Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Once Again, I've Missed the Boat!

Unless you've been living under a rock, or maybe on the moon, you've heard that a civilian expedition led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has found the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis, seventy-two years after it was torpedoed and sunk in the south Pacific. Unless you've been living on another planet, you know that the Indianapolis was instrumental in the US victory in World War II, having delivered parts of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima to Tinian Island. The Indianapolis was en route to the Phillippines when it was sunk.

Back in 1994, Berkley published my novel, Luck of the Draw, part of which took place during World War II. A pivotal scene in the novel was set aboard the Indianapolis, where my protagonist met a young man from an affluent background, Spencer Randall. Spencer didn't survive the attack, but Frankie, a rough young man from Chicago, did. Frankie was found with Spencer's dog tags. Long story short, he assumed Spencer Randall's identity and returned to the US to build a financial empire.

Why am I bringing this up now? I recently decided not to reissue all of my backlist. I'd changed as a writer. The glitz and glamour of my previous writing identity was no longer me. Would reissuing those old books help or hurt my new books' sales? I'll never know. For one thing, I haven't published anything new since 2009. Anyway, Luck of the Draw was one of the books that didn't make the cut. Would the discovery of the Indianapolis now help that book's sales? Who knows.

I'm still kicking myself....

Monday, September 11, 2017

All Aboard the Medical Merry-Go-Round!

First, we were told too much sitting is bad for us. It increases the risk for some cancers, type 2 diabetes and other medical issues. Stand more, the medical community told us. You'll live longer. Now, it seems too much standing can lead to heart disease, according to a recent Canadian study.

What's left? Lying down all day? I could get on board with that.

I saw a comment online from someone in their late seventies who says he ignores all the studies. He eats whatever he wants in moderation--including junk food--and gets moderate exercise. Late seventies? He seems to have done something right.

Think about it. How many studies have contradicted each other over the years? First, a fatty diet was bad. Then it was carbs. Don't eat chocolate, they said. Then we were told chocolate is good for us--dark chocolate, anyway. Don't use whole milk--skim is better (for the record, skim tastes like water). Now, whole milk is not only okay, but better, according to some researchers. Eggs were taboo for years. Now it's okay to eat eggs. Soda is bad. Drink diet soda--now, diet soda is the villain.

And then there are the medications that are supposed to help us deal with some of the health problems that can result for eating or drinking some of those things we've been consuming. Have you seen the TV ads? 

Looks good, until you get the long list of side effects and warnings that come with just about every drug on the market. Makes you want to run to your doctor and ask for a prescription, doesn't it?

It makes me want to STOP taking some of the stuff I'm currently using.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Where Were You When the Sun Went AWOL?

If you weren't aware of yesterday's total solar eclipse, you weren't on this planet. Okay, maybe that's stretching it a bit, but only a bit. It was a big deal here, because we were "in the path of totality," as it was billed. We had the Official (TV) Station of the Eclipse, and all kinds of other "official" things. Who knew the sun and the moon could hire a PR firm to promote their brief encounter?

Not that it was needed. The excitement that grew in anticipation for this once-in-a-lifetime event had been building for months. On the Big Day, thousands of people made the trip to our area just to see it. Some came from as far away as Japan and China. Some booked flights just to be in the air as it happened. Some got engaged during the Moment (totality, when the sun's corona looked very much like a celestial diamond ring). Ten babies were born during the eclipse--an unusually high number, according to doctors. A black foal born during the eclipse had a crescent-shaped white mark on its head. Guess what she was named?

For one day, most of us put aside our differences, joined in our excitement over seeing something that, if you're lucky, you get to see once in your lifetime. Eclipses weren't always so popular, however. Some ancient cultures believed the sun might disappear forever and demons would descend upon the earth and devour humans. Some fasted, believing food cooked during an eclipse was impure. Some ancient superstitions told of children born during eclipses turning into mice. Others suggested women and children were at risk and had to stay indoors.Some saw it as a warning to settle differences, as the sun would not come back until they did so. Good thing that one's not true. We'd still be waiting for the sun to come back!

