Blarney as Our Second Language Redux

(This is an update of my blog from a year ago. I still think it’s a good idea!)

Shure and haven’t I been speakin’ the Blarney since I was a wee lass?

Okay, enough of the phony Irish accent.  I never was good at it anyway.  I just wanted to emphasize the fact that Blarney, that soothing, delightful manner of addressing others, is a great way to communicate. You don’t have to be Irish to speak it but it doesn’t hurt.

Blarney just might be the universal second language our world needs, long sought after, a means of expression understood by everyone.

So what is Blarney anyway?  Well, all you need is a soft smile and a sweet, sly voice, or maybe a soft voice and a sweet, sly smile.  Sometimes called the Gift O’ Gab, sometimes schmoozing, or soft soap, it’s occasionally rather insultingly referred to as B.S.  The Blarney is a much kinder means of communicating, the idea being to establish a good feeling with the person to whom you are speaking.  A tiny white lie is never amiss as long as it makes your listener feel good.

Blarney is the perfect language to use with curmudgeons, crabs and cold hearts, or anyone having an off day.  When voices get tense and an argument seems imminent, lay on the Blarney and talk the combatants down.  When spirits are low, Blarney is the way to cheer people up, flattering the bejabbers out of them.

For example, you haven’t slept, the bags under your eyes could hold bowling balls and you look like you barely survived The Perfect Storm.  Do you want to hear  “Ye gods, what a mess.  What happened to you?  Go back to bed and get up again.”

Or would you rather hear  “Oh, you poor love, you aren’t quite yourself, want to tell me about it?”  That’s a no-brainer and that’s why the person now speaking to you just became your new best friend.  So you’re being schmoozed, you know it, it feels good and so do you.

There is a lot of Blarney going around right here at our retirement residence. I hear it all the time and I love it.  Whatever the reason, our age group, our similarities, the fact that we all have one foot on the proverbial banana peel, it’s beautiful to our ears.  Maybe we’re just naturally nice people; whatever,  schmoozing is soothing.

Oh sure, there are always those who can’t resist a snide remark or a snarky comment but they’re few and far between and they just need a good dose of Blarney to calm them down.

If only our world leaders would learn to use the Blarney, think of the benefits.  Our legislators need to start addressing one another as  “The esteemed gentlewoman or gentleman from the great State of Euphoria”  without the undercurrent of sarcasm we hear so often.

They could then communicate with representatives of the most powerful countries of the world at the next Global Summit in an equally sincere, flattering fashion, thereby setting the stage for success.  Imagine a Global Round Table discussion right here

in our own country with current world leaders gathered together.

An affable Donald Trump is welcoming all the delegates with open arms.  Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu are questioning Kim Jung Un about the efficacy of Rogaine on male pattern baldness.  Jung Un, who resembles an overwatered Chia Pet, is nodding vigorously, repeating over and over, “Is good, is good” in Korean Blarney.

Angela Merkel and Xi Jinping are happily trading recipes for Rouladen and General Tso’s Chicken.  Francois Hollande and Teresa May have set aside centuries of dissension to agree on the proper pronunciation of such common words as CHANNEL versus CHENEL or the usage of LOO versus PISSOIR.  Pope Francis and Italy’s Mattarella  toast the fact that neither has ever owed the other rent or taxes; and so it might go.

The African contingent and the Scandinavians are smiling, deep in conversation, as are the Central and South Americans. The Canadians are arm in arm with the Greeks, learning traditional  dances.  The bad boys from ISIS have been exiled to the kiddies’ table in the corner until they agree to shape up.

Each session begins and ends with the delegates clasping hands, swaying slightly and singing  “Kumbaya.”  Pots of herbal tea and platters of Snickerdoodle cookies are consumed.  The warm fuzzies break out all over, all because everyone is speaking our common language, the Blarney!

Hey, it’s worth a try!!

Erin Go Bragh!

Writing Class

My writing class begins each session with a 6 minute “hot-write.” Someone chooses a word or phrase at random from a thesaurus and we’re given 6 minutes to write whatever comes to mind, using that word or phrase.

