Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Holding On to Letting Go

What do you do when your baby (Mom, I'm 27!) decides to hop a plane to a country where chocolate milk is not the drink of choice? You wring your hands and then you write about it! Join me at Sasee for a Mom's-eye view.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Fire When Ready

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day I didn't lose my sister. If you're sitting around putting off taking the tree down, do me a favor and just for kicks check your smoke detector. Then I can check that one off my New Year's Resolutions list.

This isn’t so much a New Year’s Resolution as it is a Voiceover in the Great Commercial of Life. As a general rule, the Voice is recommending the Special Meal Deal or taking care of the heartrending choice between Original or Extra Crispy. This time, however, the Voice is saying in a big booming voice:  “Smoke Detectors Are Totally Worth It.”

Bill and I are standing in the kitchen of my sister’s house.  It smells like a cross between Overdone Liver Day at the corner diner and a game of “Who Let the Wet Dog In?”  The night before, during a driving rain, moisture made contact with wiring in the wall of her turn-of-the-century Saltbox mill house, and with a Snap, Crackle, and Pop, a hot spot appeared that Smokey the Bear would be leery of. 

But nobody was in the room to see it.

It was three o’clock in the morning the night before New Year’s Eve. Most people are happily dreaming of party plans on the horizon or the breakfast special at the pancake house at that time.

Suddenly, a sound like a million angry bees sawed through the murky air.  The smoke detectors. The smoke detectors she had installed the year before when Dad gave up the good life at the nursing home to come live with someone who could make coffee just like he liked it. Pop has gone on to the corner of Heaven where every cup of coffee is bottomless, but the smoke detectors still decorated the walls of the house.

She grabbed her cell phone and laptop – even fire can’t stop the will to Facebook – and she and her husband landed in an icy backyard, breathing frigid air, and called the local fire department who contained the fire to two rooms.

Back in the kitchen, I looked at Bill who was declaring a soggy bag of sugar a total loss. “Hey, where’s the best place to be in a fire?”

He tossed the sugar in the huge trash can we were using for dead-on-arrival perishable pantry products. “Where?”

I grinned. “Outside.”

And thanks to the smoke detectors that’s exactly where my sister and her husband were. A tiny spark may have started the trouble, but the Important Things in Life didn’t go up in flames.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving Bounty

I am thankful for paper towels, because I have six animals, all of whom live inside and consider going outside to take care of their personal needs to be a savage exercise in cruelty.  They do it, of course, or they have to watch me go all white vinegar on their shedding hides and listen to lecture number 3,712 about what animals won’t get to do inside if they’re not trustworthy and responsible about going outside.  We all agree on that one, even though if you don’t think a Dachshund can roll her eyes, pull up a chair and watch the fun.

But I’m pretty sure all animals can empty the contents of their traitorous digestive systems onto the Karastan at will.  If an expensive area rug isn’t available, my tennis shoes, sewing basket, or the polished hardwoods in the living room will do just fine.

So when the weather gets cold, and your furry mafia comes in from the bracing chill of winter with a look of revenge in their eyes, do what I do.  Carpet your house in paper towels.

It will make for a Bounty-ful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Cough Drop

Follow the crowd to Huffington Post and get ready for a Fall classic. The crinkly wrapped bite that saved my marriage. The marriage that wasn't in trouble before this trip.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Little Boy Gone on 9/11

by Carole Conner Oldroyd on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 3:05pm

I post this every 9/11.  I made a promise to myself and to this little boy's memory that I would never forget him.

This is Rodney Dickens. He was only 11 years old when he lost his life on September 11, 2001. He will forever be the face I see when I think of that terrible day.

When photos started streaming in on TV after the terrorist attack, his little face struck me. I began to wonder about him. As a mother whose kids were close to Rodney's age at that time, so many things ran through my mind.

My first thought was, "Who was with this little boy? Was he traveling alone?" My boys had flown alone several times.

My heart broke when I wondered if he knew what was about to happen; that his life was about to come to an end. Did anyone put their arms around him, or did he face the those final moments as alone as any human being could ever be? Did he cry? Was he afraid? Did anyone hold his hand? Did he pray for God to rescue him? Did he have dreams, goals, plans for his future? Was he even old enough to begin dreaming of what he would do when he was all grown up?

When I began researching to find out who little Rodney was, I learned that he was, indeed, without his parents. He was traveling with classmates. Again, parental instincts crept in and I sobbed thinking about his mother and his father. Were they watching as this all happened? How devastatingly helpless must have been the feeling, knowing that they were powerless to protect their child from the wickedness of these terrorists. I have had nightmares about Rodney crying for his parents in the seconds before his life was brutally stolen away on what should have been a day filled with joy.

