“Warm and witty observations; an eclectic mix of cats, accordions and stories of life in general makes 'Life with the Campbells' always worth the visit. This is truly life with a smile.”
Bill Breckenridge, http://rhumtetum.wordpress.com 

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AGONY AUNT

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

Things are so expensive these days. Is it ok, then, to bring my own popcorn into the movie theatre? 

Thrifty at the flicks

Dear Thrifty,

It isn’t a good idea to import comestibles into the movies. I suppose if you can conceal your popcorn, and you don’t feel guilty about cutting further into the profit margin of the theater owner during this difficult post-pandemic period when movie houses have suffered from two years of woeful attendance, then go ahead. But I strongly suggest you don’t try to smuggle in a tuna sandwich or a bowl of Cheerios.

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

My husband passes gas and never excuses himself. What should I do?

Embarrassed

Dear Embarrassed,

I have had this same problem for years, and thus far I have not come up with a satisfactory solution to the fact that so many men feel free to let loose at will. I have tried to cut down on certain menu items known to produce flatulence, but this is as far as I have gotten. My own spouse’s response to the failure to excuse himself is that he wasn’t aware that he passed gas in the first place. This may be simply a fact that you, I, and many other wives just have to accept and move on.

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

Is there a good way to tell somebody that they have bad breath?

Grossed out

Dear Grossed,

Not really. Breathe through your mouth.

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

My wife is the life of the party. She loves to socialize; she can really work a room. Here is the thing: she never introduces me to anybody, and so I just have to stand there looking dumb. What should I do?

Left Holding My Drink

Dear Left,

Two simple solutions here: ONE–  introduce yourself. TWO–I prefer a maneuver, however, that I have perfected over the years. You stay home and send your spouse to the party.

DEAR MS. DAYTON:

If a joke is really a good joke, how many times can you tell it? Do people actually remember jokes? I have this really good joke. Everybody I tell it to laughs. Can I keep telling it, or do I have to stop? My wife says she is sick to death of this joke.

Funny in Dayton

Dear Charlie,

Oh, my Lord, people laugh to be polite. The joke is not “really good.” Stop. For the love of God, stop.”Take my wife, PLEASE” is not funny. I am sure the people who laughed at Rodney Dangerfield were just being polite…

 

 

 

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DIALOGUE

ME: Today is Sunday; it is going to be 90 degrees out there. I am going nowhere. So yay! I can stay in my pjs all day!

ALSO ME: Nobody sane does this.

Me: Sure they do.

ALSO ME: Nope. People who are of sound mind put regular clothes on before noon. It is ok on a Sunday to lounge around for a while, but you have to get dressed. What if someone comes over?

ME: We live in a secure building. If someone comes over, and by the way, nobody does, we have to buzz them in, and that gives me plenty of time to rush into actual clothing.

ALSO ME: Ok, not a good argument. But what about productive people? They wear clothes, not pjs.

ME: I can be productive in pjs. I write things. I never do it in public. So nobody reading my books and blog has any idea what I was wearing when I wrote them.

ALSO ME: You were wearing clothes. Except for when you wrote stuff in the middle of the night due to insomnia. You were wearing clothes.

ME: This is my point. I want to break the mold and be carefree. I want to throw caution to the winds and spend the entire day in pjs. Just to prove to myself that I can do it.

ALSO ME: Ask around. See if anybody you know does this. I bet they don’t, because people don’t want to be slugs.

ME: I bet my daughter does. She works two jobs and rides her horse every day but Sunday. I bet she is completely enervated by the time Sunday comes around. I can picture her just lounging in front of the tv in her comfy pjs all day long!

ALSO ME: So text her and ask. You will feel better, and she will give you permission to be a slouch, if only for this one Sunday.

ME: GOOD IDEA.

*after a pause, in which I text my daughter, who replies that she always gets dressed*

ME: God damn.

I am now wearing the full complement of underwear, polo shirt, and leggings.

ME: I wonder if I can go an entire day without styling my hair…

ALSO ME: You look like you need a lobotomy with your hair sticking out all over like that.

ME: Maybe I won’t brush my teeth today.

ALSO ME: Just give up and come to grips with the fact that you are a completely conventional person, not Frieda Kahlo, Colette, or Virginia Woolf.

ME: They all brushed their teeth every day?

ALSO ME: Molly, you are not an eccentric genius. Accept it.

ME: With toothbrush in one hand, hairbrush in the other, “Ok….”

If you want to come over unannounced today, it will be fine.

 

 

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URBANITY

 

I love our city home so much. The traffic noises. The skyline. The vistas for miles–no trees up here to block the view. Life on the fifth floor is a complete change. My entire life up until now has been suburban.

