooooo doot doot dooooo!!!

But I was sooooo sure I saw those guys drowning!

Me, a trained observer, a veteran reporter, schooled in getting the facts!

Whoopsie daisy: getting the facts RIGHT, that’s supposed to be.

Boy, was my face red. And it wasn’t the wind.

Yeah, well, it was a reminder that you can be on thin ice in more ways than one. And sometimes, when you’re so sure you’re standing on solid ground . . . actually, you’re all wet. †

Saturday, February 25, 2006


(Today's email showed a cartoon with a lazy guy in a recliner scooting down a mountainside as if in a bobsled or luge)

Friday, February 24, 2006


Did you notice how the Olympic ice skaters can all grab a hold of one skate and stretch their leg up straight, ‘way up over their head? It’s like doing the splits standing up. You stare at them hanging on to their foot high overhead while they’re twirling around like mad, and muscles and tendons all over your body snap, crackle and pop.

‘Course, I can grab a hold of MY skate and stretch it ‘way up over MY head, too. I can even twirl around at the same time.

What’s my secret? Well . . . I don’t actually have my foot in my skate at the time. It shouldn’t matter. Should it?

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Our teenager watched a 1980s video in the home of a friend. She could barely get the words out telling me about it, she was laughing so hard because it was sooooo bad. The movie was Labyrinth starring David Bowie as the singing Goblin King.

At some point, the good guys fell off a cliff and came to a big, oozy swamp. They had to cross it, but if you touched the water, you would smell forever.

The name of this place: “The Bog of Eternal Stench.”

Luckily, one of the good guys could “call up” rocks from out of the stinky bog as a makeshift bridge. He sounded like Chewbacca on steroids as he vocalized his extremely weird “call” -- “Mmmmmmhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!”

Every time someone’s foot touched a rock, it made a rude noise. You know – the noise that tends to accompany a bad smell. When a dog ran across, there were lots of these rude noises.

Yes, they watched that part six times, laughing hysterically.

I asked her: exactly what does “The Bog of Eternal Stench” remind her of?

She smiled. “My bathroom?”


Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Our 18-year-old is now working retail in an upscale store that sells mostly shoes. It’s her first retail job and so far, she really likes it. While she is a smiling, pleasant young woman most of the time, she is just not the happy, peppy, positive, bouncy, overmedicated type. She can’t fake enthusiasm and cheerfulness; it’s just not her style.

Well, she and her new manager have been having some pretty good laughs over the training manual’s exhortations to sales clerks to give what Eden calls “cheesy” greetings to the customer. The customer’s always right – but you don’t have to be an obsequious Stepford Clerk to get every sale, do you? The manager says she doesn’t have to act like that if she doesn’t feel like it.

Eden has come up with a happy medium. It’s a nonverbal routine she may use when a customer has finally expressed satisfaction with one of the 14,000 pairs she has slogged out to their stinky feet for them to try on. It goes something like this, all at the same time:

Two thumbs up

Head tilted

Happy smile

Li’l wink

You can’t even tell she’s being a bit sarcastic. Oh, well, as they say: if the shoe fits. . . .

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


We’re friends with the west Omaha family whose 14-year-old daughter was home alone when two men broke into their house to burglarize it. She cowered in a closet for several minutes with 911 on a cell phone, waiting for the police to arrive, while they were rifling through the house just a few feet away. Whew! The authorities arrived, arrested the two, and she was safe.

Most people I know spent most of their teen years imagining stuff like that happening to them, but it never did.

I can remember being pretty spooked, late at night, babysitting. I must have been watching some sci-fi, because I was sure there were alien fingernails scratching at the window right behind my head. Turned out to be tree branches in the wind.

Then there was the time a new babysitting client introduced me to their doggie, “Julie,” and handed me a club. Gulp! “Julie” was an excitable young Doberman pinscher, and once in a while they had to use it on her. I think I spent that whole night in muscle gridlock, gripping that club, with one eye on the clock and the other on the dog, who turned out to be as docile as a lamb.

A friend remembers her imagination getting away with her, too, at about age 14. She was babysitting, late at night, and started obsessing about what she would do if some bad guys suddenly kicked in the door, brandishing knives or whatever it is that bad guys do. She hated the thought of being taken by surprise and trapped with no place to run or hide. How could she give herself some lead time?