In movies, eclipses have been harbingers of doom. In The Seventh Sign, an eclipse was one of the signs preceding the end of the world.

I viewed the eclipse with a neighbor, right here in our courtyard. I almost didn't go outside, even though I had my eclipse glasses ready to go. One of our local TV stations was doing a three-hour special to cover it. It would be more impressive on TV, I told myself. The image would be larger. More detailed. It wouldn't look any different. 

Boy, was I wrong.

I did venture out, at first, just to see how tiny the sun looked through the glasses at the beginning. There was just a small part of the sun obscured by the moon. Made me wish I still had my telescope. Made me wish for another. Made me wish I had brought my tablet out so I could view it through the Mobile Observatory app. I decided I wanted to see the big finale. I watched through the eclipse glasses as the sun was reduced to a tiny orange sliver, then nothing.

I'd forgotten the part about removing the glasses when totality was reached. I pulled the glasses off--and was immediately speechless. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I was wrong--seeing it on TV would not have been the same.

Collin wanted to photograph it. I advised him to forget about that and just enjoy it. There would be plenty of photos available afterward. There have been--including a couple of amazing shots now available for viewing at St. Louis Daily Photo

For once, Collin took my advice and is still taking about the experience. Things were busy at IHOP, he said, until about 11:45. There was a viewing party at Jefferson Barracks, so I'm guessing everyone headed over there to wait for the eclipse. It was so quiet at the restaurant, Collin and his fellow servers were able to go outside and see it themselves.

Now, we're planning for April 2024. We want to go see the next one at Carbondale....

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It's Been One of Those Weeks...Months....

In the past few months, death has been prominent. Two of my cousins passed away. A dear family friend died, too. Another dear friend lost her beloved Scottie.

And as is the case as we grow older, I started to wonder how much time I have left. I found out back in June that I had a small stroke--better than the alternative, a large monster stroke, mind you, but still unsettling. Especially given that strokes are one of our family curses. I started thinking about how suddenly it could happen. Or how I could end up like my mother, slowly slipping away over two or three years. Or maybe longer.

Things made sense after that revelation--the memory lapses, the intermittent speech issues, the focus, the concentration, the ability to develop a story so easily. I stopped beating my head against the wall, trying to figure out why I was struggling to do what once came so easily. I learned to accept that there would be good days and bad days. Still better than the alternatives.

I'm learning to appreciate the important things in life, which is why I'm not around so much these days. I still manage to keep up with everybody else's blogs, even if I haven't posted anything of my own in a while.

One of the things I'm looking forward to is the total solar eclipse next Monday. The last total solar eclipse to cross the US was on June 8, 1918, ninety-nine years ago. There was a partial solar eclipse (80%) here on February 26, 1979, but I missed it. I was busy preparing for another kind of son, who arrived five days later. (Hi, Collin!)

We're prepared. We have our eclipse glasses, verified to be the correct glasses, not the dangerous ripoffs that have been going around, and four t-shirts are on the way--two designs, so we each have one of each design. Cute, huh? If you've been here before, you know I love Minions!

But now, Collin may not even be home for the Big Event. He got tired of being stuck in his bedroom on the phone for ten hours every day, and went back to his old job at IHOP. At least it's still close to home. He may have jinxed them, though. Shortly after he returned, the company that owns IHOP announced a number of their restaurants would close in the coming year. Then, last Saturday, he got to work to find his boss had been fired and left just before he arrived. 

I got tired of fighting with my baby-fine hair and last week, I got my head shaved (almost). I figured, why not? I always wear hats or caps everywhere but at home anyway. Who's going to see it? Then I got a notice informing me that it's time to renew my state ID. That means a new photo. A photo without a hat or a cap. No way. I'll just have to be late in renewing the ID!

