Category Archives: Humor

Let the merriment begin

 

Now that Christmas is a mere few days away, and the major tasks of purchasing gifts, sending out our Christmas cards, wrapping the gifts, and sending them on their way to their hopefully delighted recipients is over, I’ve got myself a minute to reflect. To share my thoughts and feelings about this crazy and magical time of year and why I love it so. 

Baking Christmas cookies and related treats is one of the few traditions I have maintained over the years. Mind you, I am no Martha Stewart (unlike an old co-worker who brought snowflake cookies to our holiday potluck that were decorated so exquisitely it felt wrong to consume them not like I didn’t anyway). I focus on simple cookies. Actually, several of them are the “no bake” kind. I think that’s a wise choice as I make a fricking ton of them. I send these Christmas treats in holiday themed tins purchased at the Dollar Store or my local thrift store to friends and family from northern Minnesota to Missouri. I shan’t ever end this tradition as at this point our loved ones expect them each and every year. I kind of set myself up for that.

But it’s all good. Baking cookies while listening to my favorite Christmas tunes puts me in the spirit. For several years, while still living in Wisconsin, I hosted a cookie baking party with 3 of my closest co-workers. The wine flowed, the kitchen was essentially destroyed, and much fun was had by all. Good times. 

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Christmas cookies, circa 2008 ish

Then there’s the music of this season. I’m not the type to turn on the Christmas music as soon as the Thanksgiving leftovers are stored in the fridge, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I am a traditionalist, as I mostly prefer the classics, sung by the original artists. Though there are a few exceptions. Like this version of “Baby it’s Cold Outside” by “She and Him” (I will admit the video is not exactly what I expected).  I’m not going to get into the controversy over this particular song and how it is “rape-y” (I don’t exactly see it that way). I was delighted when I first saw the movie “Elf” and heard Zooey Deschanel’s pure and beautiful singing voice.  I was even more delighted when I discovered that there was a “She and Him” and that they had produced a sweet little cd covering classic Christmas tunes. I of course purchased this cd and enjoy listening to it every single Christmas since then. The only other two Christmas cd’s on repeat in our house this time of year are Michael Buble’s “Christmas” and the Carpenter’s “Christmas Portrait”.  The songs “All I want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey, “Feliz Navidad” by Jose Feliciano, and Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka” always put a smile on my face when I hear them this time of year.

I’m excited that Hubs is working on “Mele Kalikimaka” on his yuke these days. With any luck, he and I will collaborate on this one and may even perform it via video for our daughter and grandson via videochat yet this season. Or next Christmas, at least.

The most arduous tasks for me during the Christmas season are 1) purchasing gifts, 2) wrapping said gifts (not my forte; thankfully Hubs has my back on this one), and 3) shipping all the packages to hither and yon. Yet, there’s such a great joy I feel inside when I find just the right gift for the right person. I don’t know that I’ll ever in my livelong life, however, create such excitement with my Christmas gift-giving as my sweet Hubs did for me one Christmas about 7 years ago. I could not have been more surprised. 

Here’s the story: we are at my sister and brother in law’s house way up in northern Minnesota, where we have spent many Christmases. We are in the middle of opening all of our gifts, a tad liquored up and sitting in the cozy family room by the beautiful Christmas tree. I open the shirt sized box, assuming it’s a new sweater or some other practical piece of clothing (which I was totally fine with). However, it’s a fancy black dress. I look at Hubs a bit quizzically, and assume in my head that this is a dress I’ll be wearing for a nice dinner out with him on New Year’s Eve. Wow, I’m thinking. So thoughtful and how fun is it that he’s planning to take me out on New Year’s (that doesn’t happen every year, you see). Then I see there’s a sheet of paper underneath. I open it up and it’s an ITINERARY. An itinerary, no less, for a New Year’s weekend in Chicago! An itinerary mapping out our Amtrak train ride, dinner reservations at a very chi-chi seafood place in downtown Chicago, a fancy hotel, and tickets to see “The Adams Family Musical”. I was, for once in my life, utterly speechless. I think I actually cried with joy. It ended up being the best New Year’s Eve (weekend) of our entire married life despite the massive hangover I foolishly gifted myself. 

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Our New Year’s Eve in Chicago circa 2011 ish

 

This year, I was given the opportunity to shop for a little girl. I haven’t had the opportunity to partake in this activity since my spawn were youngins. You see, instead of doing the “Secret Santa” thing at work (you know the one-where you rack your brain to figure out what to buy for that one person you don’t know as well as all the others), someone came up with the brilliant idea of doing “Secret Santa” for the offspring of our co-workers. I grabbed a “wish list” for the daughter of one of my co-workers, and proceeded to have a ball at Target finding things for this kiddo. I suspect she will be pleased that Santa stuffed her new shiny star-shaped purse with Snickers and a $10 bill. I know I would be!

