Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Don't Mock The Turtle

The reason to avoid animal cliches goes beyond simply using unimaginative, non-creative communication. They are actually dangerous, perhaps disastrous for healthy human-animal interactions. The following examples will make you change your risky, villainous, horrid behavior.

It's cruel to say mock turtleneck. It pokes fun at people with turtle necks. You know, the one who have a severe upper body slouch and a neck that juts out, like a turtle. And in turn, this causes severe self-esteem issues for the real turtle. How would you like your biological stature to be a running joke linked to poorly postured people? Stand up straight and reflect on that for awhile.

Other sayings to avoid? Well, there's the obvious: More than one way to skin a cat. Now, some people may tell you that this refers to catfish, but that is not the way it's being said. Think of the sensitive cat. No wonder cats don't come when you call them. They think you're skulking around with a butcher knife, waiting for the chance to pry their gorgeous fur straight off their body.

Which leads me to: raining cats and dogs. Could mean a heavy rain pour. Or, could be some sick-o dumping our companion animals off a bridge onto a highway. Poor things. They would be skedaddling around speeding cars to safety. One of them might even trip and break a paw nail.

We need to talk about the elephant in the room. Okay, now that saying could ruin furniture. Suppose a guest didn't know it was only a saying. The next time she showed up, she could bring her elephant. How do you politely let a guest know that her pet will break your kitchen chairs when it sits down for dinner? That little creature would feel simply awful. And, the elephant would never forget what she had done.
    **One of the only true cliches--an elephant never forgets**

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. This implies that females should be mimicking males. That they ought to be male groupies. That they automatically want manliness. Well, ganders are where it's at. If you ever go to a pond and study the geese, you will definitely find that ganders have a louder honk, whiter feathers, and cuter beaks. The male goose drools, farts, and when they bite human ankles they are much less fierce than the females. Scientific facts.

Takes two to tango. This obviously means geckos. It is a subliminal, animalist statement. Picture a gecko, with their lithe body and round, suction cup fingers. Can't you just see them doing the cheek to cheek on the dance floor? Standing on hind legs, chests pressed against one another, faces so close they can feel the smoothness of their reptilian skins lightly touching. The eyes with peripheral vision able to watch where they are going, and gaze at one another in sensual passion. Tails dragging behind, looped together. Now do you see how this cliche simply must be about the gecko?
But, it is biased and potentially cruel. Anytime we assume that because most geckos would make fabulous dancers, all of them must possess the talent, we are ostracizing the clumsy ones. Serious self-esteem issues naturally arise. We humans need to be better than that. Don't plaster geckos with 'two to tango' labeling. Goodness knows they have enough troubles trying to keep up with all of that car insurance quoting.

When the cows come home. What if the cows don't want to come home? What if they desire nothing more than to hit the bars for Margarita Mondays? Do they even get a chance to play Bingo on a Friday evening? Bowling night? No, cows get none of this. Because some stupid cliche regulates their night time prowls to the barn. Every night of the week! Those cows work hard chewing grass all day long. Shouldn't they get at least a monthly break? Yearly vacation? Day off for Christmas, or whatever holiday they are in to?

Does a bear make bowel movements in the woods? Do I talk about you in this offensive way? Discuss your toiletries as if they were frivolous and non-deserving of respect? What a bear chooses to do with their colon discharge should be a private matter. It is none of my business what you think of me, and none of any bodies business where a bear conducts his business. So there.

Don't kiss a dog who eats poop. Okay, yeah, so I made this one up. But it is the only cliche that should ever be used. It rolls off the tongue smoothly, is honest and direct, and needs to be adhered to with urgency. If a dog is offended with this cliche, then perhaps it is time for him to do a bit of soul searching. Know thyself, thy dog, and what is obnoxious to your human friends.

With all of the hideous things that come out of animal cliches, it is a wonder they still put up with us humans. Please, be kind. Watch what comes out of your mouth. One cliche has the potential to seriously harm the other sentient beings on our planet. As they are more tactful than we'll ever be, they won't tell you how painful your words are. It is up to us to end the oral violence that is being imposed upon them.

Be kind to animals, don't cliche them.

