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.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Sarah Palin's Faux Paux - Just Another Excuse for Latest Hairball She's Hacked Up

Just when I thought former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin could no longer cause me to drop my jaw in disbelief, again she astounds me with her most unbelievable gaff yet.

In a note posted on her Facebook page accusing President Obama of lies and a cover-up regarding the attack on the consulate in Bhengazi, she wrote “President Obama's shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.”

In the aftermath of opposition from numerous critics, Palin rebutted with more than a trace of ire, explaining she often uses the phrase when chastising her daughter for avoiding homework. “Just to be careful, from now on I’ll avoid using it with Piper, and I would appreciate it if the media refrained from using words and phrases like igloo, Eskimo Pie, and ‘when hell freezes over,’ as they might be considered offensive by my extended Alaska Native family,” she stated.

Explaining that she would choose to chastise President Obama in the same way she gets after an immature school child adds insult to injury. Her choice of words in this latest verbal debacle exposes a transparent ethnocentrism based in dislike and fear of those who don’t fit into her group of white, American-born patriots. Her phraseology harkens back to a time in our country when African American’s were enslaved, treated as having no more intelligence than a young child and denied a voice in their own governance. It is on par with the empty chair on the GOP convention stage, lauded as brilliant by so many of her party’s rank and file. As a standard bearer for conservative American's, Palin should endeavor to elevate the larger political dialogue above the use of such demeaning language.

It is a stretch to believe that she intended no slur by her use of words that most well socialized persons understand to be a dated ethnic stereotype. That would be akin to believing she might teach Trig the well known counting rhyme, eeny, meeny, miny, moe, without changing the offensive and inflammatory subject in the follow-up sentence from a bygone era, to the current "tiger".

An illustration Palin herself might more readily understand (and I make this assumption because there are two Downs children in my own extended family) would be to call a physically or mentally challenged person a "retard" in this day and age. Everybody knows better.

If Sarah Palin wishes to place herself in a position of leadership on the political front, she does not have the luxury of being a lazy linguist. It would serve her well to take the time and make the effort to expand her cultural and social education, and smooth the sharp edges of her plain-folk talk.
The point is, by virtue of Palin's lack of worldly sophistication I could call her a hick, a redneck, or socially retarded (to use the word in its true meaning of delayed development), but that would just show ignorance on my part.

And that said, Congratulations Sarah Palin, you win the MAD Goddess Faux Paux Hairball.

. . . . . . mid

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I’ve been carrying out some practical assessment lately, something we old broads do more and more often as age creeps up. 
When I quit my day job five years ago to freelance from home on a semi-retired scheduled, I became – well – lazy.  In my defense, midlife hit me with a shit-storm akin to Hurricane Katrina and I’m not sure I’ll ever be what I once was.  Losing six immediate family members (three of them far too young to go), in the span of three years, followed by my hubby’s diagnosis of congestive heart failure will do that to a girl.
I digress. It’s not that my house is filthy  - well, maybe by my mother’s standards it is. And while it’s a cluttered mess most of the time I’m not ready to star in an episode of Hoarders (yet). But when I walked in the back door the other day and recognized that singularly distinct scent of grandma and grandpa’s house I knew I’d been neglecting the down and dirty cleaning for far too long.
It’s certainly not like I don’t know how to do it. Every Saturday my mother’s house smelled of Pinesol, Lemon Pledge and Clorox.  Windows were thrown open, even in the dead of winter at well below zero, for the entire time it took her, my sister and I to clean the two main floors of a turn of the century foursquare.
During the week there were never dishes in the sink, the kitchen was swept numerous times a day and the vacuum ran at least once a day. I recall the time my father came home from work, bent down to pick up one infinitesimal piece of lint from the living room carpet, and sighed with disdain for my mother’s careless oversight. Yeah – that’s the way he rolled.
So how, other than the blows of life, did I get so lazy? Unscheduled time.  When I was raising kids, working part time and trying to squeeze in leisure pursuits, I was acutely aware of what finite time I had for cleaning. I knew if I let it slide, I’d never get caught up.
It seems that now having an abundance of free time feeds my procrastination gene.  Why vacuum now when I have all day tomorrow?  Why scrub the bathrooms when it’s so hot and humid, maybe it will cool down tomorrow. Tomorrow, tomorrow, there’s always tomorrow; it’s only a day away . . .
I need to get back on track. Today is the day – not tomorrow.  I have to institute a regular regime of household cleanliness. I want to breath the piney, lemony, antiseptic scent of my youth – or maybe just a good dose of Simple Green (hopefully more organic and health conscious).
The way I figure, I have seven basic rooms in my house.  There are seven days in the week.  What a coincidence!  One area a day.  Ah, I remember those embroidered tea towels . . . Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is dusting, Wednesday is baking, and so on.
In consideration of weekends, both wanting them “off” and the possibility of unexpected guests, I have designated Friday kitchen and master bath day. Thursday is master bedroom and a quick go-over of the guest room (again – at the ready for unexpected guests).  That leaves Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for dining room, laundry room and living room.
I’m posting a checklist on the fridge to keep me on track. Popular wisdom says it takes a month to break an old habit and form a new one.  I’ll keep you posted on how that’s working out for me.