Well, this was in the days when everybody kept their glass pop bottles to bring back in for recycling. She decided to line up a bunch of empties on the floor next to the door. If the bad guys bashed it open, the clanging and clinking of the bottles would be her early warning signal.

It was a good idea. But one minor detail made it go sour: she forgot to put the bottles away before the husband and wife came home. They got the scare of their lives. Next time, they probably just gave her a club. It’s a lot quieter.

Monday, February 20, 2006


This just in, from another one of those “so close to true, it’s funny” emails:


As President Bush and his staff cowered in the White House, the snow continued to pile up on the many poor and African-American victims who could not afford to get out of town or to safety in Florida. Crucial supplies of blankets, hot cocoa, popcorn and dark rum -- so essential to surviving the stress of any major snowstorm -- lay in stores undelivered.

"Where is the government? I need my sidewalk shoveled so I can get out to buy my lottery tickets!" said one D.C. resident from his living room. "Why are we wasting money in Iraq when we could be spending it here on me?"

Progressive blogs blasted the President for his inaction. "We find the timing terribly suspicious -- just as the domestic spying hearings kick into high gear, what happens? A major northeast blizzard. Why now?" wrote one.

Hearings into the blizzards' effect on hearings are almost a certainty. Howard Dean has suggested he will call for an investigation once his new medications kick in, and John Kerry took a break from ice sailing in Finland to call for new legislation outlawing snowstorms. "The Republican Congress has dropped the ball once again. I have always been a staunch supporter of anti-snow legislation, except for certain locations where I ski. Snow has no business on our roads and the President and Congress knows that."

Calls for impeachment over "SnowGate" already are mounting as deeply as the snow itself, and what will be discovered underneath will prove to have a truly chilling effect on the Republicans, as the inevitable thaw proceeds.

More breaking news . . . Al Sharpton wants an investigation as to why snow is ALWAYS white.

Vice President Dick "Shooter" Cheney has stock in Tru-Value Hardware. Do you have any idea how many SNOW SHOVELS they sold today to the unsuspecting consumer?

And why was FEMA so late in reacting to this storm? THEY KNEW IT WAS COMING! And yet they failed to have crews in place to fix the electricity as soon as it went off. It just shows that Bush and the Republicans don't care about the people in the Northeast. The Senate needs to investigate this with administration people under oath.

The only hopeful note is that, no doubt, the great junior senator from New York has opened the doors of her home to all of the heatless poor of her neighborhood, and is busy baking cookies for them while her husband applies body heat to the nearly frozen teen-aged girls.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently,
lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen,
and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life:
but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.
-- Deuteronomy 4:9

It figures that our daughter would have a friend she loves like a brother, and he plays hockey. If she’d had a brother, he would doubtlessly have been a hockey jock. Eden’s dad played hockey. We follow the local college and semipro teams. One nephew is so hockey-crazy, he has collected enough broken hockey sticks to make a chair.

Eden’s friend Chris attended all of her big softball games and was her No. 1 fan. Naturally, she has tried to go to his big hockey matches in return. They’re both seniors, winding down their high-school careers.

Well, last week was the last regular-season game of his elite traveling team. Eden couldn’t go, so I represented her, joining the sizeable cheering section for Chris’ last game.

When Chris skates, he’s smooth and fluid and oh! so fast. His eyes scan the ice constantly. He knows where that puck is every instant.

He’s in such good control that he never gets in fights, rarely has penalties called on him, and rarely has to check anyone or make physical contact. His movements are surgically precise and analytical.

The team was playing their rivals from a nearby city, ahead 3-1 late in the game.

They were going to win. But Chris hadn’t scored. He’d had a long series of “almosts.” Meanwhile, his mother’s hilarious commentary was “almost” making my sides split:

“Oh, nutsola!”

“Get out of the way, you big boob!”

“Cheese and rice! Cheese . . . and . . . rice!” (That, she explained, was how her father cussed when he didn’t want to take the Lord’s name in vain.)

We did the wave, we stomped our feet, we took group pictures. But time was running out.

