Friday, April 18, 2014

What’s wrong with me today?

I'm having a time warp problem this week. 

I realized Scott and I will be driving to Chimney Rock, N.C. so that we can take a photography workshop and I needed to make "hotel" reservations.

He said, "I don't need the romantic cabin getaway package, but I'd like to take the pontoon boat ride on Lake Lure."  
It's easy to see his priorities.

I spent $320 so that he could eventually help me with some of my work.
He asked me, "What am I going to do there?"
I replied, "Take photos."
He said, "I'll just use your smart phone."
I said, "No, I just paid $160 for you to use a camera. You can learn to use my other Nikon camera and lenses."

Little does he know he is also going to carry all the bags, the tripods and lunch.

And, the lodge bedroom has fuchsia walls, Granny square comforters with lace edged pillows and curtains... He’s going to die.

Oh no! We leave next week, not day after tomorrow.  
This is so sad.

Let’s just remove this week from the calendar.

May all your days be the right day. I'd love to hear from you. Email me at aitken.helen@gmail.com


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Am I coming or going?

Sometimes I don't know whether I'm coming or going.  Literally.

Last week I was in Dayton, Ohio for the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop.  The conference packed in so much humor, and I made so many writer contacts- everyone should experience "work" in that way!
However, sleep deprivation eventually catches up with me; I crashed on Sunday, but dreamed of being funny.

Fast forward to this week's schedule:
Monday and Tuesday,start researching, interviewing and writing and get into that mode.
Wednesday (today) was supposed to be my day for visiting with alligators in Wilmington, N.C.  No, not for an article but to take a workshop for my Environmental Education certification and Teacher renewal credits.

It didn't seem like much of a transition going from one bite to the other...

In my absence of four days, the refrigerator and pantry emptied.  So I was stuck making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on hamburger rolls and finding sandwich bags for stale chips and mini pretzels. Luckily, Scott left me a Coke and a bottle of water.  I packed these and left them in the toaster oven, hoping that the dogs didn't find them first.

The weather here was so bad last night and Scott said, "There is no way you will get up at 6:00 am to drive 2 hours, to be at a workshop that will last all day, and then drive 2 more hours back home.  The weather isn't going to be any better.  Don't go."

I'm so glad I emailed the instructor about not going and slept until 8:00.  I checked my email; low and behold, the workshop is next Wednesday!

I really need a secretary.

And PB&J sandwiches for breakfast is pretty good.


Here's hoping you can manage your week better than me.  I'd love to hear from you, email me at aitken.helen@gmail.com.

Have a great day.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Latest Boat Building Article

Today's post isn't about my cats, dogs, son, husband or what I've done to myself, or was done to me that created a laugh.
Instead I thought you might show you what I usually do during the week; I write for boating magazines.

Most of the time I'm writing about boats, or something dealing with boats.  It can be about a festival, learning to build boats in the state of North Carolina, or about boat makers.  Whatever is interesting to me is generally good for the magazine All At Sea Southeast

Last month I wrote about a famous boat restorer, James Moores.  This month I write about a company that sells "kits" to people who want to finally build their own boat, with help, ENVIBOATS.  

I hope you read my article, and find it interesting, informative, and perhaps find a little humor in it.  Please read:
http://www.allatsea.net/enviboats-build-others-envy/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Weekly+ALL+AT+SEA&utm_content=Weekly+ALL+AT+SEA+CID_ef3ad6ed3d75b12d6cc0dc4ba8ac7c8e&utm_source=Campaign+Monitor&utm_term=ENVIBOATS+You+Build++Others+Envy


I'd love to hear what you think and you can always leave a comment on the site.  Otherwise, I hope you have a wonderful day.  aitken.helen@gmail.com

Monday, March 31, 2014

Bow Wow

Do you ever have one of those decades when nothing seems to go right?

Things weren’t going my way, as usual. 
It was as if a dark cloud hung over my head. 
Just call me Mrs. Murphy… and I have my own laws.
I don’t like it, I just accept it.

I thought, I need to do something to make me feel better.  
I really need to feel pampered.
I’ll get my haircut.

 I’m sure you’re saying, “Uh oh.”

