Witwithwords Blog

I called my sister Cyndie the other night after a spectacular Spring day with sunny weather. She said it was one of her worst days! She explained it was the first chance she had to get outside. She was pulling weeds from an ivy-covered stone wall, when she spied a small snake, all coiled, ready to strike.

She freaked out, as any female in my family would…blame it on my mother, Ann Woodbury. She was terrified of three things – close spaces,lightning and snakes. (Even though she often laughed about how she played with snakes in the local creek with her brothers as a young girl.)

My three sisters and I can’t even stand to say the word. (The phobia didn’t transfer to my brother Woody but I know he has a healthy respect for them and gives them a wide berth if he comes upon one like he did when he managed an IBM property in upstate New York years ago.) My older sisters also feared them with a vengeance and when my older sister Pam had a nightmare about them, she used to make Linda, the next in line, search for them in the sheets and covers at the bottom of the double bed they shared when young.

I tried to calm my sister Cyndie down…asking if she could identify what kind it was, assuming it was a non-poisonous, garden variety.

“Are you freakin’ kidding me? I just screamed bloody murder, grabbed my big shovel and before it could do anything, I scooped it up and threw it in the garbage bag with the grass and weeds. Then I ran as fast as I could to my neighbors to calm down and get a big hug.”

Her daughter Alexa and grandson Brock soon stopped by. When her daughter asked where it was, Cyndie pointed to the garbage bag of weeds, now in her huge trash bin. “But Mom, you didn’t close the bag,” Alexa admonished her mother as she jumped back after opening the large trash bin.

“So it is now the trash man’s problem,” I concluded.

“I want to sell my house and move! I’m so upset I just took a drive away from there. How am I going to sleep?” Cyndie said. A widow, Cyndie lives alone and has frequent bouts of insomnia.

“You would be terrified,” she said.

“I’m sure I would,” agreeing with her. But then I reminded her of my encounter with a rattler while hiking as a neophyte backpacker with my former husband in the Mexican Baja desert eons ago. I had reached up to get a foothold on a rock and there it was, sunning itself!

“How could you ever think of going backpacking, knowing they were out there?”

“Hey, it was something new, we existed on one salary and we wanted to see the real desert…”
This was way before cell phones. A bus left us off Friday in the dark on a dirt road and did not come back until the end of our 3-day Sierra trek. We were miles from civilization in the desert.

“Never mind that we nearly lost our lives when the canyon washed out. Never mind that most of our food and supplies were washed away too. Never mind that we slept in a cave with our feet against a ledge until the spring storm subsided. Never mind that we ate chia seeds to feel full because they would expand in our stomachs.

“Never mind that every time I tried to go to the bathroom in the wilderness the vision of more snakes psychologically put a damper on things! My fear of you know what landed me in the ER and I was treated to an upper colon enema,” I recalled.

Cyndie did not want to hear more. She just wanted to go home to sleep.

I checked in with her the next day…she had slept little, and decided to take the garbage bag to the dumpster at work. Otherwise, it would still be there because her own trash pickup wasn’t until the next day.

Logical for her? Yes.

But there was so much Monday a.m. rush hour traffic, she forgot to dump the trash bag at work. It was now dark again, and she was riding home with it in her trunk.

Get up early before trash comes, I advised, and open your trunk in the daylight. I had visions of the wiggly thing in her trunk! I was now starting to get “sn–e” visions of my own!

One of my mentors, Louise, says she’s having a crowd for the Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and her dishwasher stopped working. Her hubby, usually very helpful, seems unfazed by the news. I told her to get him an apron, rubber gloves and to make sure he buys plenty of paper plates and plastic.

Reminds me of last Christmas when my dishwasher went on the fritz between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My landlord assured me he would replace it fast. (I had guests coming in two days.)

Before I left for work the next day, my landlord, my boyfriend and a plumber were lined up to haul the old one out and bring the new one in. I returned about eight hours later to find the old one in my dining area, blocking the way to the hallway. When I questioned my boyfriend, he told me that “someone” measured wrong. My landlord said they would be by the next day with the right size.

Next day, same drill – me leaving 3 strong men, only now with a new dishwasher in the hallway, on my way out the door. I returned hours later to find the old one gone (yes!) and the new one blocking the dining room and hallway. The culprit? The pipes under the sink had to be replaced so that the new fittings (???) fit.

