Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Up until last week I thought there were only two horizontal punctuation marks: dashes and hyphens—I’m not sure what category underscores come under, and right now don’t care. The uses of dashes and hyphens are clearly explained in my three punctuation “bibles” for standards in writing and/or editing—and I looked in the obviously outdated manuals again before I started to write this blog. Since my computer has no key for a long dash, I use the hyphen symbol instead with the hope my readers understand my intent. Sometimes when I hit the hyphen, and I clearly want the dash, the genie inside my computer puts in a dash for me.

Last week, when I sent the manuscript for my book, Retired, Not Expired, to the editor, I asked her if the person who sets the font can help me out with the dash/hyphen error. She told me that I needed to do that edit myself, and explained how to get the dash, but alas, her next instruction through me a curve ball. “Remember, you want the ‘em’ dash, not the ‘en.’” I had no clue what she was referring to, but am proud to say, thanks to her directions, I set up a command key not just for the “em” dash, but also the “ellipse.” (…) I have one for the “en” dash in case someone is kind enough to explain to me when to use it and if I should or should not leave a space before and after the symbol.

Fixing, the ellipse was easy. I just had to use the “find” and “replace” feature—not so with my incorrectly used hyphen. If I use find/replace for that, then all of my correctly hyphenated words would have an “em” dash in lieu of the hyphen. As you can imagine, I am now correcting the old-fashioned dash, one dash at a time. GRRR

If the name of the “inventor” of all the new punctuation rules now that computers set the type had a phone I would call him. I can understand why he ditched the two spaces between sentences, but how “—“ is more cost effective than “-“ is beyond my …scope of reasoning!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dueling Tiles

At least once a week I’m on the phone with our friends who moved into their 55+ development in Georgia around the same time as Hubby and I moved into ours in Boynton Beach. We constantly compare notes about our adjustments. This week we both discussed the root of many conflicts in both of our developments. What are they? Hold onto your hats—Mah Jongg, Poker, and/or Canasta.

How? Well, it’s like this. If the men are playing poker for money, now and then they play with a sore loser. If the winner's wife is friendly with the wife of the sore loser, then expect a strain in that relationship. And if both poker players were once part of the same social click, then their group is going to have to make big decisions as to which couple they will go to the early bird special.

My favorite game, Mah Jongg, causes problems too, especially if you are playing with someone who hasn’t improved since the day she graduated the Mah Jongg Academy—and even worse, the player is a close friend or your daughter’s-in-law mother. I mean, no one wants to take a chance and hurt someone they care about. Still, few players want to sit and drum on the table while one person spends ten minutes trying to decide what to throw. The problem then becomes, “What to do about Mary?”

Since the other 4 players are chicken to come out and politely tell Mary she needs to return to Mah Jongg school, the better players drop hints like repeating, “Whose turn is it?” every minute. Some people would hear the frustration of the other players in their voices, realize the game isn’t for them, and bow out. Sadly, bad players are also bad at taking polite hints. They don’t even notice the other players rolling eyes, pinching each other under the table or even playing hangman on a piece of scrap paper while waiting for her to discard a tile.

So, when the hint fails, and the bad canasta or Mah Jongg or Bridge players don’t exit graciously, the problems in Seniorville begin. In both my friend’s development and mine, we’ve been told that asking someone to drop out of a Mah Jongg or Canasta game because their slow playing is driving all the other players bonkers can begin a Hatfield and McCoy feud.

Now, since no one really knows what started that infamous feud, I have a question. Did researchers check to see if either of their wives every played Mah Jongg or Canasta with each other?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Influencial Dreams

Last night I had a nightmare about a heated argument with my husband that he won. His anger – which is rare – was so realistic that I awoke literally shaking. I stepped out of bed, washed up, and went into the kitchen to pour my coffee. Through each step of my morning ritual, I felt silly about still feeling agitated after losing a spat that that never occurred. Those who know me know I am not a good loser. My unsuspecting and truly innocent husband was sitting on the rear patio reading the morning papers. I took my mug, went outside, and snatched one section of the newspaper from bewildered Hubby. That set the tone for the next few hours until he went to the gym.

With him safely out of hearing distance, I called a friend and confessed. “I’m snapping at him over every thing he does from the way he folded the paper to not helping me with chores I never want him to help me with. I’m still mad because he yelled at me in my nightmare!”

We both literally giggled at the absurdity of the situation and by the time we hung up, my uncalled for anger had dissipated.

A friend once told me you should only do things or look at things that don’t ever upset you before you go to bed. “If you keep family pictures in your bedroom and one of them is aggravating you, it’s not good to look at his or her face right before you turn out the lights. You’ll have bad dreams.

Well, the only pictures of my children and grandchildren in my bedroom are infant pictures. Infant pictures make me smile. So, I had to think, what subconscious action caused the nightmare? The reason hit me like a brick. I couldn’t fall asleep the night before. I came out of the bedroom and headed for the frig and the leftover chocolate cake Hubby thought he had hidden in the rear of the freezer. My personal stay-on-your-diet enforcer, was right behind me. He literally blocked the frig. Consciously, I knew he saved me from night binging, but I must have gone to bed with subconscious anger towards him because I really wanted that cake. All I could remember about the dream was him making me stop something that I wanted to do. Hmmmm. Do you think his actions in real life influenced my dream?

