Don’t Be a Turkey:  No Politics at Thanksgiving

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Maybe we should just skip Thanksgiving this year.  Given the political climate, is it prudent to gather a diverse group of people around a dining table where a carving knife plays such a prominent role?

And there are so many soft, creamy foods—pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce—that would be perfect vehicles for arsenic.

Corn bread and biscuits can be repurposed as projectiles.

Even the Thanksgiving lingo is fraught with ambiguity.  “Turkey” is poultry to be consumed or an insult to be dished out.  Take “stuffing,” which can be a toothsome, fat-laden side dish or it can be mean an aggressive way of filling a relative’s mouth with a sock.

And the before-meal grace?  What a landmine!

Dear God, we are so grateful that you have delivered to us a man who will make our floundering nation great again!

OR

Heavenly Father, We thank you for this bounty and humbly ask for your guidance in removing the dark stain of Satan from the Oval Office.

Don’t want to foul/fowl up Thanksgiving? Ban politics.funny-turkey-in-hat-vector_myq7xm_l

There are always the usual social lubricants we can fall back on:

  • The weather, how it’s hotter or colder this year than last or the blizzard back in ought two.
  • The tip you learned on FB about how to change your life with Ziploc baggies.
  • The speed trap in Elmwood Place.
  • The merits of white vs. dark meat.
  • The year Junior ate three pieces of pie and threw up in the dog dish.
  • And howsabout those Bengals?

Here are some ideas for spicing up, without burning down, the Thanksgiving table:

  • Pass around baskets of random snapshots from the past and remember the good old days. Laugh about the 70s bell bottoms, the 80s hairstyles. Linger over those of Grandma and the old farm house.
  • Tell the youngsters the stupid things you’ve done. Like the time you spent $14 trying to win a teddy bear at the fair.  Kids love to hear how the old folks messed up, and maybe, just maybe, they’ll learn from our mistakes.
  • Tell stories about loved ones who are no longer at the table. How Great Grandma Seilkop made butter and sugar sandwiches for hobos during the Depression.  How Grandpa Gil financially supported the Cherokee Nation.  How Uncle Lou fought in the Battle of the Bulge.happy-turkey-holding-a-usa-flag_qkdnqz_l

Look people.  You would probably give a kidney to anyone at your Thanksgiving table without a second thought.  You played together when you were kids and sat on your aunties’ laps without any discussion of politics.  This is not the time to lean into difference.

Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton lead our families.  We are in charge of our own families.  We look to our elders to remind us of our values and priorities; we look to our children for hope; we look to our hosts for their generosity and hospitality.  We are all Americans, lucky us, and there is no room for hate at our table.

Strong families help make America great.  Strong families and pie.  Lots of pie.

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Write Me In: 15 Reasons I Should Be Your President

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  1. I will never wear sleeveless outfits, not to the State of the Union Address, not to the Easter Egg Roll, not to the Fourth of July picnic. I will wear pantsuits with long jackets covering my elasticized waist bands.  I will make modest, illusory, and seasonally appropriate clothing fashionable again.
  2. I taught middle schoolers for 30 years, so I know how to make childish people get along. Even deplorable people.
  3. I will not go grey. Even if I serve two terms.  A campaign promise I can keep.
  4. You can see my tax returns. Nothing will surprise you: Two teachers’ pensions.  Deductions for prescriptions and ice bags and Tylenol.   Donations of nightgowns and lamps and sweatshirts to Goodwill.   Checks here and there to St. Jude Hospital, the Cancer Society, and The Food Bank. Yes there were losses and depreciations in our lives this year, but nothing we could claim.  Loopless, we are.
  5. I will commit no sins of the flesh. Just ask my husband.
  6. I think America IS great AND we have important work to do.
  7. I have no blood coming out of my wherever; I’m just ornery all the time.
  8. It will be easy for the Secret Service to keep track of me. I’m slow.
  9. I have no idea how to tweet.
  10. Yes, you can see my medical records. You can see that I am at a healthy weight for my 7’10”    That I have the usual old person ailments:  hypertension, cholesterol, and a little too much candy in my blood stream.  That I take the three medications most women my age take: Lipitor, Lisinopril, and the one that will keep me from losing my shit when Congress won’t play nice.
  11. I am up three times a night peeing anyway, so I will take that 3:00 AM call.
  12. I don’t golf.
  13. You are welcome to read my emails, ones setting up lunches, ones requesting my children’s Christmas lists, ones with meatloaf and cheesecake recipes. And, by all means, look for my lost emails, because there are at least 22,000 I can’t find.   Find the receipt for that doohickie I bought from Etsy that I want to return.  And bring your experts in to crack the code of my passwords, because I’d really like to order something from the Zappos again.
  14. If I lose, it will be because more people liked another candidate better.
  15. I am not nasty. (And neither is “She.”)img_3062

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My Fitbit Impressed My Friends, Cleaned My House, and Saved My Marriage

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My daughter knows my aversion to movement.  Really, I am a pet rock.  Except for brief runs (well, walks, to be honest) to the fridge and john, I could be a wax figure in Madame Tussaud’s Museum.

So it came as some surprise when I received a Fitbit from my daughter who felt compelled, all the way from Oslo, Norway, to send this fancy pants pedometer for her manatee-of-a-mother.

When I got online to set up my Fitbit (“It takes literally three minutes,” my daughter lied) I saw that mine was one of the basic models that costs $150.  I can’t believe my daughter spent $150 on a gift so totally wrong for me.  At least she didn’t buy one of the more deluxe models which checks your heart rate and makes iced tea.IMG_2918

Mine is in a serviceable black vinyl band. It tells the time and the date.   It works like a pedometer, measuring steps, but oh so much more.  In addition to counting steps, it determines how many miles I’ve walked and calories I’ve burned and stairs I’ve climbed–all totally useless features for me–but my Fitbit will also measure and assess the quality of my sleep.  Now those are stats I can get into.

