A Mighty Good Man

 

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“Four years of being married to my best friend, Alex Awesome! You rescued me, you demonstrated what love really is, you made my dreams come true and helped me reach for new ones, you are my everything. I love you, forever and always. Happy anniversary, my wonderful husband,” Holly Grape posted on her Facebook wall.

On any given day, chances are good that either she or he posted something romantic about the other.  I grew used to the weekly pictures of fresh flowers that Holly would post with the caption, “From my wonderful husband!”

I’ll admit, the Scrooge in me was skeptical.  But then, I had the chance to spend time with them over the summer.  They are just as sappy and sweet in person.

So today, when I saw the anniversary post, I had to say something.

“Alex, when I find a guy worthy of my awesomeness, I’m sending him to you for training!” I commented.  “Holly, hold onto this one!”

Holly (predictably) answered, “He’s mine!”

Couples like the Awesomes are inspiring.  I mean, I hear so much about divorce and meet so many guys that aren’t my type, that it’s crazy cool to hear about a couple doing so damn well.

“Alex, how did y’all meet?” I asked my friend.  “I know, you probably already told me, but I may have been drinking at the time.”  Like the night that we sat on their back porch, a group of us, and finished off bottle after bottle of wine.  He fed us steaks and salad, taking pains to ensure that mine was allergen-free and cooked to my liking.

Alex answered, “Me and Holly met the first time at a company picnic. She was still married as was I. I was part of a group of friends that every Tuesday would go to Buffalo Wild wings for a get together outside work. After a couple of times I started noticing things. Things like her subservience and bruises.”

Holly has bravely spoken out against her former husband and the abuse she suffered.  It’s not a secret, but I hadn’t realized the role that Alex had played in getting her out of that bad situation.

“I friended her on Facebook and started chatting out of concern. One Facebook poke led to another and we started getting intimate. Eventually the more I saw her the more I became in awe of how amazing a woman she is. Beautiful, intelligent, great mother, and very nice set of tits.”

They dated casually for a while, then decided to start a new life together.  Alex added, “It was a risk I am glad I took. She has given me everything I could ever want and more.”

“What advice do you have for a woman looking for a good man?” I asked.

“Never portray anything you are not. False pretenses are a very bad way to start a relationship. So just be yourself. From the start, always communicate. If a comment is made or an opinion is said, that is a way to open a conversation. Don’t make it condescending or rude but just talk. A valuable thing to learn is how to communicate. Never start with putting someone on the defense. Start off by saying, ‘in my opinion,’ or ‘I think.’ Not, ‘You should’ or ‘You have to’. Communication is something that will always make a relationship fail without it. If kids are involved, mixed family or not, you both have to be on the same page with everything. Never split kids like you have to teach and discipline yours and he has to teach and discipline his. Kids are smart and will test their limits with that.”

He continued, “For the guys, there is a book called The Five Love Languages. READ IT. Read it once every year also or more to refresh yourself also. Figure out what keeps your ladies love tank full.”

I’ve read Dr. Gary Chapman’s book and it is excellent.  It helped me understand my relationships, as well as myself.  For example, I tend to be a gift giver.  Just ask my daughter Sally.  I always have something for her when I see her, even if it’s just a pair of socks.  Sometimes they’re even elk socks.

Alex continued, “If you notice, I put the woman first. How I live my life every single day is this….my kids and wife come first in every situation of everyday life. I never think or put myself first. It is not about me. I will receive plenty in return to keep my tank full. I know this because my kids and wife know this as well. I am not taken advantage of by anyone and won’t stand to be either. By putting my family first and knowing that I am meeting their needs give me more pleasure than any gift ever could.”

Wow.  Just, wow.

Sex

Nadia wants to know your number one sex tip,” I relayed.  Ok, so I’m curious, too.  It’s not every day that I meet a nice guy.  Especially a nice guy who’s willing to share his story and advice.

He answered, “Again, it is not about me. It’s about thinking of your partner first. My wife is always pleased before I am…numerous times. Let’s face it ladies we all know men can be 2 pump chumps. Every once in a while that’s fine. Quickie in the morning before work or she is bent over in the kitchen and the urge arises. You also have to keep it exciting. Don’t fall into a rut. Your everyday life is a rut. Don’t make your sex life the same. That is a big reason why people stray. We want variety. You can find that with the same person.”

Alex’s Advice:

  • Dress up for her on a date night.
  • Open that jar she can’t.
  • Grab her ass while she is walking upstairs.
  • Come up behind her and kiss the back of her neck.
  • Sometimes she just wants a fuck. So give it to her. We were doing laundry yesterday and I got her excited so I laid her down right there on the carpet. (We have the rug burns to prove it.) I didn’t get off…but it’s not about me. I got mine later.

“Not everyone is the same when it comes to sex. So what works for us may not be what works for someone else. But experiment, and COMMUNICATE. I like this…I don’t like this…I am willing to try this.  There is nothing wrong with saying and letting your partner know what’s up. You are not a bad person or less of a lady if you like it dirty or something someone may look down upon, if it works for you,” Alex continued.

