What a Crummy Birthday

I feel really bad.  I am a terrible wife, for sure.  Just be glad YOU didn’t marry me!  I gave my husband what could possibly be the worst birthday present ever.  I asked him go with me to Slippery Rock to help care for my mom who had just had hip replacement surgery.  Yep….it’s true – that’s how Kevin spent his 59th birthday…..helping me to care for my mom.

We should have been doing this for Kevin's birthday!

We should have been doing this for Kevin’s birthday!

Fortunately, Kevin rolls with the punches and made the most of the situation.  His brother , Mike, who married my sister, Pegs, and their kids, as well as my sister, Candy, helped to make it somewhat of a celebratory event last Friday night because they all came to my parents’ house to wish Kevin a happy birthday.  This amidst the administration of medication, arguing with Mom about taking her coumadin, and emptying potty chairs!  Yep – it was a swingin’ time!

Sisters Peg (far left) and Candy (middle).  Wonderful sister-in-law, Becca on right

Wonderful sisters- Peg (far left) and Candy (middle). Sister-in-law, Becca on right – Daytona Beach in January 2014

It was a changing of the guards so to speak as Candy and Pegs relinquished their parental care-taking while I took over for the weekend.  It’s just too bad, that my nursing care weekend fell on Kevin’s birthday.  Sure – Kev could have just stayed home in Hershey and had a lovely weekend by himself…..any man’s dream (OMG – what is wrong with this man for agreeing to come with me to administer recovery care??)!

This is how you celebrate a birthday by yourself!

This is how Kevin should have been celebrating his birthday!

But – he drove the 4 long hours with me to Slippery Rock, bought himself his own Dairy Queen birthday cake that said “Happy Birthday to Me” (he had a coupon….damn – I wish I had a pic of that cake!), talked politics (a losing battle with my parents), cleaned out their refrigerator (sardines and all), and helped my dad construct a rabbit fence around the green bean garden.

Those wascally wabbits!

Those wascally wabbits!

Mom and Dad have a beautiful house and property with a pond.  It is a lot to maintain.  All of us daughters have helped with the landscaping this spring.  Mom and Dad have a finished basement where Kevin and I slept in separate beds this weekend (sadly).  The beds were actually me and my sisters’  childhood single beds with terrible foam toppers on top of the mattresses that cause the sleeper to roll all over the place.  Kevin dubbed them “jello beds.”  We complained about them across the room from one another as we drifted off to sleep (while trying not to jiggle-roll off the bed and onto the floor).

The consistency of our mattresses

The consistency of our mattresses

I brought Hazel’s baby monitor so that I could hear my mom upstairs in case she needed anything (which she did routinely at 3:17 AM and 5:38 AM).  My mom would ring this old bell (an antique find!) which I would hear through the baby monitor.  I would then shoot like a bat out of hell out of my bed, up the basement steps, and beeline it to my mom’s bedroom to take care of her needs.  Kevin likened my shot out of bed to a horse race with the horses flying out of the gate at the sound of the horn……pretty accurate.

There's the bell!

There’s the bell!

Usually Mom just needed some water, pain meds, or comforting. The sprint out of bed at the wee hours of the morning was an adrenaline rush for me followed by sheer exhaustion and collapsing back into the jello bed.

Daytime was easier with meal preparation, cleaning, gardening and Mom telling me exactly how to do things for the umpteenth time. The woman is particular and I am just like her (yikes!).  My dad also pitched in…. and watching him care for my mom and seeing to her needs was extremely touching.  I was there to help, but Dad stepped up to the plate and took on some duties.  He knows that us girls will not be there to help in another week or so and it will be up to him to take care of Mom.

Out of this bummer of a weekend is the realization that growing old together can be so magnificent. What a blessing it is to have lived long enough with your soulmate to enter those twilight years!   The partner that you have enjoyed early married life with, endured the trials and tribulations of raising children with, suffered the bittersweet life of the empty nest with, and now entered the golden years with…..that someone who is still the love of your life! There are not many who get to experience that.

My parents are 87 years old.  Getting around is certainly not as easy as it used to be for them.  They are still so active politically, civically, and educationally.  The mental acuity is there but the physical ability has diminished greatly.  But – having each other to lean on is awesome!  How many people get that privilege?  Will you and I have that when we are 87?  I hope so!

Anyway – despite the unexciting birthday weekend that Kevin had (thanks to me), it brought home to the both of us how important we are to each other.  That we want to be there, walkers, joint replacements, compression hose and all for one another as we age.  We want to celebrate so many more birthdays together even if they are boring.  We want to accompany each other to physical therapy.  We want to listen to each other even when we can’t hear. We want to have our children enjoy visiting us, even if it means that they have to occasionally empty our bedside commode.  That there is no greater love than sacrificing for the other.  My parents have taught me many things, but I learned the true meaning of love this weekend.

It's all about family!

It’s all about family!

Hey….It’s been a while!

How is everyone?  I’ve really missed you guys.   I’ve been busy going on our family vacay to the Dominican and  traveling out to Salt Lake City to see my  granddaughter and my daughter.  They moved into a much better place although I spent countless hours cleaning their new town home!


Enjoying the patio

Enjoying the patio

I am celebrating my  33rd anniversary today!  That is a long time of married life and family raising!  Kevin just told me that our anniversary (may 23)  is the day 80 years ago  (1934) that Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down in a police ambush….nice.  That is so romantic!

They remind me of Kev and me!

They remind me of Kev and me!


I think he is happy??

