10

Clarice Kitten and the Dangerous Noms – Part 2

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So far – Clarice Kitten, who lives in the forest, got curious about some “noms” a woman offered her. Unfortunately, the woman used the food to trap Clarice and take her to the vet. Now the adults are trying to get her out. You can read the details here.

The three cats ran up to the house. They found Clarice asleep on a pillow on a back porch. There were screens around the porch and a screen door. Frank jumped onto one of the screens and looked in.

Frank (whispering): Clarice, wake up. We’re here to help. Wake up.

Clarice woke up and looked around. She ran to the window when she saw Frank. She started crying and tried to tell him what happened to her.

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Frank: Shhh. You need to be quiet so you don’t wake the humans. We want to get you out of there.

Clarice: Please get me out. I hate it here.

Frank: OK, your parents are out there. Let me talk to them and we’ll figure something out.

Clarice: Hurry! They want to spray me and give me to some humans. I want to be with you.

Frank: It’s OK. Try to be calm.  I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.

Frank jumped down. The three cats went back to the edge of the woods to try and come up with a solution.

Kate: How is she?

Frank: She’s fine, but scared. She says they want to spray her and give her to some humans.

Kate: Spray her? With what?

Tom: No human is going to take my kitten! What are we going to do?

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Frank: I don’t see any way in. I don’t think we can get through the screens without waking up the human.

Katie: Then we need to get her out the same way she got in.

Frank: What’s that?

Katie: The human has to let her go.

Tom: Do you have an idea?

Katie: Maybe. She saw me earlier, so she might expect me to come back.

Tom: Great. So you’re going to let her get you too?

Frank: I don’t think we have to get inside. I think we need to get the human to open the door to let Clarice out.

Tom: OK. So how do we do that?

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Frank: Katie can go up to the house and start crying. Hopefully the human come outside to see what is going on and open the door. Clarice needs to be ready to race out the door when that happens.

Kate: I guess it’s worth a try. Go tell Clarice the plan.

Frank climbed back up and told Clarice to be ready to run if the woman opened the door to see what was going on outside. Clarice hid under a chair by the door and waited.

Frank: OK, Kate. Let’s try it.

Kate sat outside the porch and cried and cried. Clarice began to cry too. Frank and Tom waited. And waited. Nothing happened.

Frank: It’s not working.

Tom: I have an idea.

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He let out a yowl and ran toward the house. Frank followed. Tom turned and hissed at him. They started to circle each other and growl. Soon they were hissing and spitting. It turned into a full cat fight. Finally a light came on in the house. The woman came to the porch.

Woman: What on earth is going on out there?

Kate continued to cry, and the male cats were fighting loudly.

Woman: For goodness sake, be quiet!

No one was really paying attention to her, except Clarice, when she opened the door. Clarice raced out and ran to her mother. Kate saw her.

Kate: Run, Clarice!

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Kate took off after Clarice. Tom and Frank were still at each other when the girls ran by. Kate came back.

Kate: Get going! She’ll come out if you two don’t quiet down.

The three adult cats raced into the woods. They found Clarice. When she saw her mother she started crying again. Kate licked her and calmed her down. They headed for home. The two male cats looked at each other.

Frank: What was that all about?

Tom: It was the only way I could think of to make more noise. No hard feelings?

Frank sat down and bathed himself. After finding no damage from the fight, he calmed down.

Frank: I guess I understand. But next time, let me know what’s going on. I could have killed you.

Tom: Not much danger of that.

They looked at each other again and started walking home.

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5

The Adoption of Bertie Turkey

 

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A flock of wild turkeys were strolling around discussing current events.

Turkey 1: Do you know what’s happening in a couple of weeks? It’s going to be Thanksgiving. Do you know what that means?

(The other turkeys look bewildered.)

Turkey 1: That’s the day that every human wants to have turkey for dinner.

Turkey 2: So what? They hunt for us every day.

Turkey 1: I was talking to a guy who was passing through. Apparently we have some kind of relative called a domesticated turkey. Humans raise them on farms just to eat them.

