Archive | September 2012

Thorns, Warts and All

I know there are at least a few men who are following my blog, and I truly appreciate your interest and your support.   I realize there are going to be topics I cover that hold little interest to you, or that just make no sense to you, or – potentially – could offend you in some way.  If that is the case, I apologize as that is not at all my intention.  Since this is a blog that is dedicated to telling the truth about, and celebrating, what it is like to be Real Women in our very Real world, you men are of course a large part of it…. therefore there are times when you may very well be one of the subjects to be discussed.   Please look at these subject explorations not as criticisms.  Rather, think of it more as an education for you in how you are representing yourself to over half the population.

All that said…. I have two topics today regarding the men in our lives.

First:  Men and PMS.  I’m not talking about OUR pms, I’m talking about how they apparently suffer from it themselves.  I’m not sure why this happens, nor why it seems to happen in time with our own cycles.  I know when women live together, or near each other, our cycles can run in sync.  Is it possible that men’s hormones could be affected by ours as well?   All I know is that quite often, if not monthly, but at least quarterly, the men in our lives will exhibit the same ugly characteristics we are famous for during our “time of the month.”   They are irritable, short-tempered, have low levels of patience, low energy, and complain of aches and pains.  Even more surprising, is that these creatures who are normally after us constantly for physical attention may suddenly “turn off” with no interest and roll over in grumpy-tired mode to go to sleep.  Truly – they exhibit the exact same traits that we get in trouble for.

I have no big gripe about occasional mood swings and bad days. We all have them. But when men’s pms kicks in, it is invariably when we are already coping with our own – and yet we still have to help them through their issues because what coping skills they may have had, have now flown out the window.  We carry on through our cramps, headaches, back aches, faulty memory issues and low energy.  Men on the other hand seem to shut down, and assume the rest of the world will be fine with that.   I don’t think I’ve shut down in at least 40 years.  Perhaps I’m just jealous.

Second:  BFF – Bodily Function Fascination.  Bodily functions, especially noisy ones, are a source of wonderment, pride and immense humor to males of all ages.  If I remember back far enough to my dating years, guys do seem capable of holding back on unpleasant noises and activities such as belching and passing gas in order to impress a woman about how much of a gentleman they can be .  But once they reach that comfort level – either from long-term courtship or marriage, they let it fly  — and with great glee.

I just don’t get it.  Why are BF’s fun to them and not disgusting?  Why does it happen so frequently and with such gusto?  Why is it not embarrassing to them?  We women will do whatever we can to avoid emitting certain unbecoming issues in front of others.  But not so with men.  This all starts at a young age.  Boys find certain BF’s completely hysterical and will have competitions,  comparisons and discussions with friends about them.  It can even serve as bonding moments between fathers and sons.

It does no good as Real Women to complain, attempt to change their diets, or threaten to hold back favors.  It won’t change the fact that apparently within the very core of their beings lays BFF.  Our only choice is to turn a blind eye, ear and nose to this, and focus instead on commisserating with OUR version of BFF’s.

For without our girlfriends and the other Real Women in our lives, we would never have the patience to accept these characteristics in our men and continue to believe our fairy tales that somewhere under those froggy exteriors are a few Princes.


Are We Settling for Two Stars?

It seems that never before have there been so many options available to us to go out to eat.  Food prepared and served to us is available virtually at any hour of the day or night.  We can eat in, take out, or have it brought to our homes.

And as a Real Woman, I look forward to those special days or nights when I can venture out for a meal that I have not had to plan, cook, serve, and clean up after.  It really is a treat.

Or is it?

For as quickly as our options have been on the increase, it seems at the same time the quality and service experience is decreasing.   Sure, there are some restaurants out there that still deserve a 5-star rating.  But they seem to be few and far between, and that great experience seems to come with a much higher price tag.  Why is that?  Shouldn’t we have an excellent experience wherever we choose to go?

