On Manners … “The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.” ― Oscar Wilde

etiquetteMy parents worked hard to teach me good manners and for this I feel quite fortunate and grateful.   As always, I am a continuous work in progress and I have far from perfected all forms of manners.  I do however strive to set a good example for my kids when it comes to simple etiquette and common courtesies.

I stand wholeheartedly behind the power of manners and courtesy.  I will take on anyone who rolls their eyes about the importance of  teaching these skills to their children, for they will be sending their offspring out into the world with a severe disadvantage.  I guarantee you that, when it comes to job interviews and promotions and just plain life, simple etiquette and common courtesy will take children much further in life than the guy or gal who knows not of manners.

These skills – learned primarily by example – help children to be more genuinely grateful rather than entitled, to have more friends and meaningful relationships, and to realize that we are all interconnected.  Quite simply, manners help us to be more human.

These are a few of the many skills that children of all ages – and frankly humans of all ages – will do well by understanding and working toward practicing as much as possible:

  • When, how and why to thank someone.
  • How to listen and not interrupt, and to let others speak (I am always trying to improve on this one).
  • Eye contact, eye contact, eye contact.  Why it matters.
  • The importance of introductions and inclusiveness in group settings.
  • How to be thoughtful.
  • How to eat at a formal dinner table and sit still at a restaurant.  Even just the basics will empower kids later in life.
  • The art of being humble rather than boastful and aware of others’ feelings (This one is a peeve of mine.).
  • How to make note (whether electronically or otherwise) of important dates or events for other people and recognize them every once in a while.
  • Respect for elders (No matter how old school they might seem).
  • To politely greet and acknowledge a new person in their home or environment.
  • To hold a door open for a person behind them when they are in close range.
  • How to actually apologize (It’s amazing how many people really don’t understand how to genuinely apologize.  You’re not apologizing if you don’t truly own your actions. See The One Minute Apology.) And no child is too young to learn how to apologize and recognize others’ feelings.
  • Letting someone go ahead of them in a long line every now and then.
  • How to say please and thank you consistently and nicely.
  • How to be compassionate.
  • Helping those less fortunate or ill, whether it be by raking their lawn, shoveling a walk or making a meal.
  • Being helpful at a retail establishment even when it’s not your job (I’m baffled by how shocked grocery checkers are at my local store when they are short-staffed and I roll up my sleeves and start bagging my own groceries instead of standing there watching.  How is this not a given?)
  • Occasionally helping strangers who may have simply dropped something or who may be unable to reach or do something.
  • Why, when and how to say excuse me when you bump into someone or walk in front of them, interrupt them, etc. (Another peeve of mine.)
  • The art of writing a simple thank you note.
  • How to give someone your full attention.
  • When to PUT THE PHONE AWAY.  (When having a conversation or meal with someone, when at a restaurant (get up and take the call outside), when at a social event. Trust me, if it’s important they will call more than once.)
  • How to not be condescending to service people or wait staff no matter how old you are or how important you think you are (I’ve always thought of this as a sure way to really know if I like someone).

Thanks to the gals over at Grown and Flown for their post today which spurred my manners rant post: http://grownandflown.com/millennials-need-good-manners/.

What is your biggest manners pet peeve?

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

cart before

I admit it. I like to find things in other people’s trash.  Not deep in the trash under banana peels or dirty diapers or anything, mind you (I am still a germaphobe), but trash that’s visible from my car as I drive by.

I like to think of it as high-end dumpster diving. Or re-purposing of perfectly salvageable items on their way to the dump via the neighborhood trash truck. Items for which it causes me physical pain to think about them being hoisted up and over the back of the garbage truck cab and tossed into that teetering back heap in pieces.

These dumpster dive treasures call my name and wave me down as I drive by, shouting out to me “Hey, hey you…  Here I am… Yes, me! Isn’t this a shame?  You can’t let this happen, can you?”  They wait for me to slowly turn my car around to take a closer look and that’s when if they had a tail it would certainly start wagging … and in the car they go.

This is why my kids and MacGyver don’t even flinch when once every few months they see a new piece of very questionable looking furniture in the garage.  They know the drill.

Maybe I’m a hoarder, It may be genetic.  But I like to think of it as being a rescuer.

So, when I was driving through my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago and saw this old tea cart out on the curb by someone’s trash cans, I had to stop and perform a rescue mission. Yes, I was already cutting it close for my appointment, but I could hear the roar of the trash truck getting closer and her demise was imminent.

