Home is Where the Heart is

I’ve heard so many people repeat the old adage, “Home is where the heart is.”  Home is also where my Oreo cookies and Doritos are, along with my collection of dust bunnies and dirty laundry.  But what exactly do people mean when they say, “Home is where the heart is?”

I feel a sense of home in places where I’ve never actually lived.  To me, West Virginia is home because of all the fond memories I have of spending summers there with my family.  My grandparents just felt like home. Going off the main road and into the holler, I was home. As strange as it might sound, I also feel a sense of kinship and nostalgia for places I’ve never even visited, like Ireland.  Perhaps more moving (for me at least), I feel a strong sense of calm and peace when my kids are both home for dinner or a holiday celebration. They are home to me. I feel that at that time, my home is heaven on earth; I feel that the world could collapse outside the four walls of my physical house and the three of us would be just fine.

The other day I was out with my daughter, and she started feeling sick.  She wanted to go home.  Now home wasn’t going to be a magical place where she would immediately start feeling better, and she knew that.   She just needed to be in her own space, her own place, and the one spot in the world where she felt comfortable.  It isn’t the brick and mortar home that she needed, it was the feeling that she needed.  At that point, she needed to be on her couch, surrounded by cats, and the things she knows and loves.  This house, or rather, the feeling that it evokes, is our home. My daughter doesn’t much care for our current house.  Neither do I, if I’m being honest. We don’t like the location and we feel we have never truly belonged here.  Even though we are moving in the somewhat near future, this is still our spot on the map, our space, our home.

I remember on 9/11, my now-ex-husband and I were out and about (trying to find a computer repair shop, actually) … I think most adults remember where they were that day.  As the tragedy unfolded, all I wanted was to be home. It just so happened that home was my parents.  Never mind that I was married with kids and a house of my own, I needed to be with my family.  My husband never understood that, and in fact, he even got angry with me for wanting us to be with my folks and not just “depending” on him.  His sense of home never included extended family (mine or his); he always viewed extended family as “outsiders.” On the long list of reasons we are no longer married, this one is certainly in the top five.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. “Home,” not 9/11. What makes a home a home?  Home is where …

  • The pajamas are: If you can roll out of bed without brushing your hair and lay on that couch with the lump in the one cushion and the mystery stain on the armrest without giving a darn, you are home.  Or Wal-Mart, but most likely, home.
  • The laughter is: Your walls hold the keys to your happiness.  Every good thing that has happened is memorialized in the kitchen, the living room, or the bedroom.  You share the gift of laughter freely in the rooms of your home.
  • The tears are: Where were you when the phone rang with some piece of unbelievable, heartbreaking news?  When you hung up the phone, you collapsed on your couch or bed and just cried.  Your home heard your tears and surrounded you with comfort in the face of unbelievable heartache.
  • Your family is: No matter how old you get, you’re never too old to need your family.  Home follows you from house to house.  It’s transient.  Home is where your parents are, your friends are, or your kids are, and yes, where your cats (and all critters!) are.  Home is where you are surrounded by love.
  • Your snacks are: No matter where you roam, there is only one place with the stockpile of snacks that you truly love.  No need to look around to see who is watching you either, just gorge yourself on those jelly beans.
  • Your stuff is: The finest five-star resort has got nothing on your own bed, couch, or desk.  I suppose the view and the fact that people wait on you might be a bit better at a luxury resort … but there is a level of comfort in your own home that cannot be matched by any high-dollar hotel in the world.  No matter how fun your vacation is, when it’s over, you just want to be back home, surrounded by your duct-taped kitchen faucet and the toilet that doesn’t run right unless you jiggle the handle.
  • Your door is opened, or closed: You can be as welcoming as you’d like, or turn off your lights and hide like it’s Halloween and you just gave out your last Snickers bar.  It’s the freedom to be who you like, when you like, that makes home

I’m not sure that “Home is where the heart is” means the same to everyone.  To some, it is the feeling of the actual house, welcoming and warm through its doors.  To others, it’s family and friends, or pets, and a favorite old movie you’ve seen hundreds of times.  It’s a feeling of nostalgia, of calm, of peace, and of knowing that no matter how rotten you feel physically or mentally, there is a space where you can be free to feel however you are feeling.

To me, it’s a combination of all these things that make me feel like I am home now, and I will be home wherever I wander next.

The Original Cat Burglars Unveiled

Tucked in between “news articles” about alien abductions and man-eating butterflies on the World News Daily Report, I found this gem hidden away.   Long story short, it claims that an elderly lady trained her cats to steal jewelry from her neighbors; the epitome of “cat burglars.”

click photo for story

I admit, there is a part of me that wishes this was a true story.  I could absolutely get on board with training my cats to do cool things other than bringing me dead bugs. Let’s face it, though; cats only do what they want to do, and it always involves a smug, self-serving attitude and a “what’s in it for me” end goal.