He paused to think, then added, “That’s the other thing. I know a lot of people today do not show affection in public or at home. Huge mistake in my opinion. People need comfort.  A 20-second hug actually releases tension.  It can put a person at ease and is far better than to just say, Hey how was your day.”

Heck, I’ll take some rug burns in exchange for that any day!  Well, from the right guy, at the right time, of course.

Another reason that I respect the hell out of Alex and Holly’s relationship: they have tattoos that are symbols of their relationship.  Like the “LO” on her left hand that matches the “VE” on his right hand, so that when their fingers are intertwined, everyone can see their love.  Literally.

I’ve been divorced.  Committing to another person is scary.  Committing to a tattoo is beyond me.  But committing to a person and a tattoo?  That’s REAL.

Alex has other tats proclaiming his love, too.  He has a sexy teacher tattoo which is a nod to his wife and her occupation.  It is more curvy and realistic than most pinup pictures, and has her dark hair and green eyes.

Then there’s the family crest that is large on his chest.  It combines his children and hers, and shows just how much those young people are now theirs.

“Not to be rude but me and the wife are heading out for our anniversary dinner. I would love to chat with you some more tomorrow,” Alex said.

“Of course, thanks!”  I answered, “Have a great dinner!”

“Thank you. I’m kinda looking forward to dessert!” he said.

Happy Anniversary, Alex and Holly!  May you keep inspiring us for years to come!

In Other News…

A couple of weeks ago, I scheduled my first date in months .  It was canceled due to a cash flow problem.  So, we rescheduled for last Saturday night.

And a freakin’ tornado blew through town.

A TORNADO.  I cancelled a date because, oh, sorry!  Heavy winds and funnel clouds are in the neighborhood.  Think I’ll just stay home, thanks, see you another time.

As far as cancelling dates go, “Act of God” is a damn good reason.

We decided to get together on Sunday night instead.  North Texas flooded.

FLOODED.  Seriously.  Fort Worth, Dallas, everything between and around, was under water with continuous rain for hours.  At one point, quarter-inch hail pelted my house, sounding like bullets hitting the roof and walls.

Um, is God trying to tell us something?  Like, maybe we weren’t meant to be together?

Eh, we’re stubborn.  We’ll try again this weekend.  I wonder if we’ll get locusts.  Or maybe a snowstorm.  As long as it’s not a car wreck, I’ll be ok.  Then again, maybe I’ll just stay home.  God has a strange sense of humor sometimes; no telling what He’ll think of next!

We can’t all be in great relationships like the Awesomes.  Again, happy anniversary, friends!  XO!

Cheers!

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Bachelorette Christmas Carol: Future (New and Improved)

 

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Jules, Size 2*

“OhmyGod—is that me?! I look so skinny!” I squealed. “My hair glows, I look FANTASTIC!! I must be a size 2!”

The Ghost of Christmas Future nodded. “Yep, that’s you, all 120 pounds of you. You’ve been working out daily and are eating right. Elizabeth, Allie, and you speed walk at the mall instead of visiting bars. You have competitions to see who can drink the most water and you quit drinking wine because of the empty calories.”

We looked at each other for minute, then we both cracked up laughing. “You had me going, right up to quit drinking wine,” I said, holding my sides and guffawing.

In the blink of an eye, Future-Jules looked just like regular ol’ me, all 140-pounds worth (a comfortable size 6). She poured herself a glass of cabernet.

(FYI, that picture is from a few years ago.  I ate a chocolate bar and haven’t been that size since.)

2020

I turned and said, “Is that Sally? She is so beautiful!”

“Yes, that’s your not-so-little girl,” The Ghost said.  “With Penny Pineapple by her side.  Welcome to 2020.”

“My eyes have never been 20/20.  I mean, I got glasses in the 3rd grade; no telling how long I needed them before that,” I quipped.

The Ghost turned his back on me to watch the others in the room.  I guess he doesn’t appreciate puns.

“Congrats on your Best Selling Book, Mom!  I’m so proud of you!” Sally said, beaming and hugging Future-Me.  “And I love that you made my girlfriend the star of your series!”

Future-Jules smiled.  “Her name was the best choice for a PI: Penny Pineapple.  She’s tough and scrappy, like Karen Murphy from the Dresden Files.  She’s perfect for the role.”

I jumped up and down.  “Oh oh oh!  Was my romance novel a hit?  Or was it Jules Rules Volume II?!  Tell me, which one made me rich?!”

The Ghost said nothing, but pointed to a book cover that was framed and hanging on the wall.

I walked to it and saw, “Penny Pineapple: Private Eye.”  The summary on the back promised, “Penny is paid to find the criminals.  If they aren’t punished by the penal system, she puts them in an early grave.  Dexter is combined with Stephanie Plum in this shocking new series.”

Huh.  I went from dating, to romance novels, to murdering people.  Shrug; it’s a natural progression.

