Category Archives: Laughter

Let’s talk characters

When you think about it, all of our lives are filled with characters. Humans with personalities, opinions, and quirks. These characters can energize us, amuse us, and teach us things we otherwise would never have learned. 

To me, the best kind of entertainment, whether it be on the stage, the big screen in a dark movie theater, on the good old boob tube, or within the pages of a novel, incorporates interesting characters. Characters that intrigue us, make us laugh,  and make us wish they were real people in our own very real lives. 

As I ponder publishing the little bit of fiction I began a few months ago, I find it unavoidable to not consider characters I love or have loved, both in real life and in the media.

Those characters that speak to my heart and compel me to write about them. I just can’t imagine coming up with completely original fictional characters without infusing them with at least some pieces of the non-fictional characters I have known.

So let me tell you about a few characters I’ve known. Those who are long gone from this earth who impacted my life in ways they likely never knew.

For instance, the man who taught me how to swim. He was full of life and always had a good joke (some of them quite inappropriate) to tell us. He loved my mom’s cooking and I believe that is one of the main things that endeared him to her. I remember him leading a pack of kids (his grandkids, my nephews) in the “Macarena” dance at my parent’s cabin in the early 90’s. He was a husband, father, teacher, swim coach, and an artist. I have a beautiful piece of his artwork hanging in my guest bedroom in fact. In his spare time, which it doesn’t seem he could possibly had too much of, he did some clowning around with the Shriners. He lived for those times when he could don his wacky rainbow wig and cherry colored nose and delight the children (young and old) in small town parades in the summertime. His funeral was epic, as was the party for his closest family and friends that was held afterwards. He was my godfather.

Then there’s the woman who always had yellow cake, from a box, with chocolate frosting on top sitting in her pantry, waiting for us to devour it when we came to visit. She was terribly hard of hearing and once called Hubs “Cobb” because she thought he was my old boyfriend “Todd”. She loved playing cards and always had the latest National Enquirers and TV guide magazines sitting in racks next to her plastic covered “davenport”. She was a massive fan of wigs, as she found it fun to be able to change her look whenever she damn well pleased. She kept these wigs perched on styrofoam heads on the top shelves of her walk in closet. As a kid, that always scared the shit out of me. She enjoyed herself a cocktail or two and as a result, my cousins christened with the nickname “Pearl Pearl the Party Girl”. She was my grandma.

And finally, there was woman who always had a wonderful rapport with the children she loved, but for reasons only known to her always believed she would not make a good mother, so she remained childless. She had a silly sense of humor as well as a way with the wisecracks. She always said she would have made an excellent boy scout, which everyone who knew her agreed with. She was always prepared, often anticipating the needs of others. She made an awesome Pillsbury dough-boy costume she wore for Halloween. She was a take-charge-but-in-a-kind and loving way sort of person. She paid attention to people and had the very biggest heart. Some of her favorite songs were “Werewolves in London” by Warren Zevon and “Fancy” by Reba McIntire. Every time I hear either of those songs the corners of my mouth do an automatic upturn. She was my (non-biological) sister, my guardian angel, and my best friend.

Tell me, big-hearted readers, who are the characters in your life that have shaped you and informed you as a writer?

 

 

 

Pondering my playlists

I’ve mentioned in at least one previous post that, inspired by a different sort of self-help book entitled “Soul Song Playlist”, I started to create my own soul-soothing, uplifting, personal playlist. What I’ve discovered along the way is that this playlist is a work in progress. For me, it isn’t something I could just put together in one fell swoop.

I’ve added songs that I later removed, because they didn’t speak to me on a soul level like I presumed they would (“Let it Go” from the animated movie Frozen is a prime example) when I initially chose them. I’ve heard songs while driving that jumped out at me as the perfect additions to this very personal playlist of mine. I think I will continue adding and subtracting songs over the course of a good long time.

That said, I found myself last week itching to hear full cd’s of my favorite artists. The ones I cherish the most, to give myself a needed break from the overthinking I’d been doing with creating my soul song playlist. I listened to my very favorite cd of all time, Raising Sand, with Robert Plant and Allison Kraus. I listened to Alanis Morissette’s “The Collection” cd. So many rocking tunes on that one with very thoughtful, purposeful lyrics. And I listened to Sheryl Crowe’s “C’mon, C’mon” cd, which is one of those that I thoroughly enjoy singing along with. Raising Sand is not one I sing along with, for the record, because the sheer beauty of the songs on this cd compel me to simply listen. Few cd’s are like that for me.