Here are just a few recent personal examples:

  • During a weekend away, my family and I went exploring to find a place for breakfast.  We decided to go solely by food choice listings on our car’s GPS, which I realize was a gamble.  We found a place that looked like it had been in business for at least 4 decades.  Sadly, the interior looked like it had not been cleaned or updated in all that time.  The carpet was so filthy I tried not to look at it. We would have changed our minds, but we were hungry – and often the “best” food can be found at “those little holes-in-the-wall.”  I didn’t want to think about the condition of the kitchen. It took so long to get our food, we almost told them to cancel the order so we could get on with our day.  And after the long wait, and no apology, the food was mediocre at best.  We left wondering why they were still in business.
  • There is a sandwich shop (part of a national chain) near my work.  Without fail, anytime I have gone there, one of the food preparers has been sitting on the bench directly next to the front door, smoking.   I am an avid non-smoker, so inhaling this as I’m walking in to order my food is repugnant to me.  Invariably, as I walk in, the smoker puts out their cigarette, follows me in, thankfully washes their hands, and begrudgingly gets behind the counter to take my order while talking to one of the other workers.   Somehow that diminishes my appetite.
  • Over the weekend, my son and I had a “date” night for dinner, and he chose a place that is a fairly typical family-friendly chain.  Shockingly, we were seated quickly, having apparently arrived in between the usual rushes and long wait times.  However, the place was incredibly noisy.  We placed our simple orders with the perky waitress.  Eventually, a different member of the wait staff brought us our food – which is something else I’ve noticed, that often there are frequently up to 3 different people who visit a table during a meal…and since the person delivering the food is not the person who took the order, they must guess or ask who’s meal is who’s.  The food was basic and ok, not stellar. My burger bun looked like someone had sat on it.  But more challenging was the fact we had not received any utensils or napkins.  Yet ANOTHER wait staffer stopped by with a plate of food looking for a home.  I said “no, not ours, but I’d be thrilled if you could bring us utensils and napkins.”  A couple minutes later, she brings us forks, saying “the knives will be coming.”  Then followed a few napkins.  Then followed the knives.  Later, the nice family next to us asked if we could spare a couple of napkins, as they had not received any either. I told them utensils and napkins were apparently by request only.

These recent experiences got me to wondering if we are just growing accustomed to inferior service and food quality?  If my husband is with us, he has no qualms about airing his disenchantment.  But even then, when we walk out, I doubt any changes will be made based on our complaints.

If the experience is bad enough, we will avoid going back there, and will most likely tell our friends. And yet I don’t see the trend truly changing for the better.  So we keep going out and about, bravely entering restaurants, our expectations at base level, hoping for at least two stars.

One of my favorite shows is “Restaurant Impossible”, where Chef Robert Irvine goes to failing restaurants in an attempt to save them.  He launches a crusade against disgusting kitchens, bad food and poor cooks or wait staff.   So very often I find myself sitting in a restaurant thinking “what would Robert say or do to this place?”  But sadly, there aren’t enough Roberts to go around to fix them all.  And apparently we Real Women and Real Families are so happy to get a break from our own kitchens that we’ll put up with mediocrity.

So let me ask you: When was the last time you had a truly wonderful dining out experience?   And when was the last time you had a poor to mediocre dining out experience?

I’m guessing you could answer the second question much more quickly than the first. Perhaps it is time to launch a crusade: RWACDE  (“Real Women Against Cr-ppy Dining Experiences”)…..   But first I have to go make dinner – where I can be assured of the outcome.



When the Clouds Blow In

It has been an odd week.  Not so much for me personally, I had a pretty good week.  No major stress issues or problems, I feel good, the weather has been beautiful, I even had a couple high points to my days.  But not so for several of the people in my life.

Stress has been swirling in the air for some reason, especially around many of my BFF’s and other friends and family.  One wasn’t feeling well but was still putting in extra hours at work to prepare for a big event. One was running herself ragged juggling far too much while getting her affairs in order before flying out of the country on a trip.  One was having personal issues at home. One had a falling out with a family member and had received bad news about a friend with health issues.  One lost a job while another was having sleepless nights due to the anxiety of a potential job change. It seemed everyone I connected with was having a just plain yucky week.

I’m not sure why these things seem to come in bulk quantity.  Sure, there is that saying that misery loves company, and there is some comfort in commiserating with someone else about the downfalls of a day.  But could there be some sort of cosmic connection, or phase of the moon, that creates a figurative Charlie Brown-esque black cloud over several people at once?

Perhaps it has more to do with the seasonal change.  Maybe our resilience and optimism is tempered due to the days growing shorter.  We know that these glorious sunny warm days are numbered, and the long winter is ahead.  Rumors abound lately about how this will be a “bad winter.”  I have heard more theories & predictions than usual about this…. folks are talking about the colors on wooly caterpillars, measuring the bushiness of squirrels tails, counting the number of berries on berry bushes — all supposed signs of what is in store for us in the coming months.  Is it no wonder that daily stresses and strains that we perhaps would normally be able to shake off are instead weighing us down more?