(The turkeys look appalled.)

Turkey 3: That’s barbaric!

 

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Turkey 1: He said that they have put together a team of freedom fighters called Freedom for All Turkeys (FAT). They are going to try to release as many turkeys as possible.

Turkey 4: What can we do to help?

Turkey 1: He wants us to let them know if we see any of these farms so they can set the turkeys free.

(They all nod and go back home.)

Wilma: Fred, I heard the most horrible thing today.

Fred: What’s that? (He’s scratching the ground looking for something.)

Wilma: The humans have something called farms where they raise turkeys just so they can eat them!

Fred: Relax. I’m sure it’s just a rumor.

Wilma: No, it’s not. There’s a group called FAT that’s trying to release as many as possible. We have to help.

Fred: What can we do about it?

Wilma: I want you and the boys to go to one of these farms and bring one of those poor turkeys back. At least we can adopt one of them.

(Fred sighs.)

 

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George: Dad, why are we out here in the middle of nowhere?

Fred: Your mother wants us to rescue a turkey from a farm.

Tim: How much farther is it? We’ve been walking forever.

Fred: It should be around here somewhere.

(Finally they see a sign: Tyler’s Turkey Farm 2 miles. They groan and keep walking.)

 

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(They walk up to a large fenced area.)

Fred: Well, I guess this is it.

Tim: Dad, this is stupid.

George: He’s right. Turkeys don’t fly a lot. But we can fly high enough to get over that fence.

Fred: Well, maybe this isn’t it.

(They hear a lot of rustling and gobbling.)

George: Nope, this is it.

 

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Tim: Is that one of them?

George: It’s huge! Guess that’s why they don’t fly away. That thing can barely walk.

Fred: You, there! Are you a domesticated turkey?

Bertie: Yep. My name is Bertie. Are you guys turkeys? You look like you haven’t had a decent meal in weeks. C’mon in. We have plenty.

Fred: We’re here to rescue you.

Bertie: From what? It’s great here. Nice grounds. Plenty to eat.

George: They’re going to eat you! That’s why they feed you so much.

Bertie: Oh dear! That’s not good. How do I get out?

(They look around.)

Tim: Look. A couple of the wires are loose here.

(They pull the rest loose with their beaks and pull the wires back to make a hole.)

Bertie (skeptical): You want me to go through there?

Fred: You have no choice.

(The two boys fly over the fence and push Bertie. Fred holds the wires back as far as possible. After much struggle, Bertie finally pops through.)

 

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They make their way very slowly through the woods, Bertie needing to stop frequently. What had taken a half day going took three days coming back.

So if you’re wandering around the Michigan woods, may just see Bertie hanging around with a bunch of wild turkeys. He looks about the same, although a lot lighter.

 

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(All pictures courtesy of Google Images)

WordPress says this is going to publish on Sat. at 6a.  It is now Sat. at 8p and I am manually publishing it.

9

Peacock in the City

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We are here in South Mumbai to meet Dinesh Mora, star of the hot Indian reality show, Real Peacocks of Mumbai. We arrive at a very exclusive gated community, protected by two Bengal tigers. The one at the driver’s side seems surprised to see a mongoose at the wheel. When he checks his guest list, he starts to chuckle, “Going to Mora’s, I see.”

We find a cul-de-sac of incredibly refined neutral-hued homes. Except the one painted bright pink. We get out, look around and see several limos with their macaque drivers waiting. The closest one is glaring at us. He comes over and asks if we’re friends of Mora. We explain about the interview.

 

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The macaque grimaces. “I should have known. Since he’s moved in, it’s been a circus around here. I don’t know why they let him in. Everyone else here is high-level government; leopards mainly with a few lions. He’s a bird! Parties all the time. And look at that paint! Some royal bird of the gods!”

Andi, the photographer and I nod politely and walk to the door. It opens as we approach. It is Anika, Dinesh’s personal assistant. “Hurry up! Dinesh has been waiting for you!”