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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


What in blue blazes has happened to manners and polite gestures in this country?  I know, I know, every generation that ages to the top of the hill has had the same complaint. This fact gives me little comfort. Rather, it gives me great cause for concern. Is this century’s long downward spiral of social niceties and simple decorum leading to our demise as a civilized species?

What has happened to protocol?  When did Miss Manners go missing? And where in the world is Emily Post?   Is this yet more collateral damage of a crumbling economy? Have the mavens of good manners fallen victim to job cutbacks?

Where are all the overbearing, bossy aunties and grumpy uncles? What about the finger wagging grandma and grandpas that put us in our places when we got a little too “cheeky” or “fresh”?  Have these snowbirds flown the coop, and will those of us left behind be pecked to death in an onslaught of rudeness?

I say, “No, gosh darn it!”  If we don’t want to watch future generations degenerate into a society of grunting ape-like buffoons, we must call forth and embrace our inner etiquette vigilantes. Volunteer now. Join the ranks of the Politeness Police! Please.

I’m doing my part. I have planned a strategic defensive to nip rudeness in the bud, starting with telephone talk. No longer will I patiently wait through an interrupted phone conversation when a friend’s call waiting beeps. It’s bad enough that businesses subject us to their idea of pleasant on-hold music; I don’t need to cool my heels with the dead silence of a friend’s phone in my ear. From now on when said friends asks if I can hold while they take another call, I will simply and politely say, “No thank you. Call me back when you are finished with your more important conversation.”

Nor will I conduct any more in person conversations with somebody suffering from nose-in-smart-phone-syndrome. I don’t care if they are talking, texting, tweeting or cyber cheating. If they can’t disconnect from their virtual scene long enough to engage in a real-world social encounter, I’ll leave them to their sophomoric simulated life.

In an effort to be the change I want to see in the world, I have planned an offense strategy as well. It begins with remembering to always say please and thank you. Yes, we all learned that in kindergarten, if not before, but I think refresher courses in the art of being humble and expressing gratitude are in order.

If somebody holds a door open for me, I always say “Thank you,” with a big smile. When I open the door for others, or hold it open for somebody close behind me after I've passed through, I notice that there is a bout a 50/50 chance I’ll even be acknowledged (see Nose in Phone Syndrome above).

Don’t get me started on fast food and how it has ruined table manners. I’ll just mention what should be common knowledge. Don’t talk with your mouth full (it probably bears notation here that full is a relevant term and means any amount of food in your mouth). Don’t chew with your mouth open. Put your napkin in your lap and don’t just let it sit there – use it.  Spoons and forks are handy utensils; they keep your fingers clean. Of course, there are acceptable finger foods (snacks like chips and peanuts, some  hors d'oeuvres, and fried chicken or BBQ ribs - but only at a picnic) but, please, do not lick your fingers, lips or chin (see napkin usage above).

At potlucks and buffets put less on your plate than you think you might eat (this isn’t a contest and there are no trophies for balancing the highest tower of food in one trip). You can go back for seconds if there is enough—after everybody has eaten once.

No double dipping, and do not take a bite of food then return it to a communal serving dish. You’d think that would be a no brainer, wouldn’t you?  I mean, if you’ve ever raised or cared for children, didn’t you teach them that?  “If you touch that cookie you have to take that one.”  Or,  “If you take a bite and don’t like something, leave it on your own plate or throw it away.”

Recently I was performing in a community production honoring our local Armed Forces Veterans and those currently serving. For the finale, we planned to sing several verses of God Bless America, walking down into the audience to shake hands and offer flowers and treats.