Do we look like Bonnie and Clyde??  Kevin might be packin heat under that tux!

I am lucky to have followed in my parents’ footsteps of finding and loving a best friend,  dwelling on common ground, successfully raising caring children, and accepting each other as we grow older. Life comes and goes around…..it’s almost like deja vu  with a twist.  I find myself telling my girls what my mom told me…..”enjoy the beauty of the early morning hours when you have to be awake and functioning,”  “appreciate the small details,”  “splash your face with cold water….it will do wonders!” Truly advice that never goes out of style!

I have a lot going on in my brain right now.  My 87 year old mom is getting hip replacement surgery today.  It is risky at this age.  Plus – she has some embolism problems that complicate things.  I talked to her tonight and she said to me, “Jules – I’m okay if I pass at some point during this ordeal.  I’ve had a good life.  I’m so happy that you girls (her 4 daughters) get along and have a close relationship.  I was an only child, you know, so I never had the closeness of a sibling.  I am so glad that you girls are so close.”  How does one respond to that?  I felt like crying, but mercifully….the phone cut off at that point.  I tried calling my mom back, but the line was busy.  I swear – my mom’ s phone has the worst service in the world!  Or maybe she hits the “off” button with her cheek (accidentally on purpose) and we get cut off.  Either way – the communication is disrupted way too short.  I want to talk to her much longer.  I want to tell her that she means the world to  me and that she has set such a good parenting example.  I want to tell her that she cannot leave yet because she needs to be here for so much more to come.  I want to tell her that I love her.

mom with Hazel

Things That Have Me Riled Up – Part II

It is March Madness and I am totally chill and not riled up at all because I did not succumb to do a bracket this year (although my pick to take it all is Wichita State).  I just wanted to enjoy the games and not worry about losing $100.  I love college basketball.  Hell – I played college basketball, so it is near and dear to my heart!  But – I am totally enjoying March Madness since I have not committed to the sweet sixteen, the elite 8 and the final four.

Loving the games

Loving the games

So……what has me riled up?  Well – I am going back a couple of weeks to some news breaking info, but this is what I have been stewing about:

1)  The NFL banning the N word – I know that this is a really hot topic, but the whole concept baffles me. Not because the NFL wants to ban use of the N-word, but because black athletes use the N-word all of the time and think that it’s OK!  And use of that word is not just relegated to athletes……you hear African Americans calling each other the N-word all of the time.  It’s not a term of endearment no matter how you try to spin it. I can’t even bring myself to write out the whole word because it is so offensive and denigrating.  (The word “denigrating” is a form of the N-word in a sense – and means to blacken something as in blackening a person’s character (Webster Dictionary) which is what the N-word implies).  Oh geez….did I really just put parentheses inside parentheses?

I don’t know if mostly white refs legislating the use of the N-word on the gridiron is plausible, but I’m glad that this whole issue has been brought to the forefront. Kids today have no idea what the connotations of the N-word really mean.  They are so used to using that word that it has lost all meaning to them.  Today’s youth need to be reminded of how demoralizing and hurtful the N-word was to their grandparents and great-grandparents. I think it’s a shame that African American sports role models would so readily disparage the efforts of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and all those who fought relentlessly for equality.

No surprise that Richard Sherman opposes legislating the n-word on the football field

No surprise that Richard Sherman opposes legislating the N-word on the football field….

And would Richard Sherman just stop tweeting?  We know, we know……he’s the best effing corner in the league and you better agree with it cuz he will “mistweet” you on twitter.

2) Taking down the Flappy Bird app – who in their right mind removes an app that is making you $50,000/day?  Vietnamese creator of Flappy Bird, Dong Nguyen, proved he was a real dong by removing his money-producing app because he felt it had become an “addictive product.”  Dude – that’s what commerce in this country is all about – getting the consumer hooked on your product!  It’s called success!  It’s what we all wish we could do!  Within a 24 hour period of Flappy Bird being pulled, there were 293 new iOS apps released by the App store and 95 of those were Flappy Bird clones.

So – I’ve thrown my hat in the app-world ring.  I have ingeniously come up with a combination Flappy Bird/N-word app of my own.  I have combined my “Riled Up -Part II” emotions into a potential business! At the risk of my app being stolen by some shithead, I am debuting it here on my blog.    Yes – this is a combination app of 2 very hot topics and could possibly be the next million dollar concept.  Granted my graphics are rudimentary, but that could be rectified by some 8 year-old nerd that I plan on employing to work up a prototype.  So – I am counting on all 6 of you readers of my blog to go to bat for me when this goes to litigation and vouch for the fact that you saw it here first.

Here is my debut “Ref the N-word” app:

Ref the N-Word App

Ref the N-Word App

You saw it here first, folks!  The new “Ref the N-word” app!  Sweet!

Things That Have Me Riled Up!

So much has been happening in the news lately, that it’s hard to keep up with everything.  But I’ve tucked away some gems that I plan on expounding on so you’re gonna want to stay tuned to Reflections of a Sunburnt Mind!

Although old news, I have to say that keeping tabs on all the Olympic events was exhausting!  There were sports that I never heard of.  As excited as I was for the Olympics to start, I was just as happy to see them end.

Because I have a lot to rant, rave and reflect on, I am going to highlight 2 at a time over the next week or so.  I don’t want to overwhelm you with my plethora of keen observations.  Feel free to agree, disagree, or just shake your head at the lost cause that I’ve become.  My diatribes won’t be in chronological order…..this sunburnt mind is too scattered for that!