 

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We walk into a large open room where a large handsome peacock is having some sort of oil massaged into his chest feathers. “Hello there! I’m running behind. We’ll only have time for a couple of pictures before we go. Remember: left side or full-face only. No close-ups of the tail.” Andi grins at me and takes a few shots.

Dinesh dashes out and gets on a vintage Royal Enfield motorcycle. He wants several pictures on it. “Girls love guys on bikes.” Andi poses him several ways before he roars off. Anika stays to do some work.

 

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By the time we get to the studio, a stylist is trying to undo the wind damage to Dinesh’s tail feathers. “Be careful! You know I have the best-looking feathers here. Damage them and I’ll make sure you never work again!” She calmly continues her work.

“You! Picture girl! Come over here. I want some close-ups.” Andi glares at me and walks over.

 

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I ask him how he likes living in Mumbai after spending the rest of his life in the north. “Well, I do miss Mum and my sisters. I’m trying to talk them into coming down here. I have plenty of room. The house is too big for me alone and I certainly am not ready to settle down yet.” He winks at me.

What does he think of the neighborhood? “Truthfully, I wish I’d done a little more research. I wanted someplace quiet so I could relax, but I might as well be living in a cemetery. Apparently none of them have friends. I can’t help that I eat outside and they have servants to prepare their meals. Besides, I keep thinking one of them is going to eat me.”

 

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He’s called to the set. It’s a pretty typical scene from what I’ve heard. The four guys go to a bar, meet some girls they know. They all get a table. A couple of beautiful peahens walk by. Two of the guys get up to talk to them. Their girls get upset and go up to the peahens. Feathers fly. The guys go home, have a drink and talk about girls.

Dinesh goes back to make-up. He wants more oil on his feathers. “You would not believe how those lights can dry you out.”

 

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A couple of female fans some back. One of them coos, “We’d love to rub oil into you.” Andi almost gags. Dinesh smiles and points at the bottles. The girls get to work.

“mmmm” Dinesh looks at us. “Get a couple more pictures, and I think we’re done. Try to avoid their faces. I don’t want any jealous ladies out there.” He thinks for a minute. “And don’t forget. I have final approval on all copy and pictures.”

We leave without telling him that he never got around to asking for a contract.

 

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Riki T Tavi, Asia Correspondent

(all pictures courtesty of Google Images)

5

Never Thought I’d Live to See the Day

It’s not like I have to look a long way to feel old. My kids have somehow morphed from being small, cute little people to fully grown, attractive people. I really don’t understand it. It’s not like I’ve gotten any older.

Even my husband has a smart phone. I have sat at dinner where he spends more time on his phone than the kids. Actually, he’s worse than the kids. My daughter uses the phone as a timer for some medications she has to take, and my son uses it to look up information we don’t know during discussions.

But my family is pretty traditional. You might have noticed that the paragraph above mentions both family dinners and discussions. We discuss politics, always a challenge (2 conservatives, 1 traditional liberal, and one populist). We also talk about religion, world events, literature, and history. I don’t discuss the dinners in public; it seems a little retro.

And (of course) the kids rarely swear in front of me. When I was young, someone told me that using too many “bad” words wasn’t sophisticated. It just showed a lack of vocabulary. I agreed, and over the years and have found various vegetables and animals effective substitutes for most things. Since it wasn’t a hot button for me, the kids respected my point of view. (I’ve come to find out that’s kind of weird too.)

There was also the issue of my mother swearing a fair amount. Who wanted to do it if their mother did?

But I have started a new job. You may remember that I am now working midnights. To stereotype, there are two groups of people there: Millennials and bitter people waiting to retire. Of course, there are a couple of people who fall outsides those groups, but they aren’t any fun to talk about.

Everyone is friendly and welcomed me into the group. I like them all. But I have never been with a group of Millennials who are relaxing with their peers. Some of them seem to be incapable of saying a complete sentence without using a word that used to be a vulgar term for sexual intercourse.