I had a plate of brownies ready and when I offered them first to those on stage with me (it was supposed to be a "party" scene), not one, but two of my fellow cast members took a bite, didn’t like it, then PUT THE BROWNIE BACK ON THE PLATE. One even told me if I didn’t like what she'd done (which I had already made perfectly clear I didn’t) I could put it in my pocket.  When I declined, she stuffed it down my shirt and laughed.

Now, I’m all for good fun and our little community performances are a lot like amateur night on the Carol Burnet show – lots of slapstick and pratfalls – but, seriously, did she think that was okay?

Since she thought it was for fun, and all part of the act, I thought about upstaging her and smacking her in the face with the rest of the plate – but that wouldn’t have been polite of me, now would it?

. . . . . . mid

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I made a visit to the chiropractor yesterday hoping to rid myself of a persistent kink in my lower back. Despite being outwardly out of shape, I went there thinking my framework was good. I practice yoga, I walk for exercise and lately I’ve added swimming, all things that should promote good bone health and alignment.
Alas, my framework is more a leaning Tower of Pizza than a stalwart Statue of Liberty. My feet are somewhat flat, my knees turn out, my hips are lopsided as are my shoulders, I carry my head too far forward and my back is hyper-curved.
It turns out I have writer’s syndrome – my term not chiropractor’s. The pain in my lower back is from slouching in my chair instead of sitting upright with straight spine. The chronic ache in my neck is from winching my head ever closer to the computer screen in a somewhat vulture like stare, and the burning in my shoulder blade is the result of over-developed, tense muscles on my dominant side from muscle fatigue over and improper mousing.
Available from smileyfacecat on Zazzle
Improper mousing?  That sounds like something my cat might do – maybe hunting the little rodents out of season or exceeding his limit?
Oh, and let’s not forget the dehydration. When the doc asked how much water I drink, I told him I use water to make my coffee.  Who’d have known that soft-tissue and joints need plain H20 to keep them plump and healthy, and plenty of it?  Or that swilling cup after cup of the caffeinated elixir of the writing gods was sucking my joint and bones as dry as the Egyptian desert?
I told the doc I’ve been writing, hunched over a typewriter and then computer, for more than twenty-five years. I never had these problems before. The kind young man gently pointed out that the problem is I’ve been around long enough to have been writing for the past twenty-five years, and apparently I’ve developed some pretty bad habits doing it. 
There’s also the consideration that until a few years ago, I wasn’t devoting as much time to my chosen pursuit as I am now. I had children to care for, a day job, other things that kept my behind out of the desk chair, which is apparently contorting me into the Hunchback of Northland Fame.
Wouldn’t you know it? I finally emptied my nest of obligations and feathered it with the accoutrements of my dreams, only to find my spirit is willing but the old bones are too weak to carry me through.
I cursed my old age above the audible pops and cracks as the doc snapped my spine back into a semblance of proper alignment.
“You’re not that old.”  He chuckled when he said it.
Oh yeah? I want to hear him say that when he’s on the bone-cracking table in about fifteen years.
He says it shouldn’t take long to get me straightened out.  I’m doubtful about the chances of keeping me that way.  I’m doing the therapy exercises he recommended and I’m shopping for a better desk chair.
I’m making an effort to be more aware of my posture. I’m even considering hanging a ping-pong ball above my desk that will hit me in the forehead when I start cantilevering my head beyond my shoulders, but I cannot give up the bean.
I cannot replace my hot java, with it’s depth of character and complexity of bitter and bold taste, for a glass of cold, transparent, bland water. Not to worry, the doc told me.  I just have to drink at least as much water as I do coffee.
I’m sure he’s right about it being the solution, because with that much liquid going in has to come out and I won’t be able to stay at my desk long enough in any one sitting for it to cause a problem.

. . . . . . mid 

Thursday, January 12, 2012


My virtual-world friends David and Veronica, over at GypsyNesters, were featured on Huffington Post lifestyle page today.  I’m thrilled at their success, both in their chosen lifestyle and their growing notoriety.  I'm a firm believer in what they have to say about life after raising children being the next chapter, and not the end of the book.

On a personal level I’m happy because this latest milestone of theirs has prompted me to post on this blog, which, you might note, has not been a frequent habit of mine lately.

