Monthly Archives: September 2011

Psyched! Won Tickets to Psych Premiere in NYC

Okay, so why would a 63-year-old woman whose pursuits are mostly intellectual be so psyched about winning tickets to the premiere of a television series?

The short answer is I LOVE Psych.

I have watched every episode of the first five seasons at least twice and pre-ordered Season 6 before the season has aired.  What makes Psych so special?

As a writer, I have to confess to loving the….wait for iiiiit…writing.  That’s right.  The team that cooks up the episodes for Psych must have a ball putting the scripts together.  Dialogue is hard to do; comedy is hard to do.  A comedy wrapped around murder and mayhem — impossible.  But somehow the writers pull it off, week after week.

I also have to call out the cast.  James Roday and Dule Hill make it look easy to be funny, fast and friends.  I love Corbin Berenson as Sean’s dad – the man who made the hyper aware monster named Sean Spencer and has to live with him, his “psychic” abilities and his odd sense of humor.

Timothy Omundson’s Lassiter is the quintessential uptight, by the book,  cop who keeps getting his hard-held beliefs tested.  And Juliet O’Hara, played by Maggie Lawson, is a good girl, good cop who packs a punch you wouldn’t believe.  (Watch Season 5 – Viagra Falls to see what I mean.)  Last but not least, there is the Chief – Kristen Nelson – who brings just the right touch of boss/parent to her role in the squad room cum asylum she runs.

If you asked what my favorite episode is, I would be hard pressed to tell you.  Homicidio is hilarious – a take off on Spanish soap operas as only Psych could do it.  Guest star Tim Curry brings  just the right amount of disdain to American Duos and Lassie’s interaction with co-star Gina Gershon is classic love-hate.  The cast sends up fashion models in Black & Tan in a way that makes me laugh out loud.  And who could stop laughing at Dual Spires alias Twin Peaks!

But laughter isn’t all this amazing cast and crew bring to the show.  Three episodes reveal the complexity of both the plots Psych offers and the actors hired to bring the scripts to life.  An Evening with Mr. Yang, Mr. Yin Presents and Yin 3 in 2D   showcase the writing and the acting.  Even though these episodes spanned three seasons, each had me glued to my chair, watching, waiting for the next twist or turn.

Psych is a departure from most of my usual fare.  When I say I’m watching mysteries, it usually means Inspector Morse, Midsomer Murders, A Touch of Frost or  Rosemary and Thyme.    All of these shows are British productions; all are intelligent, very well-acted and, for the most part, very serious.

Serious is not a word I would apply to Psych but I think I love the series because of the way it deals with difficult topics but always, always brings it back to the relationships of the cast members, how they live, work, fight and “find the bad guys” together, despite their differences.  Oh, and the fact that they make me laugh, every time.

So this over the hill baby boomer is dusting off her sneaks, pulling on her Psych t-shirt and heading for the metropolis! Psyched!!


Filed under Home Ec on Acid, Life & Death, Love and Marriage, Mysteries

Why This Woman Should NOT Mow The Lawn

I should have known….

Those four words would make a nice tattoo on my forehead, a constant reminder not to go near the mower again.  If only I had been smart enough to get them “writ large”  on my bony pate before this summer.  This summer, it was as though the gods of the mower underground decided to show me just how far away from all things lawn and mower I should be.

This chain of disaster, like most, started innocently enough.  The first time the mower just waved a little warning flag.

It was a simple case of running out of gas on the side of a hill.  It took my mechanically-inclined husband and our neighbor about an hour to figure this out, however, because the operator (that would be me) insisted I filled the gas tank before I started.   I did put gas in…but filled was not the word Pat used when he and Jim finally lifted up the seat, spun off the top and looked inside.

The second time, Pat was at Spring Carlisle so I thought I would surprise him by mowing.  Of course, I was riding around, literally in circles, mowing the back yard as fast as I could when suddenly, the mower choked and the blades below the deck stopped spinning.    As soon as I got off, I knew why.  I had managed to suck about 20 feet of a 50 foot hose up under the deck.

The deck would not lift up off the ground so I spent the next 90 minutes using a long-handled shovel as a lever, lifting the deck about 2 inches in the air and shoving my arm up to my elbow underneath to pry, pull and chop bits of hose off the blades.  I almost made it but the last 4 feet were tightly wrapped around the center column.

