The MAD Goddess writes out loud with candor and humor about the changing landscape of life for women with retired husbands,
adult children, and grandchildren. It's not always a pretty story,
but it's usually pretty funny.

Search This Blog

Thursday, December 24, 2009


 I haven't done any holiday baking yet, 'cause - you know . . .in our midlife and beyond house, sugar, butter,chocolate and taste have all taken on a four letter pseudonym - EVIL.

Did you ever notice the connection between evil and devil (or good and God for that matter?  Think about it.).

Anyway, these things are evil in our house, the devil incarnate that makes my hips blossom and fills my hubbie’s already clogged arteries with more plaque.  They are taboo, forbidden, off limits . . .  

 . . . tantalizing little temptations promising to delight my taste buds and satisfy my tummy in a way that indulgences of the non-food variety could never do.

Oops.  Sorry.

But it’s the holiday’s right?  We need to indulge a little.  If my husband croaks any time soon, I guess you can blame me for taking a week or so off from my food-police duties.

I'm beginning to get an idea of how Eve felt, branded throughout time as the inadequate mate who fed her hubby the wrong thing and cast him into abject misery outside his happy little life in the garden.   Uh, he heard the Word too.  Think he might have been capable of saying, "No thank you, Eve.  I'll pass on the apples."

This afternoon, I’m whipping up some of my Aunt Mug’s (Margaret if you must) Toffee Squares.  Auntie Mugs was a Buxom Babe.

A few days ago I started contemplating the word buxom.  While it technically refers to a womanly part of the anatomy that lies above the waist, I believe it’s general implication is of a shapely women in the Reubanesque style.  Let's face it, for the most part, assuming nature is the underlying architect, if the womanly figure is full up top then chances are good she's shapely at the belly and hips as well.

What’s not to love about that?
(FYI, Mattel leveled a "cease and desit order against that ad campaign)

Or this?

Finally, a wonder woman archetype to which I can live up - uhm, out? (I didn't find any information of Marvel Comics requesting a cease and desist on this one.)

And since I’ll be parking my buxomness in Florida soon, for a whole month of decadent deck lounging . . .

how about this?
I like her, she reminds me a lot of the Queen of Cups card in my Tarot deck.
(click on the pic to see more beautiful, one of a kind creations at the artist's website)

This Goddess is growing weary of the pursuit of perfection to be had in a size 8 mini skirt.  I think for the new year, I’ll resolve to embrace by rubenesqueness  (I made that derivation up.  I like the way it sounds) and free the buxom babe I am meant to be.

Now, that's a plan I can wrap my mind around, if not my arms.

. . . . . . mid
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Truthfully, I don’t have to check this list twice. The only name on it is mine and I know I’ve been a good girl all year long.

Furthermore, I’m not counting on some old fat guy with a white beard to navigate a sleigh full of treasures to me, no matter how jolly he is. I’m letting my fingers travel over the keyboard to some of my favorite shopping haunts – the places that carry all the things a Mad Goddess woman like me could dream of.

Every Goddess needs a good pair of ruby red slippers and these are my choice. Don’t be jealous, just keystroke over to and snatch up a pair for yourself.

While you’re at it, you might want to wander over to for this way out shoe rack – high heels easily accommodated.

This seemed like a good hat to add to my collection.

Not too showy, neutral colors. I think I could wear it for everyday trips to the village market. No sense now in trying to convince the locals that I’m not a tad eccentric – but that’s a story for another time.

For chilly nights by the fire, this cozy cuddler will keep me toasty warm and, unlike my prissy pure bread feline companions, it won't shed.

The hat, rose throw and the sign below can all be had from

Don’t ask me why, but I’ve developed a desire to label my bathroom door. I’ve bypassed many a “powder room” plaques and now I now why. This beauty is far more elegant.

And while we’re on the subject of signs, this little gem from was a must have been made for me. A Goddess has to have somebody’s feet at which to lay the blame.

I can’t get enough sparkling, dangly ornaments to hang from my ears. These little gems are just quirky enough to suit me.

Made from recycled depression glass, get them while they last at

While there, you might want a sign like this one, stating that the Supergirl cape is in the laundry. I know that’s where mine is.

Of course, while I’m waiting for the cape to come out shiny clean and dry, I can drape this orchid ostrich feather boa from around my shoulders . . .

 . . .while I sip my coffee on chilly winter mornings from this perfectly befitting cup (

wearing my red power shoes . . .

. . . with my favorite plaid flannel nighty.

The santa living in this house ought to appreciate that wake up call.

. . . . . . mid
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


My thighs are rubbing together when I walk . . . again.  I don’t know about the rest of you middle aged (and plus) chics but I’m getting fed up with this whole weight issue. 

After numerous months of struggling to tip the numbers on the scale below, uhm, a number you don’t need to know, about eight weeks ago the excess bulk started coming off.

And about two weeks ago, I noticed it creeping back on.  Yesterday, after my shower, when I felt that familiar friction of the skin above my knees I knew before stepping on the scale that I’d gained back every ounce.

Okay, so I indulged over Thanksgiving.  Yes, not on – over.  Over the entire week that I sat home on my butt enjoying a bit of leisure in my otherwise overscheduled, over-worked week.  That was my first mistake.

And maybe I’ve been hitting the chocolate again – second mistake.  But do I have to live on salads and whole grain crisps for the rest of my life just to keep squeezing my ever-bloomin’ ass into a pair of size twelves?  Really?

I’ve been wearing the same size jeans for close to twenty years now and something isn’t computing, because I certainly haven’t weighed this much for as many years.

It’s the dreaded back fat.  My sister warned me about this.

Back fat?  Back fat?!  Now I have to deal with more fat on a part of my body that I can’t exercise, even if I want to?  I’m not saying that I want to, but still –

Exercise – that E word. Not getting enough E.  Need more E.  Are you getting your recommended dose of E every day? 