In the local strip mall, there is a $3.99 all services hair-cuttery.  I should have paid attention to the huge red flags flying, with the words “Run Away” embroidered in Neon letters.

I went in to get a shampoo and talk to a seasoned hairdresser about how to make me look beautiful. Wouldn’t it be nice to have fuller hair?

I believe her name was Kay Nine.

Her suggestion was a body perm.  I was game.

She took the largest rollers the salon had and wired me to them.  There must have been 100 on my head, but since I didn’t have on my glasses, I was ignorant to the process.

“Please don’t use a solution that is really strong, my hair takes it in and it never goes away,” I said.

Kay said, “No problem.”

Two hours later, corkscrew ringlets danced over my head, and Mrs. Murphy came out looking like a poodle.
Why should I be surprised? 

I think her license, was from All Pets Grooming and Day Salon, and I went home craving "Pup-eroni"…for a year.


May all your days be pampered days and days without resembling a poodle.  I'd love to hear from you email me at aitken.helen@gmail.com.

Have a great day.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Passport Photos

My favorite humorist is Erma Bombeck.  
I suppose I’ve read all her books and will travel to the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop in Dayton, Ohio next month to rejuvenate on the humor of others and refresh my own humor style.

One of Erma’s books is titled, “When you look like your passport photo, it’s time to go home.”

Not only do I agree with her sentiment, I have to amend it by saying, 
“When you feel like how your passport photo looks, you should have gone home 3 days ago.”

I mention this tidbit because I’ve recently returned from an eight-day  trip to Spain.

I have looked and felt like my passport photo. 
I’m not sure if you’d characterize it as the mug shot of a prisoner or the prison matron’s photo, either way, it isn’t attractive.  
In fact, I cringe each time I look at my passport photo and wonder what the custom agents think in seeing it, doing a “double take,” wondering what happened to my genetic makeup.

Nice portraits take a skilled photographer and a halfway decent looking subject. 
I’m a good photographer, so I make every effort to make my subject look her best.  
I can’t assume that anyone else would try that hard to make me look decent.  

Photos of me tend to catch me with my finger up my nose, mouth wide open, chewing food, showing every freckle, wrinkle, age spot and my mustache.  
Pair that with looking 5 sizes larger, 20 years older, and you have my typical photo.  

Told you...
However, the passport photo adds two extra items; it has to be taken with the head tilted downward and not smiling. 
At least that has been my experience, and I look downright ugly.  





But I’ve been told this is a good thing.

True case in point:

A 50ish year-old  woman decided to get a passport photo made when she was dressed to the nine, beautiful wardrobe, jewelry, hair coiffed and perfect makeup.  She was pleased with the outcome and insistent that the photo be taken her way, smiling and looking up and into the camera. 
The passport came back beautiful.
Her three week, grueling trip across Europe left her desperate for her own bed.  
She went to the airport hoping to sleep many hours on the plane, but had to go through customs first.  
The customs agent looked at the woman and the passport photo, confused about the difference.  
The two were so dissimilar that she was pulled aside, interrogated for several hours and missed her flight.  

Family members had to fax photos back to the customs agent. 
When he was thoroughly convinced the passport actually belonged to the woman, she was free to go home.

Did this woman learn her lesson?  
Apparently. 
She went home, took another set of photos as directed and looking “normal," then applied for a new passport.

I suppose there is merit in looking haggard in a photo, when after a trip I actually look and feel like it.

Apparently, I can’t win.



May all you travels have passport free photos... but if they do, grin and bear it.
I'd love to hear from you, email me at aitken.helen@gmail.com


Keep smiling.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Even when I get it right, I get it wrong

Tonight’s menu featured sautéed chicken with spices and a prepackaged sauce, some potatoes baked on a skewer for 2 hours, and carrots with green beans in butter and grape jelly.

Now, I could have made many mistakes.  The potatoes could have been baked to death, shriveled and dry.  That didn’t happen; they were just right.

The carrots were cooked in a little bit water with some salt and butter, and then a can of green beans went in the pot with 3 teaspoons of grape jelly.  The carrots could have been undercooked and the grape jelly could have turned everything purple.  That didn’t happen, it was the right color, texture and flavor.   