She had badly chipped veneer (under a perfectly quaint and in-tact wood framed glass tray) and she was missing wheels (which the owner was kind enough to set out for the likely rescuer) and she was was scratched, crooked and unsteady as hell.  In the back of my 4Runner she went.   

cart wheel

MacGyver grinned and shook his head as I later pleaded this poor little tea cart’s case and asked for his help in attaching the wheels and leveling her out.  ‘She can make it,’ I explained.

And so it was.  Here are the steps of this ‘little cart-that-could’s rebirth:

1. MacGyver reattached the little wheels under the cart. cart level

2. She was still unsteady due to the odd wheel configuration, so MacGyver worked to level her by adding spacers above her smaller wheels.  I was the assisting nurse, keeping watch on her vitals by watching for the little bubble in the little window of the metal level.

3. Then came the spray paint.  Oh, the glorious spray paint.  I can change the world with a few cans of spray paint.

cart paint

4. I taped and sanded her tray and on the front lawn where I still had good sunlight (my neighbors think I’m nuts) I gave it a few shots of a brilliant, deep red to test out the color.  She started to smile instantly.

5. Then the next day after the glue dried on the little wheels, this little cart got a thorough sanding and a coat of all-over red, except for her big, center wheels which I spray painted black as if they were the black patent shoes she needed for her new, red dress.cart red

6. Her makeover was complete.  She turned out so beautiful in the end that we decided to let her live with us on a permanent basis.  She has found a home in my dining room.

Despite her questionable background,  this little tea cart has made a lovely addition to our family and she seems to be working through her abandonment issues.

It turns out that you just never know what you might find on someone else’s curb on trash day.  And what it could become.  And that, my friends, is the fun of it.

Have you ever dumpster-dived?

Memories of Hallow’s Eve Past

IMG_5122[1]Memories of Hallow’s Eve past:

– Decorating with my Mom (Little Red Riding Hood LOVED to decorate for Halloween – I come by it honestly.  See latest addition this year – my new hanging Nasty Bat.)

– “Mr. Nasty Man” who has enjoyed our various porch benches at various homes for the last 17 years or so (only the mask has changed since the early one melted in the Oklahoma sun long ago).IMG_5115[1]

– The sounds and smells of rustling leaves and the cool breezes that accompany them.IMG_4971[1]

– Trick or  treating with my friend Boogieman.

– Making my own Steve Martin costume one year when I was little (my Mom was so proud that I made it and talked about it for years).

– Getting hit in the head with a flying pumpkin. See older post for background.

-Dressing up my kids for trick or treating year after year (Now they are too cool.  If I had known how much I would miss it, I would have savored it more.).

– The costume birthday parties we used to have for my oldest son each October.


– Receiving a box of little decorations and goodies every year from my Mom in the mail (along with a card that said “Watch out for flying pumpkins!”).

– The beautiful, beautiful colors of fall everywhere I look.

– The squirrels who eat my pumpkins on my sidewalk each year. (See their latest masterpieces.  I don’t have the heart to throw them away — I’m thinking when they bring their buddies at mealtime,  it’s like a trip to the Country Buffet or Western Sizzler).

Although  much has changed over the years, and some things have remained, fall continues to be my all-time favorite season of the year,  And Halllow’s Eve a special favorite.

Happy Halloween!

What memories of your Hallow’s Eve past come to mind?

P.S: Watch out for flying pumpkins!


Self-Check-Out Be Damned.

IMG_4978[1]There I was, with 32 minutes to run into the grocery store for a few items before I had to pick up my son from an appointment. I knew better, but I headed into the nearby Safeway despite my doubts.  It was close, and it has a great floral department (I needed flowers for a friend).

My ‘few items’ soon turned into 20 items.  The fruit tart that I grabbed to take to a friend’s house for my contribution to the evening ‘s dinner was super sticky and kicked off my lovely Safeway experience. All of the tart packages were sticky, but Safeway’s fruit tarts are good, and I needed one, so I grabbed it anyway.  Then the rotisserie baked chicken with the crumpled packaging had me wondering if it would leak all over my car.  But I placed it in my basket anyway and powered on.

After I grabbed some peppers and cantaloupe, the last item I picked up was a small flower arrangement.  Notice anything in common with these items?  For some of us, these would be classified as items that are tricky for the sellf-check-out lane.  No problem, you say?  Just use the human check-out line, you say? This is what I would do at my normal grocery store, staffed with at least two or three human checkers at all times of moderate shopping traffic. Nope, not this store.

This Safeway is consistently staffed with only ONE live human checker, a cobwebbed “Express Lane” and a sea of I-Robot self-check-out stations eager to high-jack your grocery shopping experience at any time.

