Would you Rather…

My sisters and I occasionally have a discussion around “rathers”. We will say things like “Would you rather have an infestation of fleas in your house or have 10 mice?” Or we might say “Would you rather have one large snake loose in your house or a thousand cock roaches?” Personally, I would always choose anything over fleas and bugs. I have encountered a flea infestation and it is pure misery. I could not walk from my bed to my bathroom (about five steps) in the middle of the night, without three or four of the little boogers attaching to my ankles.

But let’s talk mice. I have, for the last couple of months, seen ‘evidence’ of mice activity. The first I noticed was in my pantry. Horrid! So I emptied the whole thing and scrubbed every shelf with hot, disinfecting soapy water. I then saw ‘evidence’ underneath my sink and in the top of my trash can. I do not understand how mice can jump into a trash can, but honestly, I do not want to know. 

My son, Noah, has found ‘evidence’ in his bedroom, which is a large room, previously part of the garage. I’m wondering if perhaps the insulation is not as great out there or easier access or something…

Two nights ago one chunky mouse ran across the floor. I, of course, screamed as if it were an anaconda wrapping itself around my legs.

After putting out a sticky trap (which is an awful invention), the next morning we discovered a small mouse stuck in the thick, gooey gunk. It was still alive. Horrid! 

I will now be purchasing old-fashioned traps so that the unsuspecting (chunky) mouse, anticipating a late-night peanut butter snack, will not know what hit it. Though that is certainly an unpleasant thought, those sticky things are torturous, for mouse and human. 

My husband is a bit perplexed when I ask him if there isn’t a way to simply catch the mice and drive them far out to a nice field and set them free? In his oh so famous way, he says “Now come on, Beck. You know we can’t do that.” It is always worth an ask. 

These “rathers” that my sisters and I talk about remind me of another “rather” game that is often mixed into normal conversation of kids. It is those question of asking “Would you rather lose your hearing or your sight?” Or “Would you rather have an arm cut off or a leg cut off?” On a lighter note, I remember talking with girls on the playground and asking things like “Would you rather marry a prince or an astronaut?” And “Would you rather live on a farm with horses or on the top floor of a fancy apartment building in New York City?” When you are a kid, you just assume that one of those options will present itself.  

It is interesting how we formulate our “rathers”. It seems we continue those conversations throughout our lives, though when we are all grown up and sophisticated, they become internal questions.

For tonight, I would rather my mice go away. 

Come Hell or High Water or a Hurricane

If you have watched TV or been on Facebook or read USA Today in the last day or two, you’ve seen the story about the considerate shopper returning her cart to the cart corral during a mighty storm.

The article in USA Today described her as an “elderly woman”. Ouch. Couldn’t they just have said an older woman? Elderly made her sound like she is 92. I found out that she is 70. Elderly? Come on, writers, you are better than that. I guess to a 30 year-old, 70 is elderly.

Sue Johnson was loading her groceries at a Walmart parking lot in the town of Hurricane in West Virginia. Yes, it really did take place in a town named Hurricane. But for the record, and I know this to be true from a resident, the town is pronounced ‘hurra-ken’, with a soft “e” sound and with the accent on the beginning of the word, not the end, as in ‘hurra-KANE’.

The wind picked up in a freakish manner, and Johnson stated that it was raining so hard it actually hurt. However, she was quick to add this no-nonsense statement “You can only get so wet. Once you are wet, you are wet all the way through.”

Johnson also stated that she has been shocked about the media attention. She made it clear that she was simply doing what she always did, return the cart. 

A good habit is hard to break, in spite of circumstances.

Honestly, I am much more impressed that she was doing the same thing she does EVERY.SINGLE.TIME she shops—the right thing. 

What a novel idea. 

Serious Sunday

The third Saturday in July, which was yesterday, is recognized in the U.S. as the “Could Haves” and “Should Haves” Day.

Created by author and motivational speaker Martha J. Ross-Rodgers this day is intended for all of us to let go of the past and live for the present. To honor this day it is suggested that you get a piece of paper and a pen and write down your “could haves” and “should haves” and then throw it away. 