And how has your week been? 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

An Exercise in Murphy's Law Survival?

I've got to be at least a week behind on blog reading/commenting. I promise, I'll get caught up in the next day or so. Fortunately, only three blogs I follow post every day!

It's been one of those weeks. Two of those weeks, actually.  Last week, we had a power outage during one of the hottest days in the past month. It was 103 degrees, with a heat index of something like 110. Fortunately, the power went out in the evening, around 5:30--and our AC had just run for a long period. Our ceiling fans had been running as well. The windows and blinds were closed. We left them that way for the duration of the outage, unlike our neighbors, who all went outside as soon as the lights went out. Our apartment was cool, and as long as we kept everything closed, it would remain so for several hours. We had a portable battery powered TV, a pocket radio and power banks to charge our phones. We also had an abundance of snacks that weren't messy and could be eaten in the dark. And toward the end, when my face started to feel warm, I had this cute little fan.

We used our phones to check the electric company's website for updates. First, they posted that power was expected to be restored by 8:45pm. Then, it was 11:00pm. By 11:00, it had been changed to 5:00. It looked to be a long night. I recalled a power outage I'd been through fifty years ago. (Fifty? Did I really just say fifty? I really am old!) I was a kid back then. There were no battery powered TVs, no smartphones...but we did have flashlights. Mom, Dad and I sat in our living room with Dad's big flashlight on the coffee table, pointed up at the ceiling. A bug got on the flashlight and spent hours running around in the light. That was our entertainment for the duration of the outage--watching that bug run around, looking much bigger than it actually was.

It took so little to entertain us back then.

But getting back to the immediate past, the lights came back on just after midnight--whereupon we checked everything electric to make sure there had been no damage from power surges. reset clocks, and promptly went to bed.

I've had a nasty cold. My nose is sore from blowing it so often. My lips are so chapped they look plumper than usual and much redder. I've bought so many boxes of tissues we should own stock in the company that makes Kleenex. Thankfully, it's almost gone now.

Now, we're preparing for the Big Event of the Century here in the Midwest. On August 21st, we'll be in the path of totality for the solar eclipse. It will pass through twelve states, including Missouri. The last total solar eclipse to come our way was on June 8, 1918, almost one hundred years ago. It was sixty-one years before Collin was born, thirty-five years before I was born and eleven years before my mother was born. My father was only four years old.

It's a big deal, especially to amateur astronomers like myself.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

What Looks Good on Paper Might Not Look Good on the Jumbo Screen....

Those of you who have been regular visitors to this blog know that I've been a wrestling fan since childhood. As early as age five, I have memories of Mom, Dad and me watching Wrestling at the Chase every Saturday night--in black and white back then. Dad was a big fan. Mom was, too--until she found out it was staged (fake, scripted, whatever).

These days, Collin and I watch events from all over the world via the WWE Network on our big screen TV. There are four regular shows--Raw, SmackDown, NXT and 205 Live and so many pay-per-view events, I've lost count (they're actually only pay-per-view for the fans who don't subscribe and have to get them through cable or satellite providers, which is a lot more expensive). There are many new events, and some of the old ones have been rebranded. Most of the new brand names work well, while others, well....

Last Sunday's event is an example of a rebranding that just might have gone wrong. The new title is Great Balls of Fire. Great song title, but I'm not sure how it connects to wrestling. At any rate, it caused a few unfortunate images to pop up online....

I wonder how these played with the parents of some of wrestling's younger fans?

Looks like a throwback to the WWE's Attitude Era, before the raunchiness was replaced with a PG version cleaned up for the younger audience.

This guy's ring name is Big Cass. If he weren't seven feet tall, the C might have not been blocked out like the sun during an eclipse. But it's oddly appropriate here, since Big Cass had just turned heel and was on his way to the ring to pulverize his former partner/buddy, Enzo Amore. As a team, they looked like Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo--if Boo-Boo were a hyperactive chatterbox!

