“Be Thankful You Have A Typewriter and Two Hands So You Can Write”- Me, Age 9

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I thought it rather fortuitous that I came across this note while cleaning out my desk.  It was a note that I wrote to my mother in January of 1979, when I was 9 years old.

After I stopped laughing, I really pondered the end of that note, “And please don’t get so upset when your tyeping (hey, I was 9) goes wrong.  It’s not the end of the world, you know.  Be thankful you have a typewriter and two hands so you can write.”

I thought people were supposed to get wiser as they got older.  But apparently, I was more enlightened at nine than I am at forty-seven.  Now I’m the one who gets upset when my “typing” goes wrong.

When I do reflect on what I’m thankful for, the same things always pop into my head. “I’m thankful for family, friends, good health.”  And yes, those are all perfectly fine things to be thankful for.  But they’re so…I don’t know, obvious?  So today I’m going to try and channel the innocence of my 9 year old self and try to find the good in the not-so-obvious things.

I am thankful for the guy that flipped me off when I was driving the other day. You were right. I was spacing out in my own world, driving like a moron, and you brought me back to reality.

I am thankful for Ikea furniture instructions.  I may have shouted obscenities (what the f**k is a Vanaskaplig cam lock nut???) throughout the entire 900 step building process, but man, when that nightstand was finished, I felt like a freaking superhero in front of my daughter.  “You see that?  Mommy can build shit too! Just don’t, like, lean on it too hard, okay?”

I am thankful for the nine loads of smelly laundry piled up all over my house. Being surrounded by all that laundry means being surrounded by these people that I love.  I’m thankful to have a good washer and dryer to make that chore manageable.  Having to line-dry everybody’s underwear would be a real bummer in the Pacific Northwest.

I am thankful for the high-spirited children I encounter as a substitute teacher.  They teach me patience.

I am thankful for the time that our car ended up in a ditch on the side of the road on a dark and rainy night on this island.  I would never have known that car after car after car would stop to offer us help…from teenagers to senior citizens to moms with a car full of kids.  It showed us the true heart of this community in which we are lucky enough to live.

I am thankful for the power outages that occur every time there’s a small gust of wind on this island.  It forces us to realize that we really can survive without electronics and reminds us that Rummikub is a kick-ass game.

I am thankful for the kid that was mean to my daughter.  You taught her to be resilient and you taught her empathy.  She will not treat anyone the way you treated her.

I am thankful for my gray hairs.  Actually…nope, can’t do it.  That’s ridiculous and just a lie.  I hate gray hairs.

I am thankful for that stupid Elf on the Shelf who insists on returning every December. That Elf keeps my creativity flowing…not so much in where to hide him, but more so in the off-the-cuff excuses I have to come up with when my daughter asks, “Why didn’t Pablo move last night?”  But I am mostly thankful for him because his appearance in our home means somebody here still believes in the magic of Christmas…and in magic, period.

I am thankful for all the rejections I’ve received when submitting my writing for publication.  It makes the acceptances that much sweeter and it makes me try harder.

And I guess, like I so sagely put it when I was nine, I should be thankful for my two hands so I can write.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Oprah’s Favorite Things 2017” – The Reality Edition

If you live on Planet Earth, you’ve most likely heard of “Oprah’s Favorite Things”, the list of gift suggestions she shares each holiday season.  This is the 20th year of the notorious list and according to Oprah, “this year, there is something for everyone!”

Everyone, Oprah?  Are you sure about that?  I took a look at some of these items and, no offense to Queen Oprah, but I beg to differ.

1. Coatology Down Scarf $85

scarf

Umm…pass.  If I want a scarf that looks like that, I’ll just wrap a Hefty lawn bag around my neck for free and call it a day.

2. L’OBJET Bath Salts $150

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One hundred and fifty bucks for a bottle of bath salts?  For that price it better come with a person that will stand outside the bathroom door and block my children, husband, and dog from interrupting my luxurious bath.  And then feed everybody while I’m soaking. Now that might be worth it.

3. Emi Jay Women’s Smooshshirt $136

smooshshirt

The description of this product on Amazon claims that this is “the softest product to ever touch your body.” Clearly, Oprah has never tried on my Philips Academy sweatshirt from 1985.  Yes, I still have an article of clothing that I bought when I was 15 years old. And I will tell you, when you’ve worn and washed something for 33 years, it really is the “softest product to ever touch your body.” So I’ll save the $136 and carry on, Oprah.