Once you have your “could haves” and “should haves” in the trash, make this resolution:

From this day forward, I choose not to live in the past. The past is history that I cannot change. I can do something about the present; I choose to live in the present.”

Nice thought. Nice commemoration of a third Saturday in July. A positive move, no doubt.

However, this mindset must be more than one day in July. It is something to be practiced every morning when you awaken and again every evening before sleep. This is a daily discipline, like brushing your teeth. Soon you will not need reminders, you will simply embrace it as a part of your everyday life. 

There is a corollary to this precept. The past can be a useful tool to gauge future decisions, boundaries, and even regulate self-control, self-restraint. 

Occasionally our haunted past can be the precipice to present and future redemption. 


I have a new calendar book. It covers May 2018 through June 2019. My previous one, of course, ended in June of 2018, last month.

I am not sure if it is due to my thrifty upbringing or because I took ecology class in high school (which I took only because I thought it was a ‘cool’ thing to do, not because I cared about the earth. Sorry Earth. I do care, now.)

I have a hard time throwing away perfectly good paper, even though I, of course, recycle. It may be the writer in me. It hurts my heart to dispose of blank paper that could be filled with words. 

So when it came time to dispose of my old appointment book, I went through and pulled out all the blank pages. I then cut them up neatly into smaller sheets, perfect for a grocery list or a reminder note. 

I often keep little notes in my kitchen drawer that state consistent reminders, things like “clothes in dryer”. I will put this note on the counter so when I awaken in the morning I will remember to warm up the clothes and fold them before I leave the house for the day. 

Another note is “fruits and veggies”. Again, will leave this note on the counter before I go to bed to remind myself to grab a banana and the bag of carrots and cauliflower that I cut up the night before.

Often I will put a person’s name on a piece of paper when they come to mind late in the evening or during the night and I must remember to call or email that person.

I could buy a thick stack of yellow sticky notes or those cute cubes of square paper at any store. But why should I toss away perfectly good paper when I can create my own notes, save a few bucks, and maybe even a tree or two.

On occasion I have seen my husband or one of my sons toss a spiral type notebook into the trash, when they no longer have a use for it. I fish it out and ask why they have thrown away perfectly good paper!?!!

I know, at these times, I sound and act like my mother. I know I may get an occasional eye-roll when I step onto the soap box about being frugal. 

Perhaps we all spend freely in some areas and are parsimonious in others. I am certainly aware of that quality in myself. Do I really need eight black tee shirts? Though in my defense, not one of them is identical. They each have their own little differences which make them unique and just right for the outfit. 

The ability to show restraint is an extremely important quality. I may choose saving blank paper and you may choose owning only one black tee shirt. 

Prudence needs to be evidenced in some part of every life. 

Addled and Befuddled

My middle son, Christopher, and I are in a crossword puzzle season. It began when my family traveled to New Haven, Connecticut to attend the graduation of my oldest son, Andrew, from Yale.

At the hotel stop somewhere in Pennsylvania, we picked up a USA TODAY and spent part of the car ride working on the daily crossword puzzle. It was fun and a challenge. We did not complete it before we arrived in New Haven, so took it into the apartment for Andrew and his wife, Lindsey, to help us finish. 

Since then, we have been daily printing out the USA TODAY crossword puzzle. Occasionally in the morning I will be sipping my coffee and checking through my work emails, when I am momentarily startled by noises in the patio room, off of the kitchen. I quickly realize that it is the printer and Christopher has, from somewhere in the house, been at a computer, gone to the website and hit “print” to deliver the daily crossword puzzle. He quickly appears after that to lift it off of the floor, where it has fallen from the printer, and find the blue mechanical pencil we now keep on the kitchen island. 

Christopher works on it for a bit and then I meander closer to take a look over his shoulder. He/we have become quite deft at completing the puzzle in a very efficient manner, sometimes too efficient. It has been fun to discover new words and also get amusingly frustrated at the simple answer we cannot at first produce. 

Occasionally when we are stuck on a couple of clues, leaving it lie on the island and walking away to do a task for a little while, produces a freshness when we return. 

Often, the teamwork approach finishes the puzzle. It has become a fun routine. Sometimes, my youngest son, Noah, will wander past it on the island throughout the day and fill in a few words. 