I’ve been following the GypstyNesters since about half-way through their first year of travels.  They are living the life I was supposed to; the life I’d been diligently preparing for much as the Nesters did, by eliminating debt, raising kids to be personally responsible, living simply, and paring down.

The details of how my wanderlust life would play out were a bit different than theirs.  My hubby was an over-the-road truck driver.  My plan was to quit my day job the minute the youngest graduated and hit the road as partner to a long haul trucker.  He already knew what living on the road entailed, and I’d gone with him for enough two-week stretches to have a good idea.

With an average of 310 days a year spent on the road, there wouldn’t be much sense in keeping a home with all its associated taxes and upkeep.  No mortgage, no taxes, no maintenance and no money spent on all of those things we fill our home with, not to mention the pastimes we pursue to “get out of the house” (think about that), AND a steady paycheck still coming in, equals saving for a damn comfortable retirement 10 years down the road.

Aside from that, I’ve been stifling the gypsy in my soul for most of my life.  While most teenagers faced with the prospect of having to move away from their high school and friends stamp their feet in whining protest, I needled my parents to pick up stakes and make the move they were holding off on until I’d graduated.

I’ve dreamed of running away with a traveling circus so often that sometimes I start to believe I did.

But fate had another plan for my empty nest years, and that’s why I belong to the portion of the GypsNesters’ audience who are living vicariously through their writing.  Hubby’s health took him off the road and the demands of long hours driving a motor home and setting up camp regularly aren’t advisable.

This leaves us with only one solution; that I must learn how to drive the truck and travel trailer we now own, or the motor home it could be traded for.

I once owned an F150 pickup. It wasn’t pretty – the situation, not the truck.  The truck itself was really quite pretty, all dressed up and everywhere to go, as I like to say – meaning fully loaded and four-wheel drive. 

The unpretty part was my inability to drive the behemoth that dwarfed me behind the wheel, without running over or backing over everything in my path.  You must understand that this comes from a woman who once backed her own Ranger pickup into the family full-size van in her own driveway.

Yes, yes.  I’ve heard all the lectures about inattentive driving and I’m not denying that I deserve them.  The point is, I am who I am and it’s probably not a wise thing to put me behind the wheel of any vehicle that’s too much larger than my beloved VW Bug.  And especially not when the co-passenger (my hubby) has a bad ticker.

Thus, my ineptness behind the wheel, along with my fears for the toll long hours of driving would take on my hubby have all but cut the wings of these empty nest birds.

So, why has reading about my friends' continued adventures on the road got my juices going?  In the words of my beloved, departed mother – it would seem I’ve gotten “a wild hair up my ass again.”

I’ve started looking at Scamp trailers. They look like little marshmallows being towed along behind vehicles of all make and size, but can you imagine how gosh darned cute one would be rolling along behind a VW Bug?  (Don’t talk to me about engine size and towing capacity – where there is a will there is a way).  Talk about a Mickey Mouse rig – I’m sure I’d have no trouble at all maneuvering through any kind of traffic or terrain.

Back when David and Veronica were casting the net for their road warrior conveyance, one of their requirements was that it had to provide enough head room for David.  If you knew my hubby, you’d know that a little Scamp comes up lacking in both the height and girth dimensions.

This isn’t to say the ol’ boy is fat. At 6’2 and hailing from hearty European stock, my husband is a big, big man. Oddly, the Bug is quite roomy enough for him, but a Scamp’s table/bed leaves much to be desired in the stretching out department. The poor man would have to assume the fetal position to sleep.

My plan is to buy an old, worn-out model, gut it out and use it as a cargo trailer to haul our necessities, including one of those blow-up “guest” beds. Wherever we park, we can pop up the screen tent for our “outdoor” room, set up the grill, and put out the lawn chairs.  Coolers will serve double duty – when empty and dry, they will be cargo bins. Once set up, a quick trip to the nearest store and they’ll be filled with ice, food and beverages.

During the day, the empty scamp will be a roomy, walk-in dressing room.  At night, we’ll inflate the bed and have wall to wall sleeping space.  In the event of inclement weather, we can set the lawn chairs and a small table inside for the day.

If I have to say so myself, (and apparently I do, ‘cause hubby isn’t buying it) I think it’s an ingenious plan. So if you are out traveling the by ways of America keep your eyes open.  You might just see us and our Mini-Mouse-House scampering along. Don't forget to wave!

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