Gauge Free November

While we were living in England, I didn’t drive mostly because I enjoyed being chauffeured around by my husband so much. Also I just couldn’t get used to driving on the other side of the road. I tried a few times, and it was frightening.

Now that we’re back in the US, I’m driving again. I’m a constant gauge checker when I drive. I don’t just check to make sure I’m going exactly five miles over the speed limit. I’ve always treated the speed limit as a loose suggestion give or take five. I also check the temperature gauge constantly. I have a fear of the car overheating. It’s probably because our car in England used to overheat in traffic all the time.

Last week, I was driving home from my parents house, and I was so wrapped up in gauge checking that I drove up onto the median. Luckily, it was late and there were no other cars around to witness my insanity. I didn’t cause any accidents or anything. It would’ve been funny if a cop saw me because he probably would’ve assumed I was drunk. While I was drunk on the joy of life, no alcohol had passed these lips … unless my mother shot the pomegranate she gave me up with vodka.

I wasn’t drunk. I was just trying to be a conscientious driver. Try explaining that to someone when you just rear-ended them because you were checking your temperature gauge more than looking at the road. That hasn’t happened yet, but if I don’t get my act together it could. That’s why I’m quitting cold turkey. I will not look at another gauge again for the whole month of November, not a temperature gauge or a pressure gauge or a man named Gauge. They’re all off limits. Let’s make this a safe, happy, gauge free November.


Not So Happy Halloween

It’s Halloween, a holiday that some people look forward to all year. I’m not one of those people. I’ve been dreading Halloween for a good thirty days now. I’m not afraid of ghost, goblins, or witches. Jack O’Laterns are a-okay too. I don’t believe the superstitious nonsense about black cats, but I am terrified of trick-or-treaters.

What is an anxiety ridden person such as myself to do on this terrible holiday where you’re expected to open the door to strangers all night? I don’t care if they are eleven years old, they’re still strangers who could possibly have bad intentions especially when they find out I don’t have any candy because I’ve opted to celebrate American Cheese Month instead of Halloween. I can only handle one holiday at a time people.

Since I am socially awkward, I usually don’t have any place to go on Halloween, so I end up hiding out in my house instead. I’m serious about hiding out too. I turn out the lights and stay away from the windows.

A normal person would just go to the store today and buy some Halloween candy and a witch’s hat, but Halloween candy is hard. Crawling around on the floor all night hoping no one realizes your home is much easier. Maybe I should just go sit around at the mall until the coast is clear.

While I wait things out at the mall, you can watch this video my husband made a couple of years ago. It’s scary!

Twenty Years

I remember when I turned 20. It was way back in 19??. I’ll let that date remain a secret because I don’t want to ruin the mystery. Anyway, recently I’ve been thinking I should start lying about my age. If I up it by 10 years I’ll probably get a lot of compliments. “Oh, you look so good for your age.” But, what if I don’t? Then I’ll just feel bad, so maybe lying about my age isn’t such a good idea.

Anyway, 20 is a funny age. You’ve finally passed through the fire of adolescence only to find that you still feel exactly the same as you did yesterday. Isn’t every birthday like that though?

My stepson turned 20 yesterday. That’s right. He’s all grown up now. When I first met him he looked like this …


Those where the good old days of grasshoppers and tarantulas. Okay, they weren’t really so good. I’ve never liked tarantulas.

Gone are the tarantulas, thank goodness. Now he wants an outfit like the one Gaddafi used to wear and looks like this …


We haven’t gotten him the outfit yet, but I’m sure Gaddafi wore jeans and a t-shirt sometimes too. Only one of the individuals in this picture was in big trouble for digging a giant whole in the backyard. I’m sure you an guess which one it was, but I getting off topic.

Time flies, as they say. I hope he had a good 20th birthday and has many more to come. Maybe not. Turning 20 every year forever would probably get a bit boring, like Groundhog Day without Bill Murray. I hope he has many more birthdays to come of various numbers in whatever order he wants … 35, 22, 54. It’s good to mix things up a bit sometimes.

Five Tips to Help You Through the Social Nightmare That is the Food Coop

Today is Monday which means that it’s the day to pick up food from the co-op we’ve joined. The thing about the coop is that you see the same people every week. It’s like everyone knows each other. They joke around, and chat, and when they ask how you’re doing they seem to really want an honest answer. What’s up with that?

If I want to buy cheese, I have to ask someone to weigh it out for me. That means I have to know how much I want. Who knows something like that? I’m not sure what a pound of cheese looks like. I never paid attention when buying cheese before. Can you see how stressful this is? As a result I never buy cheese.