The best way to give back to our faithful friends
 is to buy a book that celebrates a strong, attitude-prone elephant:

Heather Leigh,
Appreciator of mindful sentences regarding animals.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Realistic Dating Questionnaire

Moderation in all relationships, for a lifetime of joy.

For that one percent of you singles who have never partaken in on-line dating, I'll give you the low down on how it works. Most give a questionnaire to determine your personality. Then they match you with potential companions with similar interests, desires, goals and ambitions. Compatibility for a happy relationship. But the questions mask what we really need to know. They are not enough. For a long-term, happy partnership, I suggest the following;

What is the home temperature gap that you can tolerate? I bring forth the evidence of my grandparents. Grandma was constantly cold. When Grandpa was in the backyard working on his infinite number of wood projects, she would sneak over to the heater dial and inch it up to sixty (Fahrenheit. If you operate in the Celcius World, you will have to do your own calculations). Then, when she left the room, Grandpa would tip toe in, and push the dial to sixty. Who did they think they were fooling? It's not like there was a heat dial mouse pushing the knob back and forth when no one was looking.

A temp range of ten degrees was what they could maneuver around, and stay happily married for over fifty years. Much over that, who knows what could have happened. I picture Grandma throwing her marble rolling pin at her husband if the difference marched to eleven degrees.

Wall Pictures. What defines ludicrous, horrid, or I can stand to look at it. And what room, height, and which wall? Can you come to some sort of agreement? Warning, photos are often covered in glass. If there is a battle, someone could smash the picture and attack with a glass shard. Be ready to take your stand, for or against, wall decorations, but keep the mood peaceful.

You may both like jazz, but can you listen to a blaring trumpet at midnight? Does the genre that gets you going in the morning, make your partner want to listen to nails on a chalkboard? Can you compromise with ear buds for the unshared musical tastes?

Kitchen: dishes done all day long, or once at night. Does the sight of dishes in the sink leave your blood curdling in the vein? If you agree on a cleanliness level in theory, will both parties keep up with what they say they will? Will there be one slacker, and one person scrubbing everything? If so, resentment will build quicker than a scared rat on meth. Pots and pans may be flying before dinner ever gets eaten.

The supposed romantic sanctuary: the bedroom. No, this is not about how often to have sex, or the best pleasure positions, it's about something even more important. Are you a cover hog, unconsciously stealing warmth away from the partner who likens heat to the need to breath. Further, can you abide to endure a partner who sleeps until two in the afternoon every Sunday. Snoring? Think about consistency, noise level, and how sound of a sleeper you are. Will it be so bad, that separate rooms may have to be considered?

Bathroom: Do you let the shampoo spill over the bottle, forget to close the cap, steal the expensive spa shampoo? Toilet seat up or down, bathroom door open or closed when unoccupied, do you wipe the steamy medicine cabinet mirror with a towel? Have you been trained to use a plunger? How stinky is your stink?

Outside:Do traditional sex roles become the assumption? I waited for weeks for my then husband to mow the lawn of our first house. When the grass reached mid-thigh, I deduced that the job was falling to me, or a lawn maintenance service. If I wanted a partnership marriage, tackling the lawn was not to be done automatically by the male. Darn it.

And of course, is there accountability, honesty, respect? You may always love someone, but not want to live with him/her.

Ask the hard questions by the third date. No need to wait, only to find out years later that the doilies you think are adorable on the sofa, make your partner want to puke by the cuteness of the throwback decoration. Know thyself, and what you can put up with for a lifetime.

An elephant and giraffe dating?
If they can pull it off, you can endure anything in a relationship.

Heather Leigh,
Tolerant of 9 degree temperature variance

Monday, February 19, 2018

Changing Everything, Every Minute

We live in one of those places in which weather changes vary by the hour, or sooner.

This Sunday morning, I was woken by sunlight pummeling into my eyes. Mmm, a delicious day of warm weather. No, it was simply a morning tease. During breakfast and Sunday morning paper, the sliding glass door into the back yard lawn bounced off a noisy hailstorm. An hour later, back to sun time. By lunch, a windstorm had broken out which set the ravens scrambling for control of their own flight path, gray clouds knocked out the sun. Shift back to sunlight by midday. Presently, light wind, swaying branches, sprinkles and light gray clouds as the backdrop. Overnight weather report calls for possible snow.