“So, Mom, now that your book is on the best seller list, are you going to help me pay for grad school?” Sally said, looking hopeful.  “I have some undergraduate loans, and I’m only in my first year of the doctorate program.”

“Well, Sally,” F-Jules said.  Uh, let’s stick to Future-Jules.  Or “FJ;” that works.  “I need to invest some of my earnings back into the Jules Strawberry brand.  There’s marketing, expenses for book signings, and money to tide me over until the next book is published.  The rest of the profits go into money market funds so that the interest can grow.  Besides, once you get out of school, you can pay back those loans in no time.  You told me so yourself.”

“Wow, I never thought that you would turn into your father,” Sally replied.

FJ gave her a cold glare.  “Would you care to open your presents now?  First, guess which one has the elk in it.”

Sally groaned.  “I thought we were done with elk?!”

FJ gasped and looked at Elkton, still hanging on the wall wearing his big blue sunglasses.  He had acquired a Santa hat and multiple reindeer earrings.  “She didn’t mean it, Elkton John,” FJ told him earnestly.

I looked at the Ghost and said, “Ok, I’m on top of the world.  What’s the problem here?”

The Ghost pressed his lips together and said, “Come with me.”

2025

We took two steps and the scene changed.  It was still my living room, but Sally was older, and she stood with clenched fists.  “How could you?!” she said.

“Whoa!  What’s happening here?!” I asked.  “I’ve never seen that child so angry.”

The Ghost simply pointed.  There on the coffee table was a stack of papers. A mock-up of a book cover proclaimed, “Penny Pineapple Volume 5: Triple Homicide.”  A laptop open to the Wall Street Journal proclaimed the date to be December 25, 2025.

“The story wrote itself,” 2025-Jules said calmly.  “Penny didn’t kill you, the character in the book killed another character in the book.  It’s not real.”

“Is this because we wouldn’t name the baby after you?” Sally asked, tears in her eye.

“It’s not because of anything.  Relationships develop over time.  In the book, Penny’s character developed suspicions about her wife having an affair.  That’s not you, it’s a character,” 2025-Jules said.

“Why isn’t she—me—hugging Sally?  Why doesn’t she throw the manuscript out and write a new one?” I asked.  I ached to comfort my daughter.  I’d do anything to keep that little girl—uh, woman—from crying.

“Relationships don’t last.  Isn’t that what you’ve always said?” the Ghost told me.  “Penny and Sally’s stayed strong, so you killed it in print.”

I blinked and the Ghost didn’t give me a chance to reply.  He pulled me further into the future.

2045

This time, the room was dark.  A small figure slept on the couch, a bottle of wine nearby.

I shuddered.  “It has a twist cap,” I said.  “That’s the cheapest wine that you can buy.  Yuck!”

“You can’t be bothered to pay more for something that will be consumed,” the Ghost said.  “You squirrel away every penny that you make from the Penny series.  And that’s a pretty penny!” the Ghost said, chuckling.

Sure, now he likes puns!

A figure creeped into the room, slowly.  The woman was old, but I recognized the sequined top and the red lipstick.  The heels weren’t as high as they used to be and her hair was a more garish auburn than she ever wore before.  “Naughty Nadia?  What’s she doing here?”

“After your children deserted you, she was your only friend.  You made her your beneficiary.  She moved into your house, too, though she’s rarely here.  She still—uh—enjoys the company of her man friends,” The Ghost said.

Was he blushing?  Is that possible?  How much did he spy on NN to know where she sleeps?  Was this ghost a voyeur?

We watched as Nadia picked up a throw pillow, put it over the sleeping figure’s face, and pushed.

“Sorry, Love,” Nadia said.  “Turns out Prince William is just poor Willy.  He stole my credit cards and ran up the bill.  You said that you wouldn’t bail me out, so I need the inheritance money.  Nothing personal.”

I gasped.  “NADIA?!  My best friend kills me?!”

The Ghost looked at me and said, “All relationships end badly.”

“Take me back!  I promise to be nicer!  I’ll pay off all of Sally’s loans.  I’ll name the character in the book Patty Peanut Butter!  I’ll do anything!” I said.

The Ghost pushed me, and I fell.

Dead and Gone

I knelt in a graveyard.  Cold mist surrounded me.  There was a grave before me, but I couldn’t raise my eyes to look at it; I just couldn’t.

“Tell me that it’s not too late,” I said softly to the figure beside me.  “Tell me that, like Scrooge, I have another chance.”

The Ghost pointed to the headstone.

“Don’t make me look.  Is it, Jules Strawberry – killed by her best friend for the money?  Or is it, Good riddance?”  I asked.

Still, the Ghost pointed.

I looked up.  It was my mother’s headstone.  More accurately, the joint headstone that my mother shared with my father.

“How long were your parents were married?” The Ghost asked me.

“40 years, ‘til the day she died,” I said softly.

The tears fell from my eyes.  “Some relationships last,” I said.  “Some love is forever.  It’s not hopeless.”