Because my daughter spent so much money on this thingie, I felt obligated to strap it on (like I do my feedbag).  She told me it would change my life, which it has in so many ways.

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Sugar ‘n Spice: A Diner That’s Nice

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“We make our syrup in house,” said Sugar ‘n Spice owner Steven Frankel. “Here’s the recipe:  sugar, water, sugar, more sugar, some brown sugar, maple flavoring, sugar, and some more sugar.  We cook it till it’s almost booze, then back it up.”  My friend Teri ate spoonfuls of it when her whispy pancake was gone.

When I was a kid, I knew without asking that we wouldn’t eat at Sugar and Spice Restaurant.  I don’t imagine I saw this restaurant that often, as we were from Finneytown and Sugar ‘n Spice was in the Paddock Hills area of Avondale.

Maybe I saw it on the way to Great Grandma Meinking’s house, or when we went on our annual trip to the Cincinnati Zoo.  Perhaps when we had doctor appointments on Burnet Avenue.  But how could a little girl not remember a bubble gum colored eatery that looked like it came from the pages of The Gingerbread House?

I knew my family wouldn’t eat there, mostly because we almost never ate anywhere but at our house.  Boring cottage ham or meatloaf off Melmac plates.  And to drink?  Milk, always milk.

But sometimes Mootsie and Grandpa Gil took me out to lunch after church, usually to McIntosh’s on Reading Road or Century Inn Tavern in Woodlawn.  Neither of these places was far from St. Matthew United Church of Christ, but Sugar ‘n Spice wasn’t either.  It seems Sugar ‘n Spice just wasn’t a restaurant our family would frequent.

When I was a little girl, Avondale was 60% Jewish.  The homes on tree-lined streets were mansions by the standards of the day.  But by 1967, when I was invited for lunch by a girl in my acting class to her Avondale home near Sugar ‘n Spice, my mother was worried about driving me there, maybe because of her poor sense of direction, but maybe something else.  Maybe because by then Avondale was a predominantly black neighborhood.

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To My Chums on National Girlfriends Day

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From the Celebrate Each Day website

It is National Girlfriends Day!  I can’t let the day pass without honoring the precious gift of gal pals.

A recent study by Stanford University revealed that the secret to a long life for a man is to be married; for a woman, the secret is to have good friends. Girlfriend time activates serotonin and is as important to our well-being as exercise.  Read that again: as important as exercise! Ha!

Like we needed an erudite Ivy Leaguer to tell us that!  If you’ve seen Menopause, the Musical (and if you haven’t, you must), you’ll remember that the final scene was a celebration of girlfriends.  If I could dance and sing, I would perform a tribute to my friends.  I can only write, so this is my ode to gal pals.

Men, if they’re unusual and very, very lucky (and quite possibly gay) have one or more good friends.  By friends, I don’t mean people with whom they just drink, watch sports, or share an office or power tools.  Not just someone a guy can call to ask advice beer kegs or discount plane tickets or plumbing. A “good friend” is someone a guy can call about his prostate problems (that’s not what I meant about “plumbing”), his obnoxious boss, his significant other, or feeling blue.

My husband has dozens of guy acquaintances, but only one man who seems anything like what I consider a “good friend.”  Rick and his friend George (not his real name) watch sports, play online Scrabble, and dance around their political and religious differences, but I don’t think George has ever confided in Rick about missing his daughter in Europe, nor do I think Rick has ever confided in George about his beautiful, young wife.

I am giddy with gratitude for all I have in my life:  my health, my marriage, my children, and most definitely, my friends.  I have at least three dozen women (and a couple men) with whom I could discuss personal, physical, or professional dilemmas.  I could discuss my checking account, my insecurities, my dreams, and my disappointments with all of them, as well as my thick thighs, facial hair, and vaginal dryness with a couple dozen.

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When Hair Care is a Family Affair

Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.  ~Author Unknown

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It’s hard to understand why none of us—not my brother, dad, or I—can remember her name.  She was part of our family for probably a decade.  She was quite visible in our home, and she went everywhere with my mom three days a week.

And yet we cannot remember the name my mother gave her wig.

I think it was expensive, this human hair wig that was dyed the same red as my mother’s was.  Mom’s hairdresser styled it to look exactly like Mom’s hair looked on Friday afternoon after she had had her wash and set:  a helmet of hair, with a smooth crust overlaying a nest of ratted tresses.  A comma of curl on each side instead of bangs.  Like a red-headed Lady Bird Johnson.

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The History of My Hair-Raising

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If “Jesus loved the little children” so darn much, as the old hymn proclaims, why did He make little girls curl their hair for Sunday School?  “Suffer the little children . . .”  And suffer we did.brush roller

Every Saturday, my mother would set my hair with horrible brush rollers.

First she’d use the handle of the rattail comb to dig out a hunk of my aggressively straight hair.

Age 6. This is my natural look.

Age 6. This is my natural look.

Then she’d dip the comb end into an aluminum tumbler of stale Hudepohl beer (which wouldn’t stink, so Mom said) and then she’d pull the comb through the section.

Finally, she’d roll the sodden mess on a brush roller and, using her front teeth, pry open a bobby pin  and jam it in, attaching, it seemed, the roller to my scalp.  In a “stitch in time” measure, she stabbed a pink pokey thing into the roller and didn’t stop until she drew blood.

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Sandy Lingo

Life itself is the proper binge.  - Julia Child

A writing friend said that when she reads my writing, she always wants a second helping.

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