“Pat, can I buy a vowel please, an E?”

“Vanna, do we have any E’s?”  (DON'T even get me started on Vanna)

“Is there an F, Pat?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, there is no F.”

Exactly, No F in’ exercise!  That’s what’s missing.

Seems I lost out in life’s wheel of fortune when the great metabolism I was born with went bankrupt. Gone are the days of eating a whole bag of potato chips with a container of dip.  Gone are chocolate malts, chocolate brownies, chocolate candy bars . . . straight shots of chocolate from the Hershey’s Syrup bottle (although, if you check the label it’s fat free).

I suppose I’ll have to make the E word part of my daily vocabulary if I don’t want to blow up like a beached whale.  So, I hit the road for a brisk thirty-minute walk yesterday. Then, last night before bed, I uncorked a bottle to celebrate – a bottle of extra-strength pain reliever to ease my Arthritic feet, bad hip, aching shins and stiff back.

Later today, if I can hobble to the grocery store, I’ll stock up on lettuce and some more of those cardboard crackers.  I wonder if they’d taste any better with a shot of Hershey’s on them?

. . . . . . mid
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


My psychology teacher recently told the class that the early onset of puberty has been attributed to increased exposure to light – albeit artificial.  It all has to do with our circadian rhythm, more commonly known as our biological clock.

So if I’m following correctly, our body clock, which regulates our wake and sleep cycles according to the daylight to dark hours, contributes to the aging process according the number of days it perceives by sunrise following sunset.
Are you going where I’m going?  If I were to live in total darkness, would I stop aging?  Or worse, sun worshipper that I am, am I accelerating my aging by following the sun?  Well, of course, we know all about sun damage and aging skin, but I’m talking about over all, external and internal aging.
Should I be setting up camp at the South Pole?   Eschewing all forms of artificial light except perhaps the dim glow of a candle?
Well, I do look better by candlelight these days.   Recently, I caught a glimpse of my face in the side mirror of my husband’s truck.  It’s not often I have the opportunity, or the inclination, to gaze at myself in broad daylight under the noontime sun.
“Oh my Goddess!  Where did those wrinkles come from?”  I was getting to be okay with the faint crows feet (faint as long as I don’t smile or frown), but there are wrinkles on my cheeks.  Can other people see them?  Drat these cataracts and the sun exposure that caused me to have them (when I’m way too young by the way).
I feel like an addict who has finally felt the sting of betrayal from my drug of choice – knowing that I still won’t give it up.
I remember those winter vacations in South Florida when I was just a teenager; seeing all those wrinkled, leathery bodies in beach chairs.  I thought those bathing beauties were all well past eighty.  They were probably the age I am now!
A good friend of mine is a nurse (translate – should know better).  We’ve spent countless hours of countless days of the past 25 summers engaging in our favorite pastime – lounging on an air mattresses on any available body of water with the hot sun baking our skin to a dark brown hue.  Affectionately known to us as Float-n-Bloat (heat plus humidity equals water retention), we tried to soak up as much sunshine and we possibly could, futilely hoping to somehow store it for the long winter months.
It may have been fun and satisfying in our youth, when our bodies could conceal the damage.  Now we’re paying the piper and it’s a hefty fee.  Even so, I know any chance I get to feel that satisfying heat on my parchrd skin, to squint my blurry eyes against its glare, to lie in a stupor of heady satisfaction while I bake and flake, I will take it.
I’ve already missed the window to “Live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse,” so I may as well go to my grave all wrinkled and warm with a smile on my face.

. . . . . . mid
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Once again I’ve bumped into an old school chum in a place I never expected.  For years she was behind the counter at the family pharmacy in the neighborhood where we both grew up. 

In this age of superstore chains, it’s comforting to see our little drugstore still in business whenever I get the chance to visit.  Though my husband’s and my prescription needs are filled by the Veterans’ Administration via US mail, I drop in now and then for sundries; the occasional greeting card, small items to stock the medicine cabinet and perhaps something from their gift line.

This past week I caught sight of Mary pushing the pharmacy cart through the corridors of the hospital where my husband was paying a visit on the Cardiac Care ward (the phrase, paying a visit takes on a whole new connotation in the preset health care system).

Anyway, there she was, 15 miles away from the little neighborhood drug store.  Turns out she gave up the job she loved because her husband was laid off in the cut backs that swept yet another of our local industries.  Also turns out that it’s much easier for an older middle aged woman to find a full time job with benefits than it is for a man in the same age range.

Great.  We finally win a battle in the war for equality when we’re too darn old to even care anymore.

I am struggling through my first semester of full time credits in over 30 years.  Each time I dissolve into tears over a new chapter in my Business Math book, I ask myself why I’m doing this.

My husband is 100% disabled due to an increasingly complicated heart condition.  There is about a zero to one tenth of a percent chance that he will ever improve, and that would only be if medical science beats the grim reaper by coming up with some way to Roto-Rooter human arteries without completely destroying them in the process.

Here’s the catch 22.  IF there is some great advance (angiogenisis is proving promising) and my husband is suddenly “cured”, the disability income stops (as it should) and he becomes an almost 60-something man looking for a job in a crippled economy.  Ever hopeful for the chance that his health can improve, I figure we’d better be prepared for the consequences.

So when I burst into frustrated tears over math equations that, to me, are a foreign language, I practice by figuring out what our living expenses are, how much I’ll need to earn and the statistics of job opportunities in my chosen field. I work endless calculations figuring the cost of my higher education and the number of working years I have left to recoup and pay that debt.

Running into friends like Mary is a double-edged sword.  She is an inspiration—an  example that we are strong and capable.  It is also a reminder that this isn’t the midlife we expected.