I can see me, 20 years from now, in full Crazy Cat Lady mode.  I’d train my cats to do things like weed my garden, mow my lawn, put away the dishes, and fold the laundry.  In my fantasy, I am the ruler of the roost, the commander of the cats, the kitty whisperer.  The truth is, I live to serve my cats.  They have me so well trained that I respond to the smallest puking noises they make, even from a dead sleep.  I have given all of my furniture to them to use as thrones, perches, or beds.  I believe all of the cat food commercials I see, and my cats eat better than I do.  I clean litter boxes religiously and keep lint rollers to clean off the clothing that my cats allow me to wear when they aren’t using it as a bed.

On that note, the article makes me laugh when it references that these cats were voluntarily malnourished; apparently, according to the report, they deliberately made themselves seem skinny and underfed so that people would take them in to their homes to feed them.  After the neighbors opened their hearts and homes to the skeletal felines, the cats would abscond with anything of value.  Only then would the elderly cat-keeper reward them with food.

Really?  If I tried to train my cats this way, they would laugh at me.  “What’s in it for me? Better make it worth my while. And don’t even think about not feeding us, we know where the treats are. More important, we know where you sleep.”

Now I have no doubt that a cat COULD think of this clever scheme.  The only thing that keeps cats from taking over the world is the lack of opposable thumbs.  But would they really want to?  And perhaps therein lies the real reason cats don’t rule world…they simply can’t be bothered.

Let’s review the cons against this whole organized feline crime spree:

  • The scheme cuts into the most important time of the day: Nap time.  That rare 20 out of 24 hours they spend napping would suffer if they were involved in such a time-consuming racket.
  • Ignoring humans: The burglary idea would definitely require freely interacting with humans for something other than dinner, and seriously, what cat wants that?
  • Movement: To fully realize the potential of this scheme, cats would have to move.  More than from one end of the bed to the other.  This is an instant disqualifier.
  • Potentially uncovering plans to rule the world: Cats cannot have their plot revealed.  While it is no secret that cats plan to take over the world, the exact plans cannot be revealed until the perfect time.
  • A drop in Facebook and You Tube ratings: The cat community doesn’t like to talk about it, but it thrives on internet ratings.  If cats are implicated in robberies, it’s very possible that cute kitten video viewings will drop to dangerously low levels, resulting in a complete breakdown of the internet as we know it today.

Now, let’s review the reasons cats would voluntarily choose to do something, heck anything, at all:


Lastly, let’s consider the odds of a cat being trained by a human to do something that he does not already want to do:


As much as I wish this story could be true, I think this will forever be relegated to the land of satire.

And that’s probably a good thing.


In route between my little town and the next biggest town – keeping in mind, over here, these size estimations are all relative – is a billboard advertising a casino located one state over. The message on this billboard changes monthly and often depends on who the headlining entertainer is or what the latest “jackpot” includes, such as $3 million and an SUV, or some such thing.  Anyway, this month’s message is “My casino is my family…” and it had a woman surrounded by happy, smiling, hugging people – presumably casino employees.

On our first drive by this new sign, without missing a beat, my daughter, ever the smart-ass intelligent woman stated “If your casino is your family, then you have a problem. Cause that sounds like an addiction. That’s not a billboard for a casino, that’s a cry for help right there.” Then, having voiced this sage observation, she went back to looking at her phone without another word.

Although her perfect, deadpan delivery doesn’t translate well to the written word, I’m telling you, this girl has a serious shot at a successful stand-up career.

While we wait for my daughter’s future to manifest, I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from the queen of deadpan herself, Margaret Smith.


Memory Lapses

I am creative.  I am powerful.  I am woman, hear me roar.  I am also just a tad forgetful.  Like “forget what I had for breakfast while the fork is still in my hand” forgetful.  I need to document my thoughts while I am out and about or they will be forever forgotten in the vast jungle of my mind.

What do you do if your mind is a sieve?  If you’re anything like me, you send notes via text to yourself to remember ideas, appointments, and events.  If it’s not written down, I can forget a thought quicker than anyone else I know.  I was going to suggest an Olympic Sport called Speed Forgetting, but I forgot to mail the letter.

Yesterday evening, I was looking through my text messages for something and came across this message I sent myself over a week ago.  Check this out:

“The eyes are the windows to the soul. Sometimes they reflect a vision of hell.”

