Category Archives: Toy Box and Book Shelf

Quotes, pictures and stories related to your inner child.

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Addressed as Monsignor because of his valuable contributions and governance to the church, he sighed, closed his eyes and leaned his body and heavy heart against the knowing white brick. He hoped the darkness was finally behind him. Looking the other way had gone on long enough but he’d done what he had to do.

Today was the dawning of a new day, in Boston and around The Globe. The Spotlight truth was not one of his papers that could just be filed away. In this moment, he knew he’d continue to suffer in his own hell, all the days of his life. Penance. He was as sinful as any of them.

His governance had contributed to the horrors of thousands. Outside these walls he had no value or values. Monsignor’s knees buckled as he slid down the wall in a rage of tears. There were still years before the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. A wet face in shaking hands, his old tortured soul left him for what he had not done.

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Thursday’s photo prompt by Sue Vincent. Written hours after watching Spotlight, the 2016 academy award for Best Picture.

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Diseased quote

I was enjoying the movie Contagion until the “writers” bashed a few of their own with this line:

“Blogging is not writing. Blogging is graffiti with punctuation.”

– How do my fellow bloggers feel about that line?

Also, if you like this photo, you’ll enjoy others at the challenge entry by a blogger after my own heart, Dymoonblog. It includes a great photo (credit) comment by another fellow blogger, Superduque777?

Alexa – Fail: Part IV

Richie has been very clever with his Amazon dot. He uses it as a timer, to check the weather, to set reminders and to bate me. All things he was able to do before she came along.

I tried once more to give him a taste of his own medicine. I decided to set a reminder to go off when we’d both be hanging out in the family room. He’d be done getting wood and making the fire and I’d be finished the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. The reminder needed to be juvenile but classic.

When I saw him coming in from the garage, I quickly asked her my basic favor:

“Alexa. Reminder me that Richie smells in one hour.”

She was repeating my command as he reached the back deck and I took off down the hall like a criminal.

I changed out of my work clothes and took a quick call from a friend before we sat down to eat leftovers for dinner. I easily cleaned up the dishes and then decided to bathe myself in some hot water too.

I went back into the kitchen in my bathrobe as I combed out my hair.

“Were you going to clean out the fridge today?” Richie asked.

“What? No why? Do you think it needs it?”

“Alexa does, she sent a reminder to “Review smells”.

Unbelievable. Clearly I know whose side she is on. I want Alexa out of my house. I don’t favor her at all. We can miscommunicate just fine without her…

Alexa – Revenge

In response to my husband’s sense of humor, I started a new tradition in our house. The event occurs every time I find him and the other woman alone in the same room. Before I enter, I don’t tiptoe, clear my throat or announce myself. I just raise my voice to her accommodating ear:

Alexa: drumroll!

That’s when the real woman enters the room. I walk tall with my shoulders back and my strut oozes confidence. Then I wait for a reaction to my fun and spirited entrance.

The first time Richie stared until the snaring stopped. The second time, Richie just shook his head. The third time he rolled his eyes.

He met his match a long time ago. Take a little of that, Mr Alexa App. Although, I think he is getting tired of my antics. Now he’s talking about something called ‘voice recognition software’. My new tradition may be short-lived.

Alexa – Part II

My husband enjoys a traditional late breakfast with his mother and brother on Sunday mornings. Before he leaves, he watches an oil painting show upstairs while I putter around with writing or light housekeeping downstairs.

I usually like a quiet house but I decided to reconcile with the other woman.

“Alexa, play Adam Lambert.”

I can’t find music by Adam Lambert in your library but it is available on Amazon music unlimited.

Yeah, I love Adam as much as the first guy but I wasn’t dishing out any cash unless I was at his concert, so I tried again:

“Alexa, play Cher.”

I can’t find music by Cher in your library but it is available on Amazon music unlimited.

“Alexa, play Bette Midler.”

It was like a broken echo Dot. Skipping and repeating…dot, dot, dot

Okay, okay, I got it. The bitch wanted money and a playlist before she’d grace me with any of my favorite tunes.

Making the requests was easy enough though, so I didn’t stop there. I tried to generalize:

“Alexa, play good music.”

I don’t have any good music to play.

Really? Great Marketing you Amazon chickiepoo.

“Alexa, play classical.”

Turns out Alexa didn’t have any Concertos or Royal Parade music, so she honed in on the root word “classic” and started playing classic rock.

…from Richie’s playlist. He and Alexa are quite the pair now. I was trying to listen to something different for a change.

Richie came down the stairs with a chuckle as I gave in and said, “Alexa, play Allman Brothers.”

Richie seemed pleased with my working selection as he headed out the door to meet his family. He thinks it’s funny that he has the app and I’m ready to kick Alexa’s ass.

I listened to the classics that are so well known in this house and started to make myself a nice breakfast. As I cracked the eggs for my French toast, Alexa interrupted with a bulletin.

Reminder: Donna is a dumbass.

Alexa was mean-spirited and enjoyed saying it. Richie, on the other hand, was humorously telling me to catch up with the technological times. I knew he was laughing in his Jeep.

