It’s the Haunted Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I have now received two phone calls from my daughter, informing me she believes the pumpkin I bought for her apartment is haunted. Two! She’s absolutely serious. She is convinced this pumpkin is haunted. Why?

Conversation #1 goes something like this:

Mom, I’ve got to tell you about this situation. That pumpkin you bought me is always showing up in a different spot. I think it’s haunted.

I remind her that there are cats in her apartment. It is very possible that one of them knocked it over, knocked it around, dragged it somewhere different.

Oh no!  One time the pumpkin ended up in a bin or something. She insisted it was not someplace the cat could place it.

I assure her that the pumpkin is not haunted, but if she simply cannot deal with it then she should just throw it out. She’s throwing out a perfectly good Target pumpkin, but hey, if it makes her feel better and allows her to sleep at night… it’s worth the few dollars I spent.

I get another call on Friday. She actually called me at work to give me an update. Thank God I was in the bathroom and wasn’t able to take the call because when she told me I burst out laughing and couldn’t stop.

Mom, I did what you told me. I threw the pumpkin out in the trash and it’s back in my apartment! It showed up again, Mom! I told you it was haunted.

After I finally stopped laughing I told her one of her roommates was probably playing a prank on her.

She didn’t believe it was her roommate and sorority sister, E, and E didn’t believe it could be the other roommate. I suggested maybe it was the other roommate’s boyfriend. That suggestion was also tossed aside.

I told her that if she could bear living with the haunted pumpkin another two weeks I would be down there and would take the pumpkin back with me. She wasn’t real thrilled with that idea because it would just mean the haunted pumpkin was living with me in her permanent home instead of with her at her school apartment.

Well, you’re going to have to call a priest and have him perform an exorcism then.

Really, Mom? An exorcism?

I told her, yes, really.

Then I thought better of that idea and told her she should watch Poltergeist to get some tips on how to rid her apartment of spirits.

Finally it was revealed that another one of her sorority sisters was going to take the pumpkin home with her. I told her that was a splendid idea. Unless M is in on the prank, too.

Anger Management

I am not feeling well. As I was driving to Athens to meet the mobster on Friday I could feel the tickle in my throat and knew it meant I was coming down with a cold.

Today I was at work, not really focused but doing my best. At lunch I decided I would grab just a regular burger and fries.

I pulled into Wendy’s. Ordered a burger- cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickle and tomato. Medium size with a diet Coke.

“Would a Coke Zero be ok?” I’m asked. When I hesitated she went on to tell me it’s zero calories just like diet Coke. Well, so’s water but it doesn’t taste like fucking diet Coke.

I went with diet Dr. Pepper instead. Fine. Let’s move on.

I drive over to the park where I’ve been eating my lunch. I eat all my french fries first because that’s the way I do things. I eat all of one thing and then all of the next thing. I rarely mix it up.

I finally get to my burger. Yep- there’s ketchup, mustard, pickle and tomato alright. On a freakin’ spicy chicken patty!

I was a little bit torn. I mean, they did the condiments right. And I do like a good spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s. However, it would never occur to me to put ketchup, mustard, tomato, and pickle on a chicken sandwich. Mustard and pickle alone, yes. But the ketchup and tomato? That’s just wrong!

At this point I have two options. I can do like I did years ago when they forgot to put cheese on my burger and throw it on the floor in a huff, or I can suck it up and eat it.

I took another look at it, shrugged, and thought to myself, “It is what it is,” and I ate it.

Later on in my lunch hour I was telling the mobster this very fascinating story. I told him I had chosen to let it go and not let it bother me. Then I went on to tell him that earlier in the day I was doing one of my action plans for stress reduction.

One of the things that the plan recommends is to let things go and not let the anger overwhelm you. The plan went on to ask, “Will this matter 4 months from now? Four years from now?”

Let me tell you a little story about a Christmas shopping trip to Walmart. The year was 1996, maybe 1997….