What if other activities in life followed this chaos? The most obvious one for amusement would be our emotions. From storm to sunlight within one meal. Mix this with every one at the dinner table on their own emotional timetable.

You could be in rollicking humor when your sister shifts into rage and flings the hot gravy in your face. Dad could hail down a lecture on animal rights while Mom sobs hysterically over a magazine article on human trafficking she read last month.

What about your City Transportation Manager? Say you were driving smoothly along the highway when the tarmac changed into gravel, then dust. Then a field of daffodils. You would need an SUV to get through the forest path, and back to a cleared tarmac.

At the local grocers, you could enter into an aisle of fresh produce, walk to the back to fetch a serving of salmon for the night's dinner, and decide you wanted a lemon to top off the fish. But by the time you returned to the vegetable section, it had transformed into a candy aisle. Only Lemonheads or gummy worms available to add flavor to your salmon.

Oh, and this would be fun. How about if your hairstylist decided to change your do in mid cut? You may have requested a light trim, but she decided that a bald scalp would be more attractive. Would you buy a wig or a hat after that, or show off your beautiful head?

What about those crazed writers? Suppose we started out with a mystery novel, and decided midway through to write a children's book. You would never know who done it.

At the end of all this musing, I am thankful that few things in life are as variable as the Pacific Northwest daily weather patterns. After all, us locals have become accustomed to dressing in layers, with a jacket stashed in the trunk of the car. That makes for a livable, practical way to get through a barometer of wild outlashings, and up and down displays. And then there is the beauty of this place. A salve for every picnic destroyed with a sudden downfall of rain.

Heather Leigh,
your steadfast and true author

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Buy A Cleaning Book, Save Me

I have a vital need. I abhor cleaning my house, tidying my desk, and doing the dishes every freaking night. So, I have devised an extremely clever plan to do away with these offensive tasks. I am going to hire a house cleaner.

But, obviously, I need your help. By midnight, on whichever day you happen to be reading this, it is essential to universal peace and harmony that you buy at least one of my books. One hundred percent of profits will be directed to my aversion to being the cleaner. I will become the cleaned.

Won't you help me in my campaign?

It's a win-win. I get out of scrubbing, and you get a fabulous book. The bonus is that I will stop whining about having to sweep, mop or dust.

Hey, if everyone contributes, there will be money left over. I could buy something of yours. No promises on my part. I have to be smitten with what I buy. But if you sell chocolate covered sea salt caramels, well, you may just be a shoe-in to win.

As I have no experience in hiring outside cleaning help (my sons are an inside job), send your advise on how to get a good cleaner. Is there a place they  hang out, waiting to be lucky enough to wipe a window? Shopping mall store with a legion of feather dusters lined up and ready to work?

Do they lurk in dark rooms, waiting do emerge like a ladybug from a chrysalis holding a mop bucket?

Have you ever experienced a professional cleaning in your own home? Is it scary? Do you get kicked out into the rain, sleet and snow wearing only a thin bathrobe as your home is turned from glop to gleaming?

Now, is this practice of hiring out something that neighbors view as gossip worthy, or could they care less? Will I be pointed at, snickered at, spit upon? Will they start to think of me as trash, worse than what the cleaner throws out from the kitty box? I'm guessing that at the very least, I will be scorned as the one who could not even wipe their own toilet seat.

And if I can't wipe my own seat, what else will I not be able to wipe? I could be on the verge of a total break down in morals. Next, it could be paying someone else to mow the lawn, vacuum out my car, taking out the weekly trash.

How many of you have stooped so low? Are you looking down at me with the virtuous air of someone who does all of their own cleaning? Uggh, please readers, give me guidance.

But really, my fear of cleaning far out paces the negative backlash that will inevitably come from hiring out for help. Yes, no matter how bad it gets, I need to stop wiping out my sink.

Please, help me. Fund my just cause. Buy a book.

Heather Leigh,
Horrible House Cleaner

Friday, January 19, 2018

Know Thyself and Thine Dentist

In the journey to grow into a better person, it is a necessity to know thyself. If you ignore your failings, you will be entangled within their snare. Deeper and deeper you will fall, until all light is blocked. You will, eventually, become...a narcissist. Yikes.