Suddenly, players bunched up around the front of the goal. Here came Chris, rocketing by with the puck. He seemed to be levitating horizontally.

He was patiently seeking a way to the net in between all those legs, skates and sticks. He juked a couple of times, faking the goalie out of position.

Then as he rocketed by the net’s far corner, he artfully popped it in . . . like a sugar cube into His Lordship’s cup of tea.


Everybody went crazy. It was unassisted, and they were playing short-handed, which made it all the sweeter.

The game ended soon thereafter. We fans in Chris’ entourage greeted his dad, who spends every game across the ice, helping the team with stats and so forth.

Gentle and sweet just like his son, he was beaming as he walked up to us with his hand in his pocket.

“You know,” he said, “I got the puck that Chris shot as his first goal as a PeeWee, many years ago. I got the winning shot Chris made, a rocket from the blue line, against a real hotshot goalie in a big tournament in Minnesota.”

He took his hand out of his pocket. “And now, I’ve got a third puck: his last goal from his last game.”

He showed us. We squealed “Ahhhh!” and got tingles.

His eyes glittered. Tears? Or just the reflection from the ice that had framed so much of his life for all these years of youth hockey?

For all the hours you gave . . . for all the money you paid . . . for all the miles you drove . . . for all the slumps you helped him through . . . for all the moves you taught him . . . for all the joy you shared in teaching this great sport to your son, and in the process teaching both of you so much more. . .

. . . this puck’s for you, Dad.

But he knew that. He and Chris’ mom exchanged a quick glance that said it all.

He slipped the puck back in his pocket, gave his pocket a pat, and turned to go find his son. †

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Have you been watching the Olympics? Pretty exciting stuff. Maddy, 5, has been all eyes.

Yesterday, she put her Build-a-Bear friend Spotty into a red plastic laundry basket, and plunged it down the stairs. The luge! Even though Spotty fell out every time, she did it over and over again. Kid has the makings of a sadistic personal trainer.

I’m afraid we have seven – count ‘em – colorful plastic Furbys from Burger King riding from one end of the main floor to the other on a skateboard. The floors are maple, not snow. But to Maddy, it’s team snowboarding.

These dreary winter days have weakened my resolve to keep all toys out of the family room. So there’s currently a four-foot plastic building framework complete with arched ceiling, a play kitchen, a mini-dinosaur land, all kinds of toy horses and bobble heads, and a zillion other toys in there, mostly scattered on the floor and tough on bare feet.

I was pretty depressed about the mess, ‘til I realized that it is JUST like the Olympics! Step on an upside-down Duplo block with sharp edges – and do a triple lutz with an inward pike and a 2½ twist! Tossing little dinosaurs into the ice-cream bucket from across the room – do hockey players have better aim? Moving across the room dodging toys on the floor is just like the Giant Slalom: zoom, whip, zoom!

Motherhood: you’ve got to have the moves, man.

Friday, February 17, 2006


My mother chose her own nickname for the grandchildren to call her – “Fave G,” short for “Favorite Grandmother.” She’s friends with the other grandma and loves to pretend that they’re competing for the children’s hearts. Fave G scored again on Valentine’s Day by slipping a crisp $5 bill into Maddy’s Valentine envelope.

Maddy was so excited to get her very own cash, you’d have thought WWII just ended. “WHOOP!!! WOO HOO!!! YE HAW!!!”

We made a beeline to the Build-a-Bear store in the mall. She got a soccer outfit for “Spotty,” a long-awaited accessory.

Filled with gratitude, Maddy dictated a chatty thank-you note to Fave G, drawing a rather funky-looking $5 bill in green marker.

She enthused, “I was so excited to get the money in the mail! I got President Bush on the front and the White House on the back!”

Yeah, well, she’s remedial for Presidents’ Day, but it’s the thought that counts.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Maddy, 5, had Valentine’s chocolate happily smeared all around her mouth. “Go wash your face!” I commanded.

Next thing I knew, she was standing there gleefully while our 1-year-old yellow Lab, Sunny, was enthusiastically licking her face, to my consternation and their mutual delight.