Welcome to the first 2 tirades:

1)  The Winter Olympics –   The fact of the matter is that for most of the Olympics, I was in a Mucinex-induced coma.  The whole stress of run after run of slaloms and bobsleds, just drained me.  I was in no condition to deal with being suffocatingly congested AND the anxiety of the US not qualifying for a gold medal run in what seemed like 1,000 different sports.  And the “let’s cross country ski till our whole body shakes and then shoot at a target” event is just  moronic.  Do we really want trembling arms and hands supported by wobbly legs  shooting a deadly weapon?  Hmmmm…… that might be a good way to take out a couple of Russians (I’m only kidding!).  But really- skiing with a rifle on your back is just not a safe practice and I think the Olympic Committee needs to reevaluate that whole sport before someone shoots their eye out.

Does this look safe to you?

Does this look safe to you?

But really – the amazing thing about the Olympics was that the US cleaned house on the extreme sports like slopestyle and halfpipe (terms so new that autocorrect goes absolutely nuts cuz it doesn’t know what the hell you’re trying to type!).  We have some gnarly dudes that can execute twists and turns in really high mid-air, land completely backward, and cross the finish line in record time looking all cool and chill.  Then they flash hand signs that might mean something like, “I could use a beer” or “I just crapped myself.”  But all of us saps watching at home are just ecstatic that the US got a medal in SOMETHING because we pretty much sucked at speed skating (don’t blame the suits, man!); figure skating; ice hockey; and a bunch of other stuff.

Good thing these guys showed up!

Good thing these guys showed up!  Slopestyle winners!


Now….onto a totally different subject…….I am a sucker for The Bachelor show.  I don’t know why……I must have some psychological deficiency.  Actually, I’m just stupid……so – here’s my views on the conclusion of the show:

2) Bachelor Juan Pablo is a narcissistic jerk.  The near-hostility on the “After the Final Rose” show was awkward and palpable. Not seen by viewers- as soon as the After the Rose show was over, Juan Pabs asked Chris if they were done and then he and Nikki walked off the stage before Harrison could even tell the audience they were leaving.  Usually the couple hangs around and talks with Harrison and the audience (I’m a veteran of this show…I know what I’m talkin’ about here). Harrison and the audience were stunned to see them walk off the stage and out of the studio without so much as a wave goodbye.  This was a slap in the face to ABC and The Bachelor producers who pretty much dictate how the show should end (after all – they’ve spent millions flying these people all over the world and affording them the most luxurious of accommodations).  But Juan Pabs (and Nikki??) have ended their edition of The Bachelor on their own terms…..which means JP’s way.  I mean really – the guy is so into himself he should just put that Neil Lane ring on his own finger.  If he could make out with himself, I’m sure he would…..oh wait a minute – he CAN make out with himself! Good thing, too, cuz once Nikki leaves him, I think  this Don Juan may have trouble finding a girl that will even look at him.  But as Juan Pabs were to say, “Look at me…..look at me!  It’s OK.”

Nikki's thrilled that she got a rose instead of a ring

Nikki’s thrilled that she got a rose instead of a ring, but….it’s OK

Stay tuned for another installment of more stuff that has me riled up!

This Cold Winter is my Fault

Hey everybody!  Sorry for not blogging for awhile.  I’m such a slacker.  The flu and work-life has had me down for too long.  I didn’t feel like drinking wine for something like 3 weeks.  It was awful!  I even went to the doctor.  When I called to schedule an appointment, the receptionist asked me what my symptoms were and I told her that I had no desire to drink wine.  I heard her gasp (and I’m pretty sure her hand went straight to her heart), and she got me in right away…..she knows me.

This is when I know I am sick!

This is when I know I am sick!

Anyway – now that I am back in the living world, I’ve noticed how freakin’ cold it has been for what…..something like 9 months now???  It’s March 2nd and in my neck of the woods (which apparently still has ticks floating around since my dog just tested positive for Lyme Disease), it is -2 degrees!  This weather is just plain stupid!  So…….why is this winter so different from those in the past?  After several glasses of wine, the answer revealed itself to me (or maybe it was just a hallucination).  I know that meteorologists and researchers have been scrounging for answers as to why this winter has been so harsh.  And the Farmer’s Almanac is usually right 5% of the time.  If only the “experts” had consulted with me, because I KNOW WHY THIS WINTER HAS BEEN AWFUL!

Are you ready for this??  This winter has been so terrible because……..I ACTUALLY WISHED FOR THIS KIND OF WEATHER!  It’s true and terribly hard to believe.  It really is my fault…..totally. I take full responsibility at the risk of becoming reviled by every US citizen (and most illegal immigrants) east of the Mississippi (and west, too).

I take full responsibility

It really is my fault……sorry

This is what happened.  For the past several years, the east coast has experienced relatively mild winters and….quite frankly –  that has made me mad.  I hate 40 degree weather…..day after day of depressing dreariness. It’s that cold-ish, moist, grey weather that is just plain gross and makes living in this area a questionable location choice.  Who wants to live in climate limbo between winter and spring?  Snow vs. rain/sleet?  Cold vs. blah?

Last year when all of this in-between-ness with the weather was going on AGAIN, I distinctly remember saying to my husband, “D*mn it!  This weather is f*d!  I would rather have it cold than this 40 degree sh*t. (I didn’t really cuss like that, but you get the idea).  If it was going to be gross weather, then darn it….just give me cold!  The hell with this middle of the road, depressing slop that is the typical central PA clime!