For example: At the dentist office last week, I ripped a big, loud, long fart in the bathroom. Having held it in until I was in what was thought to be a secure place, I felt an inner pride. Turns out, there is no noise reducing insulation inside the walls of the restroom. Noises in the toilet, do not stay in the toilet. Luckily, my tactful son didn't tell me of the staff giggling over my sounds. He waited until we got home. Had I known at the time, I would have ran from the office and never returned. Even if it meant a lifetime of decayed teeth. I learned a lot about my sounds that day, and how I they were perceived by others. Beautiful moment.

Last night I re-learned a personal fact: I'm not cool. This lesson came from family members. Turns out, signatures are expected to be fooled around with. How you cross your T's, dot your I's, loop your O's. Structure, overall appearance, size, letter emphasis, letter interactions and playfulness. All are open to alterations. Leave them for a lifetime of monotony? Blah. This points directly to a dull personality. Might as well wear a neon sign flashing: I am boring. Don't even waste your time getting to know me. 

Mine own signature? I write my name in cursive the way I was taught in elementary school. Could I be less hip? More dull than a sloth in a coma? Epitome of party nerd? Might as well put a bag over my face and turn me out into the street. No one wants to hang with the same-signature writer. 

One last bell of shame to share: I laugh too loud at comedy movies. The gaffling geek with the grossly gargantuan giggles? The one who whoops so loud you miss the popcorn you're attempting to catch in your mouth? The one you want to whap in the head to shut up that mouth? That would be me. How do I know? Because I have been on the spiritual path to know my vices for decades. 

Are you getting the connection between knowing thyself, and body/mind/spirit growth? Did my examples help?

Suggestions to learn your inner clock makings:

Know any teenagers? Ask them in what ways you are a complete mess, and the answers will be full and forthright.

Eat or drink anything that will leave gunk in your teeth, such as blueberries, broccoli or licorice. Then, wait and see if your friends tell you of your socially inappropriate, vulgar mouth. It is through the type of friends that we accumulate that tell of who we are attracting. Good ones will point out your grossness in a kind way. Same goes with toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or leaving blue jean zipper down.

When someone says you look gorgeous, do you poke his eyes because he must not be using them anyway? Or, do you look at him like a creature crawled from beneath a rock and ask if he thought you somehow did not know this? (hint at the correct answer: we are all gorgeous, baby)

Search out ways to know thy self. The signs are ever present. Inner knowledge is the only way to grow. This is coming from the grand guru herself, so you know it must be Truth.

Another way to grow?

Heather Leigh,
Knowledge to the inner core

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Feudal Wall Between Therapy and Humor

My father and I recently exchanged e-mails. Me asking if the gig he just drummed at was a successful party. Him replying that it was fun, but that he was ashamed, no fist fights and police did not have to be called.
(He retired from being a nurse to revert back to his twenties as a drummer in a rock and roll band. I am so proud. Gives me hope in my future.)
It was after our chat that it hit me: Dad has accomplished the goal that I have set for myself as a parent: To raise my boys so that they won't be screwed up enough to need therapy to get over my parenting skills, and enough dysfunction in the home that they walk away from the family nest with a sense of humor. As they are twenty and seventeen, so far, I am on track. They are still young, so I can not say this with totally certainty. Sometimes afflictions don't show up until much later in life. But, so far, so good.

I had a friend who once told me that parenting is a one-way street. Parents give, kids receive. It's the moms and dads who insist on appreciation from their kids, attach strings to all gifts, and force their will on every cotton pickin' thing, that fail. While I can't say I've never partaken in these vices, I try my best to avoid them.

But I don't know that I agree whole-heartedly with the one-way street theory. The boys have given me the gift of blowing my ego smack off my shoulder. When they were young, the little love buckets would poke at my thighs and upper arms and let me know how fun it was to watch my fat jiggle. As teenagers, they verbally examined every thing I said so often, I questioned my every thought and word. Was I as crazy and weird as they portrayed me to be? Because, some of the stuff they said was true. I was not as perfect as my mind had led me to believe.

