Thursday, February 28, 2008

What are saving them for?

You don't have to join the Peace Corps, be artistically inclined or come from money to make your world a better place.
Just smile. Flash those pearly whites.
Sure it's a simple thing. But it's far more potentl than you may realize.
Try it out with a stranger who looks alone and forgotten. Or old person. Or a poor person who's so often dismissed she feels invisible.
Doesn't cost you a dime. But it can be priceless in the eyes of someone who rarely receives the slightest attention.
Put yourself out there. Make the world a better place--one smile at a time.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

One more move

De-cluttered? Painted? Plied potential buyers with fresh-baked cookies and still can't unload your house?
Here's a sales tool you may not know about: A St. Joseph statue.
My mom swore by him, but then she was also known to keep a tiny voodoo doll.
After my 90-year-old Aunt Rose, a devout Catholic, endorsed it, I decided to give it a try.
Folk lore says to bury St. Joe near the FOR SALE sign "head first, feet towards heaven, facing the direction of the street. "
Say a prayer and wait for the offers to roll in.
After the sale, exhume your "underground real estate agent" and display him in a place of prominence in your new home.
Despite a softening real estate market last fall, it worked for us.
And there's no shortage of St. Joseph supplies. Statuettes, prayer booklets and in some cases searchable home listings are available online.
Face in this market, it takes Divine intervention to close a deal.
Plus you'll get pleasure in knowing your nosy neighbors are going nuts trying to figure out just what in hell you've buried in the front yard.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Keepin' it real

Some people collect antiques. Baseball cards. Or Hummel figurines.
Me? I collect sayings. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention," a bumper sticker.
  • "Urban sprawl: Cut down all the trees and name the streets after them," another bumper sticker from same college town head shop.
  • "Try not to count too much on any one thing 'cause it's liable to become a disappointment," Robert Duval's cowboy character in "Lonesome Dove."
  • "If you're going to kick authority in the teeth, you might as well use two feet," Rolling Stone's guitarist Keith Richards.

What are yours?


Sunday, February 24, 2008

With a lot of help from their friends.

How do the stars pull off their stunning Oscar looks? With mink eyelashes. Underarm Botox to prevent perspiration. $1,000 facials. Personal trainers. Loaner gowns and jewels. And more.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Making do

Say what you will about the recently-approved U.S. economic stimulus package, it's being enthusiastically welcomed by those eeking out a living on Social Security, SSI or a small pension.
One 77-year-old woman said although the anticipated $300 won't be enough to fix her leaky roof--it will enable her to replace the 28-year-old mattress that's giving her back aches.
Another retiree said it will be a gift equal to half her monthly stipend.
A third said it will bring a little relief into a world devoid of the "three C's."
Cars, cable and cell phones.
"They're luxuries," she tells her friends, "not necessities."
Yep. The government did a good turn, extending a hand to America's old, infirm and disabled.
I just know they're going to do their part to spread the good will around.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Suck it up

Forget the Bas Mitzvah. Quinceanera, too. A girl's right of passage in the 60's was her first girdle -- a necessity then.
Panty hose hadn't been invented yet. Nylons had to be fastened by wire to rubbery tabs sewn into the girdle. (See photo above).
Even taut cheerleaders sported girdles in those days--and they didn't have a thing to hide. Or minimize.
Today's woman can put synthetics on her side (as well as her waist, thighs, buns and bust).
New, sleek shapewear is effective and feels good -- unlike its ancestors.
A recent column in the New York Times suggested women purge the ugly from their undie drawers and go for Spanx or Flexees.
Get a look at how they firm your curves atwww. or
So forsake the fad diet. Just limber up the credit cards.
After all, if you want to stand out like the Eiffel Tower, you MUST start with good foundations.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

In memory

He wrote his own epitaph.
It was after his first marriage ended in divorce, that he fell hard for a loving mother and her two children.
Their new life together Life was divine. He was deeply in love. And he had two younger kids to nurture now that his own were nearly grown.
But the dream vaporized into the fog the day his bride dropped to the floor and became unresponsive.
Bad weather grounded the medivac chopper that could have zipped quickly to the nearest trauma hospital 110 miles away.
So he hopped in the back of the ambulance to accompany her on the ride to St. Louis. A flat tire and bad directions hampered the arrival of a relief vehicle.
By the time it was sorted out, she was gone. Brain aneurysm, they said.
He never fully recovered, despite a later relationship with the woman he'd hoped would help him forget his overwhelming grief.
"When I die," he once told me, " you can tell people I died of a broken heart."
Those haunting words came back to me when I got the call he'd had a fatal heart attack during a pick-up basketball game 30 years ago President's Day. He was 46.
For the first time, I felt the same sort of excruciating loss that killed him.
I miss you, Dad. And I wish I could have been there.
Photo: Magelli Family Album

Break through

An artist once told me when he began a new painting, he could see in his mind's eye the glorious result.
Somewhere along the way, however, he found he had to 'work through the ugly part of the painting.'
Our region is doing just that: Working through the ugly part of winter.
Cavernous potholes. Sloppy puddles. Filthy cars coated in oily, gray road de-icer.
Yet in the coming weeks, the sun will glow longer. Skies will turn robin- egg blue. And a riot of blossoms, grasses and flowering trees will help us forget about this mid-winter grime.
A new landscape will emerge resplendent -- think of as the spring collection of an Old World Master.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Remember when...