Wow.  What a deep thought.  What a great lead in to an unforgettable blog post.

Too bad I cannot recall for the life of me what I was thinking when I wrote it.  Or where I was, or what I was doing.

This cryptic line seems to be the beginning of a wonderful biopic journal of my life’s journey.  It is a cool line for the first sentence of a horror story.  It could have been what I thought when I woke up one morning and saw bags and dark circles under my eyes after spending a sleepless night trying to remember my Great-Grandmother’s middle name.

I have absolutely no idea why I sent that to myself. At all. Was it because of an instance of animal cruelty that I’ve seen? People suck, I’ve said that often…because they do, and it’s very possible that an incident of animal cruelty prompted that comment to myself. It’s equally possible that the stories about school shootings or perhaps a news story of a child abuse victim or domestic abuse victim set me off.  Or, the amazing line could have come to me as I was watching a poor retailer slog through a transaction with a customer who was acting like a complete asshole, or a woman who realized she was wearing white after Labor Day.

The world may never know.

The way my swiss cheese brain works is a mystery, even to myself.  There are just so many versions of hell, and everyone you meet everywhere has their own personal hell.  For some, hell might be driving to work.  Someone else’s hell may be dealing with their cable company (and I suspect the cable guy has a few versions of hell as well).  The upper class may think it is hell dealing with the butler, and the butler sure as heck knows it’s hell dealing with his snobby boss.  The lower class sees the hell of poverty and sadness every day, and the middle class thinks it is hell to have to pay taxes to help the poor through that particular hell. A child thinks hell is when school is not cancelled for a snow day; the teachers probably agree with that version of hell and the parents may, too. Hell is not being able to use that amazing word in Words with Friends that you really want to use, or my personal favorite, forgetting why I walked into a room.

So many meanings of hell.  So many possible reasons for my amazingly creative phrase.  Such a shame to have such severe short term…and long term, apparently…memory loss that I cannot recall the moment this profound statement was imagined.

Think about it.  “The eyes are the windows to the soul. Sometimes they reflect a vision of hell.”  I want you to consider this phrase carefully.  I want you to ponder it deeply.  Repeat it over and over.

And then, can you please tell me what the hell I was thinking!?

Misunderstandings – My Life in a Nutshell

So. I got an email from Etsy today. You might not think this about me, but I love Etsy. However, this latest email had me questioning…myself, not them. Specifically, I had issues with the subject line. In this particular case, issues = confusion.

The subject line was: Start Double Tapping.

Now, as it turns out, what they meant was “double clicking” on the photo links, or in other words, buying stuff.

What yours truly took away from that subject line: Get ready for the zombie apocalypse.  I’m not sure what that says about me.


A Toast to Toasts

I love to be validated. I mean, who doesn’t, right?

Things I would love to find out I am right about include:  tofu not only tastes bad, but it is bad for you, being a couch potato adds ten years to your life, and drinking regularly is good for you.  While the jury is still out on tofu, a study published here gives me reason to dream again.

Yes folks, it is true.  Drinking two drinks per day will allow you to live to 90+ years.  Read that again, my friends.  Drinking two drinks per day is “more likely to extend life past 90 than exercise.” All this time, I’ve been doing it right.  Take THAT, health fanatics!  While you’ve all been out doing healthy things like “walking,” “working out,” and “getting up from the couch on occasion,” I’ve been sipping wine, with the remote by my side, on the sofa and adding years – years, people! – to my life.

I wonder how many other things we will find out are good or bad for us that we never imagined.  My dream list would include:

Housecleaning is dangerous for your health:  Think about it.  You are inhaling dust, subjecting your body to strange chemicals, and moving.  The moving alone, per the study above, is obviously not that good for you after all.  And talk about physical harm?  I have tripped over the vacuum cleaner cord many times in my quest for a clean house; dear God, I could have died!

Fast food is good for you:  GMO vegetables and fruit…why bother?  With a good old fashioned #3 from your favorite fast food menu, you know exactly what you are getting.  Well, sort of.  It may or may not be meat that may or may not have been from a farm animal, but you get the gist. I’m not even sure about those fries. Don’t be lazy, though; get out of the car and walk up to the counter to add some moderate exercise to your fast food routine (I’m told this also helps in getting one’s order correct).

Laundry is a bad idea:  From water waste to chemicals, laundry surely is bad for both you and the environment.  Disposable clothes made from biodegradable material is the answer here.  No need to fold, put away, hand wash, put away, separate, put away, or put away your laundry ever again.  Also, you never need to put away your laundry ever again. Just so you know, I keep track of this stuff, so no-one better steal my ideas.