Home Again

I awoke in my own bed, sitting upright immediately.

“What fucking day is it?” I yelled.  I put on a robe and ran down the hall to Jack’s room.  “What fucking day is it?”

He rubbed his eyes and said, “I don’t think it’s Fucking Day,” he answered.  “It’s Christmas Day.  Ask Google.  Google knows all.”

I confirmed with Google that it was, indeed, Christmas Day.  I still had time!  I could write more romance novels and less murder mysteries.  I could leave Penny and Sally out of all of them, and pay off my little girl’s (lady’s) student loans with the profits—however small they may be.

“Merry Christmas to all!  And I’ll remain a hopeless romantic until the day that I die!”

Cheers!

This is continuation of the Christmas Carol: Past and Present.

Last minute gift idea: the gift of laughter!

For more of my wisdom, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @jules_strawberry_rules .

*The picture is from 2012.  That’s what happens when all I eat is veggies.  YOLO!  Pour me some wine and pass the cheese!  Cheers!

 

 

Bachelorette Christmas Carol: Present

 

Dear Santa

“I am the Ghost of Christmas Present!” The Ghost intoned.

“I am the Drinker of Wine!” I answered. “And the Writer of Blogs!”

Unimpressed, the Ghost grabbed my hand. In a blink, we were standing in my kitchen, watching me make coffee.

Jules-Christmas-Day was dressed in workout clothes and her hair was soaked with sweat.

“Looks like I had another hard workout,” I said. “Trying to lose just one more pounds before the New Year weigh-in.”

The Ghost nodded. Then he glanced meaningfully at the empty wine bottle on the counter.

“So I had a glass of wine on Christmas Eve. Jesus turned water into wine, it’s his birthday, so it seemed an appropriate choice,” I told him.

Did he honestly just roll his eyes? Can ghosts do that?

Jules-CD answered the ringing cell phone. “Hello? Uh, Elizabeth, I don’t think I’ll make it today. No, I’m not sick, I just…I just feel like staying home. Ok? It’s been a rough year. Thanks for understanding. Kiss the kids for me. Goodbye.”

“Now she spends the day sitting in front of the TV, watching old chick flicks on Netflix, and wondering why she’s alone.”

“She—I—am alone because I choose to be. You heard the call. I didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas. Bah, humbug!” I said.

With a soft touch, the Ghost shifted me to a home about 30 minutes to the northeast.

Elizabeth’s House

“Daniel, she’s just so worn out from work and school,” Elizabeth told her husband. The kids ran around, laughing and screaming. There were only three of them, but if you squinted, you would swear that there were at least six.

“She had her final exam weeks ago,” Daniel said.  “She should be recovered by now.”

“Daniel and I became friends first,” I told the Ghost. “We worked together. Then he introduced me to Elizabeth. Now we’re like sisters.”

“A sister that you choose to blow off when it’s convenient for you,” the Ghost said.

“Oh, she won’t miss me. She has Daniel and the kids,” I said.

Elizabeth pulled a mini-cake out of the oven. A little bigger than a cupcake, but smaller than a typical cake, it was the color of brownies. “I made this gluten-free, soy-free cake just for her. I guess one of the kids will eat it,” she said.

“Oh, that’s so sweet!” I said.

“When is Ms. Julie coming over?” the oldest daughter asked. Nine years old, and every inch a lady, she was the mother hen of the group.

“She’s not coming,” Elizabeth said. “She’s not feeling well.”

“She’s sick?” the girl asked, looking serious and concerned. “Should I make her a get well card?”

“Not that kind of sick. She works very hard, so she needs to rest,” Daniel explained.

“She should come play with me. Then she’d feel better, right, Daddy? She always smiles and has fun when she’s over here,” the girl looked up at her father with big eyes.

I couldn’t stand it. I turned away. “Spirit, take me home!” I commanded.

The Spirit instead took me to my son’s room, back to the southwest only a short drive for a mortal but a mere step for a spirit.

Jack’s Room

Boom! Blam! The computer said, simulating gunfire and crashes. Jack’s fingers moved over the keyboard like a flash, manipulating the controls like a pro.

“I get it, my son’s a video game geek,” I told the Ghost. “Let’s go.”

Jack turned off the game and turned on Skype. His friend Kevin smiled at him. “Yo, dude, I’d like to play some more, but I gotta bounce! Mom is yelling that lunch is ready.”

Jack said, “Sure.”

“Awwww, he’s sad that his friend is leaving,” I said.

“Aren’t you eating lunch with your fam?” Kevin asked.

“Naw, Sister was here last week. Today Mom is just sitting around feeling sorry for herself. I’m on my own. I’ll probably make a burrito with canned beans.”

“Ok, Ghost, this isn’t funny. Take me back,” I told the Ghost.

“You’re not going to open gifts?” Kevin asked.

“We did that last week when Sally was here. Whatever.  At least when she has a boyfriend, she cooks a big meal.  OHHH her enchiladas are sooooo good!  Like, oh la la, mon cher, je t’adore!”  His French translated to, “Oh, my dear, I love you!”  He made kissy noises to emphasize his point.