That brings me to the new playlist I’m going to start creating this week, in preparation for our big summer road trip to visit family in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Hubs and I will be strapped in for two full days so I figure a rocking playlist is in order. We can listen to it as we wish, interspersing it with catching up on national and world news on NPR and various podcasts.

The genre of our road trip playlist is primarily classic rock. With a few summery  pop hits added in to enhance our freewheeling, relaxed summer vacation attitudes.

Here’s a few songs that are going to be “musts” on this epic summer road trip playlist.

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A depiction of Hubs and I on our epic summer road trip

  • “2 out of 3 Ain’t Bad”, by Meatloaf (I feel I should know his real name, being kind of a music trivia buff. But more importantly, how did he acquire the name “Meatloaf”?)
  • “Walkin’ on the Sun”, by Smash Mouth (interestingly, at least to me anyway, was that this is the band Hubs named recently when I asked him what band he most wants to see live before he croaks. Didn’t see that one coming.)
  • “American Pie”, by Don McClean. A classic sing along song we always turn up when it comes on the radio. Doesn’t every American, at least over the age of 40, do the same thing?
  • “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, by Twisted Sister. A classic song of rebellion that begs to be sung out loud with righteous indignation, which is wholly appropriate in our current political climate.
  • “Layla”, by Derek and the Dominoes (for me, never the one put out by Eric Clapton years later…it’s just not the same, man).
  • “Margaritaville”, by Jimmy Buffett. A carefree summer driving sing-along classic.
  • “We Built This City”, by Starship. I know that many, perhaps most, people hate this song with a passion. But for Hubs and I, it’s a rollicking tune that reminds us of our younger days.
  • “You’re my Best Friend”, by Queen. Hubs is my best friend and I am his. I used to think it was sappy and unoriginal to proclaim this. But over time I have come to realize that it’s the simple truth. Me and my best friend are bound to have ourselves a great time on this road trip of ours. And now we will have a soundtrack that will set the tone.

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My next random blog post

It’s Tuesday morning and I consciously made the decision to get stuff done around the house instead of spending an hour or more typing up the next blog post. Now I’ve got less than 10 minutes.

I also have not been particularly jazzed about writing about any specific topic this week. There are two ways for me to think about this: procrastination might be my friend. In other words, perhaps penning a post with a finite time limit will propel me to write something of substance, something I can be proud of. Giving myself a time limit will prevent me from over-thinking, which is a talent I sadly excel at. The other take I could have is that this could be an opportunity for me to “chill”. Remind myself that I am not in a race. Remind myself that I will not face any truly negative consequences if I choose to not publish this post on Wednesday, which is my typical publishing day. I could wait till Friday, or heck, even Sunday morning.

So here goes nothing. Or something. More likely something in between.

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My theme of the week

 

The other day at my volunteer gig at a local food bank, Santa donated several crates of Nutella. That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, right? That’s why I love my job helping senior citizens and volunteering at the food bank. I’m interacting with loads of different people and no two days are the same! But for real, he did look like Santa and he shared that he performs as Santa professionally. Funny thing is, I actually know two other male retirees, both from our old church in Wisconsin, who are also happily enjoying gigs as Santa post-retirement. I love those little happy coincidences that life serves up sometimes, don’t you?

I had to acknowledge my age recently when dining out with Hubs in Denver, prior to the James Taylor concert (which was absolutely fantastic, btw). Unbeknownst to me, the  female servers at this restaurant/bar were essentially costumed as strippers. I’m talking bare midriffs, teeny-tiny short shorts, and heavy make up on their precious baby faces. The experience reminded me of those awful reality shows where the little girls are competing in beauty pageants. It was just really troubling to me as a mom.  I struggled to keep myself from telling these young ladies to put on a sweater, for God’s sake!