I was cutting it close on time, and the single live human line was far too long.  (Maybe because there was only ONE CHECKER and it was 5 pm on a Friday.  But I digress.) I took a deep breath and headed over to the self check-out lanes, which send me off the rails with even the smoothest of transactions. I can do this, I told myself.  I can use the self check out without having a blackout rage moment or cursing loudly like a woman with anger management issues.

I pressed start. ‘PLEASE START SCANNING YOUR ITEMS,’ a curt and condescending female voice directed me. I scanned the first few things without a hitch. ‘BEEP, BLIP, BEEP.’ I was on a roll.  This might work.

Then the baked chicken with the sketchy packaging was up. After many attempts… ‘PLEASE WAIT FOR ASSISTANCE,’ I-Robot chirped. ‘PLEASE WAIT FOR ASSISTANCE.’  ‘PLEASE WAIT FOR ASSISTANCE.’ I took a deep breath. Here we go, I thought, as  I looked over at the snarky captain of the I-Robot fleet.  He headed my way.  He proceeded to peel off the greasy sticker wedged into the side of the packaging, then scanned it without a word and began to walk away.

Before he walked away  I picked up my bell pepper and told him I wasn’t sure how to scan vegetables.  (I know …. “Help me, I’m poor.” comes to mind from the Bridesmaid movie.  But I did not have the time to flip through the operations manual). He silently pointed to the tiny sticker with the itsy bitsy, tiny, microscopic (did I say they were small?) numbers on the side of the pepper.  ‘Seriously?’ I chuckled in a creepy way and said,  “Whaaoooh … There is not a chance that I can even read that without my glasses.’  He briskly punched through fifteen screens and found a category to enter the peppers, without another word.

At this point I couldn’t help myself and explained to him that this is precisely why I dread coming to this store, because it is never staffed with enough checkers. I was confused in thinking he might show some concern and maybe call more checkers up front.  Nope, he simply pranced back to his command post with full smirkitude in tact.  I tried to picture my happy place but I may have gotten light-headed at this point; the rage was coming on.

I had five more items and eight minutes to pick up my son.  I looked to my right and saw the insanely long line of  angry, equally hostile looking customers waiting for a self-check-out station.  I knew they were waiting for me to surrender or pass out so they could brush me aside and use my self-check-out station to quicken their own escapes. I thought about aborting the entire mission, but I had so much time invested at this point and I could almost see the end.

“BEEP.”   “BLIP.” “BEEP.”

The last item was a greeting card.  “BEEP.” Suddenly I-Robot started  demanding, ‘PLEASE PLACE ITEM IN BAGGING AREA.’  I had already placed it in the bag but she did not believe me.  I took it out and tried again, attempting to please her.  Her rampage continued; she was calling me out like I was stealing the greeting card.  “PLEASE PLACE ITEM IN BAGGING AREA.’ ‘PLEASE PLACE ITEM IN BAGGING AREA.’ ‘PLEASE PLACE ITEM IN BAGGING AREA.’ My chest was tight as my flight instinct kicked into gear.

Just as I started to black out, I-Robot began her refrain  “PLEASE WAIT FOR ASSISTANCE.’ ‘ PLEASE WAIT FOR ASSISTANCE.” PLEASE WAIT FOR ASSISTANCE.’ Oh my god, not the snarky I-Robot captain, I’ll lose it.

At that moment, I lost all self-control and cursed at the machine loudly and crudely. Since that would definitely help matters and certainly prove a point.   I-Robot was not amused, nor was the line of survival-of-the-self-check-out- fittest behind me. Suddenly I felt like the character in the movie Friends with Money played by Frances McDermand who yells at an Old Navy employee for helping a person who cut in line and stomps out of the store only to break her nose on the glass door. (Rent it if you haven’t seen it.)

My head hung low as my blood pressure spiked, but I pressed on.  Snarky self check-out captain pranced over and reset the machine and stepped back up his two plastic steps to stand guard at his command perch.  Thank god this ordeal was almost over.  I frantically pressed any button I could find to facilitate my payment and escape.

As I broke through the doors and into the parking lot the sunlight stung my eyes and I gasped for air. I had made it out.  I looked down to find that the sticky fruit-tart juice had spilled all down my favorite  winter boots.  And I felt confident that the baked chicken juice was ready to douse the cargo area of my car in an equally awesome kind of way.

Will I return to this Safeway, you ask?  Probably.

Why, you ask?  It’s close-by and I am a glutton for punishment.

Am I surprised that in a recent American Consumer Satisfaction Index  study Safeway ranks among the very lowest of retailers and the brand has under-performed in customer satisfaction every year for the past 10 years?