“Dude, I have no idea what you just said, but I really gotta go—later! Merry Christmas!”

I blinked away the tears, suddenly laughing. My son was going to make love to my enchiladas?! I guess we both need to get out more!

Home Again

I woke up in bed with mixed feelings. I had a right to stay home and be sad if I wanted to. I am an adult and I can do what I want. I’m not responsible for that little girl’s happiness. And Jack was probably just as happy playing video games as hanging out with family. So why did I feel so guilty?

More importantly, what would the Ghost of Christmas Future bring? Would I end up like Scrooge, with only a grave robber in attendance at my funeral? Surely Jack and Sally would be there. Only…would they?  What if I never made them enchiladas again; would they still love me?

The Ghost popped up and said, “By the way, might wanna wear pajamas tomorrow night. I know that you usually sleep naked, but really, girl! You’re expecting company!”

Cheers!

If you missed the Ghost of Christmas Past, read it here.

This post was originally written last year, but is posted here with some updates.  Tune in tomorrow for the Ghost of Christmas Future.  Merry Christmas! 

Tree_Presents

 

Bacholerette Christmas Carole: The Ghost of Christmas Past

“I wish I had put that Taser in my purse, instead of wrapping it and putting it under the tree!” I mumbled to myself.

The Ghost of Christmas Past stood before me. “You will visited by three ghosts! I am the first, the Ghost of Christmas Past!”

“Is this really necessary?” I asked him. “After all, I really value my sleep.”

“You said, No matter how well a relationship starts, it always ends poorly,” The Ghost said.

“Well, yes. What does that have to do with Christmas?” I asked.

“You also said, I wish this year was over all ready. Then it would be a year when I hadn’t dated anyone; a new opportunity. You need to remember where you’ve been.”

Before I could object that I wasn’t wearing any makeup, he whisked me away.

julian1998

Jack, 1998, with pudding cup and time traveling wristband.

julie and emily1998

Sally and Jules, 1998

1998

“Oh, this is my house in Austin!” I said, smiling. “Look how little Sally is! She must be just a year old! And Jack is soooo cute – is he 4 years old?” The smile wavered as I saw my ex-husband, Alan. Well, at least this was back when he was younger and thinner. And we were happy (mostly). “Spirit, why are we here?” I asked.

He just pointed.

I watched as Alan put a wrapped box in front of me—uh, Jules-1998. She (I?) smiled lovingly at him, before ripping off the paper.

“Breadmaker. It’s a breadmaker. A breadmaker?!” she couldn’t believe it. Her face was blank, then confused.

“Yes!” Alan said. “We love bread! Now you can bake it here, and we can have fresh bread!” He positively beamed, as though he had invented the thing.

“Um, you do all the cooking,” Jules-1998 said. “So why would you get this for me?

Alan didn’t hear. He was too busy taking out the appliance and reading the instructions.

“Hey, I thought you were supposed to show me the best of Christmas Past!” I said, surprised.

“No, that isn’t how I work. I show you the worst.”

Before I could object, he whisked me away. Again.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Reindeer Sally, 2009

2009

“What if…when you opened up your gift on Christmas morning, you discovered a vacuum cleaner,” Chris asked. He and I (circa 2009) were in his Nissan Maxima. He was driving us through the suburbs of McKinney, Texas, just north of Dallas.

“No appliances! The Rule is, you cannot buy me appliances for Christmas or Birthdays. We’ve covered this! It’s a Rule!”  Jules-2009 said.

“Let me finish,” he said, continuing. “After you get good and worked up, like you are now, you open up the box to find…” he paused for dramatic affect. I hyperventilated, still picturing a VACUUM CLEANER under my CHRISTMAS TREE. That’s worse than a BREADMAKER. “An engagement ring.”

I paused. Chris and I had been dating a year, and I had been hinting (ie writing in my blog) that it was time for the next step. (That is, writing in my blog in detail about how he should propose. In a restaurant, on one knee, in a real, traditional, well-planned proposal.)

“It sounds like a lot of fun for everybody except me,” I said. “Engagements should be magical. They should make the bride-to-be feel special. They should not start with a vacuum cleaner and everyone in the room laughing at me. They should not start with me having a heart attack over what a jerk my boyfriend is.” I wanted to be nice. I wanted to be supportive and smile and encourage him to do better. I wanted to be a Better Person and entice him to be romantic.

But really, if he couldn’t follow directions that were spelled out in black and white in a blog, what the hell?!

“You’re kidding, right?” I asked. “You wouldn’t really do that?”

His guilty little glance at me said it all. He wouldn’t do it…now that I told him how awful it sounded.

“Did he ever propose?” The Ghost asked.

“No, I broke up with him before he could,” I said.

“Really dodged a bullet with that one, didn’t you?” the Ghost asked.

I couldn’t tell, but I think within his hood, he was smiling. I blinked, and we were gone again.