Note to WWE Creative: It's one thing for your guys' promos to sound as immature and illiterate as a Donald Trump speech, but maybe this one needs a new title?


Friday, June 30, 2017

Okay, Maybe I Was Wrong....

I've been hoping the studios would start making new films available for viewing at home at the same time they're released  to theaters. I never really enjoyed sitting in the theaters with people behind us kicking our seats. Regular seats weren't made for butts like ours--Collin and I would find ourselves competing for the armrests. We couldn't get to the theater late or we might not get the seats on the ground level--I can't climb the steps to the upper levels in stadium seating, and the lower levels are often uncomfortable  because they're too close to the screen. 

Some theaters now offer a special dining experience--meals prepared by professional chefs and served to theatergoers in their seats. I don't care about that. Eating in the dark tends to be messy. I prefer to have lunch before or after the movie. But now, they're offering something I can definitely get on board with.

Reserved seats. SuperScreen DLX.  Dreamlounger seats--recliners with wide armrests,  large cupholders, and even heating if you prefer.

Collin and I went to see Despicable Me 3 this morning. Because we chose the 9:00am showing, the tickets were only $5.00 each. Because we ordered our tickets in advance online, we got to reserve the seats we wanted and got a discount on Minion merchandise through Fandango (our Minions are scheduled to arrive tomorrow). We also got special Despicable Me 3 popcorn buckets.

Collin said my mom would have loved the new seats, which she would have. But she probably would have fallen asleep during the movie, snoring so loud that we would have been asked to leave!

As for the movie, it was great. I'll be reviewing it at Rotten Tomatoes within the next few days. I was disappointed to not see Kevin, Stuart and Bob, who were featured prominently in the Minions movie--but Mel, who was featured  this time, was a riot! I especially loved watching Gru's new wife, Lucy, struggle to make the transition from secret agent to mom to three young girls (Gru's adopted daughters Margo, Edith and Agnes), while Gru got to know Dru, the twin brother he never knew he had, and the restless Minions, led by Mel, left Gru in search of a life of villainy they were never really suited for.

Yep. Highly recommended. I give it five bananas!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Making a Minionese!

When I was thirty years younger and launching my career as an author, I was expected to dress in a certain way. It was my fault, of course. My first two novels had very glitzy backdrops, so I was expected to look the part. I was clueless. I didn't know anything about fashion or designers. I still don't. I'm a Midwestern gal. I love being able to spend my life in jeans, shorts and T-shirts. My wardrobe is so limited that when a friend passed away recently, I had nothing suitable to wear to the funeral parlor.

If I had a do-over, those two novels would have both taken quite a different direction. It would have made my life a lot easier. I wouldn't have been pressured to lose weight. I wouldn't have made so many bad clothing choices and felt so awkward in my own clothing. I've looked at photos taken of me back then, and I looked pretty stupid most of the time.

These days, life is much easier. I do everything online. I can wear what I want. If I gain a few pounds, I get a lecture from my doctor, not my publisher. It's still frustrating, but at least it makes sense.

Most of my wardrobe (if it can even be called that) includes character T-shirts--mostly Minions. Those cute little yellow guys have proven to be great conversation starters. I'm always surprised by how many people come up to Collin and me on the street, in restaurants and at the movie theater to tell us how much they love the Minions. Recently, two hospital staffers approached Collin and me in the hospital cafeteria when we were there for one of the tests I had this month. They wanted to tell us how much they loved our King Bob backpacks. We each have several backpacks, but the only ones that get any attention are the one featuring the Minions.

A while back, we were at Golden Corral for lunch. The manager stopped us to talk about our Minion gear. I've even sold copies of my books to people who came to talk Minions and stuck around long enough to get to know a bit about us.

When I was young, I felt uncomfortable in my own clothing. Now that I'm a geezer, I'm having fun with it....

