Archive for October, 2012

An article in USA Today reported that travelers in the USA want to be able to work out and eat healthy while on the road and hotels are listening.

The luxury Fairmont chain updated its FIT program and lets guests borrow Reebok running shoes, apparel and other fitness gear. I associate borrowing shoes with bowling. You take your chances when wearing shoes previously worn. What if the last person before you to wear the shoes had a foot fungus, smelly feet or out of control cuticles? Oh! The horror! The items are delivered directly to the guests rooms. Now, if these guests want to workout in order to stay fit why don’t they walk to the front desk or fitness room to collect the items? These must be the same people who run five miles on the treadmill at the gym and yet circle the parking lot fifty times till they find a spot right in front.

When I travel I always take my little exercise ball, weights and bands with me. All this equipment is small and portable, making it easy to exercise in my room rather than using the hotel fitness room.

But, it can be a challenge to stay healthy when some hotels always provide a tray of cookies in the lobby. Why, eating just one chocolate cookie is like eating just one peanut – you just can’t do it.

One way I try and stay in shape is to take the stairs instead of the elevator wherever I go. At one hotel I stayed at I was made to feel foolish when I inquired where the stairs were located. The desk clerk looked at me like I had two heads when I asked, “Where are the stairs?” With a stunned expression she questioned, “Stairs? What do you mean by stairs?” Me – “You know, those things people climb that connect the first floor to the second floor and the third floor to the fourth… and so on.”

Clerk – Hmm…. I don’t know. Hold on. Billy, (she calls over to the bored bellhop) can you come here a sec?

Billy – “What is it?”

Clerk – This lady wants to know where the stairs are. Do you know where they are?”

Billy – They’re around here somewhere, but I’ve never used them. Why do you need em? Is something wrong with the elevator?”

Me –“No, I’d just prefer to take the stairs for exercise.”

Billy and Clerk (who I began to suspect were cut from the same cloth) – Huh, that’s a new one on us.”

Me –“Is there anyone who would know?’

Billy – (Looks at desk clerk) “You think the manager would know?”

Clerk – (says in a questioning tone) “You think he would know?”

Billy and Clerk in unison – “Let’s call the manager.”

Two brains – one thought. SCARY!

Clerk calls the manager and informs me, “He’ll be right up. He was in the fitness room exercising which is where all our other hotel guests go for their exercise.

I pretend not to notice Billy and desk clerk staring at me in puzzlement.

Manager arrives and asks, “What seems to be the problem?”

Billy and clerk, “This lady’s looking for the stairs.”

Manager – “What on earth for?”

Me – “For the extra exercise.”

Manager – “Well, we have a state of the art fitness center. Come with me and I’ll show you.”

Caving to defeat I oblige, “Ok.”

The manager puts his arm around my shoulders like he’s guiding a confused child and as we pass the cookie tray on the front desk he takes one, hands it to me and says, “Here, this will make you feel better.”

Frustrated and hungry by now, I accept the cookie and start munching. I made up for it by walking an extra mile on the treadmill.


My daughter goes to a school with a dress code which was put in place because of some bad apples who thought wearing pajamas and pants around the knees to school was acceptable attire. I went to catholic school and wore a uniform and the nuns’ outfits were straight from The Sound of Music. Since the uniforms were made from wool I didn’t mind them in the winter, but once the warm weather settled in the uniform took on moisture and I’d start to sweat. A wet, woolen uniform makes for one itchy student. If I was hot, I could only imagine that the nuns who were covered head to toe had to be even hotter. Only when I went home I got to change, the nuns never did. Even when I saw them in public (which always surprised me) they were dressed like a penguin. But, on the bright side all that sweating must have been a great weight reducer.

An article in USA Today said that some public schools are taking action because teachers are dressing inappropriately and have received parental complaints. Schools have moved to ban tattoos and piercings, outlaw jeans and nix skinny straps. It’s a good idea for your skinny strap to always be fatter than your bra strap. I wonder if the nuns wore a skinny strap and if so, how skinny was it. Did the nuns even wear a bra? No one would know. Did they wear underwear? No one would know. Wearing a woolen uniform I never would have gone sans underwear. There would have been a whole lot of scratching goin’ on and people would have known.

An article in USA Today talked about excuses employees give when calling in sick. One of the most outrageous excuses was: employee’s dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation. What’s wrong with that? I could see wanting to be graveside when granny is exhumed, especially if she departed this world wearing the diamond ring she promised you. It also said 29% of employers checked to verify the illness. 5% had a coworker call a suspected faker. Only when everybody has a cell phone and most households don’t have a landline, does this tactic work to entrap a faker? And what if you call when the person is at the doctor? 14% drove by the employee’s home.

