This Neglected Child of Mine

I just checked in with my site for the first time in weeks.  My last blog was posted on September 20th.  Can that be? Have I neglected this child of mine for over three months?  If this were a human baby, I would have had Child Protective services knocking on my door, threatening to remove this offspring from my home (and computer).

Thankfully for Joan’s Jottings, the Christmas tree and trimmings have been packed away for at least ten months, and the lazy months of January and February are upon us.  I am choosing not to make any New Year’s Resolutions as we begin this new decade, but if I were, I would vow to write more.  I would also like to spend more time keeping in touch with friends.  And then there is my wish to abstain from using curse words (things that come out of my mouth), and eat less sugar (things that go into my mouth).  Oh no, this is beginning to sound like a list of New Year’s Resolutions!

I wish you a year of happiness and good health, and whatever may be on your non-list of resolutions!

I’ve Come to Realize……

Recently, I began to follow the blog,, written by Kerri Morrone Sparling. Kerri maintains an online journal of sorts, documenting her life with Type 1 Diabetes.  She recently posted a list of answers to several questions that began, “I’ve Come to Realize ……?” Her list consisted of responses to various prompts, such as “I’ve Come to Realize that when I’m driving…….,” or “I’ve Come to Realize that certain people……” I decided to utilize this concept, however, I used free association to develop my list. Here is a sample of my impromptu realizations, in no particular order:

1. I’ve come to realize that I am stronger than I think.

2. I’ve come to realize that opportunities for personal growth most likely present themselves for as long as we continue to breathe (and are willing to learn).

3. I’ve come to realize that everything is not black or white.

4. I’ve come to realize that most people are good, and the rest are just baby souls.

5. I’ve come to realize that being a parent is the most challenging job I have ever had, especially doing it alone.

6. I’ve come to realize that little bullies grow up to be big bullies.

7. I’ve come to realize that my vision will never again be 20/20, but that if I continue to remain open and aware, I will see the perfection that is the universe.

8. I’ve come to realize that dogs are woman’s best friend, too.

9. I’ve come to realize that everything happens for a reason, but the reason is not always crystal clear.

10. I’ve come to realize that exercise is as vital to my day as a shower and brushed teeth.

11. I’ve come to realize that old friends are truly my best friends.

12. I’ve come to realize that I must continually focus my energy inward, because the only thing I can change is myself.

13. I’ve come to realize that the world seems to be caught up in a competition centered around money, power and greed.

14. I’ve come to realize that peanut butter is just as good without jelly.

15. I’ve come to realize that I have met some truly amazing people in my lifetime to-date, and I hope that more are on their way.

16. I’ve come to realize that I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

17. I’ve come to realize that I am grateful to have fallen in love with books decades ago, and that thanks to great writers, there is always a “next one” begging to be read.

18. I’ve come to realize that some relationships are toxic, and that I must be able to recognize such pairings and end them.

19. I’ve come to realize that life is short, so eat as much chocolate as you can.

20. I’ve come to realize that my son is an amazing soul who came here as my child and my teacher.

How would you answer, “I’ve Come to Realize?” Try it and see what answers rise to the top.

House of Hormones

It is quite possible that our home has become a House of Hormones. With Halloween quickly approaching, it is likely that our cozy little ranch might be confused with a House of Horrors. A recent check-up with the pediatrician confirmed that Junior is in the early stages of puberty. This would explain certain physical changes, including a sometimes rebellious, tart little tongue. While his hormones have begun their awakening in an effort to transform boy into man, Mom’s biological ticker is chiming menopause, or most definitely peri-menopause. Like many businesses that have fallen victim to tough economic times, Joan’s Factory is shuttin’ down!

According to my lady friends whose cakes have more candles than mine, I may begin looking forward to night sweats (have already had some pajama-soaking events to-date), hot flashes, and sleepless nights. Geez, thanks for the positive feedback. It isn’t possible that thirty-five years of monthly cycles, headaches, cramps and acne have been enough? There is more fun to be had?

Consider yourself forewarned when approaching a particular taupe-colored one-story in the burbs. Inside lurks a boy ravaged by hormones as he morphs into man, and a sweating, insomniac prone to either tears or tirades, all within a matter of seconds. Be afraid. Be VERY afraid……..

A Rare Event

One week ago, I was privileged to attend a fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. The happy couple, long-time family friends, were married August 15th, 1959, and are both seventy-two years young. It was a festive occasion, complete with dinner, dancing and a video scrapbook of the couple’s life, from birth until present.  I could not help but think that I probably will receive very few silver anniversary invitations in my remaining lifetime. The average age for first-time marriages has risen, and divorce gobbles up 40-50 percent of those once happy unions. Life expectancy for women is currently 80 years, however her spouse can only expect to live to an average age of 73. Widowhood puts a kabosh on the prized half-century anniversary party.