I wish each and every one of you a blessed, joyful, fun-filled holiday season. May your stockings be full with all your favorite goodies, may your travels be safe, and may your hearts be full. 

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Photo by Jameel Hassan on Pexels.com

What’s your go to “Feel Good” movie?

I have always been a huge fan of watching movies. Whether it be in an actual theater with a bucket of artery clogging popcorn and a fresh pack of Twizzlers or lolling about on my comfy couch eating the infinitely healthier microwave popcorn and my favorite chocolate truffles, I find movie watching to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. 

I like a variety of genres: comedies, dramas, thrillers, bio-pics, westerns, and musicals. And I’m pretty open minded about what I will watch. Especially if it is included with my Amazon Prime or on Netflix, where I have the lovely option of simply turning a movie off if it totally sucks. This doesn’t happen very often, however. 

Because I’m such a movie nut, I can’t in good conscience just pick one movie and tell you all why I think it’s great and why you should absolutely positively watch it as soon as you possibly can. 

Depending on how this goes, I might make this a regular feature. I like that idea: a regular feature. I think I’ll put a pin in that one. 

I’ve just got so much to say about how I feel about so many movies

Think I’ll start with the type of movie I love the very most, “my favorite favorite”, as Barney, that goofy purple dinosaur used to say through the t.v. screen to my kiddos when they were small. 

This would be the “Feel Good” movie. Those movies that make me laugh and/or make me tear up (I’m not a big crier when it comes to movies, but now that I think of it, perhaps I ought to pen a post about those rare films that did actually make me cry-and not because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t help myself). Those movies that amaze and inspire me. Those movies that I actually can enjoy again and again and again. 

Movies like:

“Love, Actually”. If I absolutely had to pick one film that is my favorite this would be the one. It’s a movie full of good cheer and humor.  It tells several different love stories, with the characters in each story biologically related to and/or entwined in each other’s lives. Each of the main characters are lovable, albeit imperfect.  The soundtrack is great too.  It also takes place during the Christmas season, which to me adds much to the charm of this movie. And it’s set in England so there’s plenty of those lovely British accents to enjoy. And it has a very happy ending, one that assures you that everyone is going to be alright after the credits are over. 

“Mama Mia”. Oh, the music in this one. It amazes me that the songs of “Abba” could be used to tell the story of a soon-to-be-wed young woman, living in a resort in Greece with her mom, who is searching for her biological father. Her mom, Donna, had summer flings with three different young men 20 years prior, and became pregnant. Her daughter, Sophie, invites all three of these now older men to her wedding. Each of these men, fortunately, embrace the possibility that they could be her father. It is simply a joyful, fun, uplifting movie that I can’t resist. 

“As Good as it Gets” also ranks as one of my all time favorite “feel good” movies. It is an unlikely love story between a curmudgeon afflicted with a severe case of OCD, played by the one and only Jack Nicholson, and a young waitress, who is a single mom of a very ill son, played by Helen Hunt. The (IMHO) greatly underrated actor Greg Kinnear has a starring role as Simon,  as Melvin’s (Jack Nicholson) gay neighbor who becomes a victim of an assault and needs someone to care for his little dog (Verdell) while he recovers. Jack Nicholson’s character slowly bonds with the dog and over time his heart opens to the possibility of real love with Carol, Helen Hunt’s character. This movie is as much about the characters (maybe even a bit more) than the actual story. The scenes with Carol and Simon are especially heart-warming, as they form a special bond between them.  The scenes with Melvin and Verdell are quite precious as well. 

My hope is that you all are able to carve out some time for yourself during this busy, stressful, mentally taxing time of the year (aka the Christmas/Holiday season) to kick back and re-watch your favorite “feel good” movies. Or if you haven’t caught any of the three mentioned above, you’ll take my recommendations and rent, buy, or find one of them via your favorite streaming service. 

What delights you?

This post is largely inspired by a great blog post penned by Caitlin Kelly  who has a wonderful way with words. I came up with my own title because I didn’t want to be too much of a copy-cat.

Now that the mid-term elections are over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief (if only because for the time being we have a respite from political ads on t.v. and all of that godforsaken political junk mail), I think it’s time to reflect inwards a bit.

Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, with Christmas shortly behind. I’m just not quite ready to start all the planning and shopping yet. Let’s take a minute or two to relax and consider those things in life which we may take for granted that give us pleasure. Those things that soothe us. Those things that give us a sense of contentment. Those things that simply delight us.