My company arrived. We took them to dinner. When we returned, I used the dishwasher as a place to hang their coats. We ate on paper the rest of their stay. The landlord called me and told me that the plumber couldn’t work on this for at least a week!!! I sent my boyfriend to the store with my list: Festive tablecloth, candles, paper plates, plastic silverware and glasses. Oh, and WINE … the good kind.

I decorated my dishwasher ‘table.’ Company came and went. I ordered lots of takeout. My son even asked me when he visited if this was a new design flow popular on HGTV…walking around my festive dishwasher table to get anywhere in our condo.

Two weeks after he promised, my landlord and the plumber arrived for the big installation. Before leaving, I showed all three men my nails, told them I was going for the spa nail treatment and then shopping. I expected one thing – a working dishwasher when I got home. They all laughed nervously.

I returned home to find my hallway clear. TG, I had a new dishwasher installed under my kitchen counter! When I used it that night, it was so quiet, I thought something was wrong. It wasn’t.

But then I went to clean the floor and started finding screws all over the place. What are these? I asked my boyfriend. He just shrugged and said, “Extras.” “Extras????” Ok, if a DIY was installing my dishwasher, I’d expect to find many extra screws (I have a glass full,) because I know most men hate to read directions….but a professional??? So, yes, my new dishwasher works, although I expect it to just fall out from under the counter some day.

In the meantime, Louise, please send your hubby out for plastic, paper and Wine, yes more wine. Happy Thanksgiving my Canadian friends.

5/14/15 Why They’re Not Asked to Trivia Nights Anymore …. imagesSo two hip seniors are updating each other on what they saw or might have missed on TV the last two nights …

He: So Demi Moore’s and Tom Cruise’s daughter is in the finals on Dancing with the Stars?

She: Demi Moore isn’t married to Tom Cruise. You must be thinking of Cruise because we mentioned him last night at dinner talking about Top Gun.

He: No, it’s because your son mentioned an expose on scientology.

She: No, it’s because I started talking about the restaurant we ate at in Key West called Kelly’s. Kelly’s is owned by Kelly McGillis, who played opposite Tom Cruise in Top Gun and yes, he is a Scientologist and that’s why his wife Katie Holmes ran away from him with his daughter while he was making a film in another country. …But anyway, you’re right, Rumor Willis, Demi Moore and Bruce Willis’s daughter, is in the finals. She just made the finals.

He: Wow! So, I’m afraid to ask. Who else made it?

She: Riker, the Disney show teen heartthrob your grandkids root for and Noah Galloway, the double amputee veteran who proposed to his girlfriend on the show.

He: So what happened to the Olympian, Nastia, who performed a phenomenal quickstep and came in with perfect scores Monday night???

She: Didn’t have fan base like the others. Voted off… sadly. Hmm, you see Letterman last night?

He: Yes, I did. I couldn’t believe that actress – what she was wearing, what she was saying. She was so funny.

She: What’re you talking about?

He: The comedian with blonde hair from that TV show that flopped and in that movie with you know, the comedian who’s really funny doing some schtick,,,,ooh, ooh,,,c’mon, help me out here…

She: Are you talking about the Letterman Show? He had Julia Roberts on…

He: Oh, she’s one of my favorites. This woman was in that movie with you know…the one whose son of the guy who plays… hmmm, George’s Dad on Seinfeld…

She: Ben Stiller?

He: Yes, now c’mon who was the other comedian…he just makes me laugh so much.

She: Lots of people do, including you and this…

He: Oh, he was so funny and it was so tragic… saw him on a magazine recently…

She: That narrows it down to about 200 comedians. This actress wasn’t on Letterman, she was on ….oh, the comedian is Mork…

He: Right, I meant Robin Williams …

She: You’re thinking of the Night at the Museum …and the actress you ‘re talking about was on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. Yes, she was funny…I saw parts.

He: What was with Julia Roberts…

She: She was talking about Mystic Pizza and how Dave intimidated her when she first came on the show years ago. She also talked about her role as a prostitute in Pretty in Pink….sorry, no that isn’t it

He: That actress’ name on Fallon’s escapes me…she’s in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2 Her new film looks hilarious…..

She: Her movie is with Richard Gere. Do you know the script was much different when she tried out for the film? It called for a very dark ending.

He: Erin Brockovich?