The chicken fillets were individually frozen pieces.  I thawed them, then sautéed then in a little bit of Worcestershire sauce, some garlic and onion powders, and added a chicken stock packet.  They could have turned into hockey pucks.  That didn’t happen; they browned perfectly and were delicious.

 

Apparently the stars and planets were aligned properly, everything came out beautifully and I didn’t poison anyone.  I mention this because Scott was highly skeptical when he saw the dinner.

 

“What’s this thing on my plate?” he asked.


“It’s chicken.”


“Are you sure?”


“Of course I’m sure.”


“It looks strange.”


“It may be slightly curled, like a lobster tail would be on the grill, but it’s chicken.”


“Where did it come from?  How old is this chicken?  What’s the expiration date on this chicken?”


“They were frozen pieces.”  Looking insulted, I picked up the bag and said, “The expiration date is 8, 2010.”


“Are you kidding?  You’d fed me chicken that expired 4 years ago?”


Smiling, I said, “Of course not.  The expiration date is 8, 2014.”


“It wouldn’t be the first time you fed me expired food.”


“I’m offended.”


“It’s not like you’ve never done it in the past or that you won’t do it in the future, just that you do it.”


“Humph.”


Scott took his food to the man cave and 20 minutes later, came back saying, “I want you to see this, I cleaned my plate.”


This would be his way of paying me a culinary compliment.

 


It’s bad enough when I doubt my own cooking abilities and blow up the microwave, but it’s worse when I’m expected to serve bad food.   


I can’t win.



May all your dinners be culinary delights instead of bad experiments.  I'd love to hear from you.  Email me at aitken.helen@gmail.com.

Have a great dinner.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Funny Book with the Ugly Cover

My favorite thing to do is to laugh.
I can laugh with family, in the theater, in the car or by myself.
Better still, it's free and tax free!

I have such a loud, deep laugh and sadly, least of all unladylike.
One friend said he liked to hear my "guffaw" and it made him want to laugh with me; he told me he loved my "belly laugh".

A "Guffaw" is a loud and boisterous laugh...
Guffaw, hmm, even the word sounds unladylike.

Laughing feels good, and I have to remind myself that it's also good for the body.
The movement of the lungs jiggles the body into moving good oxygen throughout, causes the body to spend some calories, stimulates the brain and even exercises the liver.

I know I can use some good oxygen, and for heaven's sake, let me burn some calories without doing push ups.
Even Mr. Hercule Poirot would not oppose the stimulation of "the little gray cells, and James Bond could have used more laughter to keep his "shaken, not stirred" liver into better health.

Laughter's residual effect spreads to the mouth, where the lips turn upward in the best accessory for the face; a smile.

The mystery man behind the book is my husband, Scott
I found that during the Book'em N.C. Writer's Conference and Book Fair on Saturday, I spread a little humor through my book, It Only Happens To Me... Can You Dial 9-1-1?  

I set up my table with my books, business cards and some rack cards that had on one side my writing information and on the other, "A Cat Story", a small humor story from my book.

As people walked by, I handed out the rack card saying, "Would you like to read a funny story?"
Most of the time, people took it and walked on.
Some people stood there, read it and laughed a little.
Then there were a few people who "needed" to laugh and found that my story fit their need.

Consequently, I was able to talk about my book.

"It's the funny book with the ugly cover," I said.
When these people saw the burning popcorn in the microwave cartoon, they smiled and could relate.
I even thought some people were astonished to find that a few of the short non-fiction short stories in the back had been been selected for awards.

Even humor can be elevated to literary.

One woman, who bought my book took it with her to lunch.
Later that afternoon, she came back to find me saying, "I've been reading your book and I'm almost half-way finished with it.  It's so funny.  I generally find funny books to send to friends and this will be my new one."

She had me pose with my book and she took my photo.

I guess my mission to spread humor was realized.
In the near future, I'll start working on my next book, It Only Happens To Me... Normal is So Overrated.
Hopefully, that cover won't be so ugly, but still funny.


May all your days be filled with laughter and smiles.  If you have a funny story to tell, please send it to me at aitken.helen@gmail.com.  Who knows, it may wind up in the next book.

Keep laughing.