Lately, Hubs and I have been binge-watching “The Walking Dead”. I find it terrifically fascinating. We actually started watching it a few years ago, but at that time I only made it to the second episode due to the gore and violence. I surprised myself by agreeing to try watching it again, just a couple of months ago, with Hubs. For some reason, the gore and violence, while certainly disturbing, didn’t impact me as strongly as it had a few years prior. When I started getting a little heebie-jeebie-ish, I decided to remind myself that the scenes weren’t actually real (duh, right?) and instead to focus on the amazing make-up, special effects, and costuming that was being showcased. I got to thinking, how much fun must it be for make-up artists to work on this set? So with that little change in perspective, I found myself drawn into the predicament these folks found themselves in. Intrigued by the characters and how they interacted with each other. I think if I was a high school or college instructor of say, psychology, leadership (that’s a thing right?), or philosophy, I would frequently use clips from this show for my lessons. There’s so much material there.

In closing, and more importantly in the spirit of randomness, I present to you the best thing I saw on NPR this week. While it is indeed sad that Koko is no longer among us earthlings, this video made me smile. And it reminded me of what an awesome individual Robin Williams was.

 

Happy fun-day Sunday, blogging peeps!

A taste of Colorado this weekend

Notes made to myself prior to embarking on a weekend exploring a part of Colorado we had yet to visit: Grand Junction!

The title of this blog post could just as well be “We make plans, and God laughs”. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. Nothing completely horrible happened. It’s just that, because this is life, my plans didn’t fully pan out. Not complaining here, just reflecting.

Ahem…now onto my so called “plans” vs. reality:

Experiences to manifest this weekend in Grand Junction:

Morning coffee at a local coffee shop.

This was a super simple intention that didn’t materialize. No good reason why, other than the coffee at the hotel hit the spot good enough for me. 

A hike or two.

Check-big check, in fact! We hiked the Cap Trail, which was truly spectacular. We encountered different terrain, various members of the lizard family, and outstanding views of the mesas. Hubs got some great shots with his Nikon, too. Like this one. And we encountered 3 different types of lizards (see above). 

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Brew pub and winery and buying swag there

I didn’t come across any swag worthy of purchasing, but we sampled a couple of new beers at area brew pubs and enjoyed a lovely chardonnay at Two Rivers Winery following our hike. 

Hot tub:

Damn stinking kids were piled into the hot tub- that was about half the size of your typical hotel hot tub, mind you-every single time we tried to use it. So that made me a little grumpy. 

Lavender farm/store:

Not what I expected. But what did I expect? Turns out the place was a distillery too. Should visit again. Have a cocktail next time. Amongst the myriad lavender infused products was a full bar serving bloody mary’s and the like. 

Peach Distillery:

So this was “planned” for the second day, on our way home. Unfortunately, Hubs caught food poisoning somewhere along the way so peach infused alcohol and other peach what-nots were not exactly appealing to him, so we hightailed it home, enjoying the stunning views of rock formations and the Colorado River along the way. We decided to visit the area again, when it’s actually peach season. That’d be a better deal anyway. 

Shopping/keep my eyes out for:

Hats and bow ties.

I know, weird things to be looking for, right?! To explain, Hubs and I will be attending a church fundraiser on 5/5 called “Cinco de Derby”. It’s a combo of a Mexican shindig and Kentucky derby party. We discussed it and decided to forage for these items later in the week at Target and the Michael’s craft store that is conveniently located next to it. I’m sure we’ll come up with something. 

Greeting cards.

Ding Ding Ding! I scored 4 awesome ones for $1 each at a downtown book store. Lord knows who I will be sending them to, but no doubt figuring that out will be fun for me.  I felt good about spending money at this independent book store on “Independent Book Store Day”. I also snagged a book there entitled “The Kindness of Strangers”. Thought it may provide inspiration for my “Kindness Jar” project.

Visit the hotel bar.

Why, yes we did. And we got some great advice there from Annette Bening. Lemme explain: She was approximately the same age as Ms. Bening, dressed casually in denim, drinking a beer and wearing reading glasses. She was situated at the end of the bar, but not the very last seat; the one next to that one. So she had two empty seats on either side of her. She motioned for us to come and sit, scooching down a seat to allow us to sit side by side. She then engaged us in a lively conversation of all things Colorado. She laughed easily and urged us to check out Mount Princeton for our next Anniversary celebration. She shared that it’s pricey, but there are awesome views of the mountains and wonderful hot springs to soak in. She also enthusiastically encouraged us to check out Telluride for their music festivals and good vibes. She spoke lovingly of her son, who was playing in La Crosse tournaments in Grand Junction this weekend. Hence the reason she was chilling at the bar for a bit. Such a cool lady. 