But, really, how much of life ever turns out the way we expected?

. . . . . . mid

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Last week I went in for my 50,000 mile check-up. When the doc asked how I was doing, for the first time in my life I answered, “Not so good.”

Welcome to middle age and beyond. Everything from here on out is down hill and I feel like Sisyphus trying to keep that infernal boulder from rolling into the valley. Yea, though I walk through the valley, I may fear not . . . but I’m lugging around twenty extra pounds, my back aches, my feet are sore and I’m just so damned tired all the time.

After eliminating any serious causes for my complaints, the doc asked me if I was experiencing a lot of stress. When I answered in the affirmative he said I had to learn to identify the source of the stress and eliminate it.

I told him that was a good idea but I’d probably end up in jail.

I thought being an adult, being married and raising kids was tough, but this empty nest thing is no piece of cake. I still worry just as much about my kids, but I have even less say in their life choices.

I may be dealing a lot less with the children since they've flown the coop, but thanks to retirement I have twice-as-much husband in this phase of life. I was the CEO of home and hearth for more than 30 years. Now all of a sudden it feels like I’ve been demoted to facility manager.

I used to be able to dismantle, paint and redecorate a room between the time my husband left for work and returned for supper. Now it takes me longer than that just to explain what I want to do . . . or rather why I want to do it. Being that I’m over twenty-one, I can’t quite come to terms with this permission asking thing.

He wants to know why he doesn’t have a say in how we decorate. I point to the NASCAR die casts that are now a feature of our living room.

He wants us to do everything together – Wednesday softball, Friday night races, and Sunday football game on the widescreen at the local bar.

A few weekends ago, I mentioned that a local band, including a few guys who used to play music with my brother, was playing nearby.

“So what?” he said.

I didn’t bother to explain the “what” was that I wanted to go listen to them. Any fun I might have had was spoiled by his obvious condemnation. Funny thing is I can act similarly disinterested in any number of sporting events yet he seems oblivious to the fact that “we” are not having as good a time as he is.

Cleaning the house and cooking meals apparently doesn’t come under the umbrella of doing everything together either, though cleaning the garage does.

I hate to complain. It’s not like I don’t want him here. After ten-years apart while he drove an 18-wheeler across the country, I really do want to spend time with him. Given the heart attack that should have left him dead in his truck somewhere in Indiana, I could be lamenting a very lonely life right now.

I thought mid-life was all about being stuck in the middle – somewhere between young and old, between raising children and aging parents, working hard and reaping rewards.

So why is it so gosh-darn hard to find the middle ground between too much alone and too much together?

. . . . . . mid
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


The Mad Goddess philosophy for life is based on one ruling principle: I am not responsible for anybody’s happiness but my own.

I’m not talking about safety, well being, or the assurance of basic needs; just the general assumption that fully functioning, reasonably intelligent adults should be able to create their own happiness – and if they can’t, it’s not my job – regardless of how much I love them.

In that light, I am unapologetic for my absence this past month. In fact, to apologize would be quite presumptuous on my part – like it ruins your week if there is no post on my blog?

Even if you do miss me, would Cleopatra have given a second thought to her adoring subjects had she desired a lengthy seclusion? If pop diva Cher planned a comeback world tour, is there any doubt that it would be a sell out? Is there even one fan who would condemn her for her long absence, rather than embrace her return?

Staying focused on my own happiness, after a half-lifetime of putting husbands, children, parents and friends (to name a few) ahead of me, is a challenge that takes serenity, courage and wisdom – as extolled in my favorite prayer; “Grant me the serenity to accept those things I cannot change, the courage to change those things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Two weeks ago, my step son-in-law was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer at the age of 35. This is just another, in a line of sorrows that have defined my middle years, including the deaths of my step son at age 26 and my daughter’s significant other at the age of 31 – not to mention that my husband’s cardiologist has told us that every morning he wakes up is a blessing.

What does all of this have to do with happiness? With each of these tragedies I have become a little bit stronger and I have learned one very hard lesson. Happiness is not a circumstance, it is a choice.

This was most profoundly impressed on me by Jai Pausch, the wife of Randy Pausch, a 47 year old professor who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, but not before inspiring millions of people with his famous “Last Lecture.”

In her interview with Jai and Randy before his death, Diane Sawyer asked Jai how she coped with knowing that her husband would die. She said that no matter how much she wanted to change that fact, she couldn’t. She could spend the time she had left, being angry, feeling sorry for herself and their three young children, or she could choose to make the absolute best of every moment they had left.

At the time I heard those words I was sinking under the weight of similar fears. I dreaded leaving for work each day, but I had no choice – my income may have been meager, but with my husband unable to work, it was all we had. More so, I feared coming home every night, convinced that my fate was to find my husband cold and lifeless – the same way I found my father not so long ago. I was certain I could not withstand one more tragedy in my life. The fact of the matter is, I can – I need only choose to do so.

There are many more losses to come in my life. I will grieve. I will miss those people who die, or I will miss the nature of relationships that must change because of illness or disability. There will always be pieces of my heart missing as well – but whether I live the rest of my life in misery or happiness is up to me.

Likewise, if those around me choose to be miserable (Mad Goddess or not) I don’t possess the power to change them. That has been a difficult – and humbling lesson.

. . . . . . mid

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I’m an eternal optimist – always looking for a silver lining. I turn the other cheek with a firm belief that I won’t get slapped a second time, I believe that good triumphs over evil and I’m sure that a positive outlook is half the battle.

Take this current economic downturn. Could it possibly have a more optimistic label? What our grandparents called a Great Depression, our parents called a Recession. Leave it to the Baby Boomers to call it an economic downturn, just a little obstacle along The Road to Shambala.

