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If you’re looking for Susan Heyboer O’Keefe, and you’re the INS, IRS, CIA, ASWA  (the Australian ASWA, not the Anglican, which is a totally different organization with the same acronym), NATO, QQHBIA (I’ll say only that I’m no longer welcome in certain parts of Canada), or WHO—then she’s not here and never was.

If you are not a member of one of these organizations, you can find her at www.littleblackdogs.wordpress.com, blogging about writing and writer’s block and chipping her way through it.


Valentine Gifts

Here are some special Valentine’s Day gifts for my husband—

* I won’t cook anything that has “surprise” in its name…. Well, actually, I wasn’t cooking today anyway…. Okay! Don’t poke! [Insert long sigh.] It’s been so long since I’ve turned on the stove that not cooking anything with “surprise” in its name is a non-gift. But wait! Given what my cooking tastes like, not cooking really is a gift. Ha! So that really is my first gift.

(Uh oh. Is sophistry a sin? I hope not. I just went to confession. I don’t want to have to go back so fast that the kneeler is still warm.)

* I won’t ask my husband, “Do these make me look fat?” If I force him to lie, then he’ll have to go to confession, which, I guess, means that I’ll have to go, too, for making him have to go.

(This situation undoubtedly has a long theological name, derived from the Greek for “between a rock and a hard place.” While I don’t know that word, I do know it’s not eschatology, which is for situations involving the mortgage or the last of the Häagen Dazs.)

* I won’t ask my husband to rub my back. He’ll undoubtedly answer, “But it’s Valentine’s Day for me, too.” And then I’ll get upset. And then he’ll get upset. And then upset may escalate into something else that I’ll have to go to confession for.

(Thus, not asking for a back rub is “avoiding the near occasion of sin,” which is what one promises in the prayer called the Act of Contrition… Which one says during confession…. But which one is not going to need to go to, at least until the day after Valentine’s.)

Seriously, a real confession that will surprise no one: I love my husband, sweetly, deeply, truly.

Failed Test—Or Did I?

When last we met, Dear Reader, I talked about quantity over quality, with quantity (so the experts say) being preferred for blogs. My headline for that post was “Testing, testing…”

I failed the test. The problem with quantity is that there has to be a lot of it.

But in truth, Dear Reader, the headline had a second meaning known only to me: I was seeing if I could post from my Droid. If I could, it meant I’d never have to leave my special comfy chair ever again. My special comfy chair is positioned with a reading light to the right of me, my beading supplies to the left of me, and an ottoman before me. The TV is at an eye-squinting distance, but I have finally learned to accept that I live in an imperfect world.

Just as, if not more important, my special comfy chair is set in a corner that has a view of both hallways and the street outside. It also has a view of the window overlooking the back of the house. While I can see the deck door, I cannot see the deck itself, but the parrots can. They’re terrified of strangers and thus are a vigorously—nay, even frantically—loud rear guard. Finally, the fireplace is next to me so even the slightest noise from the chimney is audible.

I might be vulnerable to attack, but at least I’ll know when to start praying.

I passed the second test! I am able to post from the Droid!

Fetch me my slippers, my pipe, and my Häagen Dazs! I don’t ever have to leave my special comfy chair again!


Testing . . . Testing . . .

I read somewhere that it’s important to post frequently when you blog. A case of quantity, not quality.

Hmm . . .

Quantity. Good for money. Quality isn’t important there, I’ll agree. I will spend dirty, wrinkled money, even with suspicious stains, just as happily as I’ll spendQualit crisp, brand-new bills.

Send me some, and I’ll prove it.

I’m Afraid of Clowns—Because I’m Smart!

I don’t like clowns. They’re scary, they’re mean, and they have evil secret agendas. My family teases me about it, but I consider myself a prophet. Someday I may have to wear camel skins and eat locusts to prove my seriousness. If I can find camel skins with hip-slimming vertical stripes, I will do it gladly.