When we lived in Pennsylvania, we lived across the street from my husband’s boss. The time my husband got bronchitis his boss thought he was faking since he didn’t see the car in the driveway. He alerted everyone at work to my husband’s deception. What he didn’t know is right before he got sick my husband cleaned out the garage, allowing room for the car, which was there the entire time he was sick. The boss never alerted everybody to his faux pas.

I’m sure every school age child wished they had sick days. A child wakes up, looks out the window, sees a beautiful day and calls in sick. When I was in high school my friends and I celebrated the time the teachers went on strike. For us it was the answer to our prayers – an unplanned holiday.

When it snows every school kid holds their breathe hoping for a snow day. I’ve learned that in the South four inches of snow means four weeks of no school. And as any stay-at-home mom will tell you,” Your child’s vacation becomes your nightmare.” Where do you go? You can’t hide! You can’t run (your boss is clinging to your leg!) You can’t call in sick! You can’t even give the excuse that you must bear witness to granny being exhumed so you can claim the diamond ring, because granny (who’s still alive) got cabin fever and sold the ring to get away from you and the rug rats. She bought a plane ticket and is now sunning herself on a beach in Hawaii.


As a kid I loved Halloween. As a mother I question its traditions. All year mothers tell their kids “Don’t take candy from strangers.” On Halloween we dress them up and tell then it’s ok to take candy from strangers.

We took out first born trick-or-treating come Halloween, didn’t matter she was eight month old and all gums. As all first time, proud parents we wanted to show her off in her cute pumpkin outfit. We showed her off to every tenant in the building. By the end of the night she had a stash of goodies. For weeks afterward as I tore through her tootsie rolls I questioned whether an eight month old was too young for trick-or-treating. As I savored the creamy smoothness of peanut butter cups and enjoyed the cool sensation of junior mints in my mouth I asked myself – how young is too young?

How young is too young, and how old is too old? If a kid has no teeth, then maybe they’re too young.

My husband and daughter have M&M costumes. He wore his one year to take my daughter trick-or-treating. At one house some old lady, apparently with failing eyesight mistook my husband for a kid and gave him a candy bar. My husband accepted it (it was a large one.) As kids you keep track of which houses give the large size bars and which give the mini size. I forbade my husband from going back the following year. The man was middle age; too old.

You do start to question how old is too old when a teenager dressed in jeans and a t-shirt shows up at your door, holds open a pillowcase and says nothing. I think when you forget to say, “Trick-or-treat and thank you,” then you should forget about trick-or-treating.



Rent Some Space

There was an article in USA Today on Oct. 6th that talked about how backyards are overrated. It said that people pay good money for a patch of land that on average adults spend less than 15 minutes per week in and children fewer than 40. The reason listed was busy schedules and media options (indoor activities involving a screen.)

This came on the heels of finding out about the ‘Timeshare Backyard’ in New York, which is wedged between two buildings. For $100 per hour New Yorkers can rent it for a minimum of 2 hours. It comes equipped with grill, plastic coolers and lounge chairs. One is not deluded into thinking they’re in the country as the sound of car horns is a reminder they’re in the city. In New York, where people use their fire escape as a garden I think this is a great idea. Only if you’re going to have a backyard, a fence is a necessity; as we all know that good fences make good neighbors.

Why if we had a fence around our house in New York the neighborhood dog wouldn’t have used it for his personal bathroom. Why if we had a fence around our house in Pennsylvania it might have kept out uninvited wildlife such as gophers, deer and bears. Why if we had a fence around our current house it would have kept the neighbors cat from waltzing into out yard to bring us dead, hairy presents we didn’t want. Why if we had a fence it would make it impossible for the children next door to walk over, sit down at the table and wait to be fed.

My neighbor built a screen house in her backyard so she could eat outside without all the bugs. Then she installed panels to her screen house, blocking off the air. It was stifling. You would eat and sweat. She decorated it with plants, lights and furniture to resemble her house. It was like her house – only 100 degrees hotter. It was like a really hot studio apartment and if you’re gonna live in a studio apartment you may as well live in NY. And then if you live in NY and you need a backyard why, just rent one.