So, yeah……I had clearly proclaimed that I preferred cold and snow over rain and grey skies.  I declared that winter should be winter and not a bunch of crappy drizzly days strung together.  In my defense, I probably lamented about the weather these last couple of years after having copious amounts of wine (even though I think I made those statements right smack dab in the middle of the work day….which might indicate that I have a drinking problem).  The fact of that matter was that I was sick and tired of awakening to grey mornings and enduring mid-40’s mist-laden days.  I consistently had to don an umbrella when I should have been wearing mittens.  I wore boots in January to wade through pot-holed puddles instead of tromping through piles of beautiful fluffy snow drifts.

The first of many snowfalls

The first of many snowfalls

We’re in the deep freeze, folks,  because I asked for it.    I didn’t mean for tons of snow and ice to descend upon us.  I just wanted 2 or 3 inches of downy delicate snow here and there.  I didn’t mean for 8 -12 inches at a time to pound the area.  And I certainly didn’t intend for the plethora of snow that once blanketed this area to morph into treacherous icy ground cover.

                                                                                It's even a challenge for sure-footed pets

It’s even a challenge for sure-footed pets

But – I ask you – what has happened with global warming?  Where are we at with that whole thing right now?

Nothing like sitting by a nice warm fire

Nothing like sitting by a nice warm fire

I thought that the temperature of the earth’s surface was supposed to be increasing.  The air temperature was rising as well. Winters were to become shorter.  Read that again…..winter’s were to become shorter!  Sure – there were  negative repercussions such as melting ice caps that affect wildlife,  extreme weather events, and rising sea levels.  But on a positive note – global warming was supposed to result in decreased snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.  So – why didn’t that happen this year?  Because…….for some reason,  a higher power (God, in my book……) granted my request  of a “winter’s winter” instead of the in-between crap that we usually get.  So – yeah….I am totally to blame.  I asked for it……and now look where we are.

Go ahead and unfriend me on Facebook if that makes you feel better.  I deserve it.  Egg my house if you know where I live.  In August when the weather breaks, I’ll clean it off.

But – please accept my apologies for wishing this frigid winter on all of us.  I will never make such an invocation again…I promise.  I will welcome those endless disgusting cloudy moisture-laden days.  I will gladly raise my bumbershoot in joyous celebration of rain instead of snow!  I hope you all forgive me for my wishful thinking for a cold winter.  I’ve learned my lesson.  See you on Facebook……or maybe not.

Top 15 Different Meanings of Meanings

Do you feel like you’re living in a world where the vocabulary of young people has passed you by?  Do your kids and grandkids talk to you and you have no idea what they are saying? When you watch a TV show or movie, are you only understanding every other word because what you thought was the meaning, just doesn’t seem to fit the context?  (Or maybe you need a hearing aid.  Hard to tell.)

You are not alone in feeling confused.  Definitions have changed.  Terminology that we “maturians” (I just made that word up…..good, huh?) are familiar with are totally different now. What meant something years ago, doesn’t hold true today.  Certain words have taken on very different meanings.  How did this happen and who determines what those words mean?  It doesn’t matter, because you are old and totally out of it.   But – because I am kinder and gentler now, I’ve decided to help you all with some clarifications.  True – you could just go to Urban Dictionary , look some words up, and talk all bad-ass.  But – I’ll get things started for you…….from kinder, gentler Julie to you – I offer my top 15 Different Meanings of Meanings:

Hmmmmm…..what does all of this mean?

Hmmmmm…..what does all of this mean?

Open A Window – In 1976, if my mom told me to open a window, I would’ve opened one of the kitchen windows in our country-based home.  The recently spread pungent manure would “delicately waft” through the screen while we gagged and lamented that the local farmer ruined a perfectly good summer evening.  Now…..when my kids tell me to “open a window,” they mean for me to open a new tab on my computer.  Not smelling the compost on this one………….

What can we see in windows?

Can’t really see out of this window

Sick – OK……I seriously don’t know how being sick has gone from vomiting your guts out to being totally awesome.  How did this noun evolve into an adjective  and go from being repulsive to resplendent?  At a recent family gathering at my 86-year old parents’ house, I  asked, “Did anyone see the recent episode of Ridiculousness?  It was sick.” My mom immediately got me a bucket to puke in.  I confused her.

Bad – bad is now good; awesome; kick-ass.  You need to incorporate this word into every other sentence, otherwise your kids and grandkids will not take you seriously.

I'm thinking we all might need to read this book

I’m thinking we all might need to read this book

Gay – if you were to use this word today to mean “joyful”,” cheerful”, “convivial,” no one would get it.  Nowadays, “gay” is only used to mean “someone of  homosexual persuasion.”  If someone asked you how you were feeling and you said, “I’m gay,” the person would tell you where and when the next Pride parade was.

Wicked – when I was growing up, the only time I really heard the term “wicked” was when the Wizard of Oz was airing and the reviled Wicked Witch of the West was in her glory.  Today – wicked means great, awesome, sick.  The fact of the matter is…….no one is getting my ruby slippers.

She's so wicked, she's wicked!

She’s so wicked, she’s wicked!

Pot – Oh!….the various meanings!  Cooking utensil, cannabis, toilet….”a pot to piss in.”  How can one word mean a euphoric inhaled substance, culinary saucepan, and  privy all at once? It’s really quite gross if you think about it.

Text – this used to refer to a book…..the written word transcribed on paper; a manuscript.  Now, it’s a short version of a series of words and abbreviations typed on a phone screen (hopefully while one is not driving).  And the autocorrect usually makes for some hilarious communication!