My former in-laws were up visiting us in Michigan. The air was cold, there was plenty of snow on the ground, and it was Christmas shopping time. I was driving for some reason. Usually Jerry Lee drove. I found a great parking spot. Someone was backing out of it so I put my turn signal on and waited. Patiently. With Christmas spirit in my heart.

The car finally backs out. I’m getting ready to pull in when this car that was on the other side of the parking spot pulls into the spot on their side and then pulls through so that they have now actually taken my spot.

I know it’s irrational and has probably shortened my life by twenty years but that still pisses me off to this day! Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I think about it every day. But it’s there. Especially at Christmas time when the parking is tough to come by.

When the mobster expressed surprise that I could still get upset about that I had to remind him, “It was Christmas time. At Walmart! You don’t do that. You do not pull through when someone is waiting for that parking spot!”

Fortunately the chicken patty debacle will not have anywhere close to the same staying power. I plan on forgetting it as soon as I hit post.


I have a horrible admission to make. I never wanted to have a boy. I always felt sorry for people with all boys.  When I found out I was having a boy, instead of another girl which I had hoped for, my heart sank a little. More than once during that pregnancy I thought, “Maybe I can try to get pregnant again. Go through all the nerve-wracking early months, scared to death I’ll miscarry, once more. Maybe our family isn’t complete at two children.”

Then he was born. I was besotted. He was the most perfect child ever. Every inch of him was perfect. I could not have loved him more if he had been a girl. And I have loved having a boy.

I loved how very different they were. Rock Star loved music and would stop whatever she was doing to dance. She loved all her musical toys. As she got older she loved to sing. Picasso, on the other hand, had no interest in music. No desire to dance. No desire to sing. He was around 3 when he finally decided to sing along to some songs they sang in pre-school. I owe a great debt of gratitude to Alice the Camel and her many humps.

He loved balls, though. Any kind of ball. Later would come guns and Legos and super heroes and video games, none of which I would have experienced with Rock Star because she had little interest in any of that.

I remember one summer when money was tight. We ended up going to the rollerskating rink a lot because I could buy a summer pass for a ridiculously small amount of money. Picasso must have earned tickets playing games because he got himself a rubber nose that had slime in it. When you squeezed the nose the slime squirted out like snot. I laughed and laughed at that.

Now as he’s growing up it’s harder and harder to find things for the two of us to do together. He doesn’t really care to go shopping for clothes, even when he needs them. He prefers to have me send pictures, although he can be a dapper little dresser. He’s always loved to dress up. I still remember him seeing a sports jacket and remarking, “I’d look good in that!” He once wanted a suit covered in shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day. I declined to buy it because it was $40. I’m sure he would have worn it though.

Unlike his sister he has little interest in getting his nails done or getting a pedicure.

Conversely, I am not into video games or Dungeons and Dragons. I was hoping that maybe we could do Pokemon Go together but he likes the actual Nintendo or Switch Pokemon games and doesn’t like the mobile game.

We do share similar tastes in music. He likes classical music and stuff from the 80s. I can’t swear to it but I think he also likes country music.

He wanted Dead Pool to be “our thing” but it’s a little too violent for me. I did take him to see the first one, though. I’ve also taken him to see the final Avengers movie and all of the How To Train Your Dragon movies. So I suppose you could say movies are our thing, although there’s no big production.

I don’t remember how old he was when he first came across Jeff Dunham. I know we were living in Utah and he was there from age 4 until age 12. I would like to say he was probably 8 or 9. He loved the puppets and laughed hysterically at his show. He got a t-shirt with Ahmed the Dead Terrorist and his signature phrase, “Silence! I keel you!” one Christmas.  Later on I would buy him the DVD so he could watch it whenever he wanted.