Interesting that earlier in the day,  I had purchased the book about the kindness of strangers, no?

I now can’t wait for our next Colorado adventure! Maybe a George Clooney look alike will make an appearance at a winery or distillery.  You never know…..

One Word Prompt: Enjoy

When I first started blogging, I often checked the daily word prompt, hoping for inspiration for a fresh and witty blog post. For the most part, I found myself coming up empty with the word of the day. So I would click for a new word. Ponder it for a moment. Nada. Then I’d clicked again, certain the next word would unleash the uber creative writer lurking inside of me. Bupkis. 

Having several sort of “meh” moments this week, it occurred to me that what I most need to do right now, in this moment, is to enjoy life. Savor it. Make the most of the ordinariness of it all. Laugh. Play. Enjoy. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the word “enjoy” is 1) to take pleasure in and 2) to keep, control, or experience as one’s own.

For my purposes this weekend, I’m going to focus on 1) what I’m enjoying, 2) who I’m enjoying it with and 3) how I’m enjoying my chosen subject of enjoyment. With the Christmas holiday upon us, this is surely not too complicated a task.

The what: Our church Christmas pageant rehearsal this afternoon. Hubs and I accepted a request from the mother of the writer/producer of this year’s production to play Mary and Joseph. I find this absolutely hilarious! Here we are, him just a couple of years and a few months from turning 50, and me, careening towards 51, playing Joseph (who I always presumed was in his 30’s when Jesus was born) and Mary (just a teen at the time). Hubs comment upon receiving this request was “I could see us playing Abraham and Sarah-but Joseph and Mary? Really?!”

More of the what: Watching Christmas movies. Eating good food plucked from our beloved crockpot. Making more Christmas cookies whilst jamming out to my favorite Christmas cd (Michael Buble). The simple things. Nothing fancy for this duo this weekend.

The Who: Hubs, of course. Duh. I intend to find that Santa hat he dons when he’s feeling especially merry during the holiday season. I’m going to insist he wear it for my enjoyment. He will tell me that his favorite Christmas song is “Silver and Gold” from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. He, the only human in this family of four who doesn’t possess a sweet tooth, will tell me that his favorite Christmas cookies are the spritz ones. He will mimic the character’s lines while we watch Christmas Vacation, telling me his favorite one is at the end, when the policeman tells the grinchy old boss that good old cousin Eddie kidnapped and brought to the Griswold’s with a big red bow tied around his torso, “That’s pretty low, Mister, if I had a rubber hose…”.

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Santa Hubs, circa 2004

The How: With a joyful spirit. With music in the background. Dressed in comfortable clothes (wisdom of being 50 is that comfort trumps fashion). With a sense of playfulness.

What will you be enjoying this weekend? This Christmas season? As one of my Christmas wishes is to receive more comments on this blog, please share with me what you are or will be enjoying!

Silly signs on Saturday

Nowadays, home decor is all about the signs. Signs with pithy inspirational quotes. Signs with family names on them. Signs expressing the homeowner’s faith.  I think oftentimes signs as home decor are overdone.  It seems to me that the more signs one has on their walls, the less meaning they have. So I keep mine to a minimum for that reason.

This one is probably my favorite:

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Hanging in my kitchen to amuse one and all

A foray into Google images for signs led me to some more amusing and in some cases, disturbing signs.

Like this one:

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So many questions here….walruses can jump? And exactly how does one determine the sexual orientation of a walrus? And what does the walrus’s sexual orientation have to do with the fact that it might jump up and drag you under the water to be feasted on by a gaggle of hangry walruses?

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Um, no thanks Hardee’s.

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This is the sign that I will hang in our future cabin. I find it to be quite motivational.

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This would make me shake in my boots for sure (not)…but I’m also super curious about what is behind this door. I doubt I’d be able to resist the temptation to exit through that particular door.

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TMI dudes…and you should really get that checked out!images (64)

Apparently, beans and cabbage are on the menu in this joint.

 

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Good advice, peeps!

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Thank you, Captain Obvious.

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Let’s hope to God that this isn’t the only dentist in town.

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I took a picture of this sign on a trip with Hubs to Florida, because I thought it was hilariously awesome. I’d really like to know how one qualifies a a “fancy woman”. And exactly who decides who is a “fancy woman” anyhow? Cap’n Crunch?!

Happy Saturday folks!