Or perhaps, it’s a redirection from the detour that had us traveling the fast lane to play-now-pay-later, where the credit card companies set the pace in a pied piper’s parade.

Maybe as a midlifer unafraid to sieze opportunity, you were on the route to early retirement with a high yield, high stakes, quick return investment portfolio. That didn't exactly turn out the way we'd hoped.

If there is any good that can come from this financial crash, I am hopeful that it is the return of a couple of old concepts – cash and carry and slow and steady.

When my parents passed on a few years ago, they left a house full of furniture, appliances and electronics. I’m not talking faded flora sofas, an avocado refrigerator or the old Hi-Fi record player. In my mother’s life-long quest to remain young at heart, she refused to let her lifestyle, or her home, date her. At eighty-plus years old, Mother still took every chance available to redecorate, rearrange and restock.

I was often the recipient of this or that piece of furniture or some small appliance, which she told my father I needed. Usually, it was indeed something I could use. The fact that my mother then purchased the new and improved version (or maybe just a different color) certainly didn’t negate her generosity and resulted in a houseful of some pretty good loot at the end of my parent’s days.

When that day arrived, being firmly ensconced in middle age with all the accompanying accoutrements, my siblings and I wanted little more than a few keepsake pieces. With six adult-on-their-own-children among us, we opened the house up to free shopping. Three floors of inventory was reduced by a few glass end tables, a bed frame and some small kitchen appliances.

Then came the estate sale. We couldn’t give the stuff away. Two, almost new 27” televisions finally sold for $10 a piece – to go in a cabin on the lake (this was long before anybody knew about the digital change to come). We did manage to give a computer away, just to save us the disposal fee.

I’m not trying to imply the stuff was worth a fortune. I was just shocked that there weren’t young people anxious, dare I say grateful, to find a kitchen table with four matching chairs for $25. They spend that much to go to a movie or have a manicure.

And then I got it. They can’t shop estate sales with a credit card – that little, magic piece of plastic that allows them to purchase a new kitchen set at three times the price, for the promise of making a payment less than half of what we were asking.

Except now, too many people are realizing they’ll be making that payment for the rest of their natural life-time. Or that all of their pre-tax dollars invested for fast growth, fat retirement accounts, might have been better kept in a simple (FDIC insured) savings account – or maybe used to pay cash for all their stuff.

So where is my bright side? First, there’s the satisfaction, of course. As a parent who never stopped nagging her kids about the dangers of accumulating credit card debt, I have the time honored privilege of saying “I told you so.”

Second, these financial challenges we face are forcing all of us, across generations, to take a look at what’s important in life.

We have to ask ourselves, is that bigger house with granite countertops and quarried-tile floors, an SUV or the latest electronic, virtual experience game worth the price owed in the end? Do my children or grandchildren really have to go to Disney World?

How about the simple pleasures of life? How about having time to spend with family? How about a day at the State or County Park (there are plenty to choose from around the Twin Ports area).

Instead of granite and tile – a weather worn picnic table and sand will do just fine. Let’s actually throw a ball, jump rope or just play tag, instead of exercising a joy-stick. As for Disney World, we saved, we went, we saw. In my opinion it’s overcrowded, overpriced and overrated.

As Dorothy discovered, if you can’t find happiness in your own back yard, you won’t find it Oz, or for that matter, Disney World, Shambala or anywhere else. And as we are all discovering in the aftermath of easy payment plans, the more you own, the more you owe and off to work you go, and go and go.

. . . . . . mid
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Recently I was asked to read some of my essays to a group of women from middle age through golden years. About half way into the gig, I noticed that many of them looked like frightened deer frozen in the glare of oncoming headlights.

I realized that they had never heard another woman speak about mid-life frustrations with such candor - well not publicly at least. I admit it - I’m not one to mince my words these days.

One woman asked me if I’ve ever regretted anything I’ve written or said publicly. No. I haven’t. I dare to say out loud:

  • Marriage isn’t perfect and is sometimes a hellofalota work. Oh my!
  • Kid’s aren’t perfect and they are most times a hellofalotta work. Oh my!
  • There are things about my husband I don’t like. Oh my!
  • There are things about my kids I will never understand! Oh my.
  • There are days I wish I had no husband and no children and I could just go where the wind blows me! Oh my!
  • My humor is sometimes (okay, most of the time) sarcastic. Oh my!

"Doesn't your husband take offense to what you say?" an audience member asked me.

My husband doesn’t read this stuff but all of my children do. Some of my words get spit back out in conversation. I’m sure they all wish I would retire to my rocker with my knitting and crossword puzzles. Instead I get up on my soapbox and poke holes in the pretty bubbles of familial dysfunction.

51 lashes with a wet noodle to me – one for every year I have dared to live and not be always perfect, or always kind, or always understanding. After I’ve taken my lashes and paid my debt to society, might I be able to presume I’ve earned the right to believe that as an adult women, nobody has the god-given or any other kind of right to tell me what I should do, what I should think or what I can say? Might I go one step further and presume that any sane woman would get pissed off when she is told those things.

We all live and love, we all laugh and we all cry. As women we all share our joys and sorrows, our ups and our downs with the people in our lives. We do it over a cup of coffee at a friend’s kitchen table, with the phone in hand late at night, in an email or maybe in a blog. I write what I know, what I live.

I could be mistaken (it seems nobody is talking about this), but I think I have also said . .
  • I love life and I love sharing it with my husband, children and grandchildren.
  • I have thoroughly enjoyed being a mom and I couldn’t be prouder of my daughters.
  • I am proud of all my accomplishments – those I’ve achieved on my own and those I’ve worked at with my husband.
  • I won’t give up on my future happiness no matter how far out to sea my ship may be. And if it springs a leak, I only hope my loved ones are willing to keep bailing with me.
I have no interest in telling other people how they should live, but I certainly do hold an interest in telling them how I would like to be treated - or not treated as the case might be.

