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Complete Basket Case

Dear Harry & David

I’m sure you are both delightful, and honorable gentleman. I am quite sure that when you conceived the “Harry & David Holiday Gift Basket” that you truly believed it would bring joy to thousands and would fill a much needed gap in the market for a seasonal offering replete with fruits, cheeses and snacks of unrivaled quality. 

As I write this blog I’m sure you are sitting on a picturesque porch in Vermont or Virginia or Tennessee sipping wine and toasting each other on the success of your vision and imagining your beautiful boxes of pears winging their way across all fifty states and making Christmas special for their recipients. 

Sadly it falls upon me to tell you that this is NOT the case. Your entire operation is so INCREDIBLY dysfunctional that anyone who places an order with you is guaranteed to become a victim of GIFT BASKET RAGE. Yes - thanks to your completely inadequate on-line ordering system and your extremely POOR decision to internationally outsource your Customer Service center ALL of the Baskets my company chose to send as Corporate Gifts this year will be rotting away on the empty desks of Clients who have already departed for the Christmas break!

Let’s start with the fact that none of the discount coupons you offer on your OWN web site or in promotional e-mails actually work. One has to place an order and then engage in frustratingly slow dialogue/on line chat with someone who then must manually apply the discount which probably means you are hoping that it will all be too much trouble and customers will simply give up and pay the full price. Next is the scam of paying for expedited shipping. A whole slew of options ranging from an extra $9.99 to $24.99 in order to have my gifts arrive on the preferred date. I was only too happy to pay these charges to ensure my Clients received these gifts well in advance of the holidays. Mission finally completed on the ordering process BUT alarm bells start ringing when no order confirmation e-mail is received! One hour passes, six hours pass a WHOLE 2 days pass and STILL no confirmation e-mail! More frustrating on-line chats and phone calls to Customer Service based in Goodness-Knows-Where.

By now I have been consumed by GIFT BASKET RAGE. I have turned into the type of person I DESPISE - the one who screams down the phone at some poor, innocent, underpaid soul who has absolutely no control over how and why your organization is such a complete mess. This 'poor soul' has zero ability to resolve my problems and all attempts to engage a Supervisor are fruitless (no pun intended.)

As a last resort and in a desperate effort to placate me he offers the ONE thing he is authorized to give - a fabulous supersized tin of Holiday Special Moose Munch. 

SERIOUSLY???? - I would have LOVED to be part of that staff training program - a whole bunch of eager-to- please tele-sales newbies sent into battle to face an army of enraged dissatisfied customers equipped only with a basic script and a few tins of free Moose Munch to dispense in cases of DIRE emergency.

Finally the confirmation e-mail arrives confirming my worst fears; the baskets will arrive by COB on December 24th. I use the word “arrive” in the full knowledge that there will in fact be no arrival at the designated destinations because they are places of work and no-one will be there! 

I can only hope that the Fedex crews have the sense to take these baskets home and share them with their families because the last thing my Business relationships need is a basket of stinky cheeses and rotting fruits arriving with fanfare on January 2nd.


Disgruntled Dishy

Wellington, FL.


The Millennium Bug

Everything you have EVER been told is a big FAT lie! You’ve been raised to believe a whole set of falsehoods that are going to come back to bite you in the ass just when you least expect it.

I’m sorry to be the one to burst the bubble but having just survived the most traumatic family Thanksgiving of my life I feel obligated to share my new found wisdom and offer some essential advice for surviving the holiday season with Millennial children. Little did we know that the Y2K Bug was not destined to create havoc in our computer systems but in the very fabric of our society twenty years later.

I know you thought that once your kids had left home, moved to other states, set up fully functioning lives with their own houses and bills and partners, that your job as a parent was basically DONE. I know you thought that you could then look forward to a series of perfectly scripted family reunions with your offspring returning to base happy and fulfilled to break bread and share episodes of their smoothly running existences but that is NOT how it works anymore.

If you are the parent of a Millennial PLEASE heed my words - your Y2K babies are the most CONFUSED generation to date and things are about to get a whole lot worse!  What you have hitherto failed to recognize is that the world has CHANGED. History is being re-written by a bunch of lunatics who have been given free rein and a MASSIVE unlimited platform on which to create complete havoc by spewing out a lot of untested and unproven theories and marketing them as FACTS. We now live in a society where it’s perfectly acceptable to make/fake news and to use social media as a means of influence to an UNLIMITED audience.