“She makes a great napkin!” Maddy exclaimed as her head snapped back with every happy Lab lick.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Some women get diamonds. Some women get pearls. Some get dark chocolate, roses or a frisky negligee.

But I? I get a new SUMP PUMP for Valentine’s Day!

Workers are expected to be here all day, putting in a powerful unit that probably could have saved New Orleans from the deluge, and certainly will protect my 49,000 boxes of pointless junk and old papers in the basement storage room.

I was whining to a friend about the utter lack of romance in this year’s Valentine’s Day developments. She begged to differ:

“There's nothing as beautiful as the sound of a new sump pump after a five-inch spring downpour.”

Is there no hope, Cupid? Cupid? Oh, no! He’s got his nose buried in the latest issue of Popular Mechanics. I can just imagine what I’ll get NEXT year.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Or maybe it’s a live doily. Or maybe she overdid the bleach job. Whatever! Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

(photo of a pure white peacock)

Monday, February 13, 2006


Pucker up with some of these romantic “studs,” and you may get . . . excuse the expression . . . stuck on them. Just in time for Valentine’s Day. . . .

(photos of men with extreme piercings)

Sunday, February 12, 2006


And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery,
which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God,
who created all things by Jesus Christ.
-- Ephesians 3:9

We have these friends who seemed totally conventional. And then we heard about their first date.

It's a Valentine’s Day reminder that love really does triumph and God works in mysterious ways, though sometimes He uses mighty unusual kindling to fan the flames of romance.

Mighty unusual.

See, our friend used to be an agricultural entrepreneur. OK, he had a cow / calf operation and raised 150 Yorkshire brood sows with some champion boars on 800 rolling acres in Iowa.

OK, OK. He was a pig farmer.

But he's a hunk. He cleans up nice. He got introduced to a cute new gal. They made a date.

Now, she was a city girl, the type who ''gets nails” and is beautifully dressed, petite and feminine all the way.

He told her he was busy ''farrowing'' and asked her to come over to his place first. They could go out on their date from there.

She had no idea what “farrowing” was. She thought it sounded manly and hands-on. She arrived in her flirty little tube top and white shorts with brand-spankin' new white clogs.

''Miss Prissy,'' he describes her now.

Well, he wasn't at the house. But the door to an outbuilding, which she later learned was the “farrowing house,” was wide open. So she went in.

It's not clear exactly why she shut her eyes. It might have been the blast of methane gas that erupted onto her hair, her clothes and her skin like a tidal wave of stinky.

Or it might have been the sight of her newfound flame . . . down on one knee with his arm all the way up a mama pig's behind.

Whatever made her close her eyes, they snapped back open when he asked her to come over and stick HER arm all the way up the mama pig's behind.

''She’s already had eight, but this one's breech! It has to be turned!” he shouted. “My arm's too big. Will you come over here and do it?”

Standing there in her flirty little tube top and white shorts, she just stared at her date. He was filthy, kneeling near the manure pit up to his armpit in 500 pounds of moanin', squealin' mama pig.

He saw that she was hesitating. So he smiled his manliest, most entrancing, most persuasive smile. “I’ve got a glove you can wear!”

He’s got a GLOVE?!?!?

A moment passed. Then her genteel reply:


But she DIDN'T run out of there squealing like . . . well . . . a stuck pig. She stayed. She watched.

He tried one more time to fix the breech. It worked. He finished farrowing, winding up with 14 nice piglets. Then he dashed inside and washed up. They left on their date.

They had a wonderful time. I mean, who needs a conversational ice-breaker after that? Who knew farrowing was so harrowing?

But he didn't need to entertain her or impress her, anyway. She had already fallen head over heels in love with him. The pig stink and ridiculous position she'd seen him in didn't matter.

It was that smile.

That's all it took. That heartwarming smile of his. It made her forget all about where his arm had been, how loud the sow was squealing, and how bad it smelled in there.

That smile: it was all she saw.

They were married shortly thereafter.

OK, you men: forget the red sports car. Forget the diamond bracelet. Forget the hours in the weight room and the tooth-whitening regimen. Forget all the things you think are your best shots at wooing the woman of your dreams.

