Tag Archives: humor

DIY time

We don’t have a real Christmas tree because we have a winter wood stove. The Spruce and Balsams dry out too quickly, even with constant watering. It’s a fire hazard. Instead, we have the store-bought unscented kind with bendable branches. Our fake tree is also a bit dated given today’s options. It isn’t prelit, so we add four strings of lights. The artificial tree also comes apart, in three sections, and the branches are coded like the alphabet and are hung one at a time. This Oh! Christmas tree puzzle fits into four boxes. The ornaments, stockings, house decor and holiday hand towels are another four Rubbermaid bins. It’s a festivus of moving and storage at Christmas time.

This year our tree went up late in the season because we waited for the girls to come home from college. Given all the invested setup time, we kept it up until after the New Year. I packed it all away after our college girls went on their way. Now we had eight buckets that needed to go down two flights of stairs back into cellar storage.

I enjoy the process of unpacking and packing each year. All the Christmas cards are saved from season to season and there are homemade ornaments from Girl Scout camps, high school and family gatherings. Going through the photos and crafts brings me down memory lane.

Hauling all those bins back where they belong is good exercise but after getting it all repacked, I was ready to ask for some help with my DIY Christmas undecorating routine. I carried one bin down the first flight and then asked my husband if he could bring the rest down after he finished watching his oil painting show? I probably could have finished moving them all before the episode was over but getting Richie involved, only after all the packing, was more than fair.

Instead, I used my time another way. I went back to the staircase to admire the memory lane our girls had created. The wall alongside now includes just the right photos of the four of us, silly moments and photos of both sets of grandparents. The beautiful new gallery includes vintage photos and eclectic frames. I couldn’t have displayed the family timeline better myself.

I already missed the family being together, so I decided to enjoy my down time with our pets. I put the dog’s pillow next to my rocker and put a cat in my lap. I literally rocked back and forth, wondered what the girls were doing and then picked up where I left off in the book I was reading.

Chapter 9 was soon interrupted by a thunderously loud crash.

I ran back to the staircase and thank God, Richie was okay.

My Christmas helper was standing against the wall with the end of one bin in his right hand and his coffee cup and book in the other. Evidently he didn’t recall that the bins were heavy and required two hands for his descent. He was still holding everything but had fallen against our new memory wall. Our two girls and ancestors were an avalanche of glass and broken frames at my feet.

My DIY packing project had packed a wallop.

I’d have to put the photo gallery back up but first we had to pack up all the jagged glass.

It was Christmas all over again as we wrapped and packed the glass into paper bags…and made plans to go shopping again, this time for glass. I swept the floor and pulled out the vacuum as Richie left to meet his Mom and brother for their weekly breakfast.

Now I was really by myself. I finished my original DIY project by bringing the rest of the bins into the cellar. After all, it’s not a DIY if you don’t do it Y. It had already taken me longer than if I had just finished it myself anyway.

The woodstove was burning, there were still Christmas pictures to look at and I had another DIY project ahead of me.

“Oh! Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree…of all the trees most lovely. Each year you bring me delight.”

You’re real to me.

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Nothing has more heat, immediacy and wrath than a menopausal woman woken from her sweaty slumber at 2 a.m.:

  • The sensation is hotter than a ghost pepper having a heart attack.
  • The urgency to cool The Situation is greater than a Jersey Shore intervention.
  • The fifth grader’s backpack of stickers your neighbor carries on a rainy afternoon has less gooeyness than whatever is happening all over your skin.

When these factors collide in the middle of a wintry night, you’re damn right the wakening verbal response to the down comforter is “Get the fuck off of me!”

Alexa my ass

With only two of us left in the house, the dynamics are split 50-50 between doing whatever we want after dinner and not listening to each other when we are in the same room. The way I feel about this flip-flops between marital bliss and frustrating madness. Tonight was worse than the later because there was another woman.

I’ve been in denial about it since Christmas but tonight she inserted herself into every conversation:

Hubby and I were talking about our daughter that flew out of town this weekend.

“If she’s in Houston, what time zone is that?” my husband thought out loud.

“Texas is Central; she’s only one hour behind us”, I responded confidently based on my business travel days.