Here are a few examples I’ve come up with:


Length versus width multiplied by breadth. What does that mean anyway, and how should it be used? I once knew but I no longer have the foggiest idea. It does sound good, though.

Length by itself can conjure various meanings: a length of fabric might end up as a new garment. The length of a speech might bring glassy eyes and yawns to hundreds of people. Length used in Track and Field or horse racing would be measured microscopically and gloated over or brooded on.

The length of this mini-essay has reached its maximum width and breadth; it isn’t elastic enough for me. The length of my attention span doesn’t stretch well, either.


So…licit. My translation: Sorta licit or sorta legal. Of course there are other meanings, no need to go into all of them (Standing on a street corner, for example, checking out the prospects) but I like my interpretation better. Kinda semi legal but maybe not quite. In light of the current political situation lately it’s a good word to throw around, and definitely non-partisan. One can think of any number of situations that are so..licit right now. Will anyone ever figure them all out?


Dey keep dealing me dis card and dat card but dey don’t do me no good. I need dose cards to fill out dis flush. C’mon, c’mon, I need some luck. I got hungry kids at home, I need cash. I already blew thirty bucks on dis game and I can’t discard no more of dese cards. I gotta get dat flush.

Oh, oh, here we go again, another round. C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, a queen, a queen, any old queen will do – red, black, green. I can’t stand da pressure. W H A T ?!! A trey??  Dis is da end! I’m sunk! I’m gonna tear up dis card and all the rest of dem cards. No more cards for me.


I have no idea what my prospect might be, immediately or later. From my vantage point it doesn’t look good. I was prospecting away, grubbing for those precious nuggets, knee deep in ice water when a sudden eddy in the river swept away what few prospects I had, pan and all. My immediate thought was, who opened the dam gates? Anyway I’m looking for a new pan and I’ll be right back out there, immediately or shortly thereafter, but I’ll check with the dam operator first.


I thought I could always bank on your accepting me as I am. I absolutely banked on it. Now I find that, not only were you not accepting me for who I am, neither were you accepting me for the “me” I want to be, the “me” I try to pass off on other people or the “me” I plan to become some day.

I need to be able to bank on all those people, my schizophrenia demands it. My bank is getting to the point where they’re not accepting me either, just because of you. My 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th personalities have decided we don’t accept you either, and you can bank on that.

Signed, Joan, Joan, Joan and Joan

Thirty-Eight Moves (from my memoir)

Thinking back over sixty-five years of married life and doing some quick calculations, I was amazed to realize my husband and I had moved a total of thirty-seven times during our lives together. (The thirty-eighth move was the hardest of all, the one I made by myself after I was alone.) I had to do some serious thinking before I finally came up with a list of all the homes we’d had.

Any move that called for a Post Office change of address, a pile of old newspapers and a raid on the trash behind the local grocery store for usable boxes made the list.

In 1943, as a young Navy bride stepping off a train from the Midwest, I was thrilled with our very first home. Lynn, my new husband, had rented a studio apartment at 230 Oak St. in San Francisco.

I enjoyed the city so much in those days. It was fresh and clean, and the air had a zesty brilliance. The briny sea smell and the odor of roasting coffee gave it an extra piquancy.

The most fascinating feature of our new apartment was the Murphy bed, a novelty to me. I’ve never forgotten the experience of waking up to my first earthquake. Being gently rocked back and forth as the bed slid around was so soothing that the quake was over with before I even had a chance to panic.

Those were war years, World War II was in full swing, so five months later Lynn’s next assignment, the newly launched U.S.S. Oakland, was deployed to the South Pacific to join the devastating  battles already underway. This was his second deployment and his second ship. The first one, the U.S.S. Atlanta, had been sunk in a major battle the previous year with a huge loss of life. His injuries kept him hospitalized for some time but now he had recovered and was being sent back to the war.

We met during his thirty day convalescent leave and married after a three month engagement. The idea of my brand new husband returning to the nightmare of war was traumatic for both of us. However, he had no choice and willingly did his duty.

After the ship left, I moved back to Iowa until Lynn returned to San Diego four months later and I was able to rejoin him. Port cities seem to be so much busier than other cities, and San Diego, lovely as it was, was no exception. Housing in war-time San Diego was almost impossible to find, but we finally lucked out with a room in a small two bedroom cottage.

