Happy New Year – Pick Your Battles
Every morning I send an email to my mother (from my end it’s an email; from her end, it’s more like receiving a fax ). The emails are neither particularly personal nor conversational – I save that for our phone calls. Rather, they are another way of keeping in touch, another way of letting her know I’m thinking of her, another way to provide her with a modicum of cognitive stimulation and something to read besides that loony-ass shit the Billy Graham people send her. 
Each day’s email has a theme. Mondays are Jokes for the day, and I send her select stories and gags I’ve culled from a variety of “clean” humor websites.
On another day she receives a Word for the Day, and there is a Quote for the Day, Poem for the Day, and so on.
Thursdays are Thoughts for the Day: two or more meditative or philosophical passages I gather from a couple of sources, including one called (wait for it) Thought For Today.
The TFT website describes its function as providing:
“…daily Medication for the soul. Quotations and words of wisdom to motivate and inspire. Since January 2008 we have provided a Thought for the Day from famous and not so famous individuals, some still living, some not.
We believe that words are powerful, they have the power to tear you down and they have they have the power to build you up….”
The TFT site posts a list of quotations/meditations/thoughts that change daily. No matter the attribution, the words of wisdom are listed as being presented on the site by “The Thought Collector’s Wife.” Which frosts my butt, every time I read that.
Yesterday, I decided that it’s butt-thawing time, and sent the TFT site the following email.
I enjoy reading your collection of motivational quotes. As you so wisely put it in your About Us statement, “Words are powerful, they have the power to tear you down and they have they have the power to build you up.” I agree wholeheartedly that words matter – that how we say something can be just as important as what we are saying. Thus, I request that you please change the name of “The Thought Collector’s Wife” to “The Thought Collector.” The former “title” is a sexist remnant, reflecting the times when only a man was thought to have ownership of occupations and ideas – times when, for example, a man who farmed was referred to as a farmer, and the woman who also farmed would be called “the farmer’s wife.”
“Wife” and “husband’ are terms denoting relationship, not occupation. If a woman collects thoughts, she is a thought collector – her marital status is irrelevant.
Thank you for your consideration of my request.
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OPRAH DROPS FOUR SIZES ! ! !
Yikes! I hope they didn’t land on anyone’s noggin.
That is my favorite spam of 2015. The year is young, I know.
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Speaking of canned meat by-products, although it pains me to waste precious seconds by typing the name, Sarah Palin (ye-ow, that smarts) was something I thought I’d be grateful for, in the new year. Grateful as in, I’ve yet another year to appreciate the concept of bullet dodging.
As in, we dodged a bullet.
All of us.
Which we did by not electing the McCain-Palin (ouch) ticket.
And then, one of her mutant offspring  stepped on the new family dog, and for some reason Palin (owwww) posted a picture of the abuse charming domestic scene on a social media site. Animal rights accusation flinging ensued, and Palin (stop that!) eagerly dove headfirst into the slop bucket jumped into the ring.
Pet abuse, schmet-abuse – the real story is, why did she respond at all? Is it simply that she continues to be infected with the quasi-celebrity mentality that any press is good press, and it’s been some time since she’s had a headline?
I actually read part of her screed, before I was overcome with a return-to-sanity-inducing, WTF am I doing?! bout of self-reproach. And I felt a chill – yep, the actual,  proverbial chill running down my spine – to read her strident, two-steps-short-of-intelligible harangue; I felt chilled to realize that such an immature, superficial, petty and vicious person was, for the most manipulative and cynical reasons , chosen to be placed in a position a few EKGs away from the presidency.
And thus, the first Pretty Purple Toe Award of 2015 goes to…well, to all of us. We do a lotta dumb shit, but at least we did not go down that path.
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҉ New Year Reflections Continued ҉
The Department of She Meant Well
Chapter XVI: The Problem with The Problem Child
The following discourse is courtesy to flashbacks sparked by the family wedding photos I received with this year’s Christmas cards and letters.
Dateline: either in late junior high or high school. was visiting a friend at her house. My friend, Friend’s Mother and I were talking about…parent-child relationships, perhaps? I cannot remember the subject. Whatever the topic, it apparently inspired Friend’s Mother to tell me the story of how my mother had confided in her that I was my mother’s “problem child.”