If any of you are fans of the Red Green Show on PBS, then you know the mans’ prayer (my husband hates whenever I bring this up). “I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.”

Then there are the women. We have spent a life time giving to and taking care of everybody we love and for some reason we can’t quite figure out, they haven’t put us up on a pedestal like a queen. In fact, they kind of stomp all over us like a door-step. Can’t say I blame them. We’ve trained them to be well taken care of. The more we give and do, the more they come to expect it.

I would offer this as the woman’s prayer: “I’m a woman and I just know that if I work hard enough and keep right on trying, I can make everybody around me happy and they will treat me wonderfully. I just haven’t done enough yet – or maybe I haven’t done it right yet, but I’ll just keep trying, I guess, until I get it right.”

And then one day, we become MAD Goddess women. We become exhausted. Finally, we are transformed into that fury for which hell hath no comparison.

“I am a MAD Goddess woman and I am not required to contribute to the happiness of any person – husband, child, parent, friend or co-worker, who refuses to participate in manifesting my happiness as well.”

Think of it as a see-saw. It doesn’t work if each one of you isn’t lifting the other one up.

. . . . . . mid
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess

Friday, April 3, 2009


March winds blow in the season of April proms and May graduations. Being an empty-nester, I am so done with all of that.

Proms are a fun and exciting time, especially for the mother of three daughters who each attended three proms. Do the math – I could be driving around in a cherry, classic Mustang convertible for the price. Add in the grad portraits and I could have some impressive custom wheel covers.

I am eternally grateful that we snuck by on the cheap with the first two girls - that's the middle daughter (in the middle) wearing my early 80's disco diva dress. You can see by the expression on her face that the girl has attitude. With the third daughter, we managed to keep a firm, though somewhat weakening hold on the budget - from her first prom (less than $200 total expenditure) to her last prom, in which she went all out.

Being the baby in my own family, I remember my mother’s excuse for everything I got away with (according to my older siblings). “I’m old. I’m tired,” she said summarily dismissing the ranks. Oh, how true. It becomes so easy to choose your battles when you are road-weary from traveling that path before.

I am enjoying a window of respite from this season of high emotion and high priced necessities before my first born grandchild is ready for her first prom. I admit, I’m a little (okay a lot) excited about dress shopping when the bill is on her father.

Of course, this grandma might be tempted to fork over the extra dollars for that dress she just has to have or she knows she’ll die. Ah, the payback is rich! For now, I am thankful to sit back and observe this season of young adult passages.

Like all grandma’s who sit in their rockers thinking their thoughts, I can’t help but wonder at how things have changed.

Several years ago in the autumn of the year, a college administrator sent a memo to his staff reminding them of the things the incoming freshman had never experienced. The list became somewhat famous, and now current versions can be easily found on the internet. Here’s my spring passages version ~

The young folks shopping for proms and graduations this year have never known a world without malls and chain stores. It’s unthinkable that they might wear their sister’s or cousin’s prom dress from two years ago. And they can’t believe that dress shops never“registered” your dress so that no other girl at your school would show up in the same one.

They have no idea what polyester is or what leisure suits were and have never danced with a man in stacked heels as high as their own (thank the goddess for small favors!).

They can’t imagine being restricted to going to prom as couples only or arriving in their parent’s four door sedan. They wonder if we didn’t have limos in our days.

Their feet never danced across the floor of a crepe paper festooned gymnasium. They rent ballrooms and receptions halls and drink punch (we can only hope it is only punch) in engraved stemware.

They’re dumbfounded by the suggestion that one or two poses are enough for graduation portraits. What about the sports pose, the sexy pose and the outdoor pose? What about touch-ups to remove glare from glasses, pimples on noses and flyaway hair? What about the Photoshop special effects – black and white drama with pseudo hand tinted accents?

They expect full scale receptions for graduation parties, complete with music and dancing. If they were given a suitcase (the classic gift from my day with the hint that it was time to move on being apparent) they would expect it to be the “gift box” containing their tickets for a graduation trip to Cancun.

Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “The only constant in life is change.” Bob dylan expounded on this theory in his song The Times They Are A-Changin’. As Dylan so aptly sates, we parents and grandparents can either keep up or get out of the way:

“Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
and don't criticize what you can't understand.
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command.
Your old road is rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand,
for the times they are a-changin'.”

. . . . . . mid
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Okay, file this one under "Because I'm a mom, that's why."

Which would be the answer to the youngest daughter's question, "Why did you have to post that picture on your blog?"

And - because the picture sits above my desk where I can see it every day, right next to the snow globe of the city she is living in whilst pursuing her higher education (she gave it to me the day before she left).

She's majoring in journalism - I know some day the payback is going to be a b**** .

And - Because, how could I not add this after my last post which (she emailed to tell me as soon as she'd read it) has always been one of her favorites.

And finally - Because that day the circus came to town and I was ready to run away with them . . . it was always in my plan to take you with me.

(see previous post to get the whole story)

. . . . . .
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess


I’m sipping creative juices from my fellow blogger and kindred spirit over at Ann’s Rants. I noticed that a recent post had the label “circus freak”. She was recalling some of her on-stage theatrical moments and the attending get-ups.

I can relate, that's me on the right (and, no, I'm not a natural blond but, yes, I was chewing gum and blowing a bubble when that photo was snapped). I’ve been performing in community theater for over 20 years. My costumes always consist of wild wigs, garish clothing that generally shines or glitters, gaudy beads and feather boas. People always seem not to believe when they ask, “Where did you find that get-up?” and I tell them it came from my closet.