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Here’s but a few of mine:

The feel of my favorite fuzzy socks on my bare feet.

Peering out the window of our warm, cozy townhome at the magical, silent, slow-falling snow.

A solid cup of coffee with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top.

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The “P” is for Polly!

A heart to heart conversation via phone or in person with a good friend.

The mouth-watering aroma of a home-cooked meal in my crockpot at the end of a long work day. And the sense of self-satisfaction I feel for having the good sense to put it together in the morning before work.

Waking up naturally, without hearing that silly alarm coming from my cell phone. Ahhh…weekends!

Sipping a complex glass of merlot. Savoring the hints of dark cherry, chocolate, and spice.

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A good, long,  luxurious shower. The way those hot, wet, pellets of water feel on my tense shoulders.

Interacting with dogs in public. Petting and scratching them, telling them they are a “good girl” or “good boy”. Listening to their human parent or parents telling me about their breed, their adoption stories, their personality quirks.

At work: sharing a laugh or two with a senior client over the phone.

When just the right song comes on my Sirius XM, while I’m tooling around in my CRV. Like the Pina Colada song  song (don’t judge me, I realize the couple in the song has a completely f’d up relationship as both are willing to cheat on each other and escape to an exotic island with someone they just met at a bar called O’Malley’s). It’s just such a chilled out, easy-breezy, sing-a-long song though, right? Let’s not overthink this.

How a November day in Colorado reminds me of one of those sweet February days in Wisconsin when the sky is bright blue, dotted with a few fluffy clouds, the snow is melting on the pavement, the air is chilly but mild and there is no wind to speak of.

Glorious pictures of the sunrise in the foothills, taken by Hubs, when the moment strikes, upon his arrival at work.

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Please share in the comments what delights you, my delightful blogging community!

 

Seedlings and Randomness

Recently, I accidentally deleted all of the content in my “Seedlings” draft within my blog. I was innocently reviewing it for the millionth time, in an attempt to mine for some writing gold, and while going crazy with cutting and pasting content into other drafts I started, suddenly it was all gone. Blank as hell.

So now I’m sorta starting at square one. I do have a few little nuggets of the content from my “Seedlings” draft tucked into a few different other drafts, but the vast majority of it is gone. As if it never existed.

This means that I have to take a serious gander at the 15 other blog posts I’ve started and stopped. This is something I am starting to do at this moment in time. We’ll see where it goes.

But for now, let me get a few random things off my chest. A few (which is all I have left) “seedlings”, if you will. Thoughts and feelings that have been rattling about in my brain and in my heart.  Some things I want to expand upon on this blog when I’m feeling gutsy. Or overwhelmed. Or thoughtful and pensive.

  • Observation about myself: Negative people suck me dry. I need to find ways to fill up my soul and creative spirit directly after being immersed in their gloomy muck for more than 2 hours (give or take).
  • I ought to write a post about expressions. Ones I frequently use, ones I hate, and ones I ought to use more. Considering the times and all.
  • Why I almost titled my blog “Dumb Ass 2 Wise Swan”.
  • Sometimes I wonder if other bloggers tell people that they have a blog. I generally don’t. But why?
  • I hope that we can all agree that no one, regardless of political party, gender identity, sexual orientation, weight, economic status, or emoji preferences when texting friends or family should be judged for expressing their opinions or interacting with others in a manner authentic to themselves. With the exception of those who have committed a crime or were intentionally cruel to another human being. Then all bets are off, IMHO.
  • I have a very strong urge to pen a political post. I’ve been suppressing it for some time now. I’m feeling overwhelmed (I’m guessing I am in good company, right?) by the barrage of bad news lately. Overwhelmed by the seemingly never-ending joke of a presidency we are subjected to on the daily. However, I feel like if I did go hog-wild with my political opinions, 1) I’d for the most part be preaching to the choir, 2) it would not have a positive impact on the world at large, and 3) my Facebook blogger’s group might kick me out. So, at least for the time being, I will refrain from publishing purely political posts. The one thing I will say, which is of the utmost importance is this: VOTE! Our futures, as well as our children’s and their children’s futures, depend on this one simple thing.
  • In keeping with the random, unexpected, stream-of-consciousness theme I’ve got going here, I am publishing this post today. The day I started it and the day I finished it, instead of sticking with my regular Wednesday morning time slot.  I think I’ve only done that once or twice since I started blogging. So here’s to shaking things up a little!
I would love, love, love, to hear your random commentary today (or any day for that matter). What is it that you want to write about, but haven’t yet?