There were already three couples living there, one couple in each of the bedrooms and one couple in the living room. We were allotted the dining room and a fifth couple settled in on the screened-in back porch. With one bath and a tiny kitchen, the lack of privacy and the need for tight schedules created a lot of problems. The guys all showered at their duty stations, a big help and a savings on hot water.

Living like this was also highly illegal, as you might guess. The original renters kept subletting until every livable space was filled. We were just happy to be crowded in and wouldn’t have dreamed of complaining.

When Lynn rejoined his ship in the South Pacific, it was back to the Midwest for me, by now pregnant and feeling very much alone, hating the long gritty, greasy smelling train trips. Our first child, a daughter, was seven months old before she met her daddy when he was finally able to join us for a week in Iowa. We reluctantly left her with her Grandma, knowing it was for her own good, and we were off to San Francisco again for a brief two weeks together.

We were very fortunate that we’d been talked into leaving our baby behind, as difficult as it was. The two weeks stretched into a month and once again finding a place to stay in another war-time port city was a nightmare. Even the seediest, tackiest old hotels in the city were limiting occupancy to four or five nights before tenants were forced to move on.

The really old places reeked of the most unpleasant odors, and the sanitation left a lot to be desired. I barely unpacked each time we had to move. In the most forgettable of those awful places we left all the lights on 24 hours a day to keep the cockroaches at bay. Much as we missed our baby we were thankful not to have her with us under such conditions.

Once again the ship sailed and it was back to Iowa for me, another wretched train trip and a long, long wait for the war to end. By mid 1945 the war in Europe was over at last and in August the war in the South Pacific finally came to an end.

The entire country rejoiced! It was one of the happiest times ever.

I made another tedious train trip to the Bay Area with my tiny daughter and we had a joyful reunion with Lynn. We found government housing in the city of Richmond, an industrial city of about 100,000 at the time. It was the home of a huge Standard Oil refinery which sent acrid emissions across a vast area of the East Bay. Ramshackle wooden apartment buildings had been thrown up for shipyard workers and these were now made available for Navy personnel. Our little one bedroom apartment was very cozy and soon got a lot cozier. Sailors returning from one month leaves were flat broke and ready to board the ship, but found their leaves had been extended for another 30 days while the ship was being worked on, and they had no place to go.

We took in as many as we could, usually between 10 and 20 at a time and our splintery wood floor was lined with blanket rolls (no sleeping bags in those days) and snoring sailors every night for a month. Our bedroom was reserved for the three of us, otherwise the rest of the place was fair game.

Having learned a few basics of cooking as I helped my mother feed a family of nine, including an elderly grandfather, I managed to stretch ground beef and pasta every way possible so no one starved and we got through the month. Even though he had no money, any sailor always had a deck of cards with him so we passed the time playing our own crazy creation, Solitaire Tournaments, making up the rules as we went.

Lynn’s ship was sent to dry dock in Bremerton, Washington and we were given housing in the tiny town of Port Orchard. At that time Port Orchard’s only claim to fame was a large Veterans’ Home sitting on a hill, and the hastily built Navy Housing. In order to shop, a daily necessity, we walked across the grounds of the Home, waving greetings to any retired veterans who might be sitting out on the lawn. There was a boat landing at the foot of the hill and a small covered launch ran across the bay every hour, tying up at the foot of Bremerton’s main street. Since our apartments had no refrigeration we stowed fresh milk and other perishables in a wooden box set outside the bedroom window and accessible by opening the window and reaching in.

Both the cooking and the heating stoves were wood burning, possibly romantic in other circumstances but the smell of wood smoke is not romantic when it’s pouring out of an oven that is supposed to be cooking your supper. A big Navy truck dumped a load of logs in a pile every morning so our main recreation was chopping wood.

Our other recreation was endless games of pinochle during the long, dark evenings, with several couples gathering at one another’s apartments, putting the children down for naps and making batches of donuts from tubes of refrigerated  biscuits.  These were a brand new novelty and we would separate the biscuits, drop them into hot oil, brown each side, then drain and roll them in sugar, serving plenty of strong black coffee for a real feast.