Those lively family discussions with exchanges of opinions & observations that you used to enjoy so much are about to degenerate into really ugly arguments as you struggle to prove that the Earth is NOT flat, using only your basic knowledge of THOUSANDS of years of scientific research, mathematical equations, and a rudimentary understanding of physics. I can assure you that you are in NO WAY equipped to argue with a generation that has access to the world wide web and can pull up overwhelming evidence with their phone-tapping fingertips to support any conspiracy theories they decide to believe.

I’ve decide to deal with this disruptive threat to my sanity in the good old fashioned way - by being the PARENT and laying down some unbreakable ground rules which must be adhered to if you still want to sit at my table, eat my turkey and pavlova and use my car to visit your friends:

1. Come home clean - no weed smoking within one month of visiting us and preferably EVER again in your life.

2. Find a good therapist and have at least two sessions of unloading your crap on him/her so that you can refrain from unleashing your darkest fears and anxieties on a mother who is mentally and physically exhausted and only wants a hug and reassurance that her roast potatoes  are still the BEST.

3.No discussion WHATSOEVER on the shape of the planet will be tolerated. In this house we are dialing it back to safe topics such as whose turn it is to do the dishes and what movie we are going to watch.

4.Have a haircut, buy a new shirt and show up cool, calm and collected not looking like you’ve just escaped a war zone and are in fear for your life even if that is how you feel.

5.Boundaries (Related to # 4.) LIE - Honesty is overrated especially with parents. You are not 12 anymore, your parents are old and frail, they need to be sheltered from the dark and stormy waters of your Psyche - that’s why you have a soul mate - so you can be your true self 99% of the time and save your best behavior for family reunions. 

It’s four weeks till our next family Christmas and my heart is full of seasonal joy. Having established my new ‘House Rules’ I feel quietly confident that the Millennium Bug has been successfully squashed (if not exterminated) on my beautiful, ROUND perfect, spinning planet. 


Y2K bug, also called Year 2000 bug or Millennium Bug, a problem in the coding of computerized systems that was projected to create havoc in computers and computer networks around the world at the beginning of the year 2000 (in metric measurements K stands for thousand.)

A special thank you to PAPA MAC - for reminding me that the best way to overcome trauma is to laugh and then blog about it.


Designer Dating

The RFP process is exactly like dating.
You have to dress up, put on make up, be (economically) truthful about your past, expound all your achievements, be funny, be engaging, be smart and witty and DESIRABLE. 
You can't be too cheap or too expensive. 
If you are lucky you get it just right and get a second date. 
After that you are either loved or rejected. 
Rejection is tough - you go through all the agony of analyzing where you went wrong. You convince yourself that you are just not good enough and that someone else was prettier, smarter, more talented etc. etc.
The truth is that you simply were not the right match. 
Just as every person you date will not be your future spouse, every Client you chase may not be the one for you either.
Sometimes after you've given your ALL, the phone doesn't even ring and you have NO clue why it didn't work out. Other times you are told in EXCRUCIATING detail that you did everything perfectly, they loved your work they loved the fee they loved everything about you, it's really not your fault that the future belongs to another.
Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time you look back with gratitude at these failed attempts - you see the bigger picture (difficult Client, unrealistic budget, IMPOSSIBLE schedule) and realize that you are so HAPPY that it wasn't meant to be and usually by that time you are 'going steady' with something much better, more suitable and more inspiring.
An experienced Project Manager recently told me that the best projects are the ones you DON'T get. I understand that sentiment but I think the best projects are the ones that you are destined to have. The ones that land in your lap even though your bid wasn't the lowest, you didn't try too hard and you were having an off day when they called.

But yet somehow when they met you the chemistry was there and they just knew that YOU were the One.



Songs from the West Coast

A couple of months ago, on a two hour drive to a wedding, Rockstar and Genius announced that the best thing that Mufasa and I EVER did for them was introduce them to Elton John’s Songs from the West Coast. They were both completely ADAMANT and united in this sentiment.