I begrudgingly grinned from ear-to-ear and cracked up with my egg shells. I was charmed to know he still thinks of me so creatively when he’s gone. After all these years he certainly knows how to push my buttons. I soaked my French toast, set the table for one and hit Alexa’s off button. I had some writing to do in my quiet house.

Holiday exercise

All the step, fit-bit and workout conversations during the holidays is a drain on my psyche. I am not a regular fitness participant, can’t commit to a daily routine and even dole out punishment to myself for lack of motivation. Just yesterday I was kicking myself, instead of the punching bag, because I still make excuses for not exercising.

Today is a new day though.My outlook is more positive. I haven’t given myself enough credit. While I don’t have a gym membership or workout partner, I exercise plenty, especially during the holidays:

Weights – who carried up all the Christmas stocking holders from the basement? Those things aren’t light x the whole family x 2. That’s a set.

Speaking of which, add to that:

Stairs – cellar stairs are the original homemade elliptical. I AM a stair climber. I went up and down the stairs for eight buckets of tree limbs, ornaments and decorations. If you count the roasting pans, extra paper towels and added chairs I’ve also brought upstairs during the holidays, I may as well start training to climb Everest.

and climb I do:

Plank – the hot topic buzz word of the fitness world. No, I don’t lie on the floor and hold myself up with my elbows. What I did do was walk the planks of our second story, holding onto beam work, to wrap garland in all the right places.

Someone put out all the greenery, lights and presents. It wasn’t an elf.

Laps – I enjoy running and love to swim but don’t typically count laps. I need to participate in team sports where laps are just part of the process, not the actual goal. Given that, I’d say I completed a lot of laps shopping at the mall and walking parking lots in December.

…and I did it in high fashion:

Push-ups – I do not have the proper form for push-ups. Coaches have always told me to put my ass down and modified push-ups seem like cheating. The push-up bras I wore over the holidays allowed for a solution and whether you consider it cheating or not, those underwires gave me the proper form on a daily basis.

Add to that the form and beauty I adorn to all my packaging:

Curling – I took time to curl several times a week. Curling ribbon is one of my favorite holiday exercises. I only wish I knew how many miles I’d logged wrapping pretty gifts.

The last few exercises were when I really dug in:

Leg lifts – After every wrapping session, shopping excursion or meal planning event, I finished off with leg lifts. In a sitting position under a lit tree, I put a pillow on the coffee table and lifted my legs up to enjoy a hot beverage.

Holiday fitness includes the ultimate cool down as well:

Sit-ups – I did. I sat up at multiple tables to enjoy some delicious snacks, meals and desserts. Repetitions are key to the best sit-up results. Sometimes the sessions were so long, I was even sore afterwards.

Now I can add to the holiday fitness conversations. I am ready to give myself credit for all my hard work. To anyone that disagrees, I say,

“Step off.

I am a bit fit and

it works out for me.”

There for the taking

While I believe that Christmas is about the spirit of giving, I am also inglorious enough to admit that I will partake in free receiving at American retailers. Corporations are generous during the holidays, whether they know it or not:

Teavana – okay, they do know. We drink their new product varieties at the entrance. This company doles out free tea samples in the hope that a potential customer leaves with a tin of dried herbs at $32 an ounce. It’s all completely legal, their capitalism and my free consumption, as I walk past their emporium.

Lindt – I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from their mall storefront. Lindt products are a better bargain at the grocery store. Regardless, a walk through the mall includes a trip through this premium candy store because they hand out free truffles.

Mobil Lube – I knew I needed air in my front tire the other night but it was 20 degrees out. Tired after work, I didn’t want to stop at a gas station at night or pull out our compressor when I got home. My solution was to pull into a drive-thru oil change company on the way home.

“I am not due for another oil change yet but can you check the air in my tires?” I inquired with a big smile.

No response.

I climbed out of my car and asked how the guys were doing without waiting for an answer. “My red pressure light is on and I still have a long drive ahead of me.” I waited for their reaction knowing my house was three miles away.

“Tires!” one yelled to his colleague inside.

He waved me into the bay and two minutes later, my warm tired self waved good-bye. I turned onto my street and took a breath of fresh air, knowing it was free.

Sears – this added freebie was unintended but I owned my lying behavior. I spent a legit $8 as I checked out at the register. When the key pad asked for my phone number, I started to enter it without thinking. As I got to the last four digits, I realized I don’t usually provide my number or email, to avoid spam. My second thought enabled me to enter four final made-up digits.

I wish the lottery was so easy. A woman’s name from town popped up on the kiosk as the cashier asked, “Would you like to use your Sears credit card today, so-and-so?”

“No, not today.” I too quickly responded. I figured the worst I could do was add loyalty points to her not-so-private account.

I paid with my debit that clearly didn’t match PTO lady’s account but there was no point-of-sale audit. I didn’t feel guilty or like a thief until the coupons started to print:

Let’s just say I bought my husband’s socks – from another register – before I left the store.

Clinique – While I wasn’t between a rock and a hard place, I have been almost out of my facial moisturizer between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In my mind, I had two choices. I could buy more, with disposable money I didn’t necessarily have, or I could wait until Christmas and hope a new bottle showed up in my stocking. I decided to hedge my bets, take the risk, and wait until Christmas…in a conservative, cheap-ass way.