 

 

4. Gratitude Glass Jar $45

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I actually love this idea.  The concept is that family members jot down things they are grateful for, put them in the jar and then review them at the end of the year. What I don’t love is the $45 price tag for the jar itself.  I’ll tell you what I’m grateful for…the old mason jar I’ve got in my cupboard because now I have Item #4 for free.

5. Novelty Bird House, Prices Vary  *Hotel California Birdhouse $538

birdhouse

Seriously?  You would think the crazy thing is that there is a $538 birdhouse on this list…but the really crazy thing is that this birdhouse is sold out online already!  I never realized how many spoiled rotten birds are flying around out there.

6. 23andMe DNA Test $69

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I don’t know about you, but if a family member gave me a DNA test kit for Christmas, frankly, I’d be a little freaked out.  I mean, what is the end game here? Are you trying to reveal a long-kept secret, like my dad is not actually my dad? Perhaps you’re trying to prove we’re not related somehow?  Do you love me so much you want my DNA available for cloning in 50 years?  Honestly, I’m not comfortable with any of those scenarios so thanks but no thanks on the DNA test. I choose to remain a mystery.

7. Maman Trio $65

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Sixty-five dollars for twelve cookies??  Are they magic cookies, like with zero calories or something?  Or better yet, calorie burning cookies?  Because that’s pretty much the only way I’d pay over five bucks for a cookie.  I’m thinking Oprah hasn’t been to Costco in a while. Because they now sell “Toasted Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies” that are the size of small frisbees and are simply amazing.  I took a photo for proof…that’s a fig newton for scale.  At a buck a cookie, I’m sticking with these babies.

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8. A Great Thought A Day Notepads $15

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Finally, something on the list for a reasonable price.  But I don’t know…feels like too much pressure.  A great thought a day?  I don’t feel like I have enough “great” thoughts to fill that pad.  My great thoughts would probably consist of “bananas” and “waffles” because really, I’d just end up using it for my grocery list.  And isn’t that what the free notepads that realtors leave on your doorstep are for?

9. GoBone $199

gobone

A $200 dog bone?  The company claims “The GoBone automatically keeps a pup rolling around, chasing, and being chased, all at the touch of an app.”  I actually have a free app for that.  It’s called, “Kids, go play with the dog!”  No batteries required.

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Sorry, Oprah, but this list is a bust for me.  My favorite gift I’ve gotten recently was from my sister, who sent me a t-shirt for no special occasion, that says, “It’s Too Peopley Outside.”

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I was like “Yes”!  Now this is an awesome gift.  It IS too peopley outside.  Which is why I’ll be doing my holiday shopping from the comfort of my home, in my ultra soft sweatshirt from 1985, while munching on my giant Costco cookies.

Baker’s Remorse

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I’ve always loved to bake.  I cook simply because there are mouths to feed over here but I bake because I thoroughly enjoy it.  And when it’s dark and cold and rainy outside there is nothing better than being inside a warm house with the smell of fresh cookies in the oven.

But something happened a few days ago that has never happened before…I sort of found my kryptonite.  I decided to try a new chocolate chip cookie recipe and I’ve completely lost all self-control.  Now, I like sweets as much as anyone, but I’m aware of the rules of normalcy….eating a couple of cookies after lunch, not a problem.  Eating SEVEN cookies before 10:00am….now it’s getting weird.  

And it’s gotten WAY weird with these cookies.  My first mistake was making far too much dough.  My second mistake was cooking them so that they were a little crispy on the outside yet chewy and gooey on the inside.  My final downfall was keeping dozens of these cookies in plain sight on my counter in a clear plastic container.

And every single time I walked into the kitchen there they were, just taunting me with their deliciousness.  Once I realized that me and these cookies had a little problem, I tried ignoring them.  Tried avoiding eye contact with the container.  I got to the point where I would spend lengths of time in the kitchen doing the dishes, preparing meals, stealing glances at the container out of the corner of my eye, pretending that I was going to win just this one battle and leave the kitchen empty-handed.

But I was shamefully defeated EVERY damn time.  When I opened the container to take this photo I LITERALLY PUT A COOKIE IN MY MOUTH AND IT WAS HANGING THERE while I clicked away.

When the kids asked to have a cookie I was like “YES!  Have a cookie!  Have FIVE cookies!  Pack them in your lunch and pass them out at school….JUST PLEASE MAKE THEM GO THE HELL AWAY!  