Another 20 minutes with my cheek on the ground, my arm under the deck and my knees pushing the shovel down and the deck up and I knew it was all over.  I would have to make the call.  Wiping the mud off my face, I dialed my husband.  He was on his way home and said he would take care of it.

He walked into the yard, looked at the mower and me, walked to the shed, grabbed the ramps and put them on the edge of the patio.  Then he started the mower, drove it up the ramps and in 3 minutes, the hose was defeated, the last bits lying on the ground at his feet.  This was when I should have known I was outclassed by my man and my mower.  But no, there was one more embarrassing moment to come in this mower trilogy.

Two weeks ago, I was mowing, again, and suddenly the mower stopped, dead. All I could think of was I can’t call my husband again and tell him that the very expensive John Deere riding mower was dead and I was behind the wheel, again!  It was the 3rd time in 4 months!  How would I explain this one to him?

This time the dealership had to come out and pick the mower up on a flatbed.  The hydraulics had quit – no power steering, no deck, no wheels….no, no, no… My husband tried to make me feel better but it was no use. I still felt like a mower murderer.

Five days later, when John Deere drove up and rolled our repaired mower down the ramps, I decided to try mowing one more time.  Pat wasn’t there to stop me.  And so the mower gods shot their last arrow.

I couldn’t have been on the mower more than 15 minutes when the right front deck wheel fell off.  Here is where this story gets really, really ugly.
Whipping my cell phone out of my pocket, I call the John Deere dealership and ask for the Service Manager.  When the poor innocent picked up the phone and said hello, I let him have it.  Here follows some excerpts:

ME:  “Fifteen minutes, wheel off, deck not working…   You guys broke our mower.”  When he finally managed to get a word in around my Daffy Duck imitation, he asked me a single question.
HIM: “Do you have the broken parts?”
ME:  “What?  You think I have the broken bits?  I was mowing.  I don’t have the parts.  (Warning: if you are not mechanically inclined, don’t do this at home.)  You guys broke it.  You took the deck off.”
HIM:  Ma’am, taking the deck off would not cause the bracket holding the front wheel to break.”
ME:  “Really?  Really??  Well it did break and I want this thing fixed.”
HIM:  “I’m assuming you want it fixed quickly.  How about tomorrow?”
ME:  “Tomorrow?  Are you kidding?  Now, I want someone out here right now.  I want it fixed, now.”
HIM:  “I’ll check for the parts and will dispatch a mobile mechanic immediately ma’am.”
ME:  “Good thing.”

I hung up. Then I went looking for the parts.  And I found them.  And I knew I had to call back, apologize, profusely, offer to pay for the parts, the house call and my very, very bad manners.  I called, I asked for the Service Manager (to his credit he actually got on the phone and asked how he could help).  And I apologized for my very bad behavior.

The mower was fixed that evening.  I was still suffering from the embarrassment hangover you get when you have made a complete fool of yourself.  An in-person apology with a box of handmade truffles from Little Sister’s Kitchen helped but nothing has helped with my considerable reluctance to saddle up the lawn mower.

But, there’s always next year!


Filed under Home Ec on Acid, Love and Marriage

Promise Me This

Ah, here again.  We know this place, you and I.

Murmuring heads leaning over a chart, talking about what’s next.  Phones and bells and monitors ringing and beeping.  Soft footfalls in the hall outside your door. The steady whir and click of the IV as it drips fluid and medication into your veins.

Another hospital.  Another time when the outside world disappears and everything in our lives narrows to this room, this bed, this time.

As our future unfolds before my eyes, I ask only one thing.

Will you promise me this?

If I am lying in that narrow bed, if I am dying before you, will you slip in with me, wrap your arms around me and hold me the way you do every morning before we get up?

It is a small act but it would give me the courage to go quietly into that dark good night.  If you are there, nesting with me, my back leaning on your chest, our heads together, your breath caressing my neck, I can reach out and hold on.

I will not be afraid.  I will be loved into the next world, soaring on your heartbeat and the touch of your hand on mine.  And when it’s over, when I am gone, lay your lips next to my ear and says these words – for you.  For me.  For us.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

And know that I am not gone, I am there, just beyond the horizon, waiting to take your hand in mine once again.


Filed under Life & Death, Love and Marriage

My Favorite & Affordable Kitchen Tools

My Favorite & Affordable Kitchen Tools.