Lynn managed to keep ahead of our firewood usage but when we were moved into similar quarters in Bremerton and the ship sailed on down to San Diego, we wives learned to chop wood in a hurry. We were very happy when we were allowed to follow the ship.

This time we were assigned to Quonset Huts in National City, just south of San Diego. Each Hut was divided in half cross-wise and wouldn’t have been too bad except for the high summer temperatures, those metal roofs overhead, a lack of insulation and of course, no air-conditioning.

We eventually moved into a privately owned apartment in half a garage. Being a Navy town, San Diegans had been housing sailors for decades and the city was full of innovative quarters. This must have been an extra large garage as there was room for two tiny studio apartments, divided by a shared bath. Dismal, yes, but quite an improvement over the Quonset Hut.

After six long, eventful, tension filled years, Lynn received his Navy discharge in November of 1946. We were profoundly relieved and overjoyed to be independent for the first time in our married life. We moved back to Richmond where we had family. He soon got his Marine Engineer’s papers and began regular trips back and forth to Asia with the Military Sea Transport Service. The MSTS was set up to re-settle personnel and dependents for the duration of five or six years after the war.

We rented another of the little apartments we’d lived in before, then returned to Iowa for a period of time, and  back to the Richmond apartments, where there were plenty of vacancies now that the war was over. Our two youngest children were born there, another adorable baby daughter and a strapping blond, curly-haired son, the apple of his daddy’s eye. With our family complete we qualified for a larger apartment and the extra bedroom was a real luxury.

And at last our sailor decided he’d had enough of the sea and he took a civilian job in Watsonville, California. I must confess, I may have hastened that decision along. Left alone for six weeks at a time, with two small girls and a newborn, I had one of those meltdowns where the oldest child is wistfully waiting to be fed, the toddler is having a tantrum, needing a change and a big hug and I’m rocking the rockers off my old chair trying to calm a colicky infant. I remember turning to a very hungry little girl and telling her, “If your daddy doesn’t start staying home we’ll have to get a new daddy.”  This remark was repeated to said daddy on his next turn-around and he only made one more trip.

Utilizing his engineer’s license, he went to work at the brand new Pacific Gas and Electric power plant and began a whole new career. We rented a big old place in town for a few months and at last we proudly bought our very first home. It was a small two bedroom fixer-upper on a half acre just out of town and it was OURS! This was 1952 and our house cost us $4,000.

Watsonville was a small agricultural community, known as the “lettuce capital of the world,” seven miles from the Pacific Ocean, very pleasant and livable.

Being an enterprising, think-outside-the-box type of guy, Lynn quickly realized that an extra building on our property which had never been used before would make a perfect addition to our small house. With a little ingenuity, some assistance and a lot of muscle it was soon securely attached to the house and we began our very first remodeling project.

Our realtor told us the building had been intended for use as a chicken house. With floors made of 2x4s it would have been the sturdiest chicken house ever seen.  We came up with a lot of hilarious jokes about the giant chickens we’d replaced.

We also bought our first little sailboat, a 12 foot Snipe, great for relaxing on Morro Bay. The bay was well protected, the water was icy cold and the little boat loved the spanking breezes. Lynn discovered sailboat racing, a sport most of our little family enjoyed for years, me being less enthusiastic than the rest.

SO . . . just when we thought we were finally settled, no more moves, ready to live the American dream most people aspired to, along came the biggest move of all and I was soon packing again.

…to be continued…

You Might Be a Hypochondriac If…

I’ve had a heckuva year, health-wise. I think I’ve been through most of the ailments known to humankind, some of them twice. I had always believed thinking healthy meant staying healthy.

Mind over matter was my mantra, but somehow my mind didn’t matter as much as it used to, or my matter didn’t mind as much, or I didn’t mind that it didn’t matter as much as when it used to matter so much.  Or something like that.

Anyway, Now I’m worried that I’m becoming a hypochondriac, imagining myself sick, dwelling on the dark side of well-being.  I’ve become confused to the point where I finally drew up a checklist just to test my theories

For those of you who are beginning to wonder about yourselves, I’m happy to share my list with you. A simple “yes” or “no” to each possibility might help set your mind at ease, too.