2014

I awoke in my bed, sitting bolt upright. I hadn’t gone anywhere at all. The Ghost of Christmas Past had brought me right back to my bedchamber.

And I had two more ghosts to anticipate: The Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future.

“Bah humbug!” I said, more disgusted with Christmas than ever. “Men suck! I’m glad that I don’t have a boyfriend right now. I don’t want one anyways.” I threw my hands up in the air for emphasis. The romance novel that I had been reading when I feel asleep, slipped off the bed and onto the floor. It hit the laptop that was open to Match.com.

Ah, hell.  I wonder what tomorrow would be like.  Couldn’t get worse than this.

Could it?

Cheers!

Last minute gift idea: the gift of laughter!

For more of my wisdom, follow me on Facebook or Instagram @jules_strawberry_rules .

This is a reprint from last year.  I’ll post the Ghost of Christmas Future tomorrow, and the Ghost of Christmas Present on Christmas Day.

Happy Holidays!

Animal Farm

 

Sally_PettingAnimals

“Deer are so cute!!  They’re like puppies…but not at all,” Sally said.

Uh, what?

I think she meant that they’re cuddly and adorable like puppies, but you can’t snuggle with them because they’re so big.  At least, that’s how I interpreted her sage-sounding proclamation.

We were at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center as part of our Elk-themed Christmas.  While Fossil Rim doesn’t have elk, it does have enough hooved animals to thrill my little (same size as me) girl.

She was like a young child with her wide eyed excitement.  Her favorite animal was the emu, a bird almost as tall as we are (5’4”).  The goats in the petting zoo received hugs, and Bambi (as the young deer were quickly named) was another favorite.  The giraffes were awesome, but due to the chilly 50F day they were shut in their habitat.  The cheetah and rhino were also behind fences (thank God), but Sally was still excited.

Jack was with us, but like me, he was more excited about spending time with Sally Ann than the An-imals.  (Eh, see what I did there?)

The day before, we visited the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth (about an hour’s drive from my house).  Pics are included here, because we quite enjoyed ourselves.  Not much to share beyond the various deer sightings.

Later, as we settled down for movies and a glass of wine, I asked Sally if the glass is half empty or half full.

She answered, “Depends.  If it’s wine, it’s half empty.”

She is wise beyond her years.

Cheers!  And may your glass be always more than half full!

At the Kimbell Art Museum, we found Jack’s doppleganger.

Jack_Sally_Kimbell

Sally is a bow head!  Just hanging around at the Museum.  Note that she’s 18, so she dresses herself; I am not responsible for her, um, hair style.

Jules_Sally_Kimbell

The Kimbell offered umbrellas and hats so that we could take a selfie with one of the paintings (a recreation, actually).  I’m not sure that we quite fit!

Elkton John Christmas

 

 

Sally_Elk

Sally opens yet another elk present.

“I want to see an elk!” Sally first told me two years ago.

Two. Years. Ago.

For two years, she has talked about how she wanted to see elk.  She mentioned it on every hike and every time that we planned a hike.  I grew a little sick of the subject.

So, when I was in Colorado this past August visiting Gala Pear, we went on an Elk Hunt.  We were determined to find her an elk.

And we did!  Wilson Bearberry was the one to spot Elkton first.  We were in a gift shop in Evergreen, Colorado after hiking a nearby trail.  We also had eaten lunch, which was accompanied by a few cocktails, so we were pretty tipsy.

“HEY!  Look at THIS elk!” I said to Gala upon entering the store a few minutes earlier.

“That’s not an elk, that’s a MOOSE!” she told me.

“What’s the difference?” I asked.

Worst. Question. Ever.

“You don’t know the difference between an elk and a moose?!” Wilson and Gala said practically in stereo.

Then I was the recipient of a 30 minute lecture in the differences between a moose and an elk.  I’ll boil it down for you: the moose’s nose and antlers are different from the elk’s.  They’re probably different sizes, too, but you can’t tell on pictures so I couldn’t tell you which one’s bigger.  I do know that we amused the rest of the store’s patrons.  Just picture it: three drunk hikers stumbling around the store pointing at images of animals and naming them, “Elk!  Moose!  No, no, Jules, that’s a moose.  Yes, I’m sure, LOOK AT THE NOSE!!”

“You know what you need?” Gala asked.  “A stuffed elk head to go on the wall!”

“OhMyGod that would be GENIUS!” a very drunk and stumbling Jules answered.  (I only had two glasses of wine at lunch.  I think.  I’m pretty sure.  Maybe.)

“LOOK!” Wilson said.  There, hanging upon the wall, was a stuffed elk head.  Not a real one—that would’ve been gross—a teddy-bear-like plush head fit for a child’s pseudo-hunting lodge.

“IT’S PERFECT!” I said.  “MY LESBIAN DAUGHTER WILL LOVE THIS!”

Um, maybe I said that too loud.  The few patrons in the store had turned to look at us.  I smiled and waved at them.  “She’ll love it,” I reiterated, in a more normal tone of voice.