Once I began to publicly admit my clown-uneasiness, I started to come across other people who gasped, “YES!” They were relieved to have found someone who actually understood them—and who was willing to brave the scorn of society to admit it. When you know there’s a kindred soul waiting for you, it’s easier to come out of the clown closet, so to speak.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Fear of clowns is not silly and it’s not childish. It’s common sense. If you doubt me, I advise you to watch a powerful documentary on the subject, written, directed, and produced by the Chiodo Brothers: Killer Klowns from Outer Space. You will never look at a red nose the same way again.

I was triumphantly vindicated by an article from Reuters, written by Michael Holden. The University of Sheffield in England was studying ways to make children’s hospital wards more cheerful. What’s an obviously cheery figure? A clown, of course. Then the University conducted a poll of 250 patients, ages four to sixteen. 100 percent of them disliked clowns. This included the teenagers!

250 people. 100 percent.

When was the last time you got four people to agree on a pizza topping?

One of my favorite tee-shirts is black with jagged white writing on it that repeats over and over:

Can’t sleep … Clowns will eat me.
Can’t sleep … Clowns will eat me.
Can’t sleep … Clowns will eat me.

If you understand that shirt, you’re one of us.


I had the most fabulous blog post planned for today—filled with charm, pathos, insight, and humor—nay, not humor. I’ll be so bold as to say downright merriment.

Instead, I’m going to whine.

We’re still digging out from a blizzard. And I mean a blizzard technically. Not the kind of exaggeration we all indulge in, like, “Wow! It’s a blizzard out there!” I mean an official Weather Channel blizzard, which means a snow storm plus winds over 35 mph, plus greatly reduced visibility, even a whiteout, and plus those winds over 35 mph have to last more than three hours.

I got about two feet of snow during the blizzard, except for the drifts, which were deeper. For some reason, snow drifts are always deeper. Where does all that extra snow come from?

Somewhere some lucky person (never me) wakes up, looks out his window, and says, “Wow! Look, hon! Because of all that wind, which was in excess of 35 mph, we have anti-drifts. Our driveway is so clean I can see all the tiny cracks that mean a $1,000 resealing job.”

Then this lucky person starts to blush, ashamed that Harry Mudbutt across the street will see the cracks in the driveway and think poorly of him. There’s Harry, now. Maybe. All that’s visible is a snow hat, complete with ear flaps, and in a fashionable SOS, neon-orange color. The hate is slowly moving on top of the snow drifts toward the garage where the snow blower is. One can only assume that beneath the hat staggers Harry.

I know I’ve been subtle so far, but I don’t want to burden you with so many metaphors that you’ll need Cliff Notes to get the theme. So here it is, clearly:

I hate snow.

A few days after the blizzard we got another six inches. And now more is coming tonight. Another foot of it, or more, depending on the locale. I take this to mean right over my house.

Resolutions for 2011

Now that I’ve depressed myself thoroughly with yesterday’s post about my many, many regrets for the old year, I will depress myself to the point of no return by resolving to do better in 2011 in all these important ways:

Resolutions for 2011

1. I will eat less and exercise more. Although perhaps I should finish the Häagen Dazs in the freezer first. It’s a sin to waste food.

2. I will go to confession more often… (Gluttony… Häagen Dazs… Burp… Ah…)

3. I will not let fear rule my life. Especially fear of confession.

4. I will spend less time playing video games. Yeah, right.

5. I will figure out what I want to do when I grow up and then do it. Is there a certificate program for fishmonger?

6. I will no longer confuse yes with no. And that means both what I say and what I think other people are saying.

7. I will love more, pray more, read more, write more… Ha! You’re waiting for a punch line, aren’t you? Don’t hold your breath.

8. I will get that chip out of my head… What chip?

And your New Year’s Resolution for 2011, Dear Reader? That’s easy. You’re going to buy Frankenstein’s Monster. Today. Now shoo…shoo!

And have an amazing 2011!

* * * * *

Regrets of 2010

For all of us, the end of 2010 is a time for recollection of the past year’s events before we are dragged kicking and screaming into the New Year. Here are a few of my own thoughts about the old year.

Regrets of 2010

1. Believing horizontal stripes are slimming… Oh… Vertical? Are you sure? … Oh… That explains a lot.

2. Choosing the Pope’s Facebook profile pic. I was only joking. I never thought he’d take me seriously.

3. Being too high-minded to use deceit and extortion to get people to buy Frankenstein’s Monster. Although it’s never too late.