Paying bills is bad for you:  This, of course, is a big one. The anguish of money pouring out of your account.  The possibility of stolen identity with each online bill paid.  Surely, paying bills has to be a danger to your mental health.  Let’s band together and just stop paying those pesky things; our lives will be longer, happier and stress free.  Hey, who turned out the lights!?

Chocolate is an undiscovered food group on that omnipresent pyramid:  I think the Aztecs and Mayans had this one right. One day, scientists will figure out that chocolate is its own food group.  They will study it and assign it a place on the food pyramid.  Health coaches and nutritionists will recommend five to six servings a day.  It will also be discovered that chocolate has the side effect of weight loss.

Rest assured, I will be scouring the news in search of more vindication of my border-line slovenly lifestyle.  Until I find more proof that my way of life is healthy, I will be knocking back a few glasses of Pinot Gris Health Juice and watching reruns on the couch.


It’s a Mad, Mad World

A Nifty Look at Firsts in the Self-Service Industry

This may be an older topic, but I’d like to visit it for a moment.  For the first time ever (yes, ever), the people of Oregon are pumping their very own gasoline into their very own cars, and it is Armageddon out there (read here). The concept is hardly new – as the rest of us know all too well, and it doesn’t affect everyone within the state; the angst is, however, very real.

Some people are claiming that only qualified people can pump gasoline (I guess those that have that rare Masters’ Degree in Pumpology), others are claiming it will end jobs in the illustrious gas pumping job markets, and others are somehow incorporating this into the global warming argument.

In the spirit of this, I’d like to point out a few other “self-service areas” that we, as modern technological wizards, have overcome.

  1. The Slurpee Machine

How his hands must have trembled in fear, rattling his plastic Slurpee cup, as Maurice Von Slurper stepped before the intimidating machine in his local 7-11.  Could he?  Couldn’t he?  What if he spilled?  Did he dare take on the challenge of mixing two flavors into the same cup?  Would it overflow?  What if he under-filled it, and ended up still having to pay full price? I cannot imagine the thoughts flowing through this man’s mind as he pulled that lever for the very first time.

  1. The ATM

Maude Moola stared at the ATM on the wall in abject fear.  It not only sucked her card away from view, but it was asking VERY personal questions.  She drew a deep breath and reached out a shaking finger to push “Enter.”  There were whirring sounds from deep within the machinery, and she jumped back in terror.  Then, suddenly, cash spit out at her through a narrow opening, and her card reappeared magically before her eyes.  In a later in-depth interview with her local paper, Maude was quoted as saying, “I truly hope they give that tiny little man in that machine a break now and then. I feel for him, I really do.”

  1. Redbox

Cindy Ma was a risk taker, it’s true, and she boldly punched that touch-screen to explore the cinematic options as they unfolded before her.  She snatched the movie from the slot and held it triumphantly over her head as the spectators cheered.  It is rumored her first words after dominating the Redbox and opening the clear plastic case to her movie were, “Blue Ray?  What in the world is a Blue Ray?”

  1. The Library

Not only can you now check out books via self-serve in some libraries, you can return them that way as well.  Henry McHermit was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, that he now only had to wear pants one time per library visit; the book return was done with a machine built into the outer wall of the library. He didn’t even have to exit his car. Joy of joys! Unfortunately for McHermit, he decided to celebrate by going through a drive through Burger King where the cashier was, in fact, a person and who sat up much higher than our pantless McHermit realized.  Charges are pending.  McHermit assures us that he is planning on wearing pants to the hearing. Everyone involved breathed a sigh of relief.

  1. Self-Check-Out Lanes

Poor Barry Scanner was stuck in the endless loop of “unexpected item in bagging area” and “item removed from bagging area, please replace the item” for nearly twenty minutes as the first user of the self-check-out lane at the Piggly Wiggly.  In that twenty minutes, Mr. Scanner developed intense feelings for the register.  “Her voice,” Mr. Scanner explained, “just droned on and on, repeating the same two phrases over and over in a nagging way.  It reminded me so much of my ex-wife.”  His heart was broken, however, when he found that the love of his life was also working at Wal Mart, Home Depot, and three other grocery stores at the same time.  “I had to break up with her,” he sobbed.  “So many people scanning items, over and over…and who knows how many items were scanned before mine?”  The self-service register was unavailable for comment, but a source close to her says that the machine kept repeating “Item not found” when informed of Mr. Scanner’s intention to break up with her.

So, Oregonians, take heart.  You will overcome your current situation, I swear.  Get out and pump that gas with confidence and swagger; just not with a lit cigarette. Or a cell phone.