I went home and asked my Millennial son why some of his peers seemed to use the word as noun, verb, adjective, and (incorrectly) adverb. He joked and told me that if I hadn’t heard it used as a preposition, I had not heard everything. He then told me that people only used it when they were relaxing with their friends. Okay. I guess I’m flattered.

So I asked my Millennial daughter why. She said that people liked to use it because it was a “forbidden” word. She said that there were only two words that were now forbidden in “polite company.” (A term showing my age.) The other word is one that refers to female genitalia in a particularly vulgar way. Apparently that one is still more common on social media than general conversation.

I stock in an area that includes condoms and other personal items for a large chain store. I am totally in favor of condoms. Preventing pregnancy is good. Spreading disease is bad. And I’m sure that moving them out from behind the counter has been nothing but good.

However, I pity the poor teenager looking for something for his first experience. Gone are the days of choosing between three or four types of Trojans. I guess the variety in deodorant and toothpaste has come to personal protection.

There are three racks of choices, plus the selection on the shelf below and hanging on the display nearby. They pretty much all promise a more sensitive experience for him and a more sensual experience for her. You can now buy them in boxes of up to 40 which I hope are purchased by people in committed relationships. I guess the other option would be a guy with really high hopes.

The more surprising thing is that you can now buy items that go over the condom to give the female additional stimulation. I’m not sure, but I don’t think those things existed when I was young. At least they were not available on a rack in plain view of everyone, right next to the vibrators that could remove the male from the picture entirely. I wonder what the parents say when their child wanders down the aisle while they are looking at razors.

I kind of miss the days when s*** was still uncommon and the most embarrassing thing to explain to a child in a grocery store was the sanitary napkins.

 

0

Peace in Our Time**

**A reference to World War One. Remember: I told you that one of the hazards of reading this blog was the possibility of learning something.

I wanted to remind you that this year is the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI. (Yes, we count the part before the U.S. entered.) Those of you with school-age children may want to be prepared for macaroni U-boats. I can also see a debate on the futility of trench warfare vs congressional debate. Maybe Congress could debate the futility of trench warfare. Would they see the irony?

Back to reality.This this post could have been subtitled “Technology Strikes Back Part, Part 2: Going Global.” Last week we lost all electronic connectivity.

That’s right. No Internet. No TV. No land-based telephone. If we wanted news, we had to read it. Which would have been a lot easier if the Internet had not caused the papers to either shut down or only print a few days a week.

As you may recall, I am not a huge user/lover of technology. When my husband came upstairs on Friday to tell me that Comcast was out, I don’t think I showed the proper level of distress. That really shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise. I’m the only one in the family who could have been home from work for three hours without noticing it.

My reaction was more along the lines of a sigh of relief. No Judge Judy (a family member’s secret addiction). No shouts of triumph at 2a because someone’s team had finally breached the wall and was attacking their arch-nemesis. No pieces of candy, marbles, flying pigs or whatever mesmerizing for hours. No more hour-by-hour updates of someone’s family (not mine) reunion.

Best of all, no solicitation calls at dinner-time. Admittedly we eat early (about 4p), but the timing is amazing. I’m told that non-profits were not impacted by the No Call rule. There seems to be some sort of team-tag going on. I will just get rid of one, when another one finds our number. Considering that it usually takes 3-4 repetitions of “I’ve told you not to call x times” before it gets through, I’m thinking that maybe my own pre-recorded response is the answer.

I probably could have been a little more sympathetic. My husband does use home email for work since the email at work is down for upgrade. I figure if they can use the excuse that their email server is down, so can he. He’s worried about a breakdown in communication. As if anything has been able to fix that problem since the beginning of time.

My son’s friends took pity on him and invited him to the modern equivalent of socializing: sitting in the same room and each person facing a screen instead of the other people. I had heard about it, but the first time it happened in our house it was a little unnerving. Back in the dark ages, if two or more people were in the same room and not talking they were either fighting or bored. Unless it was mixed male and female.