I’m not saying you should get up to your armpits in pig dip to get her attention. I am saying the Lord works in mysterious ways.

And brother, when it comes to winning the one who's meant for you, relax. He's on your side . . . and He's got moves you’ve never dreamed of. †

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Here’s a rather scandalous movie short, just in time for Valentine’s Day. I don’t know about you, but I’m making my beauty shop appointment immediately! (video available to email list readers only)

Today’s Menu:

www.DailySusan.com: FUNdamentals, “’How We Met’ Charades”
www.DailySusan.blogspot.com: “Take It Off! Take It Allllll Off!”
www.LookingUpPrayerLine.blogspot.com: “Thankful for Dale and Other Wise Counselors”
www.GoBigEd.com: “News Briefs: Class I Barristers, Bonds, Booze and ‘Black Flight’”

Friday, February 10, 2006


Gentle Readers: By popular demand, DailySusan is going back to a separate email
for this humor blog. It won’t require you to click onto the main website
to read the other features unless you really want to. See the daily menu, below.
Hope you like the change, and hope you’ll tell your friends to visit these sites and join the fun!

This is what a friend and colleague of mine, one of my favorite Nebraska writers, put in the Lincoln Journal-Star to surprise his lovely wife on the occasion of their wedding anniversary:
("Then" picture with 1970s hairdos, and "now" picture in Groucho Marx masks)

25 years! Love never fails!

It’s true, the longer we’re married, the more we look alike. Denise, you are a gem. As Proverbs says, “an excellent wife, her worth is far above jewels.”

Love eternally, Rolly, Erick, Rosa, Lee, Natalie, Ellen, Alice

Give the guy a break. It was memorable. Dangerous, but memorable!

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Thanks to the Irish Heritage Newsletter and Pat Connors, here’s what you can say to your love in Irish on Valentine’s Day. You might want to avoid the milk cow one, though; it might get lost in translation:

Grá (graw) - Love

A ghrá (Ah hraw) - My love/My dear

A stóirín (Ah store-reen) - Darling!

Mo mhuirnín (Muh whurneen/vurneen) - My sweetheart

Póg mé! (Pogue may) - Kiss me!

Tóg mé, tá mé leatsa (Toag may, taw may latsah) - Take me, I'm yours!

Mo chupcáca (Muh hup-caw-cah) - My cupcake

Is é cinniúint é! (Shay kinn-noo-int ay) - It's kismet!

Mo ghrá thú (Muh hraw hoo) - I love you.

Thitim mé i ngrá leat (Hittim may ih nraw lat) - I fell in love with you.

Is tusa an grá mo chroí (Iss tussah ahn graw muh hree) - You are the love of my heart!

Táim i ngrá leatsa (Tah-im ih nraw latsah) - I'm in love with you.

Táim i bpian an ghrá (Tah-im ih beh-in ahn raw) - I'm lovesick

Barróga agus póga (Bahrogue-ah ahguss pogue-ah) - Hugs and kisses!

Tá siad ag seinm ár n-amhráin grá (taw shee-ad a shen-um awhr nahrawngraw) - They're playing our song.

(Connemara: pickup line) B'fhearr liom thú nó céad bó bhainne!
(Barr lum hoo no cayd bow wahn-nyah) - I prefer you to a hundred milk cows!

Lá Naomh Vailintín Shona Dhuit (Law neev val-in-teen hunna gwitch) - Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Our daughter has decided to attend an excellent university in a city about six hours away. Her “hometown honey” is a little worried about what the separation – and increased competition – will do to their romance.

It’s a private school, and although it distributes an enormous amount of financial aid, the student population is kind of preppy. There’s sort of a Midwestern Ivy League feel to the campus.

The hometown honey says he’s worried about the “pop-collars.”

What on earth does that mean? “Pop” as in soda pop? So instead of lipstick on their collars, they have pop spills? Or as opposed to “mom-collars”? Or . . . pop-collars are guys who keep drugs buttoned inside their collars, and pop them out when they wanted to seduce an unsuspecting young coed from Nebraska, so far from home?!?!

Nooooo. He just means guys who go around with the collars of their preppy polo shirts popped up instead of folded down.