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Left Brain, Right Brain, What Brain?

I always knew it could happen. In fact, I expected it. A stroke, that is.

I had a stroke.

Yes, this is really my brain. William says it looks like Cookie Monster!
Heart attacks and strokes are in my blood, literally. Both of my parents had heart disease. A heart attack killed Dad. Strokes were a major factor in Mom's death. The odds of beating either were not in my favor.

I'm pretty dense when it comes to medical issues. Even when I do my homework, I've missed the obvious too many times. When I was pregnant with Collin, I read every book I could find. I was convinced I was prepared for childbirth. When the time came, however, I didn't even realize I was in labor until the contractions were five or six minutes apart. Smart, huh?

About fifteen years ago, I had a heart attack. Again, I was clueless. I didn't know until my doctor at the time was concerned about my slow heart rate and ordered some tests, including an EKG. It showed a past attack.

Earlier this month, I saw my current doctor for what was supposed to be a routine checkup. I mentioned in passing that I'd had some frustrating speech problems. It was something that's happened to all of us at one time or another: you try to say something, but the words just don't form. Your brain sends the message, but your mouth just doesn't quite get it.

It made me think of a sign I saw years ago: "Please Be Sure Brain is Engaged Before Putting Mouth Into Gear." My brain was engaged. My mouth, apparently, had slipped a gear!

In my case, it was happening too frequently. It was a pain in the butt. And there were other problems--tremors in my right hand, poor concentration and memory lapses. Sleeping too much. Brain fog.

Dr. B. explained what might be happening. It could be seizure-related. It could be a stroke. Or it could indicate a tumor. She was ordering an immediate CT scan. As those of you who follow this blog already know, I had the CT scan two weeks ago. It showed a possible stroke and slow blood flow to the brain. Last Friday, an MRI confirmed a past stroke (Dr. B. called it a pinpoint stroke, which I'm guessing is better than a big bully of a stroke) and chronic small vessel disease. I guess that explains everything.

My regular Friday dates at the hospital aren't over yet. This Friday, I'm having a Doppler ultrasound of my carotid arteries to find out if there's any plaque buildup there, keeping blood from getting through.

Oh, this is going to be so much fun. Not!

I'm lucky to have health insurance. My CT scan was over $1500. My copay was $148. I don't have the bill for the MRI yet, but I expect it to be even more expensive. I've been told the copay for the Doppler ultrasound will be $61. Without the healthcare the Republicans want to take away, these tests would have been impossible. And they wonder why we're so angry....

Sunday, June 18, 2017

You Don't Mess Around With...Godzilla?

Death is a fact of life. Eventually, it's going to come to all of us. But even knowing this to be a fact, we're rarely prepared to lose a parent. Somewhere in the back of our minds, we just can't accept that they won't always be there, taking care of us.

I was more dependent than most on my parents. They were always there to clean up the messes I made--some of them big messes. While Mom was the comforter, the optimist, Dad was the pragmatist, my reality check. If I was BSing him, he'd call me on it--and somehow he almost always knew.

I guess that came from the harsh realities of his early years: discovering at fourteen that his mother had died when he was a baby (ruled a suicide, but there were rumors that her husband had killed her while drunk)...having a father and a stepmother who weren't loving parents...leaving home, being on his own for a time before finding a home with his maternal grandmother...and a failed marriage.

Dad was mercurial. He could be fun, protective, committed--but there were also times he was dark and moody, not wanting to talk to anyone. He could be stubborn and childish at times. (Mom said that was why Dad and I so often butted heads--we were too much alike.)

I don't have too many photos. Dad didn't like having his picture taken.

Maybe she was right--to an extent. We both had tempers, but we were like faucets. Mine ran hot, blowing like an angry volcano. Dad's was cold. He rarely argued, instead retreating into a chilling silence.