She: One of her best! Oh, Pretty Woman! Luckily, Gary Marshall and Disney got ahold of it and changed the tone. Scripts were written daily and a lot was improvised. Everyone was wowed. The cast and director and people involved recently had a 25th reunion.

He: She doesn’t even look 25.

She: She’s 30. I’m talking Julia Roberts, who’s more like 50 and Richard Gere. Then a couple of weeks after the reunion Julia meets him by accident on a street corner.

He: We’re talking Richard Gere or some other actor?

She: Richard! Oh, just remembered that blonde actress/comedian’s name – (think rebel without a cause) Rebel Wilson…and yes, she is super funny. And honey?

He: What?

She: Dave planted a big smooch on Julia for you.

He: Nice. Any more film news????

She: Pssst…. I love you, but my brain and memory hurt and I’m exhausted. No more today!

Mom on the Spirit of New York at a party 1990's

Mom on the Spirit of New York at a party 1990’s

Happy Birthday Mom, Grandma, Aunt Ann, good friend! Ann Stagg Woodbury would have been 96 today. Her biggest legacy was her five children, 8 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, numerous nieces and nephews.

Some of her favorites: everything family – celebrations, babies, children, hamming it up, putting her toes in the sand and swimming in salt water at Lavalette , LBI and Cape May , NJ; going on jaunts with her sister Aunt Alice, her mom Alma Stagg, her daughters –Pam, Linda, Joan, Cyndie, and her son Woody, (she even took him ice fishing) and with her friends of all ages (She kept her friends forever – two sororities for life!)

More than just us: Mom helped Dad, Howard, in his Woodbury Real Estate business and Wyckoff Fire Department in Wyckoff, NJ. She loved going on dates (they were married 60+ years) – vacations, football games, dancing to Frank Sinatra, firemen conventions, parties, playing cards, entertaining.

Her solitary passions: crossword puzzles, knitting, gardening, reading, writing ditties and poems.

Her culinary favorites: Dewar’s on the rocks, or a smooth Manhattan, a hot dog with the works from Clixie’s, a hot fudge sundae with nuts, and a once-in-a-while cold beer with soft shell crabs.

She was known for: Always being dressed like the lady she was; her ready smile, her helping hand, her wry sense of humor, her mischievous playful side, her high expectations and standards for herself and her children.

She taught us: to get along, to respect one another, to be there for each other in good times and bad, to love, laugh and enjoy life. We all have learned much from her.

What’s your favorite memory of Ann Woodbury?

One of my former journalist peers keeps sending me Facebook posts of strong women throughout history. She’s sent me plenty I have never even known about. They’re interesting and I enjoy them.But I’m sure if you look closely and listen carefully to the women in your lives – wives, girlfriends, partners, friends and associates, you will find a wealth of women who are strong in personality, intelligence, talent and care taking – their inner beauty. You just have to look.

Strong women in my life are my mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin, three sisters and their daughters. Every one of them worked, or is working, holding down professional jobs (some very high-powered and others owning their own companies) all while taking care of husbands, boyfriends and raising their children to adulthood.Then, in their later years, they support and care for their parents. While every one of them is different, the women in my family, like many, all share this one thing: inner strength.

Like many others, I am appalled at the deadly world news lately. It’s positively dreadful – no matter what your opinion is on much of it. And, with all the new technology – apps, Iphones, laptops, Ipads, nonstop blogs, texts, Facebook posts, IMs, 24/7 TV news – at cafes, in the park, at the gym, in the stores, in your car, in your home, we are never far from feeling, seeing and gasping at the latest catastrophe. There’s a big danger in this … we’re so distracted and worried about what is happening in so many places, that we never really focus on what is happening right in front of us. Without time off from the endless barrage of being in-touch, many of us never relax and re-charge. Without real human interaction, we could become non-caring machines. Grab some time for you and those closest to you today.

Yes, there was the scrappy salesman who professed to having all of the “goods” to land that next job! (He sorely needed a haircut, a smile and a pressed shirt and jacket before he convinced me.)

Next up, was the former 60-ish goddess with waist-long gray hair, a ring in her nose and tats on both arms who said she had nothing in common with Gen Y. Wow- guess she hadn’t done the self-assessment in awhile.

Finally, there was the professional who aired his dirty laundry about the last company he worked for in the meeting! ( A no-no, no matter what generation you are!)

These three needed more than job counseling … more like personality interventions!

My motto for the morning….stay clear of these negative Ned’s and Nellie’s.