You might be a hypochondriac if you’re on a first name basis with the receptionists at all the Urgent Care clinics in town.

You might be a hypochondriac if you make more than three trips a day to Walgreen’s to check your blood pressure.

You might be a hypochondriac if you hyperventilate for ten minutes after every sneeze, waiting to see if you’ve caught something.

You might be a hypochondriac if you use hand sanitizer for body lotion.

You might be a hypochondriac if you can knowledgeably debate the pros and cons of Metamucil versus Milk of Magnesia.

You might be a hypochondriac if your favorite online website is

You might be a hypochondriac if a casual “Hi, howya doin’?” gives you a chance to unload a play-by-play from the way your back creaked when you got out of bed, to how many Tums you’ve popped so far today.

You might be a hypochondriac if you sprained your tongue trying to examine your tonsils (at least it felt like a sprain).

You might be a hypochondriac if you’re convinced you have hangnails on all your toes.

You might be a hypochondriac if you can rattle off the ideal numbers for blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen level, body temp, B.M.I., HDL, LDL and triglycerides faster than you can remember your kids’ birth dates.

If you’ve answered “yes” to three or more of these possibilities, Congratulations!  You’re well on your way to joining me as a very concerned hypochondriac. We must get together and compare our symptoms.

Celebrating THE OAKS’ 30th Birthday

I’d like to pay tribute to two of THE OAKS’ most endearing and enduring women, Janet and Bernice.  THE OAKS wouldn’t be what it is without these two ladies.  They are an inspiration to all of us.

Janet, our fitness whiz, has been here the entire 30 years of THE OAKS’ existence!  Amazing!  She’s perfect for her job, vital, energetic and enthusiastic, the list could go on.  I’ve signed up for several of her classes (I’ve flunked out of a few of them, too) but she always welcomes me back, never losing patience.

There’s just one thing about Janet I don’t get – she’s so darned happy!  Happy! Happy! Happy!  Is this normal?  How can one person be so consistently happy?

The rest of us get up in the morning and open our blinds to a typical western Oregon winter day, grey or dark grey, drizzle or more drizzle.  Janet throws open her blinds and she sees rainbows and butterflies.  I visualize her preparing her breakfast; organic, non HMO, steel cut, gluten-free oatmeal, never seeing the grey or the drizzle, just rainbows and butterflies.

And while I’m on the subject, I’m not too sure about Bernice either.  I don’t know if she eats gluten-free oatmeal or not, but she’s a bright, unassuming person, young at heart, and a real pleasure to be with.  She’s another happy lady who sees only rainbows and butterflies.  A resident of nearly 26 years, Bernice will soon celebrate her 100th birthday.

Has anyone ever seen Bernice frown?  I don’t think she even has frown lines.  Everybody has frown lines, I was born with frown lines, but not Bernice.  Imagine living here 26  years and never frowning!  Unreal!!

Think of the changes these two ladies have seen, the changes they’ve been part of, the changes they helped to bring about, always remaining the same happy people.

Is it just coincidence that the two women most closely associated with THE OAKS seem to be the happiest?  I have to wonder about the connection.  Sure, it’s a great place to live, sure we’re all treated with affection and respect from the invariably kind and gracious employees, but there seems to be something more.

I’ve mulled over several possibilities.  Perhaps we become more appreciative as we get older, maybe our age group was taught to concentrate on the bright side of things or maybe, as we near our second childhood, we accept things in a more child-like manner.

I even pondered the possibility of something in the water. Hey, that’s not as far fetched as it sounds.  I’ve heard several residents comment on the fact that the water in the dining room tastes different from the water in the apartments.  What do you think?  Maybe a little PROZAC in the ice-cubes?  Nah, they wouldn’t do that.  Or would they??  One can’t help wondering…

All I know is I’d like to be associated with  THE OAKS  for a long time to come.  I’m trying hard and I do eat lots of gluten-free oatmeal.  I’ll never reach Bernice’s 26 years or Janet’s 30 years but I’ll be happy with what I get.  I like rainbows and butterflies too!