For me, community theater is an excuse to dress up and act out – all on account of an altar ego that’s been lurking inside me for as long as I can remember. Now, the older I get, the closer she comes to the center ring.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books was “If I Ran the Circus.” I wasn’t so much interested in running the circus as running away with it. I thought living in a wagon (okay, an RV) and traveling across the country with a band of equally eccentric make believers would be the life for me. No worries about acting a fool or past regrets ‘cause I'd always be leaving town the next day. Goodbye cruel world, I’m off to join the circus!

My ancestors hail from south-central Europe. (The ruling governments and borders in the region have changed so frequently, let’s just say north of Greece and East of Romania). Wanderlust runs like blood in my veins. I just know I’d be a hit with the circus as the mysterious, veiled fortune teller.

Can you say, “Cross my palms with silver.”

I’d probably have a thang goin’on with the lion tamer. I’ve always wanted a pet tiger.

I almost made the break one day, back when I was very much stuck in the middle of my child raising years (talk about a three ring circus). My oldest was out of the nest but still ruffling my feathers. The middle child was testing her wings now that big sister’s shadow wasn’t blocking her time in the sun anymore, and the youngest was, well, young - and I was tired.

A tiny little circus came to visit our tiny little town on a warm September weekend. In fact, I will never forget because it was the Labor Day weekend that Princess Di – died, proving that there are no real fairy tales and contrary to having it all, the best we can hope for is make believe.

I dragged myself from beneath the covers where I’d retreated after the last exhausting battle with oldest child. Daddy, toddler and I trotted off to see the show.

At intermission, the ring master (a woman – fyi) announced that they would be paying for help to take down the tents and pack up the show after the last performance. Then she said the thing that made my heart stop. “If anybody has ever dreamed of running away with the circus, now's your chance.”

My brain and mouth connected so fast there was no stopping the words that leaped from my lips. I jumped right up, right in front of the tiny population of our tiny little town, raised my hand as high as it would go and shouted “I want to go!” Visualizing it in hindsight now, I must have looked like that clumsy, pigeon-toed, knock-kneed kid that never gets picked when choosing teams. “Pick me. Pick me! OH Please! Pick me!"

My daughter looked up at me with a mix of terror and hurt feelings bringing tears to her eyes. Mommy." Her little chin quivered. "You can’t join the circus – you’re my mommy!”

She was right. The saw dust and smell of greasepaint would have to wait until she at least graduated from high school . . . which happened two years ago this May! Last summer I bought a 1970-something travel trailer. My husband doesn’t believe me when I tell him I’m going to paint Gypsy Woman on the side in letters two feet tall.

Oh ya, and the best thing about circus folk? They have their very own world in Baraboo, Wisconsin and they winter in Florida baby.

. . . . . . mid
GET A ^ LIFE at MAD Goddess

Sunday, March 29, 2009


This past week has been of those that you would just like to rewind and start over. Too many obligations pulling me in too many directions and when the dust settles I can see that I accommodated the wrong people. Worse, exhausted and on my last – no really – my last nerve, I lashed out at the one least deserving.

After twelve hours of sleep followed by a day in jammies and slippers, I am beginning to feel human again.

When will my husband learn that doormat and wife are not synonymous? He would like me to live in a landscape of limitations where he rules by virtue of his testosterone. Instead, I systematically (and ever so gently) remind him that he is an ass.

Sometimes, extenuating circumstances like a 1,235 mile round trip in less than 48 hours to attend a funeral pushes me to the brink. When I get little thanks and even less consideration – I’m over the edge.

The real problem here is that it’s entirely my own fault. I never was very good at math, but an idiot can figure out that 48 hours of pure stress followed by two days of recuperation and a stack of backed up projects at work, when measured against an hour or two of argument over not attending his uncle’s funeral, is not equal.

As a good (single) friend once said to me, “I am not responsible for anybody’s happiness but my own.”

Perhaps if I have it tattooed to the back of my hand where I can see it everyday, I won’t forget again.

And if I try really, really hard, I will set a better example of placing and respecting my own boundaries in a healthy marriage (in all relationships for that matter). Then maybe I'll be less apt to lash out at the wrong people.

. . . . . . mid


Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This tears it! I thought it was over. I thought the last box of tampons I bought were the last box of tampons I ever bought. They’ve sat idle for months now and I was envisioning them in a sort of shrine – an homage to the end of bloating, cramping, bleeding – aching head, aching back and aching boobs.

I should warn you, if you get squeamish at the mention of womanly body parts and female functions, you might want to stop reading now.

About a month ago, I had the worst cramps I could ever remember. I gave birth with less pain (and that was completely drug free - nazi doctors!). Killer cramps but no visit from my Auntie Flo? Odd, but it isn’t like I wanted to see her again.

A few days later I noticed that my body-temp surges had completely disappeared. This was a huge disappointment in itself. I live in the northern most realms of Wisconsin. It’s cold here. It was 35 below in late January - February wasn't much of an improvement. Those flushes of intense body warmth were the only thing getting me through the winter.

Cramps & hot flashes gone? Could all of this be pointing to a spike in estrogen levels? Sure enough, I woke up to the gift of bloody sheets this morning. I warned you to stop reading if you were squeamish.

Toddling to the bathroom with legs pressed together, I remember how nice it was to be done with all this. Toss the panties in a bucket, add cold water and pour in some peroxide (it lifts the stains like nobody’s business if you get to it right away). Grumble through a shower, dig the tampons out from the back of the bottom shelf in the linen closet and get ready for the struggle.

Struggle? It would seem that my body is staging an all out defense against these bullets of compressed cotton on a string. To be blunt (pun intended) I can barely force the little buggers in. Once there, they won’t stay put. The first time I have to pee, the tampon practically drops into the toilet.