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Filed under Budgeting, Home Ec on Acid, Love and Marriage

Dismal Economic Picture Is All Our Fault

The dismal state of the economy is apparently our fault – all of us middle class, taxpaying citizens who have been laid off, fired and unable to get a job are part of the problem.

Who knew?

Gail Collins of the NYTimes, apparently.

We may be to blame for the current state of the economy but Collins offers some pretty solid advice for turning the economy around.

We should all stop looking for the bad news – like the applause from a Texas crowd when Presidential candidate Rick Perry mentioned the 234 people executed in the Lone Star state.  We really need to start looking for good news which Collins says is everywhere.

Collins belongs up on the Satirist Wall of Fame right beside Cervantes, Frank Zappa, Mark Twain, Juvenal — and all the other great chroniclers of their time whose wit and insight have helped all of us make it through yet another day in which we are cast as the reason the sky is falling in.

Wars we can’t afford, bailing out billionaire stock brokers and CEOs who don’t deserve a dime, denying climate change and speculating the cost of gasoline up to $4.00 a gallon have nothing to do with where we are now.  It’s you and me and our negative attitudes.

So toss off the shroud, read Gail Collins and go out there and find all that good news that is waiting to be shared!  Really!!  Really???



Filed under Life & Death

How Money Can Shape Relationships – Part 2

Money talks…and sometimes it yells.

At least that’s what the decibel level in our house was like when we were growing up.  If the topic was money, we got out of the house, fast.  Dad was going to give Mom a verbal dressing down for how she spent it.

That was my early, late and constant introduction to how money was managed.  But this approach wasn’t really a problem as long as I was the one earning it and spending it.  All that changed when I got married, 27 years ago.  And the change was radical, painful and yes….loud.  There was a lot of yelling in the early years and, on my part, not a whole lot of insight as to why.

The first time my husband and I engaged in combat over cash was literally prompted by how much I tipped a waiter.  When I was flush (read gainfully employed) Pat and I used to love to eat out.  Since we both worked in Center City Philly, there were a thousand different ways we could spend our money on dinner.  And we did.

Pat usually paid the tab but one night, when the check came, he wasn’t at the table so I paid.  When he came back, he looked at the tip and the total and asked one simple and in hindsight I have to admit, innocent question – why did I always tip 20% then round up to the nearest $5?

I didn’t know why  And it didn’t seem like a big deal to me.  But he kept asking – as we walked out of the restaurant, walking down the sidewalk to the car and all the way home – he kept asking.  Pat was actually only asking why the tip had to be for an even dollar amount.

I thought he was questioning my right to spend our money on such a big tip.  And I lost it.  I think if he could have run, he would have.  The tip battle was round one of an almost 5 year fight over whose money it was and who had the right to decide how to spend it.

We never got to the point that one of the couples we knew did – separate bank accounts and splitting the bills.  But we did do some serious damage to each other and to our relationship.  In this entire 5 year fiasco, I must admit, I was the one who was wrong and I had my Mom and Dad to thank for it.

I never would have figured it out and I am guessing our almost 3 decade marriage would never have survived if I hadn’t asked my brother Bob (a plumber who was also an extraordinary poet) a casual question about his desk drawer full of paychecks.

When he explained that he earned money but didn’t like it, didn’t spend it (his wardrobe consisted of jeans, t-shirts with his business logo on them and cheap sneakers) and did NOT want to talk about it, I recognized a  link.  And Bob and I talked it through.

I learned how much he was affected by Mom and Dad’s constant bickering and monthly brawls.  And suddenly, I realized just how much they had affected me, too.  I could also see very clearly how my parents relationship was affecting my relationship with my husband.

I went home.  I apologized.  I explained.  And Pat and I began to heal the wounds that battling over money caused.

Was it fast?  No.  Even today, when a check is not written into the register or there is a question about an expenditure, I feel the wings of my meat-eating, money monster start to unfurl.  Even today, I have to remind myself to breath, to relax and to work with my husband to get the answers he wants and needs.

I have to agree with the man behind the Retrospective Entrepreneur – money breaks up more marriages than infidelity.  Think about that the next time you are putting on the gloves for yet another round in the ring about the cash.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Budgeting, Home Ec on Acid, Life & Death, Love and Marriage, Saving Money

Yes You Can Recipes That Are Tried & True

Yes You Can Recipes That Are Tried & True.

