Not Holiday Newsletter Material

bb79e41e6041466b76cb3234f844e77bThe holiday newsletter is soon to be a relic of a bygone era. It’s been replaced by chatty social media status updates complete with digital photo albums featuring 173 pictures of a dachshund’s visit to Santa Claus. (Spoiler alert the dog was dressed as Rudolph.)

A few hearty holdouts though are still kicking it old school and writing two page, single spaced missives that rival and health insurance providers with their level of detail regarding distant family members recent medical problems and procedures up to and including colonoscopies gone rogue. (Oh yeah, apparently the tube thing that goes bye-bye up your backside took a colon detour that resulted in some, some,  well let’s just say stool softener is now a way of life for poor Uncle Jed.)

Even better than the extended family newsletter is when you receive a tsunami of bragging from a college frenemy that is so substantial with text and photos it could do double duty as a coffee table book. This, to me, is pure holiday gold. I got to give it to people who think rampant social media boasting isn’t quite enough and feel the need to up their game via the U.S. Postal Service.

I’ve never written a holiday newsletter. Mainly because I’m too lazy and I don’t think I’d be any good at it. For instance, if right now I were asked to share the highlight of my year it would have to be last week when a leaf removal crew came to my house. I was beyond excited. It’s right up with there when I discovered Snackwell Devil Food cookie cakes.

Oh, how I remember my first Snackwell. It was 1992 when I was introduced to this “diet” cookie that’s part marshmallow, part cake and 100% chocolate candy coating goodness. Even better it packed a teensy-weensy 60 calories.  Not so good was the fact that I could eat a box in about 10 minutes. That right there is close to 1,000 calories which equals me gaining about ten pounds during my Snackwell diet phase. But enough about my cookie cake shame let’s go back to my leafgasm.

You see my yard is apparently a designated safe haven for all fallen foliage and my side yard is the Bermuda Triangle for leaves lost in mid-flight. It must be a wind tunnel effect or something, because one robust breeze can result in four feet of leaves blowing into my side yard. I lost my dog in the leaf pile last month. It’s that scary.

This foliage palooza means hours upon hours are devoted to the drudgery of raking and bagging. So, imagine my happiness when my husband surprised me with a leaf crew coming to our house. These guys were masters at their craft. In fact, calling them a leaf crew doesn’t do them justice. They’re gifted foliage wranglers. If the Navy Seals had a lawn care division these guys would so be in it.

They attacked my yard. Armed with blowers one team using a flanking maneuver rushed to the back, another went to the front and two brave souls trekked to the side. Then they brought out the heavy artillery and saddled up some big tractor/truck sucking machine that was majestic in its dedication to leaf vacuuming.

The crew was so impressive I ran upstairs for an aerial view of their work and then when I could no longer contain my enthusiasm I bolted outside to get up close with their greatness. Just as I was finishing giving the crew a high five, and thinking about going in for a hug, my husband compelled me to come back inside because he said I was “scaring the lawn guys.”

How, I asked him, did he know that? He flippantly responded that he was familiar with the look in their eyes because he saw it everyday in the mirror. I’d get mad, but he’s not the first guy to tell me I’m scary. (I’m going with scary awesome. Sure, I could be wrong, but let’s pretend I’m not.)

All this is my way of demonstrating that my life is probably not holiday newsletter material. This is why I love reading other people’s, especially that frienemy I told you about. Her holiday newsletter/book has become quite an event in my house.

When it arrived this month I texted my daughter at school two words – “Squirrel Cheeks.” (That’s the name my daughter gave this woman years ago when an overuse of Restylane plumped her cheeks to the nut storing rodent category.)  She texted back, “DO NOT open it until I get home.”

And of course I wouldn’t dream of opening it without her. Over the years we’ve established a tradition of getting a Peppermint Chocolate Chip shake from Chick-fil-a and then unsealing the industrial grade gloating together. Think of it as special mother/daughter bonding time.

My son is also involved in the festivities. When he gets home from college I make him, using my reading glasses for even better visual acuity, examine the photos for his professional assessment of how much photoshopping was used in every picture. Last year, when he said so much that probably the woman’s own mother wouldn’t recognize her my Christmas was made!

I  know some of you are thinking – jealous much? Heck yeah, I’m jealous – sort of. But I have one thing Squirrel Cheeks never will. The Navy Seals of foliage remediation. Hmm, maybe I should write a newsletter after all.