On my last visit to the doc for his annual invasion of my private regions I was still having pretty regular periods – pretty and regular being relative terms here. Ugly surprise attacks would be a better description. You never know when they’ll show up and the hemorrhaging flow gets ugly.

I asked if things had changed down there. Doc was confused. I told him the problem with the tampons. He suggested I try a lubricant if I was having trouble inserting the tampon.

If dryness is the problem, why the heck are they sliding back out on their own? I asked.

If an obstructed cervical opening were the problem (as I’d suggested), how would they drop back out once I had them in place? He countered.

My body is clearly rejecting these nasty foreign objects. If all of that isn’t bad enough, they’re not doing their job. I think it’s called by-pass leakage. I know it means I have to wear a pad too.

After days of this, I start to worry about Toxic Shock Syndrome – you remember back in the 80’s when they told us that wearing tampons overnight (or for more than a few hours at a time) could kill us?

So, I ditch the tampon and pray for the best luck with my latest brand of pads. Forget it. If it shifts forward, I bleed backward. If it shifts if backward, I bleed forward. If I try the extra long, I bleed over the sides. The winged-wonder pads twist and stick in places they shouldn’t (can you say ouch - dammit!?).

I’ve stained so many pairs of underwear in the last two years I’ve lost count. Sometimes you can’t get to them right away (like if you have to work for a living – gross, but true). Instead of throwing them out when I get home, I throw them in the washer with lots of bleach. I stash them in the back of the drawer to wear the next time Auntie Flo comes to visit (again, gross but true). I’m through ruining $5 a pair panties.

My mother was done with all of this fuss by my age. My sister was done. My cousin was done. What’s up with this? I should be done. I want to be done.

Doctors can suck your fat out, cut 6/8ths of your stomach size out, give you drugs (with a list of frightening side effects longer than both arms) to regulate your mood, help you sleep or clear your sinuses. They can prescribe Viagra for your husband even though it may cause blindness (hey, listen to the commercial “sudden change or loss of eyesight”) or death (when you shoot him for pointing that thing at you one more time) but the FDA regulates the use of drugs to stop menstrual flow with a slam of it's patriarchal fist.

If men had to go through this ritual every month (or two weeks as it seems near the end), you can bet the minute the family was complete, the factory would somehow be closed.

As for me, I will (impatiently) wait for the next walk-out strike my hormones stage and hope that management finally shuts down production for good.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


I’ve been spending the last several days contemplating where my middle age is going from here. That is the most mental exercise I am indulging in while on vacation in Florida, other than contemplating what color I should paint my pinkies to flatter my deepening tan.

Could I live like this every day for the rest of my life? The short answer for this born and bred Midwesterner is, “You betcha!" There’s only one glitch. What would I do with my husband? He is your typical man retired before he should be -- he doesn’t know what to do with his time.

In fairness, there is an added complication. He didn’t retire willingly; his heart gave out after too many years of neglecting his health. Now, the plan to stay alive includes no more physical activity than walking a few blocks after a preventative dose of nitro and only on his good days. Good days have as much to do with his moods as with his physical condition. Can't blame him there

His life as he knew it is over. His laboring heart also won’t hold for any of the activities he planned in retirement. Golfing, swimming, home repair and improvement. To add to the conundrum, his laundry list of other physical ailments isn’t making travel easy or pleasant.

So where does that leave me? My life as I knew it, is over. With both of us suffering the same loss, why are we having so much difficulty understanding each other?

I want to know what's going to happen with my life long plan to get the heck out of frozen tundra land during the winter months? What about my visions of a small, two story cottage or the storybook garden? The structures and foundations would be his handy work, the brush strokes of colored petals waving across the canvas of our backyard would be mine. Now he can’t climb stairs and chores are completely off the list.

I planned to write in the mornings while he puttered in the garage, doing whatever it is that men do when they putter. In the afternoons we’d walk to the grocer’s for quart of milk or to pick up the daily news. We’d ride our bikes through the neighborhood streets. Heck, I’d even golf a round or two with him.

Instead, when I try to write in the mornings he impatiently waits for me to finish. Right now, on vacation, he is sitting three feet from me looking as bored as any human being can be. He glances my way about every 5 minutes. I’m not sure what he’s thinking, but I can guess.

He seems jealous of my ability to occupy myself, to engage my brain in something that thrills me. Observation indicates that he is only able to achieve that from external sources; watching sporting events, watching action films, reading the newspaper and grumping at the anchors on CNN. I understand one can only do so much of that and then, apparently, I am all that’s left to entertain him.

The MAD Goddess in me wants to scream, “Exactly when did I become responsible for your contentment?” The answer is, of course, when I said I do. My 50 years in the conditioning of what a wife does is hard enough habit for me to shake. I indulge him to keep the peace – just like my mother did with my father. She had to tape the one and only soap opera she watched, her measly hour of self indulgence, because during that one hour my father seemed to absolutely need her attention for anything and everything. She could watch her show in peace only when he dozed off for his afternoon nap.

It’s difficult for me to break the habits of the good girl, good daughter and good wife indoctrination of my middle class rearing, even with all that’s at stake. It’s impossible for him to consider another model of wife. And why wouldn’t it be? He has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

And that is precisely where men always get it wrong. My husband has one choice, get with the program or get out of my way. For thirty years I have devoted myself to raising and caring for children, caring for a husband and being on demand for aging parents’ needs, both physical and emotional. I have waited, patiently for my time and now that it’s here, I am not giving it up.

He’s afraid that I will leave him. I won’t. It isn't the answer. I will stand firm, stand up and speak out for what I need. His response is entirely up to him, but our life together will be much more joyous if he can (first) discern my needs in the midst of his neediness, and (second)understand that they are as important to his ultimate happiness as are his own.