“Alexa. What time zone is Texas?”

The lady in the corner confirmed my response in her matter-of-fact tone.

That aside, we sat down to the nice chicken I had baked. On the counter was my clever attempt at, not apple pie, but little apple empanadas. Both dinner and dessert were kind of a big deal because my husband does most of the cooking.

“Why didn’t you look up an apple pie recipe?”

“Seriously, do you know how many fall apple pies I’ve made at this house down the street from an apple orchard?” A little hurt, I added, “The contents are the same. It just looks different. I wanted to try to make some individual ones.”

“Well, Alexa could have helped you with a recipe.”

The problem with that chick was she was just too easy.

I still had some of the little tarts left to bake now that we’d eaten dinner. I put them on a tray and popped them into the oven. My husband watched, I thought in anticipation of a vanilla ice cream pairing.

Rather, “Alexa. Timer. Ten minutes.”

That bitch in my house let my man know she’d do exactly what he asked.

I seethed until my reliable oven timer went off. Alexa could step off. I’ve managed this household just fine for over 25 years. We do not need her technological, electricity sucking, unnecessary two cents every time we do something. “Now that the pies are done, I am going to just go read a book and listen to some music.”

“Alexa. Play KISS.”

They could both kiss my ass. The marital interplay was maddening. I thought it best that we split up. With a grin on my face, I went into our unplugged living room to read – and it wasn’t a recipe book from Amazon.

End of the beginning

Sunday morning of a long weekend and I had no plans or desires to be anywhere but home. I’d been to mass the night before, nobody else was up and we had exercise equipment in the basement. I had no excuses left and time to myself, so it was finally time to work out.

I carried my pug down the basement steps and set him on a pillow. He was both my emotional support and witness for my Rocky routine. I set my IPhone on the ping pong table and started my playlist:

Rocky theme – It was natural to grab the jumprope first and start skipping to the beat. I quickly counted the revolutions, knowing I could easily put in 100, but maintaining until the end of the song was the goal. The song reinforced that I was “trying hard now” and belted that my body would be “getting strong now”. The lyrics”won’t be long now” were also inspiring, even though I had a long road ahead of me.

I hung the rope on a nail and put on my Everlast boxing gloves.

Eye of the tiger – I went head-to-head with my punching bag knowing I was my biggest rival. This was physical and psychological exercise. After a minute or so, I made sure I had quickfire feet going too. We were face-to-face, the bag was hanging tough and I was staying hungry. My reward for this workout was going to be a hearty homemade Sunday breakfast.

When the thrill of the fight and the song ended, I noticed white spots at the top of the bag. Figuring it was the start of molding from non-use, I panted my way upstairs to get Lysol spray for the bag and to prevent an impending heart attack, a bottle of water for me.

I sipped water as I looked out the cellar window. The outside temperature has been moving around zero degrees for a week now and our wood stove has been a lifesaver. It was appropriate that I moved my workout to the ski machine:

Hearts on fire – it’s been a few months since I used the cross country setup but the rhythm came back quickly. Exercise that involves arms and legs all at once are the most fun for me. “Time would not stand still” for me now. I was focused until I realized my heart really was on fire.

Starting was the hard part but now I was enjoying myself. Maintaining is going to be the challenge to get my body back in shape, in fact there’s:

No easy way out – I listened to this track as I worked with my free weights.

I saved my least favorite, abs, for last. I climbed on the ab machine and after 25 pulls, wondered who the hell named it a “glider”? I did as many as I could and then cooled down to Coach’s ‘motivization’ speech.

It was the perfect cool down. Next time I work out and it starts to burn, I am going to hear Mickey say, “I didn’t hear no bell!”

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.

I am powerful beyond measure.

I need to believe it – on Sundays and every other day.

No more excuses – as my pug is my witness.

I have come out of the basement.

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.”

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.

#cheeky

Cats show no respect when a human assumes a position with a lap, tries to fall asleep or showcases an atmosphere of softness, height or deep thinking. In response to this weeks photo challenge, my husband works on the New York Times daily crossword puzzle as “The Dude” inserts himself in a very endearing and amusing way.

Weekly Prompt