What a REVELATION! Let the record show that all the huge personal sacrifices we made to feed, clothe and educate them pale into insignificance beside this one life-changing decision! 

Apparently it took place on a similar family road trip for a weekend break in Naples back in the day when they were just Middle School fledglings. According to both boys their lives were irrevocably changed by the CD (on auto repeat) which captivated them all the way across Alligator Alley. I was finding this declaration hard to fathom until Genius searched for the album on Apple Music and insisted we play it again for old times sake. Skeptical at first, I had clearly forgotten the brilliance of the songs. By the time we got to the end of Dark Diamond I was completely convinced. 

Is there anything better than a family in a car all singing along to great music? Classic sounds that have the power to make everyone feel good and will forever-after call to mind that particular time and place?

Rockstar & Genius are so vehement in their belief that the music we chose to play on our family outings influenced their development and made them the young men they now are, that I’m left wondering how differently they might have turned out if we had spent these journeys in silence or played the greatest hits of Whitesnake or Dolly Parton? It’s actually pretty scary to consider the consequences of exposing them to the wrong stuff at such a critical point of their development - perhaps they would have become selfish, heartless hooligans, meth addicts, hardened criminals, any number of horrendous possibilities.

Little did we know that we didn’t NEED to expend so much time and energy nagging them to help around the house, make their beds, do their homework, and eat their greens, Elton had it all covered. 

Of course we also sang our hearts out to Westlife, Abba, Michael Jackson, Lighthouse Family and many more. Now whenever the boys are home these sounds find their way back into our gatherings & celebrations reminding us of all our specific family history and evoking memories that are bittersweet. 

I had just about come to terms with the fact that our parenting skills were nothing more than a series of well chosen classic songs, when I was forced to confront another reality. We were visiting Rockstar in LA and during a fabulous dinner and a lot of reminiscing over his childhood memories, he announced that the BEST thing that Mufasa and I ever did for them was to move them to different schools in different countries every two years!!! What a REVELATION!!!  All this time We’ve felt so guilty for plucking them from their settled happy lives, and the friends they loved so that we could pursue our careers and now it turns out that they feel it made them better, stronger and equipped to deal with anything that life throws at them!

“So what about Songs from the West Coast?” I said

“ Oh yes I’d forgotten about that” Rockstar replied. 

Seriously???? I’m so confused - but perhaps I’m overthinking this whole where-did-we-go right scenario. The boys are grown, they are fine young men, probably more by luck than by design, and somewhere along the way perhaps they WERE singing along to Elton;


“Look Ma no hands

Look Ma ain't life grand

I'm a super power, I'm a handy man

Didn't I turn out, didn't I turn out to be

Everything you wanted Ma

Ain't you proud of me”

In their minds I suspect that there are a whole number of ‘BEST things we ever did’ and that’s absolutely fine.


Going Dark

Okay so here is the deal.

Every year Mufasa ‘technically’ gives up something for Lent. I say technically because as far as I can remember he has not ever succeeded in TOTAL abstinence of the chosen vice. The vices have ranged from sugar to alcohol to sex. I think the sex year was the easiest for him as right after he announced it I was only too delighted to help him resist temptation.

This year is going to be both the most challenging and conversely the easiest as I have decided to join him in the commitment to Lenten sacrifice. I am actually really excited about this and can’t wait for Lent to start because we have decided to give up TV.  I am convinced that this is going to be not only a spiritual experience but also a healthy re-setting of our social lives, our marriage, and our state of mind(s).

I’m embarrassed to admit that over the last year or so I’ve become a bit of a TV Series binge watching couch potato. Yes ME the person that never watched TV at all and always had her nose in a book has fallen down that particular rabbit hole and is struggling to emerge. Mufasa and I have turned into the couple that eat dinner in front of the TV because we are so obsessed with our latest crime/drama that we cannot wait until the end of the meal to see the next episode. This is the kind of behavior that I used to condemn as disgraceful so it is time to make some changes.

It will certainly be an interesting forty days. With TV removed from our activity list we will be forced to:

Go out more

Read books

Do all the jobs around the house that we’ve put off


Write more blogs


On the plus side we will be able to get drunk every night as we are not giving up alcohol. The reason that I think we will be successful is that we are both doing it and have already become extremely competitive – goading each other with taunts and predictions on who will fail first. Mufasa is going to have to record all his sports programs so I do hope he is planning well in advance and clearing enough space on the DVR hard drive. Otherwise I fear I may be the one to suffer one of his MANIC MELTDOWNS when he discovers he missed Arsenal versus Scunthorpe YAWN YAWN.