So yes, some things I do miss. We don’t hear crickets at night. There are no cardinals or bluejays downtown. I had a bird feeder up here for a while, but I took it down, because city sparrows poop all over balconies–who knew?

The  wildlife we observe is something we never saw in the suburbs: every night, hundreds of starlings roost on the stadium lights at the baseball field in front of our apartment, and according to Google, they exchange information. The meetings last about 30-40 minutes, and there is a lot of chatter. I love to watch them–when the meetings are over, the birds depart in groups, each one a little smaller than the one before. The last group to leave consists of just a few birds. I wonder how they decide who should leave when, and I wonder which bird gets to adjourn the meeting.

One time, a falcon landed on the railing of the balcony next to ours, and I was thrilled. By the time I turned on my phone camera, it had flown away. There are also geese that fly by the building on their way to the river, which is just a block away.

I rescued two tiny feral kittens who I saw frisking around on the baseball field. I had seen their mom previously, but I didn’t realize she had a family. The Dayton Dragons management was so helpful, and they set out a trap, but we only managed to get the kittens. We found them homes. I never saw the mom again.

The sunsets are brilliant. We can see the huge fountains on the river from the apartment. They go off every hour on the hour during the summer months. All we saw from our house in the ‘burbs were trees.

We can walk to restaurants. Watch baseball games from the apartment. The Dayton Celtic Festival is going on this weekend, and we can walk over to it in two minutes. We can also hear the bagpipes from the living room!

On the whole, this has been a tremendous experience. We are so glad we made the move while we were still “young” enough to do all the packing and slogging. Still young enough to have this one more adventure.

I would encourage any of you out there who have grown children to get going. Clear out your attics and basements; get rid of all that junk. Your kids don’t want your antiques. Mowing the lawn is a pain in the ass. So are cleaning the gutters and shoveling snow. Downsize now, before downsizing means moving from your house into a nursing home, for God’s sake.

A falcon is waiting to land on your balcony.

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TODAY’S NEWS

Are you tired of all the awful headlines? Sick of divisiveness, hearings, pandemics, and climate change? Who isn’t? But if you look hard enough, not all news is bad. Actually, this news story I found isn’t really good, either, but it went a long way to make me forget all the news that gives me insomnia.

This is from a very reliable source, as far as I am concerned: NPR. Here goes:

Bob Salem (who may or may not be classified as sane) succeeded in pushing a peanut all the way to the top of Pike’s Peak with his nose. He crawled on his hands and knees for seven days, pushing a peanut with a spoon affixed to his nose with masking tape. Multiple peanuts were required, as the one he was pushing often disappeared into crevices or rolled downhill to be eaten by wildlife.

His motivation was to raise money for the town at the base of the peak, but since there only seemed to be one attendee, the NPR staffer who reported on the event, my guess is that Salem failed to raise much money.

Now, I love to watch television documentaries about folks with huge appetites for adventure who climb mountains, jump off buildings, get lost in the woods on purpose, and make casseroles out of insects, because those shows are exciting. The participants compete for big prizes, or else they are just daredevils who do these things for the adrenaline rush.

There can’t be a lot of adrenaline involved in pushing a nut with a spoon taped to your nose. Crawling on your hands and knees. Nothing dangerous about it, unless skinning knees is somehow life threatening if you do it for seven days. It would certainly cause bruising, but bruises don’t kill.

I bet you a hundred dollars that Bob Salem isn’t married. I would bet a hundred more that he is divorced from a woman who got tired of cautioning him to stop entering pie-eating contests or striving for the Guiness Book of Records as the person taking the longest bath. And if Bob has children, they probably all have migraines due to excessive eye-rolling.

I salute Bob, however, because I spent a worry-free afternoon trying to imagine how long Bob will last before his next escapade, and what that might be. I vote for having Bob accept the challenge of taking a dog’s temperature in church (courtesy of the great Pat McCormick, who invented this line that I have never forgotten).

May you  be blessed with interesting headlines.