Dope – in my day, “dope” described someone that was stupid or ignorant.  They usually sat in a corner of the classroom with a dunce cap on.  Then it became a slang term for marijuana giving the connotation that those who smoked dope acted like a dope. Presently, dope means cool, swell, terrific!  This is an example of a truly negative word working its way into one of the most highest regarded fun words of all time!  

It's dope to be a dope www.kieran.net

It’s dope to be a dope

Cell – today everyone knows you’re talking about your mobile phone. Back in the day, one might use the word cell to  refer to jail.  But it WOULD be totally dope if you had a cell in your cell and could text….unless you’re him.

Who the hell gave this guy a cell phone?   www.prisoncellphones.com

Is that the iPhone 5s?

Plasma – years ago plasma often referred to the words “protoplasm” , “body fluid”, “blood stuff” unless you were scientific and knew that it really was a state of matter.  Now it is a type of  expensive TV and if you don’t have one then you are not dope.  “Dude – let’s watch the game in my man cave on my big plasma!”

Cloud – the puffy, fluffy stuff in the sky.  In the olden days, we used to lay on our backs in our untreated lawns and gaze at the clouds in the sky.  We were content to spend 8.315 minutes identifying shapes, people, animals, etc. forming in the clouds.  It was relaxing.  Our deductions and thoughts didn’t go anywhere…..we just had fun determining what the clouds were showing us.  Nowadays, photos, messages, etc. are transmitted through the cyberspace cloud and miraculously distributed among all of our cellular devices.  You can even send photos to other people’s devices if you share a cloud!   I have photos on my iPad and I have no idea how the hell they got there.  Is someone sharing my cloud and I don’t know about it?  As the Rolling Stones once sang – “Hey, you, get off of my cloud!”  Man – they were before their time!  Dope song….let’s take a listen:

Chill – Back in the day, chill was a noun.   You got a chill for numerous reasons, like if you were sick, or sitting in a drafty location; or if something spine tingling caused a chill. Today – it is a verb and means to relax, take it easy, veg.  In this high-stressed contemporary world , it is important that everyone should just chill before one of us goes and busts a cap.  My feeling is that – if you have chilled wine, everything will be just fine.  This is why I drink a lot of chilled wine ……..so that I can chill.

Get this woman some wine stat! www.getfitjess.com

Get this woman some wine stat!  She needs to chill!

Moss – the green stuff that grows on rocks and stones and such.  It’s slippery as all get out when it’s wet.  Nowadays it means chill…..see above.  For instance, “Why are you getting all worked up about Obamacare?  You need to just moss.”  How does a noun all of the sudden become a verb?  Guess it’s just an example of this multi-tasking environment.  If we homo sapiens are expected to perform separate tasks simultaneously, well…..dammit…..so should our vocabulary!

Diaphragm – back in Anatomy and Physiology class, everyone learned where their diaphragm was located……in the chest cavity where it separates the chest from the abdomen (OK…..I cheated and looked it up cuz I learned about this years ago and I didn’t know if anything had changed since then.  Plus  – my A&P professor wasn’t very good.)  Nowadays, if you were to go up to a random female and ask her where her diaphragm was, she’d either slap you in the face or tell you that she didn’t own a diaphragm……just not her cup of tea.

Word – this is the silliest of all the different meanings.  We all know what the word “word” means.   We speak in words, we write in words, words are elements of speech strung together to form sentences.   Hipsters today use the word “word” to mean “I agree.”  Here’s an example:

Me:  Sidney Crosby is the most awesome hockey player EVER!

Kevin:  Word…..he’s the best

So, speaking of word…..I’m out of words…….I’ve completed my 15 different meanings of meanings.  There are countless others, but  these were ones I came up with in the past 30 minutes.  Oh, WTH – I confess – I spent DAYS coming up with these words!  Feel free to add your own in the comment section on my blog page.

A Slacking Kinder, Gentler Julie

Happy New Year Friends!

Sorry that I took such a long break from my blog……..I know the 3 of you that read this blog are disappointed that there haven’t been some posts for a while.

Despite my inconsiderateness with not writing, I HAVE been working hard on some rough drafts that will probably go straight to trash.  You need to understand that writing the high quality literary masterpieces that I do takes much time, several rewrites and copious amounts of alcohol.  Actually, I have had all 3 of those elements in my favor over the past 3 weeks, so I’ve come to the conclusion that my friends are absolutely correct……..I’m a slacker!

Astute readers and soon-to-be-ex-friends, Jeanne Perrine Balaoing and Mike Hodgson, recently pointed out (on social media, no less!) that I wasn’t keeping up with their standard of ambitiousness.  They have been busy doing all kinds of trampoline building, painting, house repairs, yoga poses, witty Facebook postings, and other over-achieving activities.

Here's Jeanne and me……..she already has way more badges than me.

Here’s Jeanne and me……..she already had way more badges than me.

Mike showing off his constant building projects….give it a rest, OK?

Mike showing off his constant building projects….give it a rest, OK?

Jeanne and Mike actually called me on the carpet for not being as productive as them.  Little did they know that I was expending vast amounts of energy trying to find a flicker of sun while on a family vacation at Daytona  Beach.  I mean, really – I didn’t expect to leave grey skies and 40 degree weather in Pennsylvania to drive 1,150 miles south  to bask in grey skies and 40 degree weather!  In instances when I glimpsed the smallest ray of Florida sun,  I would race down several flights of concrete condominium stairs, aggressively shove people out of my way while running through the lobby, and sprint to the nearest poolside lounge chair all while stripping off my sweatshirt, sweatpants, knit hat and mittens .  Don’t worry – I had my bathing suit on underneath my winter wear. Usually by the time I got to the lounger, it was raining.  So – yeah……I was actually really busy over the holidays trying to stay warm in sunny Florida.