I am SO looking forward to being TV NEWS FREE starting February 10th as all this run-up-to-the-election political crap is depressing the hell out of me. I’m sure by the time we get back on the grid at Easter absolutely nothing will have changed and we will still have months of this three ring circus to endure.

We are allowing ourselves NPR and BBC Radio and trips to the Movie Theater. I will also be reading The Skimm  – my newfound favorite daily Internet newsfeed. But that will be the sum total of our media experience for the Lenten period.

Lest we are tempted I am planning to hide all the remote controls on February 9th which probably means that we will be going dark for a lot longer than forty days as the chances of us remembering where we put them after that long are less than zero. No doubt the experience of this sacrifice will produce at least one amusing blog in the near future.

Stay tuned.


The Road to Hell

Mufasa and I get along just fine until you put us in the same car. Generally we live and work together in perfect harmony but on the rare occasions that we are forced to share a ride the whole thing starts to unravel. We can manage short local trips to the grocery store etc. but we learned early on that carpooling to the office might save the ozone layer at the expense of our marriage.

Last week we had to bite the bullet on a long drive to Sarasota. I think we would have been OK if the weather had co-operated but unfortunately we were forced to cross from the east coast of Florida to the west in TORRENTIAL RAIN. I made the mistake of checking weather and traffic reports before we left so I knew EXACTLY how many accidents and how many people had already died that day!  Only twenty minutes into the journey I was wishing I had cancelled the trip.

Mufasa thinks if he is driving at 5 miles OVER the speed limit he is CRAWLING along. Never mind that we cannot see ten yards in front as everything is white but what we CAN see are the overflowing canals to both sides of the road – the ones that we are certainly going to drown in when he hydroplanes off the road.  Naturally we do not have the emergency belt cutter and windscreen hammer basher kit on board. Another error I decide to correct if we survive this ordeal.

Because our trip was in part to celebrate my Birthday Mufasa tried EXTREMELY hard not to get snappy with me and my neurotic behavior. He smiled sweetly and took his foot off the gas every time I panicked and he did not lose his temper as I kept up a three hour running commentary about how much danger we were in, how sure I was that we were imminently going to plunge into gator infested waterways, or plough headlong into the car (that we couldn’t see) in front of us.

As I white knuckled my way through this MISERABLE experience I was periodically able to laugh at myself and our situation until I remembered that Mufasa had recently mentioned that if we are ever able to retire he wants to DRIVE ACROSS AMERICA!!! When we arrived safely in Sarasota I asked him how he could possibly imagine that Route 66 was a viable scenario with me as co-pilot? To which he replied that his plan was to drug me so that I would sleep through it all and awake at each stop point rested, relaxed and ready for action. The man has LOST HIS MIND – that is simply NEVER going to happen - He will be doing that particular road trip to hell alone or with Rockstar & Genius while the risk averse Jewish  Mother boards a nice safe flight to the same destination.


There's No Place Like Home

Dear Rockstar & Genius

As you will only be home for three days over Christmas, Dad & I decided to get you each a special gift - see attached.

These will be placed on your ankles when you arrive and removed two hours before your flights back to NY/LA.

In this way we can ensure that you are forced to spend ALL your time with us in the house.

Please explain to your friends that you are on 'House Arrest' for the duration of the Christmas period and if they want to visit you here they will be made very welcome; fed, watered, hugged etc.

Any important business meetings that you have will need to be cleared with us one day in advance IN WRITING. Whilst we will make every effort to accommodate these requests we cannot guarantee approval.

I'm sure you will agree that as well as being novel Christmas gifts, which will benefit the whole family, the bracelets are a great fashion statement.

Lots of love

Mama & Papa 


Dear Mama & Papa

I think I speak on behalf of Genius and myself when I say, we will ABSOLUTELY agree to your house arrest, however in return you will have to refrain from asking for ANY help with:

iTunes/ Apple Music / Apple TV related questions  Computer freezing/ email and other security passwords, iPhone or Netflix related account issues.