From there, the plotting continued.

“You can’t just give it to her,” Gala said.  “You have to put it somewhere where she’ll find it.”

“IN HER BED, GODFATHER STYLE!” Wilson said.

“YES!” we agreed.

“But wouldn’t that kinda, ya know, scare her?” I asked.  Then I looked into the elk’s eyes.  “Naw, who could be scared of this guy?!”

From there, the shopping continued.  “And after she sees him, she’ll open her Christmas presents, and they will all be elk!  Elk socks, elk shirt, elk…” I said.

Gala picked up a towel and posed with it and a cheesy smile.  The three of us were laughing so hard that we were crying.  “Elk towel!” she said.

“Yes!  Must…get…elk…towel!” I choked out between laughs.

Then we set out to naming the stuffed elk.  While Bacon may be an appropriate name for a pig, it was rejected for the elk.  So was calling it, “Pig.”

Later, it was Jack who named him, “Elkton John.”  So naturally, I bought him big plastic sunglasses to go along with his superstar appellation.

Naturally.

In the end, Sally’s Christmas haul consisted of:

  • Elkton John in sunglasses
  • Elk socks, two pair
  • Elk ornament (wooden)
  • Sven from “Frozen” (who is actually a moose)
  • Elk wrapping paper on one of the presents
  • Souvenir towel
  • Necklace (might have been a reindeer, but at this point it didn’t really matter)
  • Puzzle (Sven again)
  • Scrapbook: Elton’s earliest memories. We took pics when we found him, hanging in the store, and went from there.
  • Elk poop.  Of course, if you get an elk, there will be poop.  This poop happened to be chocolate-covered toffee.

Ekton_JOhn

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Elkton, a picture of one of his relatives, Gala Pear, and Wilson Bearberry

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Elkton’s nose was pickable (the hole went all the way through his nose, suitable for a ring)

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The saleslady said, “You want me to wrap this?!”  She was quite relieved when I said a bag would do.

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Sally was a good sport when she got to Sven the Ty baby.  “Really, Mom?!  REALLY?!”

 

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Sally enjoyed her other gifts and made a snow angel in the wrapping paper.

Sally did get some other presents, BTW.  The star-covered sweater she’s wearing is one of them, along with another star sweater, star undies, a shirt reading, “The Stars Love Me,” and some star-shaped paper clips.  My future astrophysicist loved them all. She also received three large boxes of pudding.

“Guess what we’re doing tomorrow?!” I asked my little girl.  (Who is my size.)  “We’re going to see…”

“ELK?!” she shrieked excitedly.  Apparently the gifts, while a ridiculous amount of elks, had not abated her desire to see the animal.

“Bison!” I said.  “Fossil Rim has a drive-through park where you can see all sorts of animals, including bison and…”

“Don’t tell me!  I want to be surprised.  And I don’t want to be disappointed if we don’t see one,” she said.  “Like the elk that you told me we might see.”  She looked at me hard.

I sighed.  “Ok,” I said.  “They’ll be a surprise.”

And they were!  More about that tomorrow.

Jack was there, too.  When given a USB flash drive, he said, “Cool!  I can fit tons of porn on this!”

Uh, ya.  Just what I wanted my son to say on Christmas morning.

Later that day, we were taking in some culture at the Kimball Art Museum.  Sally leaned over to me, pointed at one corner of the painting, and said carefully, “Mom.  That’s.  A.  DEER.”

Not to be out-done, I later pointed to the VW Beetle with festive Reindeer antlers.  Costumes for cars crack me up, but this one in particular made me smile, given the theme of the holiday.

Sally took one look at the vehicle and announced, “That’s a BUG!”

In the meanwhile, Elkton is chilling out on my wall.  I wonder if we should have named him Elkvis Presley instead; he is that cool.

Merry Christmas!  Cheers!

There’s still time to order Jules Rules for a friend for Christmas.  Or if you get Amazon gift cards, buy yourself a copy. 

Can’t wait to tell you about Fossil Rim tomorrow- and we got some great pictures!

Success!  And Netflix and Chill

 

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Post-Final Drink to celebrate the end of the semester with my fellow students

 

I DID IT!  I completed my master degree in Material Science and Engineering.  I wrote and defended my thesis successfully (on the first try!), I completed the required classes, and took my last final.

Well, I think I did it.  Grades haven’t posted for this semester, and that last final (my final Final, I like to call it) was a doozy.

As in, an evil SOB exam.  Ya know, the one where the teacher says, “Study these things.  You won’t have to know how to assign a point group—don’t even try to memorize them all—but you will need to know how to interpret them if given one.”  And then there are shapes on the exam and I’m expected to add rotational symbols AND identify the point group.

In my world, that is beyond mean.  That’s EVIL.  Cruel!  I studied all day Sunday with two of the smartest students in the class, in addition to all the hours that I studied on my own.  I had visions of going out with a bang!  With getting a 100% on the final Final Exam of my Graduate School Career and wowing the professor, so that he swooned at my great intelligence and asked me out.