My daughter turned to cleaning her room. It was wonderful. She’s been promising to do it for some time. She’s going away to college in the fall. It’s going to be really nice to be able to leave the door open and not worry about losing the cats.

In a way, the timing was a little unfortunate. Edgar (my computer) and I had finally come to a meeting of the minds (so to speak). I realized what a sensitive personality he really is. And he realized that I could permanently disconnect his power source. We can generally get through an entire session without angst. It probably helps that my son taught me how to move around the screen rather than having the screen move around on me.

Nevertheless, I probably suffered disproportionately little. Even one of the cats was put out. She spends a lot of time with my husband while’s he’s on the computer. In his lap, not the keyboard (she’s a little non-technical too). No computer, no sitting, no warm-blooded furniture.

I guess we’ve all become creatures of the 21st century.

Update: It is now Wednesday afternoon (5.5 days later) and the connectivity has finally been restored (they did something in the backyard.) Maybe Comcast is right – their customer service couldn’t possibly be any worse after a merger with TimeWarner.

8

What Surprise?

My husband’s birthday is in a few weeks. It is customary in our family to ask the person what they would like. Of course, there is no guarantee the person will get it. Particularly if I have no clue what they are asking for. Thus, this year my husband has given me item name, item description, company name and stock number. If he’d just go on line and enter the credit card information, I’d be all done.

I really enjoy shopping for other people. I think it’s fun to try to find things that fit their personality but are somewhat unique. My dad was always a problem. Not because he had no interests, but because if he saw something he wanted, he’d go ahead and buy it. (We were sure Amazon had a moment of silence when he died.) So we’d get to Christmas and his birthday (two weeks apart) and there’d be nothing that he wanted.

Then he started “saving” gift ideas for me. Sometimes he went as far as to buy the stuff and give it to me to wrap. Totally unacceptable. Fortunately, he loved to read. So I’d spend a lot of time in bookstores looking for the “perfect” gift. That was more fun before the mega-stores closed down the local shops and Amazon shut down the mega-stores.

Now I buy books for my husband and son. They are both highly literate with a wide variety of interests. So it’s safest for me to buy things that I want to read in case they don’t like it. Just kidding. But it was a lot easier to go to the bookstore on Main Street (yes, we really had one before Border’s and Barnes and Noble moved in) and look through things than to go on Amazon.

Amazon reminds me of Google. If I put in the name of a book, I will get the book I want and anything else with that title. (Shouldn’t there be some rule against having two books with the same name? Maybe that doesn’t count if the author’s been dead for a couple of centuries. More ageism.) If I put in the title with the author, I will get all possible versions of that book including the ones that are out of print and they have no access to. (I guess that’s so I’ll know there’s something I might want that’s not available.)

But the results don’t end with what I’ve requested. One time I was looking for a stuffed hedgehog. After looking at some of the ugliest stuffed animals I’d ever seen, the results went to books and toys. Then to pigs. Then to other animals. I stopped looking after that and went to a store.

I used to browse at the mall. One day I realized that the odds of finding something unique at a mega-mall were not all that great. Particularly after I realized that I was seeing the same thing in a variety of materials and prices at most of the stores. Back to Main Street.

I have an aversion to giving cash (or gift cards) as you may have guessed. In the first place, I’d rather not have the recipient know what value I put on their event (wedding, graduation, etc.). Second, in a close group (e.g., family), everyone finds out and expects the same thing. What if I don’t like someone? I could get them something nice at a second mark-down. They’d never know I spent $15 on them while I spent $75 on their sister (who is not marrying the boyfriend who coincidentally just had his divorce finalized a month before the ceremony).

Gift cards are wonderful things if you know the person well enough to know where they like to shop. I have gotten several gift certificates and gift cards over the years to places I never set foot into. Coffee shops (I don’t drink coffee), Wal-Mart (I work at the competition), restaurants (nice place – do you have any idea how much it costs to actually eat there?), fast food (have barely eaten it since I got married – my husband hates it and now it makes me sick). And once again, I usually spend more than I want to because otherwise I feel cheap. I really prefer being cheap, but being stealthy about it.