Love Rockstar


Dearest Parents

No need to worry about me on that end; I’ll happily volunteer for house arrest. I won’t be able to find better company elsewhere.

Obviously I will be expecting the following;

Tuna melts every morning for breakfast

Roast Potatoes & Yorkshire Pudding (Xmas day)

My own personal Pavlova

Sole use of the green guest bedroom (I was in the yellow one for Thanksgiving.)

Boggle, Canasta & Scrabble on demand.

See you tomorrow


PS. Are those ankle bracelets available in red? Might be a bit more festive.




Meltdown Misery

Menopausal Madness is in full swing here.

All I can say is that I hope all those stories I’ve heard about women who get off Capital Murder charges on the grounds of diminished responsibility (due to raging hormones) are true. Otherwise my next blog may well be written from the confines of a prison cell. Poor Mufasa – he is a shadow of his former self as he tries to navigate through the dark and stormy waters of a wife who is a placid, gentle sweetheart one minute and a RAVING LUNATIC the next.

Case in point, I was preparing a Dishy Special pasta bake for him last weekend while he was out running errands. I thought I was in a fabulous mood as I diced a few veggies; some leftover chicken whipped up a light cream sauce and then generously sprinkled shredded Parmesan over the top before popping it in the oven to bake. I was feeling pretty smug about my creation as I sipped a nice glass of Pinot and waited for his return.

Enter Mufasa stage left but unfortunately his first words to me were “What’s that stinky cheese smell?”   This innocent question resulted in an instant explosion of tears and rage; “ YOU CALLOUS INSENSITIVE B***ARD WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH YOU? HERE I AM COOKING YOUR DINNER WHICH IS AN ACT OF LOVE (sob) AND YOU INSULT ME WITH STINKY CHEESE ACCUSATIONS (sob sob) THAT’S IT – DON’T EVER EXPECT HOMECOOKED CUISINE (sob sob sob) FROM ME AGAIN YOU CAN EAT GARBAGE FOR ALL I CARE.”

At this point Mufasa realizes that a huge error has been made and although it is clearly true that Parmesan is somewhat of a smelly cheese it was extremely unwise to have mentioned it, but how to recover from this point? All his protestations of sorrow, guilt, love and appreciation were just met with further hormonally induced rantings so he left me crying on the sofa and retreated to a safe corner of the house to re-group, gather his wits and pray that I would calm down enough to accept his groveling apologies. Of course he was in fact ravenously hungry and sincerely hoping that this would all blow over fairly quickly so that we could sit together and eat the Stinky Cheese Pasta dish. Thankfully these CRAZY mood swings do seem to pass in short order so an hour later we were back to Lovebird status and enjoying our dinner on the patio. 

I can never predict how and when these rages will manifest. There are other times when the observations my soul mate utters have me rolling on the floor laughing. Case in point # 2 was earlier this week when we were riveted to one of our BBC TV shows and right in the middle of a gripping murder scene Mufasa grabbed the remote, paused the frame and turned to me looking extremely grave and said “SIXTY-NINE DEGREES” I looked at him perplexed until he continued “ SIXTY-NINE DEGREES!!! I WOKE UP LAST NIGHT AND MY ENTIRE ARM WAS FROZEN SOLID!!! THAT’S NOT AIR CONDITIONING IT’S REFRIGERATION!”

I think I laughed for ten full minutes. This whole AC thing is a constant battle with us as I’m permanently hot and he is shivering with cold. I set the AC low and wonder why I’m still burning only to discover he has re-set it at 77.

Florida is not a good place for menopausal women or their long-suffering husbands. At least Rockstar and Genius are not being subjected to this latest reality show of their parent’s lives. By the time they get home for Thanksgiving the weather will have cooled sufficiently to allow the resumption of normal behaviors. Unless of course my husband is foolish enough to make any less than favorable observations regarding our Holiday fare – I cannot be held responsible for what might ensue if there is even the slightest inference that my turkey and trimmings are not perfect examples of gastronomic excellence or indeed any mention of the fact that I have failed to lose the fifteen pounds of peri-menopausal weight in time for the Holiday Season as intended. Those are topics that are guaranteed to ignite a severe case of meltdown misery.