We are bundled up on the boardwalk New Year's Eve

We are bundled up on the boardwalk New Year’s Eve

The ONLY day of bright warm sun!

The ONLY day of bright warm sun!

Anyway- being with 22 other family members on our holiday gathering in Daytona Beach was tremendous fun and was really the reason why I haven’t been productive.  It was great to just chill (literally) and enjoy family members that I haven’t seen in a long time!  The weather wasn’t great, but the company sure was!

Nothin' but fun here!

Nothin’ but fun here!

Now……while I was busy loafing, I had a chance to formulate my new year’s resolution.  I really don’t ever make new year’s resolutions because that’s just stupid.  But – since I had all of this time on my hands, I decided to go for it.  I thought about drinking less wine……that contemplation lasted about .0000001 seconds.  Then I considered the resolution of cleaning my bathroom every week…….too unrealistic.  So – I settled on something totally subjective…….an intention that can’t be measured, so that I really can’t be held accountable!  Are you ready for this….. my new year’s resolution?  Here it is……..I am going to be “a kinder, gentler, Julie.”  What the hell does that mean?  I don’t know.  That’s the beauty of this resolution! It’s totally abstract.  My measurement of “kinder, gentler” may be extremely different from what others might think.  Kevin says that he hasn’t seen any difference so far, but- who is he to judge??  He’s only known me for 35 years.

I’ve been much more affectionate and obliging with our dogs…….I give Miley numerous tummy rubs a day and Marley gets extra treats, behind the ears rubs and kisses.  I have been putting toothpaste on Kevin’s toothbrush every morning and evening so that it is all ready for him.  And the other day, I was downright charming to a guy at work that I usually don’t see eye-to-eye with.

Despite my new gentler, kinder nature, I will be unfriending Jeanne Balaoing and Mike Hodgson on Facebook.  I can’t compete with over ambitious people in my life.  They just are not going to help me become kinder and gentler.  Oh – I’m just kidding……..I love those guys!  They make me laugh, so I guess I’ll keep them around!


In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately….and if there’s one thing I’ve gleaned, it’s that the airlines operate on a total caste system.  All of the airlines are doing this, but Frontier Airlines is the absolute worst. We’re all familiar with the first class vs. coach discriminatory separation that has existed for years.  We’ve become accustomed to that injustice. Those of us in the economy/coach class could always take solace in the fact that all of us subordinates were in the same boat (or  plane, in this case). Just a bunch of working stiffs relegated to the same kind of seats, the same amount of leg room, and the same shot at overhead bin space. But Frontier has caused further divisions and has turned us working class peons against one another!  This is how:

If you’re one of the wealthier serfs, you can opt to purchase a seat having more leg room.  Those seats claim to have something like 8 inches more leg room and are located at the front of coach thus providing that passenger with an early escape from the aircraft upon arrival.  Prices vary depending on the flight.

Seats that are closer together and located in the middle of the plane are the cheapest seats and most of those are center seats.  Looking for a cheap aisle or window seat?  Good luck!  These middle seats that are smack dab in the middle of the plane are designated for the lowest of peasants (me).

people in a tin can….yep….smelly and sardine-like

No leg room in this section!

The serfs sitting up ahead in the extra leg room section won’t even nod as you walk past them to your crummy seat.  It doesn’t matter that you might be their boss in the working world…….they are above you now AND have extra leg room…..HA!

And if you have a roller carry-on bag, you are not permitted to get on the Frontier airbus (sporting Foxy the Fox on its tail) until everyone else has boarded.  You are the bottom of the Frontier barrel if you have a roller bag.  And actually – you’ll probably have to check that bag, so…..next time, leave your roller bag at home and just bring all of your “stuff” in a grocery bag that you can shove under your seat.  If, by some miracle, there is enough room for your roller bag, you will get the stink eye from everyone on the plane as you turn your bag on edge to squeeze down the aisle to your cramped location.

Ready to go on my pre-Christmas flight!

Ready to go on my pre-Christmas flight with my dreaded roller bag! I am a total minion by airline industry standards

After all of this discrimination and judgment by your fellow passengers, you’ve worked up a hunger and thirst.  Hope you brought some food and drink with you, cuz on this airline, you’re not getting anything for free.  The wealthier of the minions will gloat when ordering the $1.99 water and $3.00 bag of chips.  You might here them exclaim…….”Oh by the way……make that 2!”  And the flight attendants don’t take cash so you better have a credit card to pay for a purchase which is totally against what Dave Ramsey (financial guru) preaches.

I don’t mean to sound so disgruntled especially during this time of year.  On my last trip, though, I had a particularly bad experience. In the spirit of Christmas, I’ve written a little ode about the airlines and what happened.

                          T’WAS THE FLIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

T’was the  flight before Christmas….actually that is a lie.

The airlines are scrooges, despite when you fly….

There’s no overhead bin space,

your bag needs to be measured.

The hell with those roll-bags

stashed with your treasures.

“Now would be a good time

to place your tote in the template,

we’ll check  your bag if it’s too big

says the sugary-voiced attendant.”

Well…..at least we know Hazel can be stowed in the overhead bins

Well…..at least we know Hazel can be stowed in the overhead bins

“But – I brought a carry on for a purpose”,

I emphatically say…….