I showed my face at the make-up counter at Macy’s.

“My girlfriend told me I should try your moisturizer for my dry skin.”

The esthetician’s are always more than willing to share their scientific training. “You’ll love it, yada yada, yada.”

“Do you have any samples I could try first?”, I continued, “See how my skin feels in a few hours and try it for a couple of days?”

“Well, yes. I would recommend it. We don’t have any sample tubes but I can make you some.” I continued our conversation as she started to pump out the $40 moisturizer, “That would be great. My girlfriend said I’d never use anything else.” She handed me two small round containers of moisturizer that will last me until Spring. For free.

During the remaining winter months, I am confident that I can take advantage of a lot more Corporate freebies. Before Easter rolls around, I’ll be sure one of them is confession.

Not

When you go to your first office party as a participant in the ugly sweater contest but it’s not an ugly sweater contest at all.

The first person you see is the admin at the front desk who is dressed in such a cute elf top she could be the lead toymaker in a live production of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer. Her green, red and white top even has jingle bells adorned on the cuffs and collar but you are naïve enough to think it is just attributable to her happy nature. Clearly she hadn’t sent the memo that she wrote to herself.

That’s when you go to the break room and see the one woman that is older than you in a gorgeous black velvet jacket with a silk embroidered Christmas scene that could land itself in a gallery. Obviously, she had not bought it at Walmart nor worn her best jacket because she thought it was an ugly contender.You smile and say hello like it’s any other December day but do not take off your coat.

A walk to your private office will help you sort this potential fashion blunder out. You stayed up all night sewing crocheted snowflakes to the oldest red sweater you owned. It was embellished with the worst felt Christmas decorations your kids had ever made. Even midnight hadn’t stopped you from adorning it with gold and silver glitter you threw into the smeared overdose of glue gun horror.

As you mentally change your mindset from clear winner to office loser, you wonder how to continue the morning? You start by rereading the office party luncheon invitation. Lunch is at noon and there will be two judging’s in the morning: one for the nicest office decor and a second for the ugly sweater winner. As far as you’re concerned, your sweat equity ugly sweater efforts are confirmed, so you proceed to the ladies room.

You just about melt when you see the lawyer leaving the bathroom in not just a gorgeous merino wool snowman sweater but an entire dress. She even has black high-heeled boots to emphasize her Christmas fashion statement. Only a top hat and pipe would have heightened the look. She probably had them back in her office so Kris Kringle himself could ask her to perform some magic during the luncheon.

You do what you have to in that situation. You take a shit to demonstrate how you feel, hold your head up high and own it as you strut back into the office – even when people look away or smile in a way that neither acknowledges nor inquires about your holiday sweater. You swallow hard once you’re back at your desk and realize you still have to stand in front of the entire office when it’s your turn for the Yankee swap.

All of this composure is held together even when you realize that joke gifts will not be the norm either. Booze and lottery tickets are the hit as you wonder what you’re reddened face will look like once someone opens your six pack belt of gingered ale.

The hour and day go by as slowly as an entire winter in New England. Snowman lawyer wins both the office decor and “sweater” contest with a fast tally of 32 to zero. A clean sweep…and all you can do is take the broom to clean up the glitter from your participation in the not-ugly-sweater-contest.

Get the skinny

I don’t typically spend my time searching for Christmas presents this time of year. There are 11 other months to relinquish my money to just the right gifts for the people in my life. Regardless, I went shopping with the masses this past Saturday, December 16. I wanted to spend an afternoon with the man in my life. Despite the crowds, dining out and strolling through stores we don’t usually visit, is one of our holiday traditions.

We select one day each year to pick up a few stocking stuffers and go out for a holiday lunch. I know we are getting older but I sincerely think all the store personnel are younger and younger. Every storefront had managers more junior than our college age daughters. They went from getting their license to being in charge of my holiday commerce. This inexperienced personnel is running corporate America.

The example I had to share was at a major brand retailer:

“Would you like a gift receipt?”

“Yes, please.”

Said girl, with more jewelry in her face than I have in my jewelry box, proceeded to robotically finish her register input and hand me a receipt.

“Thank you but what about my gift receipt?”

She took the time to explain, “Oh, I hit the wrong button but you have your receipt. Same thing.”

I clarified also, “Actually it’s not. The gift receipt doesn’t show how much you spent unless they decide to return it.”

Chickie-poo acknowledged my request and concern by elaborating, “Well, if that’s all you’re worried about, just cross off the price with a black magic marker.”

“You’re serious? Is that my option?” I was in disbelief and just wanted to see how far she would take it.

She was attentive right up until someone walked up behind me. “Yeah, it’ll work.” “Trust me.” “Next.”

If my man wasn’t waiting in the hall and I wasn’t in the Christmas spirit, I would have had quite a bit more to say. December is such a busy time of year, I didn’t search for more answers. Nor did I relinquish the gift I purchased. I just went to find my husband. I wanted to keep our afternoon upbeat and get to the next store. After all, I needed to buy a marker.