But not always. I remember one incident in particular...I was a teenager at the time. Dad bought a dump truck (he designed and built houses, usually doing everything himself). Our next door neighbor at the time had volunteered the use of the truck to her church--without asking Dad if he was okay with that. (It's a long story.) Dad put the brakes on that, and the neighbor was furious. One Saturday, Mom went out, taking Dad's pickup instead of her own car. The neighbor must have thought Dad was gone and Mom would be alone and an easier target for her anger. I was in the living room, watching TV when that clearly suicidal redhead came storming into our house, not bothering to knock. She headed for the kitchen. From the sound of things, Godzilla must have been in there. It was like watching a film in reverse. She backed out of the kitchen, through the dining room, through the living room, out the front door, with Dad following, as angry as I've ever seen him.

It was fun to watch.

Dad had a great sense of humor. I learned some of my best pranks from him. There were some, though, that even I wouldn't try.

He's been gone twenty-six years now. He had a premonition of his own death in great detail...and it happened exactly as he predicted. I think that was God's way of telling Dad to get his affairs in order, to get right with Him, before it was too late. I hope he did.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Wish you and Mom were here. There's a wrestling event tonight, right here in St. Louis. You would have loved that!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes...."

There was a song back in the '70s, during my college years: "I don't like spiders and snakes...." I really don't. I love animals, birds, fish and some insects, but I really wish spiders and snakes would keep their distance. I haven't seen any snakes in a while, but I had an encounter with a spider this morning that was too close for comfort.

We have a small bathroom. If it were any smaller, it would be a closet. I was not fully awake yet when I spotted him, crawling on one of the bath towels on the rack. The adrenaline kicked in so fast, my head is still spinning.

Brown recluse? It did look the part, but I wasn't about to get close enough for verification. The only thing I knew with certainty was that this encounter was not going to end well for one of us. I'm a whole lot bigger than said spider and could easily crush him under my flip-flop, if I could get him onto the floor. Crushed arachnid on the floor, no big deal. Crushed arachnid on the wall, ick!

The spider's advantage? If it was a brown recluse, enough venom to put an early end to my early retirement. Definitely not my preferred option.

According to the spider experts, though the venom is deadlier than that of most snakes, only ten percent of all recluse bites result in a medical emergency, since the itsy bitsy spider's fangs are so small. In other words, it's got to really sink those suckers in to make a difference. It can't bite through clothing. I don't think I want to take that chance. 

There are several reported infestations in homes that led to permanent evacuations. One story claims a family lived in a house with over 2000 brown recluses without a single bite. Ever. No way would I stay in that house for even five minutes.

I grabbed the towel. Instead of jumping off, the little idiot crawled between the layers of the towel. I shook it again. The spider hit the floor running.

Until I stomped on it.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

I Didn't Get to Do the Chicken Dance....

I just got this book. Talk about timing!

Never again will I tell Collin to go on ahead and order the food. Every time he does, something goes wrong.

Yesterday, I had what was supposed to be a routine appointment with my primary care doctor. Just following up, making sure all the meds have been doing their job, stuff like that. I expected to be in and out in no more than twenty minutes. Dr. B. was running a little behind, so I suggested Collin go on to Boston Market and order our lunch and I would meet him there. They had a special deal that day: do the chicken dance for a free cookie. I was going to do the chicken dance--but I never got there. I ended up eating my lunch for dinner after we got home. What really bites is that Collin did the dance, and they got a video of it. I missed that, too.

I had mentioned to Dr. B. that I had been having some speech problems the day before (now that I think about it, it actually started before that, maybe a week before). I'd know what I wanted to say, but the words that came out had to fight their way out. Collin says I've mastered Minionese!

Anyway, Dr. B. wanted an immediate CT scan of my brain. This is not exactly unusual. My brain has been viewed more often than I Love Lucy reruns. I was diagnosed epileptic after a head injury when I was a teenager. I tried to get her to let me wait an hour so I could go eat my lunch while it was still hot and maybe, just maybe, get my turn at the Chicken Dance. No go. She told me she would cart my sorry butt over to the hospital across the street herself. Not in those exact words, of course, but...