Back to my husband. He’s been wanting that same stupid thing for over a year now. Wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Hope he likes the alpacas I picked out. They will keep the lawn short and he can sell the wool.

3

You Got Me That? Why?

Now that you’ve finished shopping and wrapping, the tree is up, the cards are out, and the baking is under control, there’s one more topic we need to discuss. Why I would never be friends with someone so perfect. Just kidding. I’ve never met anyone who is at that point two weeks before Christmas, so you may be a wonderful human being. Or an alien. Or manic. (I’m bipolar. The one year I got everything done this early was before I started getting proper treatment.)

No, I’m talking about gift etiquette. Kids are not the only ones who open gifts and suffer from “You obviously spent a lot of money. Why on earth would you spend it on this?”

One year when I was in college, my boyfriend got me a large mirror. It was a cat amidst a bunch of houseplants with the title “In the jungle darkness lurks the tiger.” It was really cute, and definitely fit my personality. I had no place whatsoever to put it, but thought it was a great gift. My mother took one look at it and said, “Why did he get you THAT?” Can you tell she didn’t like him?

Of course, she is the one who got a pair of faux Louis XIV lamps from her mother-in-law to go with her Danish modern furniture. And a purple negligee from the same woman (she is neither the purple type nor the negligee type). They didn’t get along. I think she may have been living vicariously through me. She spent years bashing the gifts I got from various boyfriends. Fortunately she got more tactful by the time my husband started giving me gifts (or she liked him better).

While I would never advise my mother’s route of putting hideous lamps in your living room for ten years to show appreciation for the thought, I don’t recommend opening something and telling the giver “but this isn’t the one I wanted!” either. (Another relic of my pre-medicated days. My family is really, really grateful I found a decent doctor.)

I think it’s important to understand the giver. Obviously, anything you get from your child should be accepted with the same heart-felt joy they had in buying it/making it. No matter what it is, they genuinely thought you would like it and have spent a lot of time on it. Needless to say, this advice needs to go by the wayside somewhere over the age of ten.

While some teenagers still care about the recipient, I think some are more casual about the whole thing. “Oh, that’s right, you belong to the NRA. Sorry about the vegan food club membership.” Or, “I ran out of money after I bought gifts for [significant other]. But I’m sure you’ll like this soap from the dollar store. You always told me it’s the thought that counts.” A large percentage won’t care (or notice) if you return it.

Not so much with parents. Assuming they still like you and your spouse, they have put some thought into your gift(s). And they would like to think they know you well enough to know what you would like to have. So, if you receive another gift for your office (zen garden, aquarium, scorpion paperweight), be enthusiastic. They will never know that you returned it for the office basketball hoop with automatic return you really wanted.

It’s a little trickier with a spouse. He will probably notice if you return the sexy negligee for a flannel gown. By the time you are married, it is too late to tell him that it makes you feel like a slut (unless it’s a combination wedding/Christmas gift). We all know the gift is really for him, but there is usually something of a compliment in it. He won’t buy it unless he wants to see you in it. You can wear it one time for him. On the way from the bathroom to the bed. If you look as bad as you think you do, he won’t ask again. If you look as good as he thinks you do, you’ve got a new outfit.

Conversely, she’ll probably know if the boxers with “Gift from Santa” on the front disappear. (If you’re married to the girl above, you’re probably already happy with the gifts and don’t need my advice.) However, in your case, you need to find out whether it’s a joke or her idea of sexy. If they are accompanied by another pair covered in cartoon reindeer, it is probably a joke. If there’s a how-to manual for something you’ve never heard of, there are things you may not know about your wife.

Writing this has reminded me that the only thing that is done around here is the tree. And that is handled by my husband and daughter. You’re on your own with your bosses, friends and neighbors. Keep in mind: the tactfulness should increase based on the amount of damage they can do to your life/career.