So much for that day dream.

Howevs, I do have a B without the final, so HOPEFULLY I passed the class anyway.  <Fingers crossed>  I’m checking grades on the website several times a day.  I know it’s the weekend, but I have this fantasy that the Prof is busy grading final exams and posting grades hourly.

Ya, I have a healthy fantasy life, I know.

Post-Exam Drink

I went out with friends (fellow students) after the exam.

“Boobs!” Sheldon Cooper said.

Ok, he’s the guy that I call Sheldon Cooper.  In reality, he’s a really cool PhD student who has been my study buddy this semester.  But now, at the bar, he was tipsy and letting loose.

He continued, “If I was a girl, I’d just touch my boobs all day.  I mean, I haven’t gotten tired of what I’ve got, if you know what I mean!”

We laughed, and the girls tried to tell him that he’d get tired of breasts if he were a girl and had them.  I just sat back and laughed.  The whole convo was too much.

One of the other guys—let’s call him Fitz, because Fitz is a fun name and he’s a fun guy—was kinda flirty and said, “I’m older than you think.”

I answered, “I think you’re 22, based on the fact that you said, Such and such happened three years ago, when I was 19.

He looked surprised and said, “I’m 21, will be 22 soon.”

I smiled and looked directly in his eyes when I said, “My son is 21.  I’m about twice his age.”

The cliché, “His jaw dropped,” is over-used, but very appropriate.

I pulled up a pic on my phone of me and Jack and passed it around.

“I swear, you look 30,” I heard mumbled under someone’s breath.

I love it!

I talked to another student about her hobbies, and she answered, “Mice!  I caught a mouse and made it my pet.  Her name is Fugitive.  I made Halloween costumes for her.  Look!  She’s sushi here (that’s last year) and here she’s in Super Mario World.”  The background was, indeed, the game and was the perfect scale for the little mouse.  It was super adorable!!

It is now one of my missions to think up Halloween costumes for my new friend’s little pet.  So far, I’ve only thought of obvious ones: Ratatouille, Jerry (of Tom and Jerry) and Fifel (from The American Tale).  Is there a book where a mouse is a ballerina?  Hmmm, need to get more creative with this.  I can do better.

Wow, did I have a 20 minutes convo about mouse costumes?!

Later, when we hugged goodbye, Fitz said, “So that’s it?  We won’t ever see you again?”

That was so sweet!  Fitz and I didn’t have any classes together.  We had gotten to know each other between classes in the hallway, and sitting next to each other at the department’s weekly visiting lecture series (aka Seminar).  To think that I, a non-traditional student, had made a real friend, touched me very deeply.

Netflix and Chill

I’ve been flirting with this cute guy up at school, and since my school career is officially (hopefully!) over, I went ahead and asked him to hang out.  I was super sly about it; I brought him cookies.  Then I said that we should get together some time.  He agreed.  I gave him my number; he gave me his.  He said, “Let me know when you’re free.”

I answered, “Hiking Saturday morning?  Or dancing Saturday night?”

After a text discussion over what “morning” meant (7 a.m. to me, much later to him), we decided on Saturday night.  We continued texting and had a nice chat about our children (he has a daughter) and such.

Tonight he texted me, “I’m a little short on cash, need to reschedule.”

Damn it.  My first date in forever (or maybe a couple of months; it seems like forever, though) and he’s broke?!

I debated my options.  Most obviously, I could say, “Ok” and maybe one day we’d go out.  (Probably not though.)  Or, I could offer to pick up the tab.  After all, I am an Independent Career Woman with My Own Fortune.  If the situation was reversed and the woman was broke, no one would think twice about the man paying.

However, I still live in Texas where a woman offering to pay could hurt a man’s pride.  Furthermore, it would set a precedent that might mean that I am always expected to pay.  Would that bother me?  Should it?  Well, I’ve dated poor guys before, and I’m told that I deserve more.  But then again, I’d REALLY like to go out and have a good time.

“Maybe I’ll just invite him for some wine and Netflix,” I told Jack.

“You know that Netflix and Chill is a thing, right?” he answered.

“Oh, that sounds nice,” I answered.  “I’ll say that.”

“MOM!  That means you’re inviting him over for SEX!” Jack said.

“WHAT?!  Netflix and chill means sex?!” I answered.

“Yes.  Yes it does.  My Facebook feed is blown up with my friends upset about the Hook Up Culture of my generation.  Like the 70’s and Free Love didn’t happen.  It’s silly for my generation to think they’re the first to have casual sex.  And it’s silly for the people to be having casual sex.  Everyone in this situation is silly,” Jack sagely said.

“I almost invited the guy over for Netflix and Chill.  I had no idea.  I’m glad we had this talk,” I answered.

The child had become the master.  My son was schooling me on DATING, of all topics.

I’m stressed out worrying about grades (even though I probably don’t need to stress).  Anyone want to come over for Netflix and Chill?

Um, I mean wine.  Lots of wine.

Cheers!