And then my emotions turned to rage. Correlations between this innocent child and my own children filled me with so much anger, knowing that the terrorists would not have cared if my children were on that plane. Regard for precious human life was tossed aside like an unwanted object by those . . . I'm sorry, I cannot use the word "people". In fact, I don't have any other word for them besides terrorists. I feel that nothing appropriate even exists in the English language.

As I write this, my arms are covered in goose bumps. My eyes are filled with tears. This child. This sweet-faced little boy lost his life before he even had a chance to begin living.

Rodney, I never knew you. But I love you. With all of my heart, I love you.

As long as I live, you will never be forgotten.



Monday, July 4, 2016

Basement Battles

Our heat pump froze over today.  They tell me that happens when the filter gets clogged. 

There’s a filter?  Like for regular or menthol?

In my recent experience (before my nap) I learned that when the filter is clogged, all the good, cold air goes back to the unit and turns into Frozen, the Backyard Reenactment, and the wicked bad air blows up my pants leg.  If you’ve never had a blast of thermodynamics up your leg in the midst of a humid Southern Summer, let me assure it’s no different than dropping a boiling hair ball down your pants.

Never mind the Fourth of July.  We’ve already seen fireworks at my house.

I suddenly discovered the urgent need to call the Heat Pump Fixer People.  They suggested that as long as we keep Labradors scattered around the house like throw rugs, we might want to consider changing the filter more often.  Who knew that big dogs were good for more than finishing up your ham sandwich or standing in the open doorway to watch the neighbor’s cat wash between its toes?  They also keep us up-to-date with filter changing.

The filter is in the basement.

I barely have the energy to crawl into the kitchen and hold my mouth open under the ice dispenser when it’s this hot, and this guy is suggesting I skip down two flights of stairs like it’s the Yellow Brick Road, and crawl through the Tunnel of the Dead to change the filter?  Everybody knows that shady characters go through neighborhoods hiding bodies in basements.  Doesn’t this guy read? Or watch reality shows?

“What did they say?”  Captain CoolDown, clad only in Things He Wears When It’s Too Hot to Dress is mopping is brow with the daily newspaper.

“They say you need to change the filter.”

“I’d better do it.  This heat is going to make the bodies smell.”

Great.  I’m looking for Green Acres and he’s giving me Twilight Zone.

Armed with a new filter, flashlight, and a flask of Holy Water, the Captain heads downstairs.  I hear various noises that may or may not involve screaming and swordplay and the breaking of glass that I’m pretty sure involved what’s left of the Holy Water.

In the silence that follows, I’m trying to decide whether to call my pastor or dial Emergency Services for the Jaws of Life.  Suddenly the Survivor of Basement Battles: Zombie Heat Pump edition pops his head in the kitchen.

“We should be good in just a little while.  Do you know anything about this?”  He held up a coil of Christmas garland bedecked with tiny lights.

Garland that had been in the way when we brought up our decorations last December and I blindly piled in a convenient crawl space, effectively blocking air flow for six months.  There was only one thing to do.

“Never saw it before.”

Let the Spirit of Christmas Past stay down there with the rest of the bodies.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Going Paleo

“Whatcha doing?”

The kids are never intimately concerned with my activities unless I’m stirring around in the kitchen at suppertime.

I put an egg on the table.  “Checking the fridge for supper stuff.”

“Are you gonna divvy up that egg between us or are we on our own?”

“We could only afford one. It’s a special free-range egg. The chicken that produced this egg roamed the countryside randomly, picnicking on the wonders of nature along the way.”

“Wonders of nature?  You mean like beetles and slugs?”

“I don’t think so. Chickens like corn.”

“I don’t think the chicken crossed the road to pounce on a niblet.  On the Nature Channel I saw one hijack a baby mouse like it was a chocolate truffle.”

“Tell you what. You can have the egg.”

“I’m good.” He hooked a slice of cold pizza out of the fridge.

“One day you’ll be sorry for your poor food choices.”

This kid could bench press me and the contents of my purse, and yesterday he finished my Zumba video while I was still searching for my oxygen tank.

“At least I’m not on the Fred Flintstone diet.  You have to eat special food to give you big feet and bad posture?”

“It’s the natural diet of our caveman ancestors.”

“And what was their lifespan?  Twenty years?”

I pondered. I have Devil’s Food Cake recipes older than that.

“Maybe I’ll pick a different era to eat my way through. Somewhere in between Caveman Og and Paula Deen.”

“Yeah,” he grinned, tossing the pizza crust into the trashcan like LeBron James sinking a three-pointer.            

“One carries a big stick and one carries a stick of butter.”