Will I complain?  I already submitted a complaint through the corporate website.

Will that save anyone from a black out rage with sticky boots in the future?

Probably not.

Do I realize that my age may have something to do with my aversion to self-check out lanes and the statistics back that up to a certain degree?

Yes, but I’m guessing I spend way more on groceries than those under age 35.  So there.

Have you ever lost your mind at a self-checkout station?

Open letter to a Barbecue Lay’s Potato Chip

chipsDear Barbecue Lays Potato Chip,

Tell me why, after all these years, have you found me again?  Now I’m afraid I won’t be able to forget you again for a while.

I have resisted your temptation for a few years now since my boys have become obsessed with you.  I have often stared at your bag in the pantry where you live with all of your relative chips.  Even though I try to store you out of my sight, I still see you.  You have just politely and quietly stared back, almost knowing that you were my forbidden fruit and having mercy on me.

Maybe it was the way that our grocery store has been recently remodeled so  beautifully, making that chip aisle damn near impossible not to stare dreamy-eyed down the aisle of shiny bags, with you now perfectly positioned at eye level upon approach.  I think I heard harps playing in the distance as I pushed my cart down that aisle the other day.

You made me buy a couple of bags of you for the kids.  I didn’t want them to run out, after all.  I brought you home, and tried to position you  in the pantry so that I couldn’t make eye contact.

But then the other night, as I was perfectly perched with my soft blanket and dimmed lights, ready to watch my trashy Sunday night Housewives TV series (that makes my life look ever so simple, which is a good thing), I heard you calling.

Maybe it was Clone’s fault for being so nice and asking me if I wanted him to get me anything after grinning at the TV screen, knowing how awful the TV show was that I was about to spend an hour with.  My household loves to make fun of me for this weekly vice.

Whatever it was, I gave in.  I ate way too many of you.   So many that I might even be able to forget you for a while since I satisfied my craving so sufficiently.  If it weren’t for the orange powdery residue you left under my nails.  That makes it harder to forget you.

You were good.  I thank you for that.

If I smoked I would have had a cigarette afterwards.

Thank you for the great Lays, my friend.

Something to think about.

experienceI saw this sign while shopping with a friend yesterday. We went to a shabby chic haven of small stores selling a plethora of clever items that we could have made ourselves if we only had thought of the ideas first.

At any rate, this sign caught my eye and its message gave me pause.

My first thought after reading it was actually ‘Oh geez, what has the last year been preparing me for? Seemed like a frightening thought after a pretty exhausting year of events.’

But on the flip side, it makes sense that each experience prepares us for the next.  And that’s a good thing.

Because life gets easier the more we do it.  Just like we get better at playing catch the more we practice.

We learn how to relax and get into a rhythm with the ball.  How to position ourselves for successful catches by reading the ball and predicting where it might end up.

We also learn to recognize and dodge those fast balls that could really hurt if they nailed us. And how to catch the next hardball differently so it doesn’t sting so much.

And most importantly we learn how to be open — and unafraid —  to catch certain curve balls that can change our life forever.

What about you?  How do you think each experience prepares us for the next?

Oh, tell me what you want, what you really, really want …

dandy3In my 200th post – I’m shaking things up a bit and making this post all about you.

This blog is about a lot of things.  The common thread is usually some kind of either wry or raw perspective that I have gained from my journey through this thing called life.

I have almost 600 followers now and this blog has been viewed by people in 91 countries — all of which blows my mind.  And makes me very grateful.

dandy4Which is why I want to know…

What do you like to read most here?  What about this blog do you most feel a connection with?

Do you like my posts that are about gratitude (like my first 100 when this blog started)?

Or ones that are sarcastic or self deprecating? Or about parenting or being part of the sandwich generation?

Or ones that are filled with what is sometimes pretty raw emotion?

Short posts or long ones?  Posts where I participate in a Worpress challenge or writing prompt exercise?

Or simply posts with nice pictures or paintings (no judgement here…)?

You tell me.

And thank you for being part of this blog!


Note to self: Shut your mouth.

mouthSo, my sixteen year old son got his first speeding ticket.

Before you judge, know that he was reprimanded sufficiently and that he will be paying the fine.  And that the ticket was reduced to a defective vehicle violation.

He also beat himself up about it more than sufficiently, as he was clearly upset and remorseful. Days later, as his remorse continued, I decided that the best way to make him feel better about the whole thing would be to begin recounting my litany of violations and mistakes with regard to automobiles when I was young.  I was on a roll and my stories kept getting better and better.