One thing is clear to me. That in order to regain a balance, those having a crummy week need to have some support from those that aren’t.  If it is my turn right now to be the one who can share a funny email, deliver a needed treat, make a call to say I care, or just be a sounding board or a dry shoulder to cry on, then I’m happy to do it.  Because I am very sure that at some point in the near future, I will be the one having the yucky week, and I’ll need the same thing in return from others.  This is real life.  As much as we hate to admit it, none of us are invincible, and we all need each other to lean on from time to time.

I like to call it the Real Women Cosmic Balance.

It works.


Variety, the Spice of Life

We Americans are funny about food.  We love it.  We plan social events around it. We tend to plan our daily schedule around it.  And we love having choices. The more options, varieties and flavors the better.  Lucky for us, in today’s world of mixed cultures, creativity and readily available ingredients, food is no longer just a boring form of sustenance.  Now we can choose between grandma’s recipe for basic comfort food or something a bit more unusual and exciting.  Thanks to restaurants on virtually every corner, we could eat a different meal every night for weeks without repeating one serving.

Granted, having this love affair means that dieting has become a national pastime.  According to and the BostonMedicalCenter, it is estimated that approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend billions of dollars on weight-loss products.  That’s a whole lot of people and a whole lot of time and money spent.

As Real Women, we hope to land somewhere in between these extremes of diet and food excess.  We strive to teach our kids healthy eating habits.  We try to make decent choices for ourselves and our families.  We try to keep things interesting, both to cook and to eat.  When we gather friends and family together, food is always involved – often as the center piece.  Food is social.  Food is comforting.  Food is fun.

Those of us who enjoy cooking and baking are always looking for new menus and recipes and are fascinated by the myriad of cooking shows, publications, cookware stores and “celebrity chefs” that are available with tips and recommendations.  I admit I fall into this category – my “fall back” tv channel when nothing else interesting is airing is the Food Network.  I subscribe to a least 3 different food/recipe magazines.  I am constantly trying new recipes.  And for all of us bloggers, there seems to be a never-ending, glorious selection of food-related blogs to browse.

I believe it is due to this fascination we all have that has led to what I’d call extreme-fooding – battles for the next outrageous food creation or combination.  On cooking/celebrity chef shows, there are contests to come up with the next most amazing plate made from some pretty bizarre ingredients.   Restaurants are quick to present the newest fad, or category of food for their brave customers to try.  At grocery stores, special events and fairs we can enjoy samples of the newest food products.

Speaking of Fairs – these seem to be the home of the most unusual, even ridiculous, food combinations possible.   This week my son and I will be visiting The Big E – which is New England’s version of a State Fair.  And along with all of the other remarkable attractions and things to see and do, we will experience the astonishment and wonder of bizarre foods.   Some of the options include deep-fried lasagna, fried butter, chocolate-covered bacon, and the Fair’s signature piece, a cream puff the size of a child’s head.  In the past year or two, the Fair announced the creation of The Big E Craz-E Burger – that’s it in the picture above.  And yes, you are seeing it correctly, the burger buns have been replaced by glazed donuts.

I stare at the signs for these foods in amazement, and I will admit, a touch of nausea.  I wonder who is willing to eat some of these combinations, and whether they are concerned about having a resulting heart-attack.  But then I realize hey, it is just us crazy Americans and our fascination with food.  There could be far worse things to focus our energies on.

So carry on, foodies.  Be a little crazy,  get creative, do your taste tests and have fun.

Just don’t be offended if I draw the line at deep-fried kool aid.



A sweater or shorts?

Here in New England, we have entered Transition Season.  It isn’t summer, and it isn’t fall.  I think we should call it Sall.  Or Fummer.   We wake up to crisp cool 40-degree mornings. By afternoon it can be in the 80’s.  It really is a lovely time of year, the air is clear and refreshing, the sun is bright, and everyone is getting outside as much as possible before winter hits.

However, as a typical Real Woman, I have one issue with Transition Season.  What the heck to wear every day.  Yes, I know this is trivial and silly, but am I really the only one who stands in front of her closet in the morning shivering, trying to pick out something appropriate, knowing by afternoon I’ll be stripping off layers?

Growing up in central New York State, I don’t recall there being as much of a transition season.  One day it was summer, the next day there was frost on the ground.  As kids, we could shop for back-to-school fall clothes and actually wear them for the first week of school.  Conversely, my sister in Texas generally doesn’t have to worry much about layers at this point in the year, yet when I spoke with her the other day, they were having  a cool snap too – and were even more confused than we are about whether to wear a sweater, shorts or both.