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THE MEANING OF LIFE

 

A long time ago, I added the YouTube app to my phone. I did this so that I could go to bed at night, before my husband does, and watch my videos. My videos revolve around the interests near and dear to my heart. I watch

  • Apartment tours. I love apartment tours. However, I only watch tours of apartments in New York and Paris. Any apartments anywhere else, including Dayton, Ohio, hold no interest for me. I do have a pet peeve about these tours, however. I am not interested in what is in these people’s medicine cabinets or cupboards. But there must be a huge crowd of YouTube watchers who are, because most of these folks giving the tours give elaborate details about what beauty products are in there, or which cupboards have pots and which ones plates. I don’t get it. I watch anyway.
  • Pet rescue videos. Heartwarming, cute, and I think they create dopamine, or whatever that hormone is that makes me feel calm and happy.
  • ASMR videos. These are the best. ASMR stands for Autonomous sensory meridian response. Not all people are susceptible to these videos. If you have ever watched Martha Stewart make a craft and gotten chills, you are one of these people. I am one. ASMR videos are of people, mostly women with beautiful manicures, doing things like folding towels, ironing, turning book pages, or other everyday things. But they do them slowly and gracefully. They speak very softly or whisper as they record. These videos are so relaxing and entrancing for those of us who are affected by them. If you are curious, go on YouTube and search for WhispersRed ASMR for an example.
  • I also watch the Physical Therapists and Personal Trainer videos for tips on which exercises to do for my tight Rhomboid muscles.
  • Occasionally, I watch Bloopers.

But here is the TERRIBLE THING: My YouTube app is somehow magically connected to our TV. This has not been a problem previously, but my husband recently discovered YouTube. My God. Suddenly my curated and satisfactory YouTube feed has been contaminated by the stuff my husband watches, and this is horrible! Now, in addition to my wonderful videos, this stuff shows up in my feed

  • Top ten songs you didn’t know were written by Dolly Parton
  • The disturbing paintings of Hieronymus Bosch
  • Great art explained in 15 minutes
  • John Donne poems
  • Sartre
  • Crash Course in Existentialism
  • Epistemology: How do I know?
  • What is consciousness?
  • Randy Travis lyrics

I am just going to stop there, because you certainly get the idea. He has ruined my feed with his search for the meaning of life and country music. Add to it all of his other intellectual YouTube searches, and he has blown studio apartments and towel folding right off my feed.

I told him he has to download his OWN YouTube app onto the television via his phone, but he doesn’t know how to do that. I don’t either.

My bedtimes are no longer so terrific.

But tomorrow, he has an appointment with the Geek Squad to rectify the situation, so that I can go back to my towels once more. Bless all the geeks around the globe; we need their skills. Peace be with you…

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SUMMER QUESTIONS

Why do flies know when the patio door is opened for just a second?

Does Siri mind it when my husband keeps calling her Alexa?

Who eats a single ear of corn on the cob?

Did they really change the name of Cracker Jack to Cracker Jack and Jill?

Why do rubber shoes that look like they are for old ladies cost $295? Geez. Or I should say Yeez.

When will Tom Cruise look his actual age?

Why are grandchildren so full of energy? They don’t eat anything. Get them a burger and fries and they will eat exactly two bites of the burger and four fries. They they run the equivalent of a marathon in the next two hours. This is not a rhetorical question; how do children DO this?

Can anyone come up with a simple explanation of what is the stuff that comes out of fireworks that turns them colors? I Googled that. I didn’t get past the first sentence. So I just told my granddaughter it was a magic spell.

Do you still wear a mask at the grocery?

If you sit on a stray blueberry on your white sofa, how many swear words will you mutter?

How long does it take for you to get over the gut-wrenching sadness when your grandkids leave to go back home to California?

 

 

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HAPPY FOURTH

Don’t be foolish with fireworks. Get plenty of watermelon. Hug everybody, but remember there is still covid, damn it.

Eat as much as you want. Try not to get soused. Wear red, white, and blue, unless you are protesting one of the hundreds of things that need protesting right now.

Don’t forget to shut the door behind you-“Are you trying to air condition the whole outdoors??”

No matter how fun, let THE KIDS do the sparklers!

Don’t worry. Be happy. Just for today, anyway.

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VACAY

We haven’t gone on a trip in over two years. Wait–we did get on a plane to California last Christmas. But that was it.

Now we get to go on a vacation. Yay! So much fun! But the week BEFORE vacation is so busy, I need a vacation just to rest up from getting ready for it. Here is an itemized list of what needs to be done before leaving:

  • Kick husband out of guest bathroom. I have never understood why he uses that one, since we have a perfectly good master bath with two sinks in it. Then, after removing all of his accoutrements (shaver, lotion, nail fungus meds {ugh}, etc.), I have to clean that bathroom. It also has two sinks, a tub, and a floor that I think I washed last Christmas.
  • Move husband out of his “office” and turn that room into a guest room for the California contingent who will be joining us immediately after vacation. Blow up mattresses, room for luggage, etc. Vacuum and dust that room before setting up, so my daughter won’t find the raisins her daughter dropped in the corners the last time they visited.
  • Go to chiropractor, because “What if your back goes out in North Carolina?”
  • Go to CVS for some of those “travel sized” shampoos, lotions, etc. Husband asks “Don’t we have a bunch of those?” Answer: “NO BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T TRAVELED TO ANY MOTELS IN OVER TWO YEARS.”
  • Change all planned wardrobe choices for vacation since weather forecast says it will be in the high 90’s and low 100’s while we are there.
  • Add super strength deodorant to CVS shopping list.
  • Swiff everything five times because Hattie’s cat hair is EVERYWHERE.
  • Consider teeth whitening strips.
  • Move lumbar pillow from my car to my husband’s car.
  • Reply to everyone suggesting audio books for the trip that husband hates audiobooks.
  • Clean the refrigerator, because what if my daughter opens the door and sees the Nutella stain that was left there the last time they were here.
  • Be sure to stock up on raisins. Also “sugar cereal,” because they only get that at Grandma’s house. The cereals that look the most artificial are preferred.
  • Try to sleep at night, because going on vacation is so damn exciting.
  • Don’t forget to take masks, just in case. Pray neither of us gets a covid variant right before we leave.
  • Warn self that the day after everyone is gone, it will be very sad, but I will get over it.

I will be absent from the blog next week. You probably won’t miss me…

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HOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?

A  massive heat wave is hitting most of us this week. I cannot fathom how the people in India will survive; many of them won’t. Technology has to save us! But in the meantime, I have some hints for those of us who are privileged enough not to worry about dying from the heat.

Stay very still. This comes from my husband. I, frankly, have never found this to be helpful, although I guess you sweat less staying still than bustling around. But sweat is sweat, and having it soak the back of your shirt as you sit very still is just as bad as having it drip down into your bra when you are emptying the dishwasher.

Drink a lot of water. Sure. So you can create more sweat. I know, hydration is key, but having a glass of water isn’t that cooling, unless you pour it over your head.

Old ladies like me know that having a fan (the kind Southern Belles used to flirt with, not a Dyson) in every room at one’s fingertips is a must. It is so helpful, and if you buy fans in bulk from Amazon, this is an easy feat. Get extra, in case you leave one in a restaurant or drop one on your way out of the library.

Popsicles are another must. Grape and cherry are the best flavors. Chloe’s out rank the Popsicle brand by a landslide. A landslide of popsicles. Save the sticks for your craft projects.

If you live in a place with a deep aquifer, as we do in Dayton, you may take three cool showers a day. If you live in California, God be with you.

Don’t forget to water your potted plants out there on your deck or porch. Every damn day. Or else they will die. And it will be on your conscience for the rest of the summer.

Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon.

It is BOTH THE HEAT AND THE HUMIDITY. I have never lived in Arizona, but come on, hot is hot. Humidity makes things worse, but 110 degrees dry seems just as horrible as 89 degrees muggy.

What is the rule? Wear black, or is white better? I can never remember, so I wear white. And spill either coffee or barbecue sauce on my white shirts, and ruin at least three every summer. So maybe black would be better.

Stay in the house! If you have a pool, stay in there! But don’t forget that your nose is very vulnerable to sunburn, while you are enjoying the cool, clear water. Zinc sunscreen and a hat. I can’t swim. The pool is not where I want to die. So I don’t hang out there. I very much admire women my age who like to go swimming. However, there is not a swimsuit that has ever been made that can make a woman over 65, no matter how slender, look good. Crepey skin, cellulite, and general “old person body” cannot be disguised. And old men in swim trunks? Ugh. Let’s not even consider Speedos–there should be a law against any man over 50 wearing one of those.

Don’t make Sun Tea. It harbors bacteria, apparently. This means boiling water, tea bags, and letting it cool enough to put in the refrigerator. Boiling water? Not advisable. Get Snapple.

Fabrics: cotton and linen, even though wearing linen makes you look as if you have slept in your clothes within five minutes of putting on that gorgeous linen shirt you got from the Gap. There is also a sort of “wicking” fabric that is supposed to keep one cool. I got a golf shirt that wicked. It gave me mega hot flashes. I tore it off my body and gave it to my husband.

Bermuda shorts. Remember madras patchwork ones? I loved those. These days, I wear capri pants, because Bemudas make me look a bit clumpy. Flip flops, but get a pedicure, for heaven’s sake! If you wear prescription sunglasses, here’s a tip: have a pair in your purse and one in your car. Men, wear a lanyard, because nobody thinks men in lanyards look like a granny.

That about wraps it up. I am now  going to go get a bag of frozen peas and wear it on my head for a while.

 

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