For our friends, Mary Ann and Dave, I raise my glass and toast the rare milestone that you achieved last weekend. It was an honor to celebrate a healthy, committed relationship that has survived the ups and downs of a fifty year ride. I wish you both continued good health and happiness, and would welcome an invitation to a party in honor of your 75th anniversary. Cheers!

Twice the Vice Isn’t Nice

It would seem that everyone has some sort of vice, or two, or more. Typical vices might include drinking, smoking, gambling, illegal drug use, and incessant viewing of reality TV shows. (I made up the last one.) I do not partake in any of the above mentioned activities, but would include a sugar addiction and cursing as my two vices. I am not sure how or when I actually sprouted my sweet tooth, but I have on occasion attempted to ban refined sugar and other processed white stuff from my diet. I do not usually stay on the wagon for any notable length of time.

I am currently considering eliminating curse words from my vocabulary.Unlike my sugar habit, I am able to pinpoint the moment in time when my potty mouth was born. In seventh grade, I befriended two girls in my grade-Terry and Terry. The two Terrys were already traveling in the fast lane at the advanced age of thirteen, and I hitched a brief ride. They cursed like sailors, and I, their naive follower, began mimicking their not-so-ladylike vocabulary. A habit was born. I have been cursing now for about thirty-six years. I am proud of the fact that I am able to turn my toilet mouth on and off at will. I do not swear when involved in professional situations at work, and rarely swear at home except for the occasional s_ _ t or d_ _ n when I spill or break something.

I do often swear in my car, because it seems that on most days, I appear to be the only one on the road who actually passed a driving test. I also curse in conversation as a means of emphasis. It’s like adding another adjective in front of an adjective in an effort to really drive home a point, or more accurately describe something. This is my most preferred use of the curse word, and will probably be the hardest to give up.

In an effort to continually strive to improve myself, I will attempt to bite my tongue or seal my lips when the urge to curse seems warranted. I hope like hell that I am able to do it!

Rain,Rain Don’t Go Away

It’s that time of year again. I’ll bet you are thinking picnics, baseball, ice cream, vacations, etc. You would be correct, however, I am referring to those days in June, July and/or August when the water quits falling from the sky and instead flows from my outdoor faucets, through a garden hose, into a sprinkler and out onto my lawn and landscaping. I long for an in-ground sprinkler system, but until I win the lottery or am bequeathed a huge inheritance, I AM the sprinkler system. In the early mornings or evenings, you may find me outside, dragging hoses and adjusting sprinkler heads to just the right angle. I turn on the faucet and let the water flow, while my water meter goes “cha-ching!” (I live in one of the counties in our state with the highest water rates.)

The weather has been decent so far this summer. The temps have remained seasonal for the most part, and we have been blessed with weekly showers. However, it is mid-July, a month full of “dog days.” Lawns are turning from a lush green to a crunchy brown, and the flowers and shrubs beg for a drink. I, the nurturing caretaker, give them what they ask for-a refreshing hosing down at least once a week.The only good thing about a lack of rainfall is that my car stays shiny and clean.


As the calendar changed from March to April, life’s pace picked up and I have been running ever since, trying to keep up. I feel like I have been on auto-pilot for the better part of three months, and am pleading for some much-needed down time. It wasn’t just a jam-packed schedule that found me feeling squeezed. I have been experiencing an almost claustrophobic feeling living in my suburban neighborhood. Suddenly, the five feet or so that separates my property from my neighbors on the right and left, feels confining, restrictive-not unlike the image of a 13-foot boa constrictor wrapped around my neck. I feel sandwiched in between two not-so-positive energy forces, and feel my own life energies draining. And, if that were not enough, I also have two acquaintances who have individually appointed me their own personal Dr. Phil. (I guess that would be “Dr. Phyllis”.) They phone me at all hours with their tales of woe created from their self-induced dramas. I feel like all of my invisible boundaries have been invaded. I have been wrung out like an old dish rag.

The pressures induced by the “big squeeze” have left me daydreaming of a home somewhere in the country, nestled in between tall, towering trees, where there are no barking dogs and loud neighbors, and cell phone towers are non-existent.  Just me and the peaceful sounds of nature. A recent change of venue (read:vacation) has buoyed my spirits somewhat, and I do foresee several dates on the calendar with nothing scribbled inside the box. The two damsels-in-distress have refrained from calling, at least for now, and I feel less intruded upon by my neighbors. I am not exactly sure if these recent feelings are the result of stress, perimenopause, old age, or all of the above, however, I do hope that someday I will be writing from my cabin in the woods…….