Dear Beloved Family and Friends,

The pinnacle of 2015 was a visit from the most extraordinary of lawn crews . . .

Friends, don’t waste your time reading or dear God writing a holiday newsletter instead give yourself the gift of Snarky.  Yes, my precious holiday angel  just click on one of the links and presto you can get yourself some Snarky for only, wait for it, wait for it, 99 cents!  You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read. 🙂



To Rake, or Not to Rake, That Is The Question

b5b97e47293b2ac67801194aa8ddd9daI have lived all over the United States – From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam I’ve unpacked moving boxes. In fact, you know you get around a lot when there are multiple moving stickers on the underside of your furniture. I considered it the suburban version of carbon dating. One of the hardest things about moving can be deciphering the unwritten code of your new neighborhood as it pertains to outdoor maintenance. Primarily leaf raking and redistributing snow.

For example, in Texas when it snows, and by that a mean a smattering, maybe a quarter cup of semi-frozen precipitation gently falling from the sky, everyone freaks out. The whole city goes into lockdown. Grocery stores get picked clean of perishables, booze and ammo. For days prior to the 32 degrees with a chance of crystallized vapor forecast, news crews position their live trucks outside the Super Target to interview frenzied shoppers about the status of their provisions. The one thing no Texan worries about is clearing their driveway. Mainly, because no one owns, or perhaps has ever seen, a snow shovel.

When my family lived in the Lake Tahoe region of Nevada anyone who shoveled snow was a chump and a seasonal hater. You do not vanquish your driveway of the white stuff no matter how much Mother Nature dumped on it. To shovel your driveway means three things: 1) You aren’t a native and 2) because you aren’t a native you don’t own a vehicle big enough to plow through and over 12 foot snow drifts which means 3) you must not ski because with this much new snow you should be heading to the slopes not wasting time on driveway beautification.

(As for our brief sojourn in Los Angeles, folks there get freaked out when it rains. I had a neighbor who refused to drive in the rain and another one who had NEVER driven in the rain. Earthquakes though didn’t bother either of them. Go figure.)

Now based on these experiences, when my family moved to the middle of the country four years ago, I was lackadaisical about snow removal. My husband still had his big “Lake Tahoe” vehicle and no snowstorm could stop that bad boy from going anywhere. (Note: bad boy is referring to the car not my husband just in case anyone was getting confused.) Little did we know our non-shoveling practices were proving confusing to the neighbors. I started to catch on when people would seek me out and volunteer to “help me” shovel my driveway. This is when I learned that in the Midwest a non-shoveled driveway is sign of slothful living or you have a heart condition that prohibits interaction with a snow shovel. Now, I consider myself an almost native because not only do I shovel my driveway with a vengeance (and I own two different kinds of shovels. One for clearing large areas and one for detail work on porches, patios and porticos) but I’m one of those crazies that go out mid blizzard to get an early start on snow removal.

My lack of knowledge about the etiquette of snow removal was nothing compared to my leaf raking ignorance. Once again, I must blame Texas, Los Angeles and Nevada for my stupidity. In L.A. and the Lone Star state there are no leaves to rake. The trees never shed their green. In northern Nevada if you rake your leaves you’re an environmental terrorist. There’s not even any kind of leaf pickup and just say no to being able to find any leaf bags. Your residential layer of leaves are meant to stay on our yard so they can act as a winter blanket, a snow barrier, a compost cover, whatever you want to call it, until Spring when you then gently mulch the leaf refuse with your solar-powered mower.

This is my way of saying, I did not know that leaf raking is considered a competitive sport in the Midwest. I was woefully unaware that the number of brown leaf bags lining your curb was how you keep score or that there was something called “yarpet” which is where you strive for your lawn to look like green carpet unmarred by unattractive, past their expiration date, crumpled leaves. In fact, it wasn’t until a neighbor put up a makeshift leaf fence, which consisted of chicken wire strung between two stakes, that I got the hint. (It took awhile. I stared at that fence for days wondering what it was all about. Thinking it was yard art or maybe a weird kind of Native American dream catcher.) Finally, I had my Oprah Aha moment and embraced leaf removal. Last weekend, I filled 17 bags. Yeah, that’s right, I’m now a proud middle nation dweller and I have the yarpet to prove it.

**For more Snarky check out my book  Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. 

Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. 

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.