Sometimes I want the anonymous shopping experience of Publix where I can buy cheese without having to talk to anyone, avoid making eye contact with other human beings, and only have to give one word answers to any questions the cashier might ask me.

I’ve been going to the same food coop for a number of years now. Even though it still stresses me out, I’ve learned how to get through the experience. Here are some tips to help you deal with your own coop social nightmare.


1. Bring your own bags for produce. Everyone will like you more if you have your own bags. They should be reusable and preferably not plastic. If they’re not plastic everyone will love you. We all want to be loved.

2. When someone sidles up to you while you’re picking out cucumbers to tell you about how changing their diet to paleo or raw vegan or whatever the heck they’re doing completely cured them of psoriasis or chronic fatigue syndrome, or Hashimoto’s disease, or depression, or constipation, or shyness, simply nod, smile, and pretend to listen.

3. When you accidentally spill red lentils all over the floor, laugh it off, and help clean it up. Fight the urge to run from the building sobbing. No one likes a running sobber.

4. When someone starts telling you about her amazing home birth experience as you get a container of Amish butter from the fridge pretend to listen. When she’s through detailing how she froze and ate the placenta, smile and say, “That’s interesting. I’ve always wondered about that.” If you are brave you may ask her what it tasted like. Avoid gagging or passing out. Don’t tell her that you are barren. That only leads to pity and pity sucks.

5. When you check out help bag, but don’t help too much. They have a system and your clumsy hands are probably messing it up. It’s important to look helpful while not interfering. This is accomplished by talking about bagging rather than actually doing anything.

6. Say goodbye when you leave. Not everyone understands the need to disappear unnoticed through the door. If you don’t want to get kicked out of the coop for good always say goodbye. It doesn’t matter if everyone in the place ignores you. Just say goodbye and leave as quickly as possible. Wait until you get home to have your nervous breakdown in the car.

Yes, I Write Limericks

There once was a girl from St. Pete
Who thought making videos would be really neat.
But then she realized that her old camera made really crappy videos so she got really frustrated and felt unmotivated and sat around the house on Thursdays half-heartedly brainstorming video idea and then lamenting because any video she made would look like garbage anyway so what was the point really.

I think I have a future in writing limericks, don’t you? Anyway, that basically explains what happened to my Thursday videos.

In other news, it’s 72 degrees today, and I’m freezing. When I said I wanted the weather to cool down a bit, I meant I wanted it to be around 80 degrees. I’m wearing long pants and a jacket right now. That’s just not right. It’s not even winter yet.

Note: The above paragraph is just one example of how I’m trying to keep the British tradition of complaining about the weather alive in our house.

American Cheese Month

The month is nearly over and I couldn’t let it go by without acknowledging that it is American Cheese Month. I don’t understand why it isn’t celebrated more widely. People get so caught up in Halloween that they forget the truly great things in life–cheese.

In this home, we shun the Jack O’Laterns, ghosts, witches, and black cats usually prominent in Halloween decorations and opt for classier cheese decor. I’ve found that Kraft American Single Cheese Slices stick nicely to any wall. You can cover an entire wall with them or organize them into a festive checkerboard pattern.

A large block of Swiss cheese can be used as an elegant table centerpiece. Stick flowers in the holes to brighten it up a bit. Fresh flowers are best, but you can use dried or even silk flowers also.

I like to string small wheels of cheddar together and hang them around windows and doorways like garland. Of course you can’t celebrate American Cheese Month without some blue cheese. Leave a few small dishes of crumbled blue cheese around the house. Nothing reminds you of the holidays like that festive cheese smell.

I hope these tips will help you celebrate American Cheese Month right. I’ll be giving out string cheese to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. I hope you consider passing out a cheesy snack to the children as well.


I Won Again

I just can’t believe how much of a winner I’ve become recently. I’d buy a lottery ticket if I knew how to and if the lottery didn’t terrify me. There are so many unanswered questions about the lottery. How do you pick the numbers? How much is a ticket? Okay, those are only two questions, but I wonder about them every time I enter the grocery store.

I can’t help staring at the customer service desk where you can buy the lottery tickets. There’s always a very particular type of person in that line: the woman in her fifties with leathery tanning booth skin and frosty pink lipstick, the man with a swollen beer belly in a t-shirt that is slightly too tight.

Sometimes I’ll wander over towards the lottery ticket line, but the smell of stale cigarette smoke and the sideways glances I get always scare me away. People might think I’m trying to overhear their lucky numbers because I have no luck numbers of my own. They don’t realize that I don’t need lucky numbers because I’m just plain old lucky. Maybe I should start telling people to call me that. Hi, I’m Lucky Bettison.

