Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Short Drive (story)

The half-hour drive to town was one they made once a week, a trip
they'd been making for years. It was grocery and errand time, and
when they could afford it lunch-out time. She settled into the
passenger seat, he started the car and they proceeded down the long
dirt road and tuned right onto the highway.

Several minutes passed in comfortable silence. She glanced at him and
asked, "Did you remember to bring the... the thingie you said you
needed to buy?"

He frowned and replied, "No, darn it. I forgot it. But I know the one
I need and we can get it at... um... what-its-names. I need to stop
there anyway for a... widget. You know the gadget for that What-chama-
call-it of yours."

She shook her head. "You can't get those there. We got the last one
at... Oh, you know the place. That store right next to... Mc-what-
it's-name. The place where Bill... no Bob... the guy from that garage

"Phil, I think it was Phil," he interrupted, "from the market."

"Right, Phil from Ray's, or was it McKay's? Anyway, where Phil
ordered the... what was it he ordered?"

"I think maybe he worked at the Quick Market Stop & Shop... Whatever.
Was he ordering something? I thought he was trying to buy a... one of
those little, what are they called? Anyway he couldn't get it there
and had to get it at... the place over near the store we went to to
get the deely-bob for the tractor. Or was it the mower?"

She grimaced. "I forgot about that. Anyway, should we stop for lunch
at that new place over on.. what street is it... the one where that
Mexican place, or was it a Chinese place, used to be? You know the
place, the one where Bill and Charlene got such terrible service that
they walked out?"

"That was Gail and... what's her husband's name... Jim? Jeff? And
wasn't it a burger place? Or was that the place on Maple Street?"

"Elm. Avenue. Gail's husband is Buck. Or is it Chuck? I don't want
Mexican though. How about that fish place we went to last month over
by the jetty?"

"Didn't they close? Or was that the place that was there before, the
one with the great prawns?"

"We had oysters there I think. Didn't you get sick afterwards? Or was
that the time we went with Whats-their-names, that couple from church?"

"No, we had clams and you got sick, didn't you? That was the day we
saw that movie... what was it called? The one with Brad Somebody and
that girl you like who was on that show. You remember the one, about
the two guys who go to some big town and try to rob some bank or

That was Jamie, Jamie... the one who was on... yeah, I remember. They
had a kid that was sick, or did the kid get lost? And they hired that
guy, the one from the sit com you used to watch."

"The show I started watching after our trip to, was it Mexico? Or was
that the cruise to Alaska? I LOVE that show! Did you remember to set
the timer to record it today?"

"Darn, I forgot. Do you want to go back so you don't miss it? I can't
recall what we were going to get anyway, do you?"


Wednesday, December 22, 2010


If you already have a cat that you love dearly yet occasionally want
to strangle
If you don't have a cat and wonder why those who have them are
totally insane
please read this blogpost by Snowbrush. It couldn't be better summed up!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making It Stick

Let us all kneel down and give thanks to the inventor of scotch tape.
Can you think of getting through the holiday season sans the
wonderfully convenient sticky stuff that strips cleanly from the
dispenser and happily holds the edges of wrapping paper and sticks
labels in place?

I've tried using just string or ribbon to affix paper to a gift. That
is a job for the extremely patient, wonderfully ambidextrous, or just
plain insane. It doesn't hurt to be alien born and have an extra
arm... or two. Even a tentacle would be useful.

No tape was made for the rest of us. The ones with only two hands and
minimal adroitness in their use. I might have better use of my manual
digital extensions but for the number of times as a child I was
summoned to "hold this" while my mother tried to subdue creased
corners and folded edges long enough to strangle a box with ribbons.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Short Short for the Season

Weighty Issues

A glance down at the scale was all it took to start a case of holiday
depression. Five more pounds gained since last month's Trim Off Your
Stomach meeting. All the good intentions to lose those extra inches,
to look like the sexy young models in the magazine ads, were for
nothing. No matter how many calories were counted or how many miles
were logged on the belt pedometer, it seemed there had been no change
in the belly. It stayed a paunch and grew daily as the holiday season

"I'll lose weight after New Year" was the annual mantra. And it did
always happen. Once the candied apples and fudge, the cider and
eggnog, the pumpkin pie and fruitcake were gone, the pounds were a
bit easier to shed. Every spring there was a smile of success as the
numbers on the scale crept slowly downward. There was more time for
jogging when the weather was warmer and the temptation to stay inside
by a warm fire wasn't so strong. There were more miles logged on the
treadmill to counteract long hours at a desk job supervising and
doing paperwork.