In one of my very first posts (perhaps even my first post), I wrote about the impending fiftieth birthdays that several of my friends would be celebrating (maybe “dreading” is the more accurate term) this year. I went on to brag that even though I will reach my 49th year in August, I am still just “30-something” in my mind. I hope that no one actually believed that nonsense!

The ever-increasing number of candles on my cake have resulted in many unpleasant and unwanted changes to my anatomy. Beginning at the top, my once perfect vision was gone in the blink of an eye. One day I could read the fine print on the back of a children’s Motrin bottle, and the next day not one letter was legible. I now own several pairs of magnifying glasses, which are stashed in nearly every room in the house. I am certain that very soon, I will be investing in one of those chains that you wear around your neck with a pair of my extra eyes always in reach.

Moving south, I now have developed perpetually chapped lips. This past winter, I experienced what I thought was weather-induced drying out of the lips. Not so! It has been been as hot as 90 degrees and humid here, and I am still applying lip balm daily. I can only surmise that my lips will never regain their youthful self-moisturizing ability, and that I should consider purchasing stock in the manufacturers of Chapstick.

One of the most distressing age-related morphs has occurred to my thighs. In my 30’s, I developed a small amount of cellulite on the back of my thighs, near the top. Fast forward to my early 40’s, and it began to take over every aspect of my thighs-front, back, top, bottom. My exercise regime can no longer stave off the dreaded influx of these unsightly dimples. (Aren’t dimples usually thought of as cute? On one’s cheeks or chin-YES. On one’s thighs-NO!)  I recently caught a glimpse of my thighs up close and personal in a department store dressing room. I immediately realized that these are not  “30-something”  thighs. Wake up, Joan. Your driver’s license, birth certificate, and passport do not lie. You ARE almost 49 years old, and you have the vision, chapped lips, thighs and memory loss to prove it. (More on the memory loss issue another time…..)

Oh well, as my husband used to say, “It’s better to embrace each birthday, because it is better than the alternative.”

Spring Spruce-Up

Spring has sprung and the race is on.  I live in the Midwest where we do experience distinct seasons. During the months of December, January and February there is a respite from outdoor chores, other than occasional snow shoveling. Life tends to slow down and we retreat inside, where it is toasty and hot chocolate flows freely. Once the calendar flips a page to March, life’s pace may kick up a notch, depending how warm the month is. By the time April appears, complete with its blossoming flowers and frequent rain showers, many evenings and weekends become devoted to the yard gods. The grass begs to be mowed every four to five days (I actually cut it every six or seven), and the landscaping screams for a little spruce-up including dead-heading, fertilizer and a fresh blanket of mulch.There are shrubs to trim, weeds to pull and new garden specimens to purchase and then insert into the ground. My fake clay pots, which have been barren for several months, beg for new flowers to contain and nurture.

I work at a maniacal pace to complete these yearly tasks before THE HEAT SETS IN! I sweat like a man and therefore abhor doing heavy labor once the temps and humidity rise. By the time our city begins to feel like Houston, Texas (where I spent eleven very uncomfortable summers), I am safely tucked inside with the A/C running and a tall glass of iced tea in hand. This year, I will have to brave the stifling air and mow the lawn, however, there just might be a chance that I may escape the bulk of this weekly chore. Junior has been behind the mower a few times now and exclaims that “this is fun!” (I will remind him of that statement once the novelty wears off.) He mows while I run around the yard with our new gas weed-whacker looking like Joanie Depp as Edward Trimmerhands! Together,Team Joan and Son, get the job done in no time. I get a beautifully manicured lawn and Junior learns a valuable lesson in hard work and responsibility. Soon, I should be able to entice him into washing my car.

Tara the Toro

dsc00312There she is-my brand-spanking new Toro lawn mower. We brought her home last Saturday. Once we unloaded her from the trunk, we carefully extracted her from her cardboard home, extended the handles, and quenched her thirst with gasoline and oil. For five days, she has anxiously been awaiting her debut. Today, was her coming out. She started on the first pull, and when I gave the signal, we were off.  She is self-propelled, and has a self-pacing feature, meaning her speed will match the driver’s walking tempo. I am pretty sure that Junior will have no problem directing her around the yard.

Our previous mower was a Lawn Boy, which was a politically correct shade of green. Tara is fire-engine red, a color close to my heart and astrology sign.  (I was born under the fire sign-Leo.)  I think that we will be a good match.