Ohhhhh. I always thought those guys just woke up, got dressed out of the dirty laundry basket, and didn’t bother to look in the mirror. But we’ll see if they have any charm for our freshman-to-be.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


They were studying the letter “D” in kindergarten, and I was making them guess words that start with “D” with a simple little game of Charades.

I bent over backwards and opened my mouth wide, pretended that something was boring into my mouth with loud sound effects, and then paused to pretend-spit over to the side. That tipped them off. “Dentist!” they shouted.

I said I was going into Krispy Kreme and then play-acted that I was eating something circular with a hole inside that was really sweet and delicious. “Doughnut!”

The next one, they couldn’t get. I said, “This is what Mr. Williams gave me when he asked me to marry him.” They were silent. “It’s something I have with me every day of my life.” Still slack-jawed, frowning and mute. “It’s really special, shiny and sparkly, and it starts with a ‘D.’”

“I know! I know!” a little boy shouted. “A DIME!!!”

Monday, February 06, 2006


This series of humorous cartoons on husband-wife communication included my favorite:


"Honey, why don't you put your head in a vise and I'll turn the handle until your skull explodes?"


"Honey, why don't we turn off the TV and just talk?"

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire:
this is also vanity and vexation of spirit.
-- Ecclesiastes 6:9

I was invited to a town a few hours away last week to give a speech. A long-lost boyfriend of mine was probably going to be there.




I admit it. I had fantasized about him over the years. We would meet again, and he would slap his forehead and wail, “How did I EVER let you get away?”

Listen: I am very happy in my longtime marriage. It’s just that . . . when the stewpot boils over and the toddler bites your ankles and the hubby gives you a socket set for Valentine’s Day . . . you sometimes play that “what if?” game in your head. You know?

But now I had a big problem: reality.

Back then, I at least had some semblance of babe-osity. Now, I kind of look like Boris Yeltsin in a dress. How could I re-hottify myself practically overnight?

That hair! Frump City! With a snazzy cut and some “cheat juice,” I looked maybe a half-hour younger.

That middle-age pudge! For days, I did the stressed-out gerbil thing on the elliptical machine, and fervent underwater gyrations in the workout pool. Lost one pound. Big whoop.

That eyebrow! It has “gone Andy Rooney.” My right eyebrow lays flat and sleek, like elegant sealskin. But my left eyebrow has gone SPRRRRRONG!!! It’s as unruly as a class of third-graders on the last day of school. I’ve tried everything: Vaseline, hair gel, even udder balm. For this high-stress reunion, I might have to call NASA for some special sealant used in outer space.

That facial hair! My upper lip is starting to “go Gene Shalit.” I’m pretty sure the old boyfriend didn’t have a moustache, either, the last time he saw me. It’s hard on middle-aged men to see others with more hair than they have, anywhere. Waxing? Youch! Laser hair removal was said to take weeks; if I tipped them well, could they zap me a quickie?

Eww, my stubby nails! The East German scrubwoman look! I was letting my nailbeds rest after years of having luxurious fake nails mortared on. I’d just have to keep my hands in my pockets, even if he wanted to shake hands.

Enough! The big day arrived. I picked out a doable outfit, maximized the makeup arsenal, and surveyed the ravages. Oh, well. Maybe he’s nearsighted now.

The two-hour drive zoomed by. One mile to go.

Hmm. What if I’d married him, instead, and was living here in a darling farmhouse? With big, beautiful sunrises and sunsets? In glorious peace, with the silence broken only by the trill of a meadowlark? Would we picnic down by the old mill stream, toasting each other with wine from our own vineyard, munching on cheese from our own 4-H champion goats?

Poof! My daydream vanished as I rolled into the very small town.

It was like something out of a 1950s horror movie right before the aliens arrived, when everybody was hiding.

Where was the Panera?

Where was the library?

Museum? Stadium? Stores? Theaters?

For that matter, where was the traffic light?

What did they do for fun around here? Tour the SOD FARM?!?

Now, don’t get mad. Rural living is fabulous for those who choose it.

But my spoiled, city-girl eyes were opened. I realized that I loved my life, and certainly my husband. I didn’t need to daydream; my real life was a dream come true. I was one lucky little wacky-eyebrowed East German scrubwoman.