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Filed under Budgeting, Healthcare, Home Ec on Acid

How Money Can Shape Relationships

It used to be (back in the dark ages of the 1950’s) that kids learned about relationships from their parents and maybe from the parents of their best friends.  In my house, we learned that Dad was the boss and everything, and I mean everything, revolved around his schedule, his likes and dislikes, his sense of right and wrong and his money.

That’s right.  My parents were NOT equal and the money was all Dad’s.

Our family was the definition of old-fashioned.  Dad went to work every day; Mom stayed home with the five kids, the laundry, the housework, the cooking, mending and shopping.  The biggest argument my parents had was held at the end of each month when it was time for Dad to look at the “books.”

Arguing wasn’t really what happened during those sessions as the only voice we ever heard was Dad’s.  Inquisition is a more apt description.  It was not a pretty sight and even if you couldn’t see it, you could not miss the frequent and loud outbursts that emanated from Dad’s mouth.

My Mom was in a losing position before one word was spoken.  The reason was simple math.

At the height of his career, Dad earned $24,000 a year before taxes.  Out of that money, my mom had to feed, clothe and keep in “necessities” five children, a foster teenager, her mother-in-law, herself and Dad, keep the house and car running and tithe to the church.  That was no mean feat and often there was little or nothing left at the end of the month.

Dad’s question was always the same — where did my money go?  The real answer – spent on the family – was never good enough.  And the war raged on around us.  Little did we know how very much we were learning about how money shaped relationships.

My brother Mike controlled the cash in his house, just like Dad.  His wife and children answered to him for every nickel and dime that went missing. Bob refused to talk about money or manage it.   He put his paychecks in a drawer and only deposited them when his wife was telling him, at the top of her lungs, that their checking account was running on fumes.

I made money, lots of it.  And I spent it, paid for my college education, raised a daughter on it and managed it for more than 20 years.  I felt total control when it came to money…until I married Pat.   Only then did I begin to understand how my parent’s monthly battle over money would affect my relationship to my husband.  And what I discovered was that ugly behavior can be learned.

More on the battle over money in the next post.




Filed under Budgeting, Home Ec on Acid, Life & Death, Love and Marriage

Does Your Silverware Talk?

Open your silverware drawer.

Go ahead, open it.  Is your silverware telling tales about you?

Okay, before you think I finally fell and hit my head….I just have to say that what people buy and use for silverware speaks volumes about them.  It also tells a tale to anyone who opens the drawer and really listens.

We have two silverware drawers.  That should tell you something right away but here’s a little hint.

In one drawer, all the silverware matches!  Knives, forks, soup spoons, salad forks and teaspoons.  All have the same pattern and there are 12 of each.  Each piece is nested in its respective slice of the silverware tray.  All handles at the bottom; all working bits at the top.  This is my husband’s drawer.

In the other drawer, very little matches.  There are 3 sterling silver knives, 3 matching sterling silver forks (dubbed clubs by the owner of the other drawer), one sterling silver fork from the Hotel Dupont (don’t ask) and about 15 other, mismatched forks tumbling across the tray.

The teaspoons are even more fun.  There are bigger, rounder ones, smaller, sugar spoons, and a spoon I found in a parking lot, all mixed in with one that looks like a shovel and one that weighs so much you’re tired by the time you’re done drinking your tea.  My drawer.

So, what does each drawer tell you about its respective owner?

One of us (the same one who insisted we buy a full set of bone china and sterling silver) likes the world to be ordered and organized.  The “pattern” found in the silverware draw repeats itself in the owner’s closet – shirts in one row, pants in another, ties on a hanging tie rack and belts on a rack attached to the back wall of the closet.  His world has to conform to certain rules and principles.  Change has to be broached carefully, discussed quietly, discussed with butter knives at 20 paces then discussed one more time before a decision can be made.

The other person, the one with the eclectic silverware and “favorite” spoons likes a bit of excitement in her life.  I actually like chaos – it makes me feel creative.  This woman of the wacky silverware drawer likes noise, revels in movement and surrounds herself with music including the songs of nature.  Change is what happens just seconds after an idea – smart or stupid – pops into my head.

Sometimes I go to the kitchen, slide open both drawers and smile about the story our silverware tells.  Me and my drawer make it possible for my husband to make a change.  My husband and his drawer make sure that the my body, our house and the world where we live are safe for us to share.

No matter whose silverware we are wielding, together, we’re unstoppable.

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Filed under Home Ec on Acid, Life & Death, Love and Marriage