Looking back, I think FM sincerely (if mistakenly) thought that by sharing this story she might bolster my self-confidence and paint herself as a hero – my champion – as the anecdote also included her response to my mother:
“Well, if that’s a problem child, give me that problem any day!”
Problem child. A moniker which, I imagine, most true problem children bear with pride.
It confused me, then. Still does.
I attended a Southern California high school that had a socioeconomically and ethnically diverse student body, and which was majority Hispanic by my senior year. My fellow students were kids from poverty-stricken neighborhoods with gang problems and rich kids with drug problems and surfer kids with Dude, where’s my brain? problems, and everything in between.
Moi? I was a smart ass, with opinions. I talked back – and forth, and up and down – at home, at school, at church. I questioned; I had political and social and cultural attitudes and interests that were not always shared nor understood by my parents or teachers. I also was a straight-A student, involved in my church’s youth group and in school sports and student government and journalism programs, and by my senior year had my own editorial column in the school paper’s op-ed page.
I was not doing drugs/violence/the track coach under the bleachers. Where, exactly, was the problem?
Through the miracle of time travel we return to the recent past, to one of last year’s three family weddings. My niece’s wedding ceremony was late (surprise!) in starting. Sitting in the second row, I struck up a conversation with one of the three wonderful women who are employed as my mother’s round-the-clock, live-in caretakers (“Mom’s Ladies” is how my sisters and I fondly refer to them).
Looking around at the other guests, I’d noticed I seemed to be the only female not attired in something on the purple-blue end of the color spectrum. I pointed to my black skirt and made a crack to the Mom’s Lady sitting nearest me, about how I obviously “hadn’t been sent the wedding attire memo.”
Mom’s Lady winked at me and said, with conspiratorial affection, “Well, of course – black sheep of the family.”
Interesting…that the label had apparently changed (progressed?) from Problem Child ® to Black Sheep ®.
Still, youch. I just wasn’t expecting that blast from the past.
The thing is, the only reason one of Mom’s Ladies could have known I had been given that label is that is that someone – my mother is the likely suspect – had to have said that to her.
Why does such a label – or the story of it – persist? It may be due in part to the fact that I am the only (openly) religion-free person in my immediate family. But, really. FFS, I’m in my fifties.
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Department of Pipe Dreams
Aka, The Congratulations Card I Probably Won’t Send
What with all the weddings in my extended family during the past year, there’s bound to be some imminent breeding. Here is an example of the baby congrats card I’d love to send…but won’t.
All babies, including those born to religious parents, are born atheists. Atheism is not a philosophy or belief system – really, it’s not an ism at all. It is a term which simply denotes a lack of theistic belief, which is where we all begin – it is a human being’s natural state. We are born without supernatural beliefs, or beliefs of any kind.
Religions need to be inculcated. Beliefs are learned . You have to be carefully taught.
* * *
And You Thought Wedgies Were Uncomfortable
Animal name of the day…year…century. Behold, the cockchafer.
Imagine having that for your species name. Just, because, okay?
* * *
Dateline: Wednesday, during our family tradition of playing cards at dinner (dealer chooses the game). Over a game of Knock (aka Kings in the corner), MH came up with a somewhat mild double entendre while Belle, K and I were discussing the latest Downton Abbey episode.
“Dad!” Belle gasped in astonishment and delight. “Did you just make a dick joke?!”
MH smiled enigmatically, but did not reply.
* * *
May you be ready for any game your children will play with you, and for all shades of sheep that may roam the pastures of your life, and may the covert dick jokes and hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 She has a device which allows her to print email from selected sources (thus, no spam), but she cannot reply. The device caters to and is marketed at the elderly/frail/computer-disinterested and/or phobic.
 No, she does not read this blog (and has no means to do so) – whaddya think, I’m crazy or something?
 I know, I know, don’t pick on the kids. At least I didn’t employ a slur that is supposedly directed at the mentally impaired (hint: rhymes with pee chard).
 Notice I did not type, “literal,” as, literally, that word has been officially declared so 2014, or whatever.
 You really must read Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. Preferably while chugging a strong anti-emetic.
 Because, after all, don’t want to give ’em any more Black Sheep ammunition.
 And, fortunately, can be unlearned.
 My offspring have promised to play that game with me, but have steadfastly refused to do so with their more genteel father.