Of course I still sucked in my gut bigtime when I walked in.

But guess what? He never showed up. The chicken!

So now, in my fantasy scenario, my handsome, beloved husband and I are frolicking through Borsheim’s, the world’s best jewelry store right here in Omaha, while up in Podunk the old boyfriend has an extreme combover, a ‘70s bowling shirt and outrageously prominent nosehair that makes my eyebrow look sleek and sophisticated.

That’s the price you pay for chickening out . . . on the gorgeous babe who got away.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Oh, the weather outside is not so frightful. I think we had a snow-free January around here. It was odd! Every time I worry that it’s proof of global warming, they reveal that it’s the coldest and snowiest January on record somewhere else, like the former Soviet Union. Since we’re all on the same globe, I figure it can’t be global warming. Just global hotspots; Mother Nature must be going through menopause. Anyway, we’ve been lucky this year!

But one young mother I know has a special reason to hope that it doesn’t snow. The very sight of a fresh, new snowfall – a thing of beauty and peace to most of us – threatens to put her into Post-Traumatic Mess Syndrome.

See, one day, her two little girls closed the door to their room and had a whee! with a big container of baby powder. They emptied out the whole darn thing, everywhere. They made it snow indoors, and it WASN’T very pretty.

That poor mom vacuumed for three months, and never did feel as though she got it all up. In fact, she had to get a new vacuum cleaner!

So now, when she sees snow, her nostrils flare and she smells baby powder . . . and her palms start to sweat and her eyes cross . . . because a clean-up like that “snow” fun.

Friday, February 03, 2006


We’re not the only parents whose children make big messes and then are so cute when confronted, it’s hard to keep a straight, stern face.

My friend’s son, at age 2, made steps out of the kitchen drawers and climbed up to the upper cabinets, fetching a huge jar of crunchy peanut butter.

Then he spread it all over the newly-painted upstairs hallway wall – an elaborate finger-painting job. It must have been an absolute mess.

Now that he is a junior grownup, he swears that is just a fable. However, she found the snapshots that prove it.

Then he said they didn't prove HE was the one who did the finger painting, just that he was on the scene. He was just standing in the picture, looking not the least bit remorseful.

Maybe this is why we have to pay our judges and prosecutors so much. Somebody has to stop antisocial behavior and foster personal responsibility by getting to the truth. It’s just so hard, and my nerves couldn’t take it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


We are appalled at our daughter Maddy’s rebellion and disrespect. She has decorated the entire corner of her bedroom wall around her bed with crayon drawings and her first scribbled words and phrases. We have scolded her and plan to make her scrub it clean one of these days.

When she is in the room, we do our best, Oscar-winning, “I’m disappointed in you!” acting job, which parents learn to do in order to teach the hard lessons of life.

But . . . it’s awfully cute, too. The walls are plain white and we’ve been meaning to paint them a pretty color or wallpaper the room for more than six years, anyway. So it’s not that great of a loss. Besides, there are some things on there that are odd and deranged. It’ll make great blackmail material when she’s a teenager.

For example, in two places, she wrote:


I yelled at her, bigtime, when I saw that vulgar phrase. “Maddy! How could you write that about your father?”

She looked at me with a twinkling smile. “It’s his DESTINY!”

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Seems as though everyone has a story about incredibly bad housekeeping practices they have known – their own, or those of loved ones and co-workers. Here’s one for the oddball file:

The young co-worker was a delight -- spacey at times, but they had a blast together.

Then one day, she said, with eyes wide open, "My roommate and I cleaned the kitchen yesterday, and when we got to the top of the refrigerator, near the back was a huge loofah sponge. . . ."

Her co-worker interrupted her. "Jenny, why would you guys put a loofah on the top of your fridge?"

"We wondered the same thing. It was WAAAAY behind some cereal boxes. Turns out, it was a cantaloupe that had rotted. It was freaky. All that was left was the lacey shell. . . ."

A lacey . . . loofah!?!

Can’t run, can’t hide, can’t elope, can’t get around it – you’ve GOT to keep up with your housekeeping, or join those goofs in the Slob Hall of Fame.