That little exercise is so true of life. If I zero in on an issue for too long or too pertinaciously, my vision is skewed. I can see nothing else but the problem and it appears to grow beyond its actual size. 

When I have the strength and discipline to avert my unrelenting gaze and switch my focus to another person or another situation or simply practice gratitude, the issue weakens and loses it power over me. 

The problem will come back, or another one dressed similarly. Perhaps with a bit of experience, fresher eyes, and even a buddy to come alongside, I can finish the puzzle and even discover a new thing or two along the way.

Summer Love

We have already had back-to-back days of 93 degree temperatures. Summer apparel is in full swing; shorts, tank tops, white pants, flip flops. We have it all. Yet, just this week, June 21, was the official start of summer. 

The summer solstice officially started on Thursday morning in the Northern Hemisphere. Every year, between June 20 and June 22, the sun reaches its highest elevation, making it the longest day of the year with a stretch of sunlight that lasts for 17 hours. 

During the summer solstice, the sun appears to stand still as it reaches its highest point, before moving off toward the horizon. 

Ironically, while the summer solstice marks the start of summer, the days are about to get shorter now because the sun is rising later and setting earlier. 

On June 21 sunrise was 6:09 a.m. and sunset was 9:04 p.m.The amount of daylight will decrease by about one minute every two days to every day thereafter. In a month, the sunrise will be 6:33 a.m. and the sunset will be 8:56 p.m. By the end of August, sunrise will occur at 7:06 a.m. and the sunset at 8:11 p.m.

So, today, June 23, we have lost one minute of daylight. How much we want to hold onto summer. It feels elusive, especially after summer solstice. We grasp for more but it slips through our fingers like sand.

We may be losing a few grains every day but we still have a beach of summer to hold in our hands. 

As in so many things, we must enjoy the day we have. So we lose a little bit of daylight, that only makes drinks around the fire pit begin just a bit earlier. It is all good. 

Wake Up!

I wrote a blog a few months ago about vanity plates. As a general rule, I dislike them.

My husband and I were out and at a stop light I could see a vanity plate ahead of us but could not read the words. When we got a bit closer I could see the printing and snapped a quick photo. 

In a coma, huh? That is not exactly confidence inspiring for a person operating a 4,000 pound vehicle. 

On the other hand, though I know nothing of his story, perhaps he is being a bit tongue-in-cheek in his moments of messaging. 

Maybe we are all somewhat in a coma. The truth is that many of us drive around, half awake, literally and figuratively. 

I want to be and make good effort to be a conscientious driver. I stay alert, watching my mirrors, watching my speed, not texting, keeping safe distances. But am I always engaged in my driving? Probably not. 

Usually on my mind are everything from what am I making for dinner to praying for my family to wishing I had chosen a different nail color to wondering about the meaning of life. To some degree, I may occasionally be in a coma.

But I desire to be in the present. I want to be awake. The sunroof will be opened on future trips. I want to feel its warmth on the top of my head and let it blow my hair, which will not help my look, but so be it.  

We will always have things on our minds, that is part of life. But we do not have to be in a coma. We can choose to be aware and awake.

I read that you should always assume that a person in a coma can hear. Hearing is usually the last sensory faculty to deteriorate when people are dying. There have even been documented cases when someone hard of hearing in their normal state can hear better in their altered consciousness. 

There you go. If you are in a coma, driving or not, it is very possible that your hearing has been elevated.

It is time to listen.  

Selfie Elbow

“Selfie Elbow” is now a real medical condition. Who-da-thunk-it?

When I awaken with sore muscles after a previous day of yoga or a rigorous upper body workout, it feels great. I love to know I have pushed myself and fatigued muscles that are now in the process of rebuilding stronger.

However, if I awaken with a sore elbow from a previous day of taking too many selfies, that feeling would not be great. 

Selfie elbow is the latest tech-induced ailment to sweep the world of smartphone addicts. People are holding their elbows in a bent position for extended periods of time in order to get the best angle for their selfies. The result is a strain on the tendons, muscle soreness, and overuse injuries.