I don’t want to check baggage – it

creates a delay.”

This is why I use carry-on luggage

This is why I don’t check bags!

“Well, you’ve purchased a ticket

in the cheapest of seats,

you’re last on the aircraft,

good luck with your feat

of finding some space in the overhead bins,

You’re the lowest of low,”

smirks the suit wearing wings.

snarky flight attendant

snarky flight attendant

As I proceed down the aisle

looking  here, looking there,

I spy a great spot!

But a backpack, I fear

is taking much space…… and needlessly so.

I ask the owner….can this backpack  just go

underneath of your seat in front of your toes?

“No”, says the idiot, (he is a big schmoe).

Rolling my eyes, and before coming to blows,

Inconsiderate jerk……you can't put your book bag under the seat in front of you?

Inconsiderate jerk……you can’t put your backpack under the seat in front of you?

the attendant steps in and proceeds down the row.

He finds me a spot and I stash my small kit,

I can finally relax despite that dimwit.

So, between the cramped  quarters

and bin slots people hoard,

I’m beginning to “get” that……

cheap tix  don’t afford

what others receive

when allowed “early board.”

When I exit the plane

and I gather my things,

it’s a sad realization

that this particular trip brings…..

travelers are selfish,

and the airlines are prickish

If you don’t spend a fortune

on expensive seat tickets.

Let this be a lesson

to all  who are travelers……

the airlines will screw you;

so might the passengers.

                            MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOODNIGHT!


My Husband Vacuums his Head

I am Kevin’s hairdresser (or more like…..”lack-of-hair”-dresser).  Cutting Kevin’s hair was not part of my marriage vows, but I have come about this job by default.  I guess this is part of the “worse” aspect of “for better or for worse.”

I don’t have a fancy chair with a foot pump, a soft feather brush for gently sweeping away cut hair from the neck, or even a decent pair of scissors, but Kev keeps coming back to my “salon.”  The convenience and cheap service is obviously the big draw (cuz it sure as hell isn’t for my spiffy styling techniques).

As I mentioned, I don’t have many barbering tools, but I do have a vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner has become an essential barbering device in my parlor.  This is a frequent scene in our house, and I swear…….this was never MY idea.  I’m totally fine with ridding the floor and surrounding areas of excess hair, but vacuuming the head???  This is where I put my foot down to the “worse” part of the vows.

Vacuuming a somehwat bald head

Vacuuming all of those trimmings and perhaps contributing to early baldness??  Is there some research on this??  And for God’s sake…..put a shirt on, man!

I’m glad that Kevin has faith in me to cut his cut when he knows that I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.  Fortunately, he is pretty laid back about what his hair looks like.  He’s had a history of  bad hair cuts and salon visits.  When we lived in Mt Lebanon (1980-1997), Kevin always went to the Family Hair Center owned by the wonderful Frank Paonessa who was the main barber. Even before that, Kevin went to Frank starting when Kevin was 12 years old and Frank was cutting hair near where Kevin grew up in Pittsburgh.  They  have history!

Frank had a brother, Jimmy who also worked at the Family Hair Center. Frank and Jimmy were the typical Italian barbers that would’ve been stars of a reality TV show if that was in existence in the 1980’s…….”The Barbers of Pittsburgh”…..kinda a spinoff of the Barber of Seville which as it turns out has nothing to do with barbers, as far as I can tell.  Maybe more like the Housewives of Jersey spinoff………Anyway – it was always fun to hear Frank and Kevin conversing about arrests, bad guys, good guys, etc. while Frank shaved Kevin’s head way too short.  The lively conversation was wonderful …….the haircut……not so much.

After every haircut from Frank, I would  strongly encourage Kevin to go elsewhere.  But – the fact of the matter was …………Kevin and I both really liked Frank.  Frank came to our wedding! Even though I didn’t like how Frank cut Kevin’s hair, Frank was a really cool guy .  Both Frank and Jimmy became friends of ours (they were the closest we ever came to being “made” without killing someone!) .

Damn…..I wish I knew how to photoshop Kevin's and my pics in here

Damn…..I wish I knew how to photoshop Kevin’s and my pics in here.


Neither of us really wanted to sever the ties with Barber Frank despite the horrendous coif that Kevin ended up with every month.  Relocation forced the issue of saying goodbye to Frank and the awful haircuts when we moved from Mt. Lebanon in 1997.

With our move, Kevin was forced to embark on the quest to replace Frank.  After perusing a number of places, Kevin ended up at Scissorhand Station (we had a coupon for there from our “Welcome to Hummelstown” basket).  Scissorhand Station……..cute name, huh?  The business sat right next to the rail lines in Hummelstown and the Edward Scissorhands movie had just been released.  It didn’t have the gangsta flair of the Paonessa brothers Family Hair Center, but it will go down in Stoehr family lore.

This is what happened – Kevin, sporting his FBI Academy shirt walked in to Scissorhand Station and asked if they took walk-ins (little did the stylist know Kev had a coupon burning a hole in his pocket).  The stylist motioned him to her chair and then immediately proceeded to lock the door to the business.  Seems that she might have had a law enforcement fetish. There was no one else in the salon…..just Kevin and Her……. Kevin immediately felt uncomfortable that it was just him and her very alone with the door now locked.  The hairdresser then started making some flirty chit chat.  Kevin began to stammer and sweat profusely. Was he going to be seduced or murdered?  This was Fifty Shades of Grey in reverse and 30 years earlier.  After a few more lines of suggestive questions, Kevin decided to bolt. He told the woman that he had changed his mind and didn’t want a haircut after all.  Now – some men would’ve relished that moment and would have taken advantage, but Kevin just didn’t feel that things were copacetic there at the salon.  Or maybe Kevin was just not used to the dominatrix type atmosphere.  I’m pretty gentle and congenial when I cut hair.