I haven’t won the lottery yet, but I did win a redesign for the cover of my novel The Box. I took the old cover out of the sidebar last week. It was blue and boring, and I was never happy with it. Jaha Knight from BCAHQs did a bang-up job at designing a new book cover for me.


I’m fixing some editing issues with the book and recording it for a podcast. Once that stuff is done it will be up for sale again. I know you can’t wait to hear me read you a story. It will be like the old days when you were a small child, and I sat by your bedside reading The Little Engine That Could as you drifted off to sleep, except this book has nothing to do with trains and we all know that you were never a small child.

Note: I’m sharing this post at the I Don’t Like Mondays link party even though I don’t really have anything against Mondays. Wednesdays are a completely different story though.

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

Picture Day

The weather is finally starting to cool down. We can have the windows open instead of cranking up the air-conditioning and being outside isn’t unbearable.

I just have a simple black and white photo for you today, nothing fancy.


I Thought It Was Crabgrass

I’m an awesome gardener. My yard is full of beautiful plants and I have a vegetable garden that provides the family with piles of fresh produce. That’s what I’d like to be able to say, at least.

In reality, I’m a gardening failure. Part of the problem is that I don’t really know what types of plants should be in a garden. I’d been pulling up this annoying grass that’s been turning up in our yard. I call it runner grass because when you don’t know the name for something you should just make one up. Anyway, that runner grass has been a real annoyance in my book. It’s everywhere. The dog likes to eat it, but I swear that’s the only thing it’s good for.

One day I complained about it to my husband and he said, “You mean the St. Augustine’s grass. People spend a lot of money to have that stuff thriving in their yards.”

“No, I mean the runner grass. I think it’s crabgrass.” I had him follow me into the yard so I could show him. “See,” I said yanking a patch of grass out of the ground.

“That’s St. Augustine’s. You should stop pulling it up,” he said.

“But I thought it was a weed, like crabgrass.”

“That’s crabgrass.” He pointed to another patch of grass at his feet.

“Really? I quite like that grass.”

He laughed. “You won’t in the winter when it starts going brown.”

I don’t know what he has against brown grass. I think it could add depth to an otherwise green lawn. I can’t wait to get my yard redone with native plants. Then I won’t have to think about any kind of grass at all.

Don’t ask me about when I’m getting my yard done. I don’t have any concrete plans yet, just access to gardening websites and a dream.


Hooray, It’s Columbus Day

I’m pretty sure today is Columbus Day, but don’t quote me on that because I’m still not completely sure about the exact date of Christmas. New Year’s Day is pretty easy to figure out and so is Halloween, but all the other holidays are a mystery to me. I’d like to blame my lack of holiday awareness on working for myself, but to tell you the truth, I’ve never been sure about which holidays happen when. Heck, I have a hard enough time keeping track of the days of the week.

Columbus Day is kind of a non-holiday holiday anyway. It’s like President’s Day, but worse. Even before we used to have atrocities at dinner I was aware that we really had no business celebrating this holiday. But, how do people celebrate anyway? I don’t think many people even get off from work anymore. There might be a parade for it somewhere and children might learn a bunch of heroic half truths about Columbus in school. I’m sure somewhere someone is using it as an excuse to have a barbecue.

No one on my block seems to be celebrating. I just went out front and looked down the street to check. There are no extra flags out and no dance parties in front yards. Someone the next block down is mowing their lawn which might be how he celebrates Columbus Day, but I kind of doubt it.

Since it seems that people are unsure as to how to celebrate this holiday, I’ve come up with some suggestions.


1. Claim some territory. Is there a house in your neighborhood that you think is a bit better than where you currently reside? I think it’s about time for you to discover it. Move right in. Never mind the people already living there. They’re just savages who don’t know what to do with a nice house like that anyway. Do they have a nice car and some cute kids? You can go ahead and discover those too. Take it all. You deserve it.

2. Enslave somebody. Now that’s how you celebrate. Anyone off the street will do.

3. Maim some people. Some people just won’t agree to enslavement. I just don’t understand why. If you encounter resistance try maiming and killing a few people as an example for the others.

4. Steal some gold. I don’t know how easy that will be these days. You might have to settle for some useless American paper money. Robbing a bank will probably do. I find that robbery is easiest if you get your slaves to do it for you.

5. Spread disease. Do you ever find that there are just way too many people to conquer? No problem. Kill them off with a disease that they have no way to defend themselves against. That’s way easier then actually fighting them.

Those are my five. If you think of any other ways to celebrate, let me know in the comments.