Hold Me in Your Arms

On Sept. 25 Japan opened its first ‘Cuddling Café,’ where the lonely can pay to sleep with a beautiful girl. My question is – why aren’t guys available? Girls get lonely too. Since guys usually use cuddling as a means to an end, I doubt if much cuddling will actually be going on. There is a service menu available if the customer should desire something more than just cuddling.

The girls who range from high school age up to the 30’s will provide a foot massage for extra, and vice versa. For an additional fee the girl will pat you on the back. Why? Is this a customer with colic? The customer can pay to sleep with his head in her lap. (This is the means to an end part I mentioned.) Parents will beam with pride when their teenager picks this as her summer job.

But on the upside, since this job’s only requirement is sleeping, the job interview must be quick and easy.

Interviewer – “Have you had experience sleeping?”

Girl – “Yes, I’ve been sleeping since I was a baby. Matter of fact I flunked out of high school because I slept through all my classes. That’s why I’m here.”

Interviewer –“Excellent. You’re hired. When can you start?”

Girl – “Tonight, right now I’m gonna go home and take a nap.”

Let’s just hope she’s not paired with a guy who snores and disturbs her sleep. Where does one turn if they’re laid off from a job where they lay down?

I wonder if any customers bring with them their own blankets or pillows. Cuddling conjures up images of winter, blankets and fireplaces. The other night, watching television, I asked my husband if he wanted to cuddle. He looked over at me at my end of the sectional couch and replied, “That would mean I’d have to move. I’m comfortable here. Why don’t you come to me?” “But then I’d have to move and I’m comfortable here.” So, he stayed on his side and I stayed on mine. It’s just as well as we would have fought over the blanket. I wonder if blankets are extra at the ‘Cuddling Café.”


It’s reported that a Rhode Island man set a new worlds record with the first pumpkin ever to weigh more than a ton at 2,009 pounds. Wow! That’s a lot of pumpkin and seeds. The other day I walked by a house that already had pumpkins decorating the front lawn; a little early, but why not. It’s fall and pumpkins are a part of fall like Christmas tress are to Christmas. I enjoy the painted and carved ones done up for Halloween. Every year we go to the pumpkin patch and get one. I love the smell when you cut into one and I love its seeds. I just don’t love pumpkin pie. Actually, my husband doesn’t much care for it either. Then again, we’re not coffee drinkers. It’s un-American.

What I want to know is why. Why do we carve and paint pumpkins? We don’t abuse any other food in such a manner. Who was the first person to look at one and say, “Pilgrim, instead of eating this food, I will carve and paint it.” Was it an Indian who then reached into his cosmetics bag for his war paint?

I attended a state fair where people had decorated cucumbers; something oddly kinky and wrong about that.

But pumpkins do offer a welcoming touch propped on your front porch. They look nice until they start to decline to the point where they could use plastic surgery, only no amount of surgery will help. One day it’s sagging and looking like a person who forgot to put their dentures in and the next, it’s fodder for crows.

Sometimes pumpkins are replaced only when it’s time for the Christmas lights. Christmas lights are replaced only when it’s time for Easter decorations. There’s always been whispers about who children favor more – Santa or the Easter bunny, well I can tell you, thanks to sheer laziness, they love each equally.


A story in my local paper stated the Mecklenburg Audubon society wants building operators in Charlotte, NC to reduce the lighting at night to save migratory birds. Many migratory birds fly at night and the lights confuse them. Many hit windows as they see the sky and water or trees reflected in the glass.

The house we lived in Pennsylvania had floor to ceiling windows in the kitchen. Every morning birds would fly into the windows, thinking their reflection was another bird. You’d think after this happened a few times and being knocked down (don’t worry, they always got up), they would stop, but they didn’t. They’re not too bright.

Sitting on my backyard deck while writing I get to see many beautiful birds. The other day, for the first time, I was surprised to see three cardinals in the same tree. Having just seen one and never three together I assumed these birds don’t live by the motto, ‘Birds of a feather flock together.’ Blue jays will grace me with their presence from time to time and hummingbirds will scope the feeder for food. Since they eat mid-flight, I wonder if they enjoy their food; can’t be good for the digestion.

No matter how beautiful these birds are, one fact remains – they’re messy. Every morning, before I sit in my chair I have to wipe bird poop from it. Just think how liberating it must be to be a bird and be able to relieve yourself, anywhere, anytime; no toilet paper needed. Babies come close to having the same freedom, but not adults. As adults, when we’re in public we must search for a public bathroom and even then we’re denied access. The sign in the store window reads ‘Restrooms for customers only.’ Serves them right if some bird flew over and crapped on it.