Auntie Jo’s Dilemma: Diet or Exercise?

“Mercy,” gasped Auntie Jo.  “Gracious Me!”  Well, those weren’t her exact words.  Auntie Jo’s language was usually much saltier, but shock had set in and she was nearly speechless.

And the cause of her shock?  Her jeans, her favorite jeans , the ones with the multi-colored spangles on the back pockets and the fringe down each leg?  They wouldn’t close.  The button lacked a good two inches of meeting the buttonhole, and the zipper?  Forget the zipper.  She’d snagged her undies and pinched her tummy too many times on that zipper.

She fell back across her bed, breathless, and tried to assess the problem. She’d been through this before and had to admit she already knew the answer, too many jelly donuts and too much time spent tweeting on her iPhone.  She even knew what to do about it.

The answer was not pleasant. Diet and exercise.  Diet or exercise?  Diet, no exercise?  Exercise, no diet?  How depressing!

O.K., decision time.  “Do Something!”  Auntie Jo told herself emphatically.  Maybe she could ration the jelly donuts, limit the tweets and sort of ease into an exercise program, a few deep knee bends at a time. Maybe she’d try a gym, something she’d never done before.

GOOGLE turned up several possibilities. AHA! Here was one that promised results with a 5 pound weight loss in one week’s time!  One week!  She could handle one week!  A quick phone call and she was signed up for the very next morning.  She was so pleased with her decisiveness that she treated herself to one last splurge, a Super Double Giant Cheeseburger, then happily began to plan a shopping trip and an entire new wardrobe.  In a smaller size, of course.

The next morning Aunty Jo grabbed a comfy old tee shirt and leggings and set off for the gym.  The tee shirt was a little snug, the legend, “Hot Babe,” had faded and the leggings only came down to her knees.  No matter, a week from now they’d fit.

She stopped at the nearest CuppaJoe for some glazed donuts (the kind with no jelly) and a caramel latte, figuring she’d need the energy for her work-out.  Any extra calories would easily burn off.

Licking donut glaze off her fingers, she cheerfully signed in at the gym and was assigned to a group.  She took a quick peek around to make sure she wasn’t the chubbiest person in the room and confidently joined in the exercises under way.

It didn’t take long to realize her mistake.  The pounding beat of the music, the strange terms used, the jumping jacks – OH! those jumping jacks, the kicks, the squats, the lunges, the abs, the lats, the glutes.  What on earth was it all about?

Auntie Jo’s left foot tripped up her right foot so many times she had to sit out two whole series of moves.  Shaking and breathless, she managed to last through the entire 30 minutes.  She staggered up to the instructor long enough to pant “I just can’t do this”  and was stunned to hear how well she’d done!

“Auntie Jo, you were a natural!  We’ll have you shaped up in no time.  See you tomorrow.”  Speechless, Auntie Jo wobbled off toward home, aching and shaking, the loud music still ringing in her ears.

She managed to finish off most of a carton of CHUNKY MONKEY ice cream before falling into bed, where she slept the clock around.

The next day brought pain to joints Auntie Jo didn’t even know she had and she resolved never to go to another gym for the rest of her life.  Several cups of mocha fudge latte and a few glazed (but no jelly) donuts gradually revived her flagging spirits. She managed to drag herself back to the gym for another 30 minutes of sheer torture, her hopes for the 5 pound weight loss leading her on.

Gradually the week wore on.  Each day seemed to bring a tad less pain and a tad more improvement.  Weigh-in morning finally arrived.  She jumped on the scales with one last burst of energy, eager to confirm her 5 pound weight loss.

What’s this?  UNREAL!  She’d gained 2 pounds!  How could that be after an entire week of pain, agony and suffering?  After all that, where was the 5 pound weight loss?  The exercise plan hadn’t worked.

Auntie Jo crept home, finished all the ice cream in the freezer along with a package of Oreos, crawled into bed and pulled the covers up over her head, visions of her new wardrobe fading away.  Now what?  She tossed and turned all night long.

Morning finally arrived, Auntie Jo’s eyes flew open and she jumped out of bed.  She had a plan!  No more diets, no drastic exercise.  She promised herself she’d be much more prudent in the future; as for now, the perfect diet plan had just popped into her head.