4. Thinking the parrot would not poop on my pants. The big parrot. With the big poops. On my black sweater.

5. Calling fear prudence when it’s just plain fear. But not when drinking from public water fountains, doing your own taxes, and eating vindaloo are concerned.

6. Not being grateful for what I have. Even though, like, seriously, you and I both know it isn’t enough.

7. Turning right instead of left on I 23. You had to be there.

8. Thinking I could escape the Swiss Guard. For guys in pantaloons, they run pretty fast.

9. Not keeping last year’s resolutions to eat right, lose weight, exercise more, cure the common cold, end unemployment, win the gold medal in pole vaulting, solve the energy crisis, reverse the greenhouse effect, save the honeybee, establish peace on earth, conquer alien worlds, and then establish peace there too.

10. Failing to get that chip out of my head… What chip?

A 101 people are going to ask you what your New Year’s Resolutions are. Which is why I’m asking: What are some of your regrets for 2010?

But be discreet. Remember, this is the Web. Your Aunt Agatha, Santa Claus, and prospective employers will see your answers.

Tomorrow: Resolutions for 2011

* * * * *

Creepy Crawlies and Me

I like bugs. There is something charmingly alien about them. Not passport alien, of course. Alien alien.

I have more respect for bugs than my husband or my son. I also have more respect than they do for frozen dinners six times a week—but that’s probably another post. However, my respect means that I am the “designated driver” as far as handling all things creepy or crawly. 

My policy is to adhere to the guidelines set down in the 1923 Kill versus Catch and Release Hoboken Accord:  

Paragraph 42. Clause 377k. Kill criteria:

  • Does the bug in question have the capability of doing bodily harm?
  • Is there current, or a future likelihood of, aggression?
  • Is it engaged in nighttime maneuvers on the bedroom ceiling?
  • Did it get a high score on the ick assessment test?
  • Is it likely to multiply, despite individual claims of celibacy?

 Paragraph 42. Clause 377n. Catch and release criteria:

  • Is the bug in question teeny weeny and not a black widow spider?
  • Is it believed to be in danger of extinction?
  • Is it woefully misunderstood by other species?
  • Is it cute, colorful, or even dashing in a rakish kind of way?
  • Is it named Fred?

photo © by Matt Rupp

How will you know if a bug is named Fred?

That’s just one of those great ontological mysteries you’ll have to experience for yourself.

Armageddon is a-comin’

My alarm clock sounds like Armageddon.

My husband’s alarm clock sounds like Armageddon.

His Armageddon comes earlier than mine, so when the disaster alert sounded this morning—


I poked—


then elbowed—


then finally smacked the lump next to me. It was his pillow. He had gotten up before the alarm and had forgotten to turn it off.

Rolling over, I got halfway tangled in the sheets, so it was a frustrating struggle to reach his clock. It wouldn’t turn off. Desperate and confused, I started to punch every single button and—

WAH-wah!!  WAH-wah!!  WAH-wah!!  WAH-wah!! 

Armageddon in stereo. God was serious.

I always thought there’d be time to pack a bag. I always thought there’d be time to go to confession. It had been almost four weeks, and you won’t believe what wickedness I can squeeze into twenty-eight days.

WAH-wah!!  WAH-wah!!  WAH-wah!!

Worst, the last time my husband asked when I was going to clean the house, I told him I’d do it sometime before the end of the world. I did not want scrubbing the bowl to be the last thing I ever did.

WAH-wah!!  WAH-wah!!  WAH-wah!!

At least one good thing about Armageddon in stereo is that it really wakes you up. I finally realized that the disaster alert had been my clock, and not my husband’s. And in mistakenly trying to turn his off, I only ended up turning it on.

Still half-tangled in the sheets, I rolled back toward my clock, which only resulted in my getting  fully tangled. I couldn’t move. I was tied down, like in the strait-jacket I know I’m going to need some day.

WAH-wah!!  WAH-wah!!  WAH-wah!!

At least I didn’t have to clean house.