The Amish believe photographs can capture their souls and refuse to have graven images of themselves.
That may seem outlandish on the surface.
But it's a little easier to understand after pouring over turn-of-the-century photos of my immigrant grandparents with their young brood. And snapshots of friends and family from 20 years ago.
There, frozen in time are the flashings of people -- and the trappings of their time.
And while the pictures didn't trap their souls--perhaps they preserved the next best thing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Day after day

A full-body massage starts the day. Followed by a lite breakfast and a leisurely morning around the house.
Lunch at noon. And a luxurious nap until sunset.
Then it's time for supper and play.
Yes, the cat is king of routines.
There was a time when I feared my routines were poor substitutes for real living.
Now I can see they create a predictable framework in an unpredictable and often cruel world.
And as we grow old, the routines grow ever more precious. Towards the end, they may be all we can really count on.
That's why I believe old women deserve their tea served precisely to their liking.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Another bright spot in wasteland

"Break Bad (v.) 1. to challenge convention 2. to defy authority 3. to raise hell," according to

It's far fetched. Rotates on gallows humor. Tends toward the macabre.
And is one of the best TV series not produced for HBO.
Breaking Bad follows a high school chemistry teacher who's been on auto pilot for years. But when he finds out he has late- stage terminal lung cancer, he embraces life with reckless abandon.
Actor Bryan Cranston plays teacher Walter White.
To build a nest egg for the family he'll be leaving behind, White hooks up a looser of a former student. Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, who is a self-proclaimed meth-making"artist." In their new partnership, White bubbles by night and Pinkman distributes to a seedy network of established customers.
Nothing goes smoothly for the two--as the picture above illustrates. The fiascos that befall these guys will have you howling.
Episodes one and two are in rebroadcast on the AMC cable channel and streamed free on the AMC Web site,
Hopefully this will tide you over until Hollywood's writers begin churning out new material.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

For the health of it

Because I'm without a health club membership right now, I'm sneaking more exercise into my day.
My heart has to have it. And it's the best antidote against lapsing into a penguin's body double.
So while my dog runs off leash in a field, I've taken to doing squats and standing leg exercises outdoors. In winter coat, hat and gloves. It's not as exotic as the fitness queens whose TV routines take place on breath-taking beaches. But it'll do.
I also splurged on a sleek, new $24 pedometer. About the size of a credit card, it's flat and thin and fits in a back pocket.
The daily goal: 10,000 steps or about five miles. I wear the little ticker morning to night. It subconsciously spurs me to step up my activity.
Takes 21 days to create a habit, I've read. I'm five days into the program.
At this rate, I might just make it to my first spring Bloomsday ( after all.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Color me happy

Every year, my employer hosts several kids' coloring contests. In February, young artists decorate paper hearts.
Purple feathers, red and pink foils, tiny plush heart pillows and every shade of red media known to kids adorned this year's entries.
There's even a heart-turned-American flag with stars on a field of blue plus requisite red and white stripes. "God Bless America," it proclaims.
Angels, puppies, cut outs of candies, pasta shells and tiny, red crepe paper flowers brightened others.
I had the pleasure of sorting the artworks.
While some focused on candidates' caucuses or slogged through slush in what is the grayest month of the year here, I was knee deep in kids' whimsies.
By the time I finished, my slacks and desk were sprinkled with shimmering gold, silver and pink glitter.
I chose to think of it as fairy dust.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Keep on the sunny side

Generators, buildings, 12 V portable refrigerators and radios are just a few of the things that can powered by the sun.
That brilliant star illuminated snowscapes here today. A welcome sight after a week of relentless winter storms.
Where its rays warmed the carpet, the cat and the dog flopped down for naps.
Without sunshine our bones grow brittle. Attitudes, too.
Today's radiation renewed my little photovoltaic soul -- I absorbed enough energy to make it through February.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Vacuous reality shows driving you insane?

Hit the coach for "In Treatment," HBO's latest original TV series.
The cable giant bills it as: "One doctor. Five sessions. Five nights a week."
Therapy never felt so good--and cost so little.
Irish actor Gabriel Byrne stars as intelligent pyschotherapist Paul Weston. He sees clients in 30-minute episodes Mondays through Thursdays.
Honey, have they got work to do!
Even Paul finds the load so heavy he seeks a shrink of his own.
On Fridays, tune in as Paul unloads his baggage, which is messier than you'd think.
Admist the dearth of decent programs, "In Treatment" is the best medicine around.
For the schedule go to

Friday, February 1, 2008

Locked and loaded

I'm was a Groundhog's Day baby. I'll celebrate Saturday for the 55th time. And I'm not going down without a fight.

Here's a few Things I Have Learned:

  1. In high- stakes poker, sometimes you have to be willing to lose everything to win.
  2. Kids are far more intuitive than they’re given credit for.
  3. Everyone has a story to tell and something to teach you.
  4. Follow your instincts.
  5. If your feelings are hurt, don’t show it.
  6. Travel is the best teacher.
  7. It’s a full-time job managing yourself -- let alone anyone else.
  8. Keep on the sunny side.
  9. If you’re lucky enough to work at something you love, enjoy the hell out of it. If not, find a really cool hobby.
  10. You’re always the same age inside.
  11. Don't worry about things that haven’t happened -- it’s the unforeseen that will blind side you.
  12. Hold fast to your values.
  13. There are many paths to enlightenment.