I’m not really that much of a couch potato

I recently wrote this piece  on my blog. I stand by my conviction that quantity vs. quality should apply to those of us who fancy ourselves writers. I also continue to stand by my conviction that quality ought to trump quantity when it comes to consuming television while lounging on a couch like a damned potato. Though, it should be noted that potatoes don’t actually lounge. It seems more fitting to refer to this state of being as sloth potato, right?!

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Bet you didn’t know you needed a pic of sloths in a hammock today!

While I have indeed been “slothing” it up this fall, enjoying some quality t.v. on my couch with and without the Hubs, I was entirely incorrect about the amount of time I wanted, or thought I actually had, for watching said quality t.v. My bad.

I actually said, in public (aka this blog) no less, that I had 14 hours per week to spend watching quality television. Geez Louise, I am such a silly goose sometimes.

It turns out that I have other, more valuable and indeed necessary, activities to accomplish in the evenings, which precludes me from having 14 hours to simply watch t.v. on my couch like a cute little sloth. Like chatting up my spawn. Like making food. Like checking my Twitter feed. Like reading blog posts and creating my own.

But I most certainly have found time to enjoy a handful of shows to enjoy in the evenings. The shows that, to me, are of the highest quality. The shows that enlighten and educate me, like “This is Life with Lisa Ling”, who recently featured the devastation that can be caused when people become addicted to technology.  How this addiction can change one’s personality and cause them to isolate and lose interest in the pursuits that once fueled them. I give big props to Lisa Ling for bringing to light issues that many of us had not been aware of.

Another t.v. show of high quality which I’ve been consistently watching with Hubs is “9-1-1”.  Actor Peter Krause, from one of my favorite-of-all-time-but-now-unfortunately-canceled shows, “Parenthood”, is one of the main characters. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a fictional show about the Los Angeles Fire Department and their acts of heroism in the field, and the trials and tribulations of their personal lives. Some of the characters are police officers and some are 911 operators, and they are all connected to each other, whether it be through blood, friendship, or romance. It is exciting to watch and the acting is very good. I highly recommend it.

Then there’s “The Good Place”. Hubs and I have watched this since the very first episode and it never disappoints. In case you haven’t seen it yet, it is a one of a kind gem of a show. If I had to summarize it, I’d say it is a thought-provoking comedy featuring characters that all could be considered hot messes, who each die, go to “The Good Place”, learn that the “good place” is actually the opposite, try as a group in vain to get to the actual “good place”, then get to come back to earth, fully alive, where they have opportunities to make different life choices to redeem themselves so that when they die “for real” they will go to the for real “good place”. And this is all at the mercy of Michael, an “angel” played by Ted Danson. This show is a trip. It’s most definitely a show that you need to start from the very first episode, as Hubs and I did. Or it will make zero sense. Nevertheless, if you haven’t seen it, you should. It is epic.

Other high quality shows that I am making time for this fall include “This is Us”, another one that, if you haven’t watched it yet, must be watched starting from the first episode to make any sense. The relatability factor of the characters is incredible. It drew me in much like “Parenthood” did.

“Shameless” is the other high quality and for many, highly inappropriate show I make time for. Hubs and I started watching it, ironically, while sitting in a hotel room on a New Years getaway to Chicago (where the show is filmed), a few years ago. This was the last time I recall in my adult life I experienced the special hell that is being hungover. Binge-watching “Shameless” got me through that New Year’s Day. The acting on this show is incredible. The story lines are unpredictable. The show is pure dark comedy with heart.

I have continued to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” as well. I’ve watched this show since it started and I continue to watch it primarily because of the character Meredith. She’s such a good egg. She’s the character that we all want to be friends with. Unlike “9-1-1”, Grey’s Anatomy, to me, is much more about the characters as opposed to the medical emergencies they find themselves in the middle of.

I’ve essentially given up on watching “Dancing with the Stars”. Too much of a time commitment for me, as the first episode of the week is 2 hours long and the second episode of the week feels like it’s 2 hours long but I think it’s really just an hour. 

What with watching the news every night (God help us), in addition to Real Time with Bill Maher (thanks to 3 free months of HBO), and our weekly dose of Samantha Bee, these few shows above are the only ones I have time for.

What t.v. shows are you making time for these days, fellow couch sloths?

Quantity over Quality or vice versa?

I recently read a blog post, written by one of my most favorite bloggers, that turned my approach to writing on it’s head. For the longest time, I’ve been tied to the notion that I needed to focus on quality over quantity with my blogging. This has led to many hours of starting and stopping blog posts, editing and re-editing, and not a small amount of anxiety. Because in my mind, it will be the “high quality” (according to me, and why am I only considering my opinion anyway? Good question) blog posts that will launch my writing into infamy.