I've broken many parenting traffic laws along the way. In their vulnerable, trusting, innocent youthful years, I got away with many alternate facts: The ice cream truck that drove through the neighborhood? A music van, no treats there, kids. Those rideable toy horses and cars that once were posted in front of grocery stores? Every one of them were perpetually out-of-order. This scam saved me enough quarters to get them through college. Carrot soup? Renamed as 'orange' soup and they slurped it down.

Yes, I was a lying, scurvy mother. But if no one reveals to them my devious behavior, they will never know.

I even lied, just once to Dad. At sixteen, after mowing the back lawn, he brought me out a warm can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Not only did I keep my mouth shut that those are gross, I allowed him to believe that that was my first sip of alcohol. Again, if no one tells him my duplicitous mouth, he will never know.

As I have allowed myself to be vulnerable before you, I urge you to do the same. What kind of lying, cheating harm have you done to the children in your life? Please, reveal it in the comments box below. The more we know of other people's failings, the more open we can be about our own. Not only will this allow people to feel less shame about their past, it will also give us more ammunition for gossiping.

Have a splendiferous new year. Try to keep it between screwing up so much that you need to wear a straight jacket, and partake in enough adventure to keep you laughing and joyful.

Children's book series that follows my parenting goals?

Heather Leigh,
Habitual Parental Liar

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fishing With Alpacas And Turkeys

My son's beta fish, Tyler, has his own home gym. It consists of a plastic bubble attached to a round mirror, about an inch and a half in diameter. The bubble keeps the mirror from drifting down to the bottom of his bowl. If you know anything about gravity, you'll understand why the air filled bubble is necessary.

In case you aren't up on beta fish lore, they don't know the difference between another real fish, and their image. We don't need to call them stupid. 'Not the swiftest swimmer in the bowl' works, without any animal cruelty in this post. When confronted with a mirrored image of themselves, the reaction is one normally reserved for a true threat on their territory.

Our last beta would flare her gorgeous rainbow hued, flowing fins at her rival. She would head butt the mirror with savage thrusts. Not only did this provide us sick-o fish owners with joyful amusement, she got exercise, released endorphins, and had a daily adventure. This was so intense for her, that she was only allowed five minutes at a time with the horrifying reflection.

But Tyler, well, he's been not so great for us to gawk at. He just swims away and refuses to face his enemy. I won't use the word wimp here. Bravery-challenged is more politically correct. Fish are sensitive, after all.

At the farm behind our house, we have been thrilled with the arrival of four young alpacas. They have the 'Beatles from the 1960's hairstyles. If I wasn't so stunned with their sudden appearance, I would have thought to holler at them to get a haircut. How can they bloody well see with all that fur in their eyes?

Our dog, Daisy, ran along their fence. The alpacas (is it too soon to name them George, Paul, John and Ringo?) were already unsettled from their landing in a new home. Now, they were encountering their first St. Bermastiff. Confused looks abounded. They knew it was not an alpaca, not part of the long neck pack. So what was it, covered in tan fur, long tail, and way too much energy? Such a long strange trip that day had held for them.

When I went back to say hello to them yesterday, the alpacas had gotten over their initial disorientation. Heads lowered, all four were chewing grass. It felt a wee bit discombobulating to me, though. All the other grass eaters have normal length necks. Alpacas have the look of goofy royalty--not a creature that spends it's day doing regular farm animal stuff. It was a week of expanding horizons for all of us.

In the excitement of the alpacas, I forgot the turkey incident. Another new arrival, a few days before Christmas, was a dozen turkeys. Although they are not expert pilots, turkeys can awkwardly flap up onto a four foot high fence. One brave turkey made it to the top of his enclosure, and then kept going to the other side. Free at last!

Daisy was so excited, she raced over to give a little nip on turkey feathers. Thankfully, she is a well trained dog, and backed off as soon as I told her to stop. The turkey gobbled displeasure at us. Daisy and I decided it was a good time to slink away. Pissed off turkeys are not fun to deal with.

I have no idea what could have happened to those turkeys, but when we returned the day after Christmas, they were gone. I'm as perplexed as you must be.

Hope you are enjoying as much entertainment this holiday season as I have been with my animal encounters. If you own a beta, be sure to buy the exercise apparatus at your local pet store. Happy New Years!

Resolving to include more entertainment and laughter in the new year? 

Heather Leigh,
Easily entertained by other creatures