Thankfully, the cookies are now gone and life resumes as normal with the exception that I can’t button any of my pants.  If any of you are curious as to the recipe, I apologize but after the last cookie was gone I ceremoniously burned it at the stake while singing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” around my kitchen.

“Where DOES The Other Sock Go?” And A Few More Things I’d Like To Know

1.  The lyrics to Yellow Ledbetter by Pearl Jam.  Eddie Vedder…you’re amazing and all but I’ve heard that song countless times since 1992, and I still don’t know WTF you are saying.  Just listen for like, 20 seconds…..

See what I mean?  That song totally cramps my car karaoke jam, it’s much harder to annoy my children when I’m just mumbling nonsense the whole time.

2.  Boy or turtle?  A many years long, great debate in my family.  I mean, clearly, it’s a turtle.

Slow Caution Danger Sign

3.  Where DOES the other sock go?  It’s pretty much my goal in life to unload the whites from the dryer and have them all match up, just once.  It will probably never happen, but a girl can dream, right?

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4.  How is it that I have a degree from UCSD but I can’t help my kid with 4th grade math homework??  I mean, I can figure out the answers, but according to my daughter, “THAT IS NOT THE WAY WE LEARNED IT AT SCHOOL!!  YOU’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!!”

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5.  How can an egg roll possibly retain heat for so long?  I make like four attempts to eat it and I get screwed every time.  I’m like a dog that gets shocked but I just keep comin’ back for more.

Homemade Chinese Vegetable EggRolls

TRICKY LITTLE BUGGERS

6.  That Meat Loaf song, “I would do anything for love (but I won’t do that).”  I know every single word to that song but for the life of me I can’t figure out what “that” is.  Please, somebody tell me…what won’t he do???  This is the crap that keeps me up at night.

meatloaf

7.  How is yawning contagious?  I bet you yawned reading that, didn’t you?  Want to see if someone you know is a psychopath?  Yawn in front of them.  People high in psychopathic personality traits often don’t “catch” the contagious yawn, because they are lacking in empathy.  Just learned that today.  MIND. BLOWN.  And I yawned like six times while writing this so I am totally not a psychopath, just in case you’ve ever wondered.

8.  Why and OMG WHY???  Nobody should eat their breakfast on a stick.  NOBODY.  (For some reason, I imagine myself saying that with a thick Italian accent.  Probably because if my Italian ancestors saw the kind of crap Americans deem “food”, they would die).

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Anyway, those are just a few of the things I ponder during my morning shower.  Thanks for listening.  How about you…what are some things you would like to know?  Feel free to share in the comments!

Friday Night Entertainment On Bainbridge Island

My husband and I were born and raised in the suburbs of Southern California and New York, respectively.  Our decision to randomly pick up and move ourselves and our three children to a small, rural island in the Pacific Northwest surprised a lot of friends and family.

“But what is there to do?”
“There’s no mall at all?”
How far do you have to drive to Target?”
“What if you, like, needed to buy underwear?” (I still don’t have an answer to that one)
“You have to take a ferry everywhere?”
“Does Amazon even deliver there?” (Yup, I would not be able to survive here otherwise)

Anyway, when we moved into our house in the woods four years ago, we inherited a feral cat called “Blackie”.  The previous owners had been feeding him for years and asked if we would continue to look out for him.  We agreed.  Now I actually spend more on cat food than dog food for my actual pet because he’s a spoiled feral cat who only likes expensive canned stuff.

We feed him every day to supplement his hunting and even with that, he allows no human contact.  He has survived for an unknown (but large) number of years on this island teeming with predators.  There are cats here that don’t last a single night outside between the coyotes, raccoons, bald eagles, etc.  He has survived rainstorms, snowstorms, freezing temps and 52 consecutive days without rain last summer.

We honestly did not understand how it was possible Blackie was still alive…until tonight, when he showed us just how tough he actually is.

I happened to catch a pretty amazing exchange with my phone.  I sent the video to my family who began to mercilessly make fun of me for my narration during the event.

From my sister, “Janene is narrating like she is in Nairobi on Safari.”
From my brother, “LOL!!!! Can I post on Facebook, pleeeeassse?”
From my son, “OMG mom, you’re like better than the double rainbow guy.”

And then my aspiring little filmmaker set about editing a re-mix of my ridiculous commentary.

And as embarrassing as it is, they all convinced me to post it.  And even though I know this time people will be laughing AT me, not WITH me, I guess I’ll take a laugh any way I can get it!