Normally, if anyone pushed me like that, I'd call their bluff. But I knew better than to mess with Dr. B. I've had two other doctors in my life--Dr. P. and Dr. Z.--who were tough like that, and they were both first-rate physicians. Dr. B's determination to make me do the right thing made me respect her even more than I already did. So I texted Collin and told him to meet me there.

So the CT scan was done and I finally got something to eat at the hospital cafeteria: a slice of pizza and an apple dumpling. Brain food of champions. Fortunately, our dear friend Cathy works fairly close to the hospital, so I texted her and she came after work to take us home. I got a CD of my CT as soon as they finished, and Collin and I viewed it last night. Neither of us is by any means qualified to read them, but they're still interesting to look at. The black spot on one side of my brain was a little ominous, like an ugly little storm cloud about to rain on my parade.

I got the official report from Dr. B. She says there's a decreased blood flow to one area in the left side of my brain. This came as a surprise. I didn't think I still had a left brain. My right brain is a bully. It beats up the left brain and takes over the neighborhood. A few words in the radiologist's report jumped out at me: acute cerebral infarction. In other words, a stroke. Strokes killed my mother--and she was two years older than me when she had the first big one. I have to have an MRI to confirm it, but still....

Okay, God--you have my attention. Time to grow up.

Do I have to?

I choose to look at the bright side. If my speech issues are permanent, I now have the perfect excuse for not talking on the phone....

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Peeves I Keep As Pets

I'm not sure which I hate more: cooking or shopping for clothing.

I'm a disaster in the kitchen, always have been. Anything I attempt is overcooked, undercooked, or nuked. I can use a microwave or crock pot with passable results, but that's the extent of my culinary skills. This past week has been a new low for me. I didn't set the kitchen on fire, no, but it was still pretty bad. 

First, I attempted to make pasta. Collin loves it, so I make it for him in spite of my aversion to cooking. In the past, I've ruined or nearly ruined the pots I used. This time, I missed the pot entirely. Twelve ounces of a twenty-four ounce box of macaroni ended up in the kitchen floor. I'm still finding elbows here and there--I even found a few of them as far away as the living room.

One morning, I attempted something simple: a bowl of cereal. Most of it ended up on the counter. Who can't fill a bowl with cereal?

I put a cup of mac and cheese in the microwave. As I was removing it, it burned my hand. I dropped it, and the sauce somehow ended up inside my oven door--as in between two glass panels. Still haven't figured out how to get it out.

Shopping for clothing, by contrast, used to be easy. If you knew your sizes, you could buy whatever you needed anywhere, no problem. I've never been fond of taking several items into a dressing room, trying each one on, checking them out in the mirror. I like to cruise through the racks, find things I like in my sizes, buy them and take them home. I'm no clotheshorse. I live in jeans, T-shirts and shorts. 

But in recent years, that hasn't been so easy. It's no secret that high-end designers size their clothing in a way that caters to a clientele that wants to believe they're smaller than they really are. Now, however, the size you wear depends on the manufacturer, even for inexpensive clothing.

It's frustrating.

A few years ago, I bought a pair of shorts in a size I'd worn for years. They were baggy. That was just the start. I've purchased several items I couldn't wear. Since I also hate standing in exchange lines, I donate the stuff I can't wear.

My poor eyesight makes matters worse. A couple of months ago, I bought two pair of lightweight pants for warm weather. One pair was a good fit. The other pair was so baggy, I had to tighten the drawstring to keep them up.

They were a 4X.

I like T-shirts to be slightly loose and the sleeves comfortable, so I buy them in the men's department. It's worked out pretty well so far. Until we ordered shirts from the WWE Shop online. I now have two 4X shirts.

Oh, well. They're so baggy, they make comfy sleep shirts!