As luck would have it I discovered he was coming to our town. I wrote the date the tickets would be going on sale on my calendar and that day, promptly at 10 a.m. I got online and bought tickets for me and my boy to go see him. I was going to surprise him but #1, I’m terrible at keeping secrets, and #2, it’s been a while since he’s seen Jeff Dunham or mentioned him. I figured maybe I should suss him out and see if he was even still interested. My hopes were high. He had enjoyed Paula Poundstone after all.

He was definitely interested and he was excited to go. So, the other night I picked him up from school, took him to an all you can eat sushi restaurant in town, and then headed downtown to go see the legend himself.

We had a great time and the show itself was terrific. Picasso was laughing so hard at times I thought I was going to have to pat him on the back to make sure he was still breathing. We got matching t-shirts. He also shared that he really likes spending time in the downtown area; he says it feels familiar and comfortable. Finally, after the concert I took him out for a milkshake.

We had some fantastic mother-son bonding time. Maybe seeing comedians in concert can be our thing…20191023_184927


Sunday Dinner

When I was a little girl I remember my grandma making Sunday dinner. Beef and noodles. Fried chicken. Ham loaf. Pot roast. Pork chops. With side dishes like mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn, wilted lettuce, many different salads, cinnamon rolls.

I always thought it would be nice to have Sunday dinners again. Most of the time, of course, I lived several hundred, if not over a thousand, miles away. Then I moved back to Indiana. It’s been three years and I kept thinking we should have a Sunday family dinner.

Yesterday, I finally followed through. I invited my brother and his family, a few single friends, and Rock Star and her roommate. We ended up with seven people gathering round for dinner and an eighth showing up after work.

I made two meatloaves, mashed potatoes, gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn, and a salad. All topped off with a cake. It was delicious. It was also a lot of work!

I started making the meatloaves around 10 in the morning and just kept cooking. I didn’t use instant potatoes this time. I peeled those suckers, cut them up, boiled them, and then mashed them. The green beans were fried up in bacon grease and then simmered for almost an hour.

It got super hot in the house. We were opening windows and changing into shorts and short sleeved shirts.

After dinner I was ready for a nap!

It was a good time. I’m going to start out slowly. My goal is once a month, and I’ll work my way up from there.

Here’s to Sunday dinners!

This is the meatloaf recipe I used. It’s a combination of two different recipes I’ve posted before. I really feel like this is “the one”. It combines all the best parts of each recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’m going to toot my own horn for a minute, and I really hope I’m not overselling this recipe but my niece and both friends told me it was delicious. Queen B had second thoughts about showing up because meatloaf isn’t her favorite but she said this one was really good. She loved how moist it was and raved about the glaze. My friend Sweet J asked me to share the recipe and my other friend agreed that it was amazing.

Sam’s Amazing Meatloaf


  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ c milk
  • 3 slices of bread torn into small pieces
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 1/2 c ketchup, divided
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • ½ c onion, diced
  • 1 oz pkg ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese

For the glaze:

  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. mustard
  1. Combine your eggs, milk, bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine gently.
  3. Now you have two choices. You can shape it into a loaf and bake it on a cookie sheet with a lip, or put it in a loaf pan. Or you can make a mound in your greased slow cooker.
  4. Combine the three ingredients for the glaze and spread over the meatloaf.
  5. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 90 minutes. Or cook on low in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours,

Even Better Off

Yesterday I posted the song, “Better Off”, by Sara Evan’s. I know it’s easy to get fired up by a song and then when the music stops and life returns to normal we’re left thinking, “Oh sure, Sara, it’s easy enough for you to say! You’re not living my life! You’re not left in poverty. You’re not raising my kids. And I love him (or her)! So today I will talk about real life and how it gets better.

When the Mobster and I first started talking he told me about the day his wife left. She had grabbed a bag or two of belongings, supposedly because she was going to stay with friends “for a few days”. As he watched her leave he said to her, “You’re moving out. You’re never coming back, are you?” He said a look of surprise came over her face and she then thanked him for putting up with her shit all of these years.