The new suit had needed to be altered. Thank goodness there had been
enough extra cloth in those seams. It had taken quite a bit of
shopping to find the right fabric. All those articles in the AARP
magazine about looking your best for the season and choosing
something becoming for your color palette. Pastels might be best but
the spirit wanted something primary and bright. Mauve simply wasn't
appealing and didn't go with fur trim. And yes, the fur wasn't
politically correct but it was warm and age had made being warm an
issue. And thank goodness there was someone local who could resole
the old boots. The new ones in the stores had such pointy toes and
were very unkind to bunions!

Eyes back to the numbers on the scale. Ah well, everybody gains a few
pounds at Christmas and it is harder for senior citizens to shed
them. He gave a last glance at the mirror, chuckled a Ho!Ho!Ho! at
himself, and went out to hitch up the reindeer.

Sunday, December 19, 2010



Do you hear the clock? I sure do. Christmas is less than a week away.
There are gifts to wrap, parties to prepare for, cards to send. Yes,
I started a month ago but it matters not because it always comes down
to "OMIGOD... I still need to (wrap/buy/mail/cook) time's a wastin'!"


All those lists I make and things still get overlooked. Or I make a
decision and change my mind. Mornings begin with making more lists.
Checking them twice. I need to check yesterday's list for the things
I didn't get done so I can add them to today's list. They probably
still won't get done.


Our Christmas bush isn't in the vase or decorated. It is pouring
outside. What are the chances Himself will get out to prune one of
the Douglas Fir trees and bring me branches? (possible) What are the
chances I can get Himself to wrap family gifts or decorate the
aforementioned fir branches? (slim) What are the chances I'll get any
of it done today? (none)


Shut up clock! Today is for wrapping. I remembered to stock up on
tape. I have bows. I think I have paper. I hope I have plenty of
paper! Oh please let there be enough paper! Oh well, at least I have


Saturday, December 18, 2010


I always try to plan ahead and approach the holiday season with a
minimum of furor and fuss. Try. Plan. Such slippery words. It always
comes down to the week before the 25th with me waking in the wee
hours making my mental lists and checking them twice, thrice, and a
few more times to boot. Items get added, crossed off, moved around,
and altered. I ponder, and revise, and re-write. I worry.

So much for the planning and preparing. No matter how far in advance
my shopping is begun I can't be quite sure all the bases are covered.
"Is the X I bought for Y the right size/color/style?" "Will the J I
sent for in November get here in time?" "Did I get/buy/order enough
spices/ornaments/sugar plums to decorate/donate/give?" Things I
forgot must be remembered. Things I don't want to remember must be
forgotten. It is as if somewhere inside I crave the fussing and

Maybe I do. Maybe the anxiety and the bother have become one of the
traditions of the holiday season for me. Some folks thrill to the
Black Friday shopping extravaganza. Some crave the writing of a
zillion cards or attending dozens of parties. No matter how much I
try to resist the worry it comes anyway. Somehow or other it comes
just the same.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh Boy! Oh Boy!

Today marks the 41st Anniversary for me and Himself. We're still
trying to figure out how we lasted this long. He says it must be
distemper. I suggest perhaps a difficulty making decisions. Either
way it seems odd to still be so in love... No, make that MORE in
love, after so many years. We have our moments, mind you. Some rather
uncomfortable ones. But generally we are good friends and I think
that is the best part of marriage.

I can't not mention his gift to me today. He bought me a Kindle. Did
you hear me squeal with delight and break into tears? I've been
eyeing them since they came out. My "almost 64 year old" learning
curve will get some exercise today!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Silly Things

Sometimes it is the nonsense that delights me most. My friend Charlie
sent this little lighted Christmas tree to me for the holidays. It
plugs into my keyboard and you can't tell from the photo but it
lights up and glows various colors - purple, white, red, green, &
yellow. I wish you could see the foolish grin on my face. It is hard
to summon a "Bah, Humbug" today.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


The electronic/internet/modern world looms larger and more confusing
all the time. I can recall when Himself and I happily inhabited the
front edge of that world. We were some of the first in our group to
own a home computer.