As the words rushed out of my mouth at full speed, MacGyver looked at me puzzled, as if wondering why I thought this was a good idea. But I didn’t get the hint.

Then at some point, thank goodness, I realized that I needed to shut my mouth.  But … as it is on many occasions … it was too late.  I have only my lack of caffeine that morning to blame for this lapse in judgement.  Duh.

Ever realized you needed to shut your mouth when it was too late?

Really, it’s not you, it’s me…

snowYes snow, you’re beautiful …  and the way you fall quietly sometimes calms me like no other …  but I’m over you.

These pics are from the last two days, then we got a reprieve most of yesterday, and now it has started again.  And it’s coming down aplenty outside my window right now.

Meanwhile my friends elsewhere are posting wonderful pics of their beautiful Redbud trees and colorful flowers on Facebook which reminds me of how fresh and new Spring  is going to feel.  And even though I think I have really become a Colorado girl at heart,  I’m ready to end this relationship, or at least take a break.

However … if this is my biggest problem today (which is sort of, kind of is … depending on how you look at it) … then I’m doing pretty good.


IMG_3663 IMG_3664 IMG_3654 IMG_3658

Who’s making you crazy today?

openheartI urge you to let it go.

And you should urge me to do the same.  Because sometimes I’m great at giving advice, but horrible at listening to it for myself.

This is something that I’m working on. And it’s a tough one for me.

When people disappoint me, I have to remind myself that:

a) it’s rarely ever personal and who knows what  is going on in the other person’s life that I may not know about,

b) it does no good to waste my energy being disappointed,

c) negative thoughts just attract more negative energy,

d) it takes away from me being present and in the moment, and finally …

e) there is probably something I could learn from it.

So there you have it.

What disappointment or frustration are you going to let go of right now?

Can YOUR dog empty the dishwasher in 5 seconds flat?

monkeydogfeatIt was a usual exciting Saturday morning and I was upstairs folding laundry as I drank my coffee.  Suddenly I heard a commotion so loud that I was sure that all of my kitchen cabinets had fallen from our kitchen walls.

Apparently I left the dishwasher door open while I was upstairs. And Monkey Dog was hungry.

Based on the evidence shown here in Exhibit A, I’m speculating that Monkey Dog decided to crawl into the dishwasher with the dirty dishes (I promise we do feed her).  From there, all I can hypothesize (based on the aftermath) is that perhaps her collar became hooked on a rack which startled her, prompting her to jump back and create enough momentum to launch the wheeled dish rack across the kitchen?

As you can see, the lower dishwasher rack  ended up several feet away from the dishwasher, at an angle no less.

Amazingly, only three plates were broken and I was able to repair the dishwasher rack, since the wheels literally came off. And Monkey Dog was unharmed.

Let the records show that Monkey Dog is not a Great Dane, but rather a “mini” Golden Doodle, weighing just 25 pounds. And, as I’ve written about before, she keeps her retractable, opposable thumbs hidden until we leave her in the kitchen alone. (Which is why we’ve decided it’s time to install a 24/7 Monkey Dog Kitchen Cam.)Piper

Not surprisingly, she was afraid to go near the dishwasher for the rest of the day.

Can your dog unload the dishwasher that fast?

Related posts:



Driving through a postcard everyday. Caution: Cheese ahead.

4run front copycheese signAs cheesy as it sounds, and maybe it’s because I’m not a Colorado native, I must say that I appreciate this state’s absolute beauty and splendor every single day.

This state has placed nature squarely in front of my face, giving my soul a little jump start each time I stop to notice.

Here are a few shots over the last few weeks from my life as I drive through postcards.

And I don’t even live on the side of the town with the views…



Across from school drop-off yesterday.

Deer grazing in park on way to Mom’s house yesterday.

View as I cross over the dam to go to Mom's.

View as I cross over the dam to go to Mom’s.

On the long way home afteer school as sun is coming up. (previous post about Long Way Home: https://lifeonwry.com/2012/09/19/the-long-way-home-gratitude-experiment-day-35/)

On the long way home after school drop-off yesterday. (previous post about Long Way Home: https://lifeonwry.com/2012/09/19/the-long-way-home-gratitude-experiment-day-35/) I love the long way home.

On way to school a week or so ago.

On way to school a week or so ago.

In the mountains last week.

In the mountains last week.

One-year old babies at the ranch last week.

One-year old babies at the ranch last week.

View from my bathroom last week.  For real.

View from toilet last week in mountains. For real.

Out of car window last week.

Out of car window last week.

My co-pilot.

My photography co-pilot on a bad hair day.

Postcards can be found wherever we live, if we keep our eyes open. Ever stop and notice?