Thankfully, CJ set me straight. She explained so clearly in her post how writing more, producing actual crap, and then writing even more leads to improvement as a writer. Quantity begets quality, if you will.

The lesson of the students in the ceramics class being split into two, with one group being tasked to produce one “perfect” pot and the other group tasked to produce as many pots as they possibly could within a set time frame was spot on. When I began reading this post, I made the assumption (you know, making an “ass” out of “you and me”) that the group that was tasked with making the “perfect” pots were going to “win” in the end. Because they were going to be taking their time. Visualizing what the end result was going to look like. Focusing their creativity on one simple “perfect” thing.

I was so wrong.

Of course, the students that made multiple pots were the winners in this scenario. They learned from their mistakes as they created pot after pot.  They no doubt tried different techniques and let their creativity flow, being untethered to the idea of creating just one perfect pot. And I’m sure they had way more fun than the other group.

That’s what I’m starting to do with my blogging. I think it could also be referred to as “Spitballing”, a term of which I am especially fond. As in, writing like a madwoman on random topics or just random thoughts about random things and putting them out there on my blog (or not). Seeing what sticks. Being okay with those posts that end up not sticking.

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Onto the next topic, which is slightly related. But maybe not. 

There are cases, of course, where quality should trump quantity. For instance, my t.v. watching habits. Because while I enjoy getting all comfy at night and gorging on the boob tube, my time is precious. I don’t necessarily need to thoroughly analyze each and every television show I enjoy and weigh their merits, but I think it behooves me to be a little thoughtful about it.

I figure I’ve got roughly 14 hours per week (is that high or low? I have no way to judge this) of time to watch television. There are several shows I enjoy watching. Some with Hubs. Some all by my lonesome. This 14 hours per week is not counting the approximate 1.5 hours daily of news/political programming Hubs and I always watch together (local news, MSNBC, and of course Full Frontal with Samantha Bee).

Perhaps I am watching too much t.v.

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My couch potato inspiration, Liz Lemon

Anyhoo, here’s my list of quality television, according to me-don’t judge, that I will resume watching this fall:

  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • 9-1-1
  • The Orville
  • The Good Place
  • Shameless
  • This is Life with Lisa Ling
  • Dancing with the Stars
  • This is Us
  • SNL

So there is some room there for new programming. Approximately 4 hours per week  (perhaps more if I skip to the end on that second, mostly unnecessary second episode of DWTS, to learn who’s dancing abilities sucked enough that they are booted from the show) left. This is where my radar for quality television needs to be employed. I’ve been semi paying attention to the new crop of shows coming out this season, and so far the only one I’m certain to check out is “Murphy Brown”. I watched that back in the day and always found it smart, funny, and entertaining. The re-boot of this show is featuring the same four actors playing the same four characters but in current times, aka “The Trump Era”, which particularly piques my interest.

The only other show I can fathom adding to my list, based on my personal standards of quality  is “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. I watched the first episode when it initially came out and really enjoyed it. I suppose the only reason why I haven’t picked it up again is because it was too “chick flick-y” for Hubs. So clearly this is one to watch all by myself, on those odd days when I’m home alone or the nights when Hubs goes to bed extra early.

Time will tell if there will be other shows I check out.

Tell me, fellow bloggers, what is your take on “quantity vs. quality” or vice versa, in relation to writing and/or t.v. watching? This curious mind wants to know 🙂

Quick post about my mom

Back when I was a freshman in college, when I was busy learning how to share a dorm room with strangers, how to properly do my own laundry, and who my real friends were, my parents decided to take a trip to Europe. England was their first destination, on account of having people to actually visit there (our AFS student, Lisa, and her family).

My mom (aka the local celebrity) has always had a spontaneous nature. She couldn’t help but imagine herself going to England and having tea with the Prime Minister. So she decided to write a letter to Margaret Thatcher to request a meeting.

I like that she did this. It falls into the category of “what’s the worst that could happen?” Ms. Thatcher says no, I’ve got dignitaries to meet and butlers to order around. At least mom could say she tried.

Within a month or so (I’m totally guessing here), she received a letter in the mail. Straight from 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister was unfortunately unavailable to meet with Bonnie from northern Minnesota. Mom framed it and it continues to be hanging on the wall in the home I grew up in.

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At the time my mom did this, I thought it ridiculous. And really, it was.

However, the take-away here is important: you don’t know what is possible unless you try. And if things don’t pan out the way you wish them to, you might just have a good story to tell about it later.

Thanks for that, Mom.