Mary Ann Wilmarth, a doctor of physical therapy and spokeswoman for the American Physical Therapy Association told the Washington Post that “Selfie elbow is similar to tennis elbow or golfers elbow, which are names for conditions in which you experience inflammation in the tendons that run along your arm from your hand to your elbow.” She added that inflammation from taking selfies happens because you’re extending your arm but also trying to keep a firm grip on your phone as you do—a modern movement that our bodies just aren’t designed to do on a regular basis. This is the definition of a #firstworldproblem. 

Ya think?

We, of course, have heard about other tech-related conditions such as “gaming thumb”, “swiping finger”, “texting neck”, and other issues caused by our driving desire to stay connected. I use those last two words loosely. Are we truly staying connected through these methods?

Thankfully, the solution is as simple as the problem itself, said Wilmarth. She suggests we build technology time-outs into our day to give our limbs a rest. Get regular exercise to improve your circulation and make sure you’re stretching and strengthening all parts of your body daily, she added. 


I am a certified personal trainer. I fully expect to begin receiving pamphlets in the mail advertising CME courses to teach folks how to strengthen their elbows, shoulders, and fingers in order to maintain their narcissistic lifestyle. 

Oy vey. 

Flying Hotdogs

I read in USA TODAY about a woman who is recovering from facial injuries she suffered when she was hit by a flying hot dog. The woman was sitting behind home plate at a Philadelphia Phillies game on Monday night. 

For years, the team’s mascot, Phillie Phanatic, has been launching a giant hot dog at the home games. Unfortunately, this time the errant hot dog hit Kathy McVay of Plymouth Meeting, PA. “It just came out of nowhere, and hard” McVay told Philadelphia TV station WPVI. 

The woman was unable to catch or deflect the projectile because of an injured shoulder. She was struck just below her right eye with enough force to knock off her glasses. She was sent for a CT scan to make sure she didn’t have a concussion. She told the station that she was not planning to take any legal action.

The Phillies apologized and offered her free tickets when she is ready to come back to the ballpark. 

The funniest part of this story is the headline in the newspaper:

Phillie Phanatic’s wayward weiner hits woman in the face, causes injuries

Sometimes the older you get, the funnier things are. Perhaps it was not so funny to Kathy McVay, but hopefully she was a good sport about it and simply asked for a side of sauerkraut. Done. 

Tiny Labeling

Within the last five to 10 years, I have noticed that manufacturers are making instructions much more difficult to read (wink). This pre-wash spray is a perfect example. If you look very closely you can make out the letters OFF. 

During my weekend in Connecticut, I dripped salted caramel ice-cream onto my pale lavender sweater. The ice-cream was a lovely caramelly, coffee-with-cream color. However, it does not look all that lovely dripped down the front of lavender silk. 

This morning, in my laundry room, I reached for the bottle of pre-wash and knew immediately that I would have to go to the kitchen and find glasses before I could see how to get to the “open” setting. 

Why would anyone design a bottle with the same color settings? The settings should be large and highlighted in fluorescent orange or shocking pink.

I have noticed this problem on other items as well. For instance, on the inside top/cup to the laundry detergent. The ‘1-2-3’ measuring levels are printed in the same color as the lid with a simple slightly embossed measuring number. It perhaps feels the same as a visually impaired person using braille, which is a truly amazing tactile writing system.

Why must everything be designed by, manufactured by and sold by people under the age of 45?!

Certainly, youth are the working force and for that, I am thankful. But similar to a church that wants to look “multi-generational”, spanning from babies to 95 year-olds, we need a little diversity in the design world. 

I would suggest that corporations hire a few 50+ year-olds to design bottles and containers and labels. Perhaps a grocery store could be similar to a library with signage such as “Large Print Section”. It would be extremely helpful. 

For now, I will buy an extra pair of +2.25 reading glasses and keep them in my laundry room. I currently have a pair in every other room in my house, including the bathroom. I will keep stocking as necessary because I am certainly not yet ready to own one pair and wear them around my neck on a sassy chain. 

I may do that some day, but that is not going to be this day or the day after that or the day after that. 

Perhaps I will concede at age 70.