I shared the story with him when he returned from the gym. He wasn’t amused, but he did comment. “It’s good to know that for once I won an argument with you – even if it was in your dreams.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hat's Off to Tipper and Al

Most of my galfriends who are married 40 plus years and suddenly find themselves for the first time living with their husbands 24/7 agree with my list of reasons as to why another perfect couple is untying the knot around the same time the social security checks reach their mail boxes. (It is not as unusual as the public thinks.)

Let’s start with the number one deal breaker: A/C. They will now be home all day together and he likes the house at 78 and she likes it at 74. Now 4 degrees makes a massive difference – especially if the one who likes a cool home does the cooking and ironing while the one who likes it warm rarely overexerts him or herself.

Another marriage breaker is suddenly having to be with each other 24/7 when one spouse – or both – have been traveling out-of-town for most of the marriage. Heck, some of these folks have nothing left in common except their kids and grandkids.

Taking the last reason to the next level – could it be possible that when HE retires, HE expects his wife, (who hasn’t cooked or cleaned for him or anyone else, except herself, since their last child married about 10 years prior ) to become the chamber maid and waitress as well as wife? Does he sit down at the table and wait to be served? Even worse, when he’s finished eating, does he hand HER his dirty dish even though she’s still eating?

We can reverse the sexes in the last paragraph. I have female peers who did the traveling while their spouses combined their local jobs with Mr. Mom. The challenge these marriages faced was when She retired and wasn’t sure of her role at home – even though the kids were grown and gone. Running the house was his turf.

So, for those of you looking for a reason why after that “great kiss,” Tipper and Al split, there can be plenty – and not one has to do with infidelity. Let me know if you have any I didn't sort of mention.

For my parents’ 50th anniversary I wanted to send out boxing gloves saying, “Round Fifty.” My aunt wouldn’t let me and I still regret it. No couple should stick it out for the children and then as my dad would say, “For the grandchildren.”

Hats off to Tipper and Al. You have great memories and no need to mess with that when you both can afford to move on to the next batch of great memories with or without a spouse or significant other or whatever.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

OUCH! Them's Fighting Words - Sometimes

When Hubby and I flew to Atlanta the other day on a full flight, the person in the window seat next to me reeked from body odor. Hubby had the aisle seat. If he didn’t have giraffe-like legs I would have thought of a way to con him into switching seats with me – his nose is not as sensitive as mine. I was glad Mr. Smeller went right to sleep and didn’t attempt to chat since I feel obliged to talk to everyone who talks to me – including wrong numbers. I kept my head turned towards Hubby and breathed through my mouth the bulk of the thankfully short flight out of West Palm Beach. Silently, I hoped that the incident wasn’t an omen of mishaps to come – you know like a black cat.

Since the plane didn’t spend more time circling Atlanta before landing than flying to it – something that those who fly in and out of that airport on a regular basis know is common – I began to think I was wrong. However, Stinky did turn out to be a bad sign. Since that flight, I seem to be having a run of problems that have no satisfying endings. On the trip home – we only went for 2 days – instead of a person stinking, we were too close for my nose to the bathroom. The flight was also full. When you book late as I did, you don’t have a great choice of seats if you like to sit together.

Yesterday, my daily horoscope predicted I would need comfort food by day’s end. Since these predictions are usually so broad and general, I don’t live my life by them – still I am addicting to reading them every morning. However, around noon yesterday, while speaking to a relative on the phone (not my kids), I was verbally jabbed for the third time in as many days. In each instance, the insulters were clueless of their hurtful dagger, and in the first two cases, experience has taught me it is best to heal my wounds with comfort foods than to respond. Saying something to the offender usually ends up making mountains out of molehills and the end result is rarely worth winning a point for my self-esteem.

Yesterday was different. Someone once told me stupid people need to be told, and despite my reason for not using her philosophy in the previous paragraph, I decided to try it again. The advice was still wrong. On the rare occasion I say “ouch,” – like yesterday - the relationship never heals completely, if at all. As soon as I responded in self-defense, a new mountain range was created. The offender’s mouth, like lava from a volcano, fired more hurtful observations that were best not uttered.

If I haven’t developed thick skin at this stage of my life, it just is not going to happen. In my old age, in order to prevent scars, I have learned to deal with toxic situations by either walking away if I can, deleting the toxic folks from my social calendar, or, if I don’t want to end the relationship, taking the batteries out of my hearing aides. I regret not getting off the phone immediately as soon as I detected hostility in this usually friendly person’s “Hello,” when she picked up her phone. My gut feeling is she was mad at someone else and I was her convenient punching bag.

Hubby wasn’t home to defuse the anger caused by this person and talk me out of eating comfort food. Each time I walked into the kitchen – between each sentence I typed – I mentally heard his words as I approached the cake I made for company. “One bite and the (fat) enemy wins.”

Now those are fighting words – how appropriate for the holiday. Only for my private war on fat and toxicity, I can’t call in our terrific military. Sadly, the horoscope was right. Hopefully, I just lost a battle and today the Smeller’s lasting odor on my luck will be blown away in the early morning storms that are closing in right now.