I remember my father’s bitter complaints about my mother’s “change of life”. They were the worst years of his life. That sentiment angered my mother because she shielded him from most of the emotional upheaval of those awakening years. Being in her shoes now, I know what she was thinking. “Mister, you don’t know the half of what I wanted to say and do.”

The French have a saying that when a woman loses her blood she finds her voice. I’m sure that is inconvenient, irritating, perplexing and especially frightening for the men who have been in charge. That’s too bad for them, and if they don’t like it I suggest their best course is to learn to speak little and listen much. They might also be ready to duck because now we are carrying the metaphorical big stick.

. . . . . . mid

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I am not a teacher by profession, but I have held many positions in which I work with young adults (or older teenagers if you will). They are a mixed lot, just like any segment of society. Today, I was confronted by a particularly vocal young woman who apparently has everything in her life figured out and needs no help. She answered my queries with “Got that covered,” before I could even finish the question.

She needs no guidance on job interviews because she’s has secured every job she's applied for – two. She needs no suggestions on how to polish her presentation (first impressions you know) because she has spoken in front of an audience and she knows all that stuff - she just doesn’t like it. Her future is entirely secure because she is joining the service after she graduates and she believes (I’m assuming, because I grew weary of trying to ask her questions which she wouldn't let me finish) that our government is currently stable and safe enough to provide her with everything she will ever want or need.

It’s okay. I know that I, too, once thought I had the world by the tail – though I can emphatically state that I was never as flippant and rude as this young woman. Still, it’s okay, because even though you think you know it all and I really know you don’t, I won’t bother trying to explain it to you. Life will do a bang up job of making it all too clear.

Some day you are going to be 50 (or older) like me. You will have experienced love and heartbreak many times, because even if you stay with your first love for the rest of your life, you will break each others hearts in various ways both big and small .

You will have won more jobs, or assignments, and you will have lost some.

You will have lost friends – to time, distance and death.

Perhaps you will have raised children. If so, you will have experienced even more heartbreak - in ways you can’t begin to imagine. You will better understand your parents and you might finally respect them. If not, at least you will have arrived at a peaceful existence with them. Hopefully this will happen before they die.

You will know what true fear is when you have to let your child go – out into the world to cross the street, to make friends, to go to school, to live life – because life is fraught with very real dangers and you can’t watch them 24/7.

If you have children, you will also have had the privilege of knowing the highest and most pure love that exists in this world. You will have experienced a sense of pride that you were certain would burst your heart.

I hope that you will not yet have suffered the loss of a sibling, as I have. I hope that you will never bury a child of your own, like my husband and I have.

Some day you will be older and wiser and will realize how totally clueless you are now. You may even wonder why some adult didn’t smack you in the head for the way you are acting now. That much I will explain. It’s because we are older and wiser than you.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Over the years I’ve narrowed my New Year’s resolutions to one. It’s a no fail resolution disguised as a paradox. Each year I resolve to lose my resolve before the end of January. Here it is, barely mid month and I’ve already succeeded in keeping my New Year’s resolution to not keep my resolution!

For most of the year I watch what I eat, count calories and ration treats; except over the holidays. It’s the time of year when everybody offers up their best culinary efforts and I’m not about to pass up the goodies. Come the first of the year, I can go back to my healthful rainbow of fresh vegetables and fruit, fiberific grains and colorless fish and meat, knowing that I will drop any extra pounds I may be carrying around on my backside – my own personal Christmas gift to myself.

Last weekend, I de-frocked the house of all the Yuletide bling, packed it in boxes, dusted, vacuumed and moved furniture back to it’s rightful space. It took the entire day and all of my energy. Hubby wisely suggested we go out to eat.

Normally, I’m quite diligent about monitoring his heart healthy diet and adhering to it myself, which means choosing restaurants that offer grilled chicken or fish. But it happened to be All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp night at the local pub and I was feeling self indulgent.

Two plates of breaded and deep fried shrimp, with french fries and full-fat mayonnaise laden coleslaw, and two beers later, I’d officially broken the heart smart rules. May as well top it off with an ice cream sandwich from the C-store on the way home. From there, it’s been like a snowballing rolling down hill – fast.

I made the mistake of baking banana bread one evening. Well, I couldn’t just throw those over-ripe bananas away. I’ve eaten two pieces of it every day since. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t count toward my fruit servings.

A few days ago we were running errands in town, 45 miles from home. We decided to stop for a bite to eat. It was your typical greasy spoon diner with a cook who thinks chicken and fish filets only come pre-breaded, frozen in boxes. I figured if I was going to cheat, I may as well cheat big.

Red meat is a fading memory in our home. I’ve probably had a total of four hamburgers in the last year. When I do cook burgers, I buy the 98% fat free ground chuck and cook it on the grill. The fat free mayo offers little in the way of helping those dried out hockey pucks slide down my throat, and even less in the way of taste.

So, sitting in the diner, faced with no healthy options, I went for the gusto. I ordered the Blue Burger and Fries. The patty was 1/3 pound of greasy heaven on a bun, smothered in (I swear) a full pound of blue and gorgonzola cheese with crumbled bacon thrown in for good measure.

Yesterday I attended a baby shower. No self respecting shower would be complete without a pot-luck, fat-fare spread. I ate chicken salad with string potato chips mixed in and then sprinkled on top, cupcakes piled high with frosting and apples in caramel dip.

Today is a brand new day, with no mistakes in it . . . yet.

Why does it have to be so darn easy to fall of the healthy eating wagon and, (like everything else the older I get) that much harder to climb back on? Why does a five pound box of chocolates turn to fifteen pounds on my butt? I don’t get the math.

And when I die, if I make it to heaven, will there be 24/7 buffets laden withall the delicious foods I love, like on a Carnival Cruise Ship?