In the pre-i days we ran a BBS. I wrote my correspondence, kept notes
on my computer, and was comfortable drawing and editing pictures
pixel by pixel. It was all very cutting edge and up with the
technology of the time. But the i-World moves a lot faster than this
old lady can manage. My place toward the front of the pack has slid,
and slid, and continues to slide backwards. New hardware and new
operating systems fly past as I struggle to find my way around the
ones my retirement budget was able to afford a while ago. I'm able to
manage my blog and can handle Facebook. I have a cellphone. But my
phone doesn't take photos, access Twitter, or deliver the newspaper.
It is a phone. I'm still with the pack but now waddling at the rear,
barely keeping up.

It is tempting to pooh-pooh the fast pace and all the innovations
flying past. E-books. On-line everything. I fall into that too often,
all very Fox & Grapes stuff. What I can't have, what I can't
understand, must be bad, right? Ha-Bumbug! And an extra dose of that
particular cheer to getting older, and tireder, and less in tune.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ms. Moody

The holidays are fast approaching. As they get closer I can feel my
mood getting moodier. My roller coaster emotional self feels poised
at the top of that biggest hill on the roller coaster and about to
take a dive. I've been here before, lots of times. I haven't a clue
what it could be like to live a steady low-key existence where the
highs may not be so high but the lows stay out of the sub-basement.

I know this gloom will pass. It always has, thank goodness. Being
familiar with the cyclic nature of this trip I can watch the scenery
and wait for the change. Getting off the ride would be nice but the
precise nature of options for disembarkation seem limited. There are
some places worse than depression, at least they look worse from
where I stand now. I'd rather the ride than the choice of a
destination that final.

As I wait for some holiday cheer to pass within grabbing distance I
find myself sourly watching what has become of Christmas. More
commercials and exhortations to buy, Buy, BUY! But more people
tempering that as well, more searching for a way to have the glitz
but also retain the joy. Maybe it has always been like this... a
confusing mish-mash of the spiritual and the secular?

Ah, perhaps there is an antidote to my mood in focussing on what I
want my holiday to be. Stuff a sock into the mouth of my social
critic! Use that sock's mate to muffle my personal just-for-me judge
and commentator!

(Well... maybe just for a few days and on THIS particular topic!)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Holiday 2010

The holiday gives rise
To the carol Have To
Have to buy
Have to fly
Have to decorate
Have to participate

It isn't Jesus and Santa
Love and Joy
It is Barbie for the girl
A skateboard for the boy
Plane tickets to Memphis
Holly for the door
Carols and fruitcake
More, More, and More

Sparkling lights blink in
Green, blue, and red
Folks facing Yuletide
Hearts filled with dread
In year end rebellion
Try to simplify
Halt buying
Quit trying

Stop fixing the feast
Desist and cease
No eggnog or cookies
No warbling carols
Let go the worry
And stop all the hurry
Find quiet and calm
Lasts a day at least

The season's a Siren
Jump back to the fray
Tree lot hopping
Online shopping
Light stringing
Bell ringing
Celebrate Christmas
The 2010 way

~M. Schram 12/2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

It is axiomatic that no matter how early I begin my holiday shopping
the first part of December rolls around and sudden panic sets in.

I trimmed my gift list to fit my limited budget.
I have ordered early so there is plenty of time for packages to arrive.
There are three weeks left for anything that may have been forgotten.
While others make dashes to the malls in shopping frenzy I should be
able to smile serenely and feel pleased with myself.

Yes, you guessed it... not my style. Is it the style of anyone? Is
the Martha Stewart version of cool, calm, and collected just one of
those images we are sold on television along with Currier & Ives
landscapes and jolly Father Christmas Ho-ho-hoing as he piles lavish
gifts under a perfectly decorated symmetrical evergreen?

No wonder 'A Christmas Story' is our favorite holiday movie. The
image of outlandish gifts, cursing parents, and a dog stealing the
dinner turkey is a more realistic image. In our world of crowded
airports, pre-decorated trees bought at the mall, and gun-dealers
advertising Christmas special sales, swearing over a recalcitrant
heater is every bit as seasonal as singing carols!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


(or at least some of it)