I'm a very gentle hair stylist…..usually I've had wine

I’m a very gentle hair stylist…..usually I’ve had wine

So -ever since then, I have been cutting Kevin’s hair.  I’m not domineering or in any way sexual in my hair cutting approach (and Kevin can vouch for that!).  I do become a little bossy and then Kevin gets defensive……like when I accidentally snipped his ear with my (very dull) scissors and drew blood, Kevin threatened never to come back to my salon.  Or – when I yelled at him to quit looking at the TV and lower his head so I could get the back of his neck, he said that I was the most overbearing stylist he had ever encountered.  Kevin portends that mine is the worst salon he has ever been to.  It’s all a bluff.  Kevin’s frugal and he will suffer a really bad haircut by me because it is FREE!  But – the haircut I give Kevin is still better than Frank’s!

The point of this post is the fact that Kevin vacuums his hair.  Who does that?  Have you ever been to a salon where the  patron holds the vacuum cleaner hose and suctions every strand as it falls?  Maybe that could be a new trend………a discounted hair cutting salon (“Suck it Up”) where the patron cleans up after himself for a reduced cost. I think I’m on to something.  Call me – I’ll cut your hair if you vacuum your own head.

NBC’s The Sound of Music – Not One of My Favorite Things

I was named after Julie Andrews.  My maiden name is Julie Ann Richards.  My mom wanted to call me Melody (gag me), but thankfully, my dad intervened and suggested Julie Ann because Julie Andrews was becoming popular in 1958 when I was born (OMG……I just revealed my age of 39….it’s the new math so just stop trying to figure it out!).  Julie Andrews had just starred in My Fair Lady in 1958 and of course went on to star in Sound of Music, Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang, Mary Poppins, and other wonderful productions.  Needless to say, Julie Andrews is near and dear to my heart.  After all……we’re pretty much related.

We are kindred spirits!

We are kindred spirits!

So – I’m really kinda pissed that NBC would go to all of that commercialism trouble to do a stage play of the Sound of Music.  First of all……a full fledged finished movie beats the hell out of a stage play.  Pardon me for insulting all of you thespians (BTW – there’s counseling available for that condition)……but I really don’t want to watch a stage play on my gigantic TV.  A stage play is meant for the stage……not a 55 inch HDTV screen!  I’m pretty sure that my HDMI cable revolted when it sensed a stage play was on TV.

This just didn't cut it

This just didn’t cut it

And, you know me – I LOVE Carrie Underwood.  After all…..I’m going to great lengths to obtain her beautiful smile.  Carrie can sing, but her acting talents are sorely lacking.  Her flat affect through much of the “play” totally distracted from the heartfelt beauty that Julie Andrews brought to that role.  I have to say, though, that Mother Superior (Audra McDonald) was pretty damn good.  She’s won a bunch of Tony’s in the past and she nailed not only the singing but the emotion and acting that was necessary for that part.

Audra McDonald……she's going to heaven!

Audra McDonald……she’s going to heaven!

But – every single one of the Von Trapp family kids were not cute or likable in any aspect.  The over (or under) acting was a real turn-off.  And what was up with Rolf?  Why wasn’t he dressed in the attire worn in the movie? Would that be so hard to do? Did he really need to be portrayed in jorts?  Did they even have jorts back then?  He is an important messenger for the German Nazi regime for God’s sake!  No dictator dresses their personnel in jorts!  However, Michael Campayno who played Rolf is from Pittsburgh, so he is OK is my book even though his attire is not!

This dress is totally disrespectful of the Nazi regime

Rolf’s naked knees are totally disrespectful of the Nazi regime

Christian Borle was awesome as Max Detweiler…….he knows how to do a musical! You might know him as Tom, Debra Messing’s writing partner in Smash.  Christian is also from Pittsburgh.  Geez……there were a lot of Pittsburghers in this Sound of Music production. My husband just said – Pittsburgh is “Hollywood East.”  He then made a punny and said that it would really be “Hilly-wood East.”  This is why I drink.

The fact of the matter is this:

1)  Anyone younger than 18 has never seen the original Sound of Music

2) Anyone younger than the age of 18 has absolutely no idea who Julie Andrews is

3) NBC thought that it could make a ton of money by “updating” this classic with a well-known artist (Carrie Underwood) cast in the lead role

4) Walmart was chomping at the bit to fund this clunker.

Which leads me to my next rant…………I hate Walmart!  I am never buying another thing there.  Everything sold at Walmart is from China.  Even if it means spending a couple of extra dollars, I am buying American and I am buying local.  And I’m gonna go out on a limb here…..but – even if I don’t have a coupon, I’m still buying American and local.  Even Kevin is supportive of this mission and he is the ultimate coupon king!

My King!  I love him and all of the coupons he brings to our marriage!

My King! I love him and all of the coupons he brings to our marriage!

Wow……..I don’t even know how to conclude this post.  It appears that I’m pretty bitter about the Sound of Music stage play on NBC and the capitalistic obsession of Walmart.   Geez…..I’m a mess!  But I don’t think I’m alone.  Who’s with me here?  Give me some feedback on your thoughts about NBC’s Sound of Music and China-loving Walmart.  But – don’t you dare say anything bad about my namesake, Julie Andrews!