About a month later when she brought the other man to their kid’s soccer game and she showed her ass once again he finally decided it was really over. Whatever hope he’d had before was gone. Whatever thoughts of reconciliation had existed were banished. He had had enough.   Later that night he went into the basement and sobbed. His son found him there and assured him that he still had them, meaning his kids.

I’m fairly certain it was that same night while talking he told me, just matter-of-factly, as though it was simply the way these things work, that he would always love her. That was the point in the conversation where I rolled my eyes and sadly acknowledged to myself that this would never turn into anything because I wasn’t going to compete with the memory of his always loved wife.

We have a little disagreement over what happened next because he says that’s when I brought him to his senses and told him, no, he wouldn’t love her forever. I don’t exactly recall what I said but I’m pretty sure I mentioned  Chump Lady. On second thought I probably did say something like, “You only think you’ll always love her. Give it some time and distance.”

Anyway…. my point is this. If you ask him today if he’s better off he will tell you that he is absolutely, 100% better off. He looks back on that relationship and wonders why he wasted so much time trying to fix things. He looks back now and admits he did crazy things, like always sniffing her drinks to try to figure out if she had alcohol in it or not, or starting his day super early and busting through his workday so that he could get back home early in the afternoon before she had a chance to drink herself into a stupor, or meet up with other men. With a little bit of time and distance he was able to say, “She is a really toxic person and our relationship was very dysfunctional. I felt like I had a fifth child.”

You’re gonna find someone who’ll love you like he should have
And when you finally feel the difference you’ll be so glad
You gave yourself the chance to move on
You’ll wonder why it took you so long
And why you wasted so much time on him

Those words are so true. He often remarks that things are so different with me. He would tell you it’s incredible finally being with someone who gives back as opposed to only taking.

Our first time meeting I brought him a little gift. It was a toy helicopter because he had said he wished he had one so he could fly to see me anytime he wanted to and it wouldn’t take the 10.5 hours it takes to drive.

He was so touched. I will always remember him saying, “I didn’t get you anything. I feel so bad! I’m the one that usually does stuff like this.”

That same evening I gave him the letter I had written to his wife. I had commented one time that I should write to her and thank her for letting him go because he was so amazing. He thought that was an amazing idea. So I did it. I never mailed it to her; ultimately, it was for him. It brought him to tears after I read it out loud to him. “That’s a really nice letter,” he told me.

He still wonders what life would have been like had he left when he found that first bottle back in 2005. Or what he might have accomplished if he’d had someone who had supported him and been a full partner to him.

I can’t help with what all he might have accomplished, but I do practically point out that back in 2005 his kids were all still young. His oldest was only 12 at that point. The youngest would have been 4.

Her drinking was not out of control; in fact, the only reason he knew about it was because he found the bottle. I don’t think 50/50 custody was that common back then, the kids wouldn’t have been old enough to say they wanted to go with him, and she was a stay at home mom who homeschooled her kids. They would have been with her full time and he would have had, at best, every other weekend and maybe a Wednesday evening.

You can worry yourself to death thinking about how things could have been, or what you should have done differently. None of that matters, though. The past is gone. Realize now, in this moment, that you deserve better. Choose you. Choose a future free from someone who doesn’t appreciate you, who mistreats you, who cheats on you, who lies to you, and/or who badmouths you to anyone who will listen. You will be so much better off.

Better Off

Excellent advice! Seriously, they get off on our pain, I think. What better validation for their entitlement than to have someone begging them to stay, crying, pleading? Fuck that shit! They want to leave? Help them pack their damn bags! Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya! Don’t beg for something that should already be yours. If you have to beg them to stay, to love you, to do the right thing, then it’s already too late. And honestly, as much as you may not believe it when you’re in the very early stages of all this bullshit, you really will be better off without that person. You know why? Because a person who loves you wouldn’t do that to you.