Now, Auntie Jo had long been known among family and friends as a terrible cook. She seldom cooked and when she did, any invitations she extended were tactfully turned down.  If asked about this, she just laughed and claimed her cooking was guaranteed to give anybody heartburn.

So how to lose weight?  Simple!  Give up fast food meals, coffee stops and two-wine lunches out with the girls.  She’d prepare all her meals at home, and eat only her own bad cooking.  Brilliant, if she did say so herself! To celebrate she headed for her seldom used kitchen, began banging pots and pans around and soon sat down to a thoroughly unappetizing breakfast of weak coffee, burnt toast and dry, salty scrambled eggs. Even the O.J. tasted sour, probably because she’d added a dash of bitters. (Not a good idea.)

A few bites and she’d had enough.  Happy to have finally settled on a foolproof diet, Auntie Jo got busy and wrote out a grocery list featuring all of her least favorite foods.

Mealtime wouldn’t exactly be fun time for some weeks to come, but she hung her spangled, fringed jeans right in front of the refrigerator and grinned in anticipation.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!

I decided to post the same blog I sent out last year.  Two good reasons: It still seems relevant, in other words nothing has changed.  Also, I’m suffering seasonal let-down, sugar O.D. and general laziness – so here goes-


So, did you or didn’t you?  Are you one of those super optimistic people who trot out the same old resolutions year after year, ever hopeful that this will finally be the year when you’re able to hold on to one long enough to say you kept it?  Do you have your list permanently engraved in your memory so you don’t have to write it down?  Or maybe you come up with a new list every year, thinking that sooner or later you’ll hit on something that works?

Well, let’s review a few of those resolutions.  How do they stack up?  After all, there are only so many ideas we humans can come up with for self-improvement.  We tend to think alike when we start kidding ourselves.

What’s Number 1 on almost all of our lists?  GET BACK IN SHAPE!  Exercise more, eat healthily, lose weight and quit smoking if it applies.  Number 2 would probably be our promise to spend more quality time with family and friends.  This would include cutting way back on the boob tube and social media.  Somewhere in there we’d vow to read at least one thought-provoking, inspirational book every month and, in general, clean up our act.  Sound familiar?

Give it up, guys.  We all know we’re doomed to fail. Our promises to ourselves may give us a lift as we sing “Auld Lang Syne” on the last night of the old year.  We’re excited, eager to unveil the new us, ready to become better people.  So, what happens?

Unfortunately, January 1st is what happens. That is decidedly the single worst day of the year on which to attempt any changes. Why?  Well, that’s easy.  It’s those darned New Year’s Eve parties on December 31st that we can’t turn down.  Take for instance, the most recent occasion.

We all partied last night, we know we did.  We even remember parts of the evening.  We put on goofy hats, blew gaudy noise-makers, tried to prove we could still Jitterbug, ate tons of greasy, gooey little things and glugged down who knows how much eggnog.  Then came a confusing count down when some kind of a ball dropped somewhere, accompanied by a Champagne toast.  And we called it fun!

So now we’ve arrived at January 1st.  New Year’s Day is dawning bright and full of promise.  And where are we?  Cringing under the comfortless comforter, peering out of glazed eyeballs, head throbbing and tummies very, very iffy.  We’re expected to bound out of bed and do push-ups?  Cook oatmeal?  Welcome a thundering herd of raucous offspring who’ve discovered  the discarded noisemakers?  All in the name of a few rash promises we made in the enthusiasm of the night before?  Fat Chance!

Worse yet, we’re faced with reading the first chapter of  “The Rise and Fall Of The Roman Empire” when we can’t even pick the darned thing up!  This is exactly why January 1st is the absolute worst day of the year for new beginnings.  Quality time with the family is a distant dream, something to be postponed indefinitely, along with any vague intentions of self improvement.  There have to be better times to begin.

So once again all those needed New Year’s resolutions have been sabotaged and we’re feeling more than a little guilty.  Surely there’ll be other opportunities to keep them – like maybe next year?  We already have our lists, just in case.