 

Secret Confessions: 2 Truths and 1 Lie

I really dig party games. Ice breakers. Those little games played amongst a group of willing participants which often yields surprising revelations about each other. Some of you may recall a previous post I penned related to this.

Years ago, when Hubs and I would go on our annual camping trip with a group of about 12 friends, our beer-infused revelry often led to a rollicking game of “I never”. This is a simple game, which is a good thing when you are amidst friends from “back in the day” and alcohol is involved. Have you ever played this game? If not, it starts with one person proclaiming something that they have never ever done in their whole life. Then those who have done said thing are required to take a sip of whatever they are currently imbibing. 

Suffice it to say, within a very short period of time, things could get very silly. 

Today I’d like to present to you, my fun loving readers, with my version of a similarly simple yet playful game.

Responding in the comments with your very own 2 Truths and 1 lie or whatever sarcastic anecdote you wish to share is not mandatory but would make it so much more fun for us all, amiright?

Without any further ado, I present Two Truths and One Lie.

On Movies:

  • Being John Malkovich is one of my favorite movies.
  • I seriously loved the latest Mad Max movie.
  • Christmas vacation cracks me up every time I watch it.

On Careers:

  • I think I’d be an excellent music producer.
  • My ultimate goal is to write a fiction novel.
  • I would consider going to culinary school to become a chef.

I’m still married to Hubs because:

  • He knows his way around a grill.
  • He has the best one liners.
  • Unlike me, he’s not at all picky about what movies he will watch.

Random stuff I used to believe:

  • That New England was a state.
  • That I was going to become a high school English teacher.
  • That I would always live in Minnesota.

Wacky things I have done in my life:

  • I once won a radio contest where I had to sing part of a line of the song “Tush”. I won a free sub sandwich. Yay me!
  • Once when I was in college, I successfully convinced a guy I was flirting with at a bar that I was from England.
  • One of my friends at Girl Scout camp chose to not heed our scout leader’s plea to not bring candy because bears, duh. Upon being tattled on, the scout leader led us to the fire pit where my friend’s cherished bag of candy was set ablaze. Oh, the humiliation!

On Fear:

  • I am deathly afraid of heights.
  • I am freaked out by clowns.
  • I sometimes fear my blog has already peaked.

Speaking about blogging:

  • The first title I came up with for this blog was “Subject to Change”
  • I have a buttload of technical stuff to learn.
  • I’m not scared to post about things that could make me appear to be a doofus.

Things I wish I could do successfully:

  • Ride a bike.
  • Draw pictures.
  • Plan great parties.

 

Scroll Down to see the answers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lies….

Movies: I hated the most recent Mad Max movie. It was beyond weird, ridiculously violent, and utterly pointless. I only went because Hubs wanted to see it. More on me+Hubs+movies later.

Careers: I cannot imagine myself ever having the talent not to mention gumption to write a fiction novel. Non-fiction, with a twist of imagination suits me best.

Why I am still married to Hubs: It’s not because he and I share the same taste in movies. He will only see action movies and sometimes thrillers in the actual movie theater with me. Whereas, if I had my way, we’d go to see anything from rom-coms to westerns every weekend.

Things I used to believe: That I would always live in Minnesota. I have always pictured myself living in more varied parts of the country. When I was younger, it was New York City or California. And Hubs and I have moved quite a bit over the years, due to his job transfers: we’ve lived in Wisconsin, Kansas, and now Colorado.

Wacky stuff I have done: I was the girl who brought the candy to Girl Scout camp. I didn’t get my childhhod nickname of “Candy Queen” for nothing! This was one of my first experiences with true, deep shame. And our cranky scout leader scared the bejeezus out of me!

Fears: I actually do not fear clowns. In fact, I used to have quite a collection of them displayed in my bedroom. That said, you will not see me at a screening of the movie “It”. I’m not into creepy, scary movies like that.

Speaking of blogging: I am frequently in fear that my blog posts will make me look doofusy. Yet, my passion for it always supercedes this fear.

Things I wish I could do successfully: Plan great parties. Because I already possess that talent. Examples: two high school graduation parties one year apart with plenty of (mostly) homemade food, beverages, and festive decorations. That supercool party I put on when I was 16 where everyone had to dress up as their favorite pop star. I went as Moon Unit Zappa aka “Valley Girl”. It was so RAD!