In some parts of the country like where I reside now, it can be several weeks before the seasons really shift and the temperatures settle into a normal routine.  I think my biggest challenge is foot wear.  Yes, I know, you are shocked, that ME, the shoe-addicted, does not have at least 8 pairs of transition shoes.  So each morning I debate whether or not I put on my sandals and put up with cold feet until noon, or if I must, with much despair, break out hose or socks and heavier shoes.  Invariably this gives me the urge to – you guessed it – go shopping.  Clearly I need more peep-toe pumps, or slides.  And even if it isn’t true, I start to think I don’t have enough light “Sall” jackets that are in between summer cotton and winter wool.  And naturally, wearing white and other summer colors isn’t appropriate, and I’m not ready for dark jewel tones, so there must be something just perfect out there….oh, yes, this train of thought can be dangerous.

Speaking of shopping – the other person who unknowingly suffers through Transition Season is my son.  For the past few years, I have held off on doing any fall/winter back-to-school shopping for him until, as they say, there is “frost on the pumpkin.”  My reason is simple.  If I invest in new pants and long-sleeve shirts in August, he will have outgrown them by Thanksgiving.  So there I am, the bad mom, sending him out to wait for the bus in the morning wearing shorts, tshirt, and a sweatshirt, shivering.  And I know darn well that sweatshirt will not come home – it will remain wadded up in his locker, because he won’t be needing it by the time school is out for the day. I just might have to break down and take him shopping this week …which is an activity in itself that is probably blog-post worthy.

In the meantime, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go round up the layers of clothing I have left in various places this afternoon. I’ll probably need them again in the morning.


We go together like…..

Have you ever heard the theory that pets and their owners look alike?

Lately I have started testing this theory by paying a bit more attention to the other dog owners I come across, especially during recent walks.

First, there is the tall beautiful athletic brunette woman and her beautiful athletic husky, out for their without-fail exercise.  And there was the burly gentleman and his stocky barrell-chested rottweiler striding down the street.  Then I noticed the woman with curly hair, out for her power walk in her track suit, her well-groomed standard poodle trotting along beside her, never wavering from the path or even stopping to pee.  And I started to think about how the owners and pets not only resembled each other, but seemed to act a bit alike.

Then I looked down at my slightly goofy, happy, friendly yellow lab companion.  Besides those initial traits, I realized that we are both casual and kind of sporty, and both have dirty blonde hair.  Our walks are not precise or swift. They are more like strolls on a whim.  We go where the mood strikes, wandering back and forth across the street, sometimes walking, sometimes jogging, sometimes heading off into the field.  We are both easily distracted by shiny things – or in his case, furry things like squirrels and bunnies.  And I started to laugh – at that moment, we seemed to be two peas in a pod.  (He of course looked up at me with a “now what?” expression.)

I began to wonder how this happens.  Do we naturally but unknowingly choose pets that are the most similar to ourselves?  Could there be some sort of cosmic connection when a stray pet chooses us?  Or is it like with married partners, we over time become more alike?

A psychologist by the name of Dr. Lance Workman did studies of British pet owners several years ago, and determined that for a large part, people really do look like their dogs – because we are drawn to pets with similar physical attributes.  He more recently did a follow up study regarding whether or not pets and owners actually acted alike.

In his presentation of his findings, he indicated that “It could be that when you look for a dog, on some level that is largely subconscious, you look for something that is a bit like you. It is a bit like looking for a romantic partner; if they fit in, they will probably last.”  Interestingly, his study showed that contrary to popular assumption that toy dog owners are airheads, they actually came out on top with openness, creativity and intelligence.  He sited that Isaac Newton had a Pomeranian – because it was easy to handle and left his mind free for other things.

Those of you reading this who are NOT pet owners will no doubt think I’ve gone crazy.  But those of you who ARE pet owners are now looking in the mirror, then at your pet, wondering if you too make a matched set.  By the way, you cat owners out there are not excluded in this.  Cats are 90% personality – how closely does that personality match your own?

Sure, we silly pet owners tend to project human expressions and feelings upon our animals.  We certainly spoil them and treat them like members of the family.   When it comes down to it as a matter of fact, we treat them like we imagine we’d like to be treated if we were them….. huh.  Go figure.


In the group of photos below, one is a well-known celebrity, one is me…and the rest are unknown brave souls who have shared their images on the internet.  If any of you, dear readers, would be willing to send me a photo of you and your furry companion, I’d be thrilled to share it in a future post. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.