Saturday, January 28, 2012

10 things that I can't prevent myself from whining about

I just need a quick venting session.  I don't want this to become a habit, but I just need to whine about a few things, and get them out of my system.  And then I'll go away.

So here they are, in no particular order - 10 things that I need to whine about before I burst:

1.  My aging body - New things start creaking, cracking and aching every day.  I have to keep tweezers handy at all times to deal with the sudden outburst of chin hairs.  And I have to psych myself up to do jobs that were once no-brainers: haul multiple laundry loads up or down stairs, clean windows and shovel snow, for example.

2.  People who complain about the weather - I find them more annoying than the weather itself.  Sometimes I think people feel they are entitled to certain weather events, and they feel cheated when those events don't come about.  C'mon, people!  Mother Nature doesn't owe you snow on Christmas, a clear 75 degree Independence Day or tulips in full bloom on Easter.

3.  Four-way stops - Somewhere in the crowded tenements of our brain storage systems, we as a species seem to have lost the ability to understand four-way stops.  I own a teenager who is learning to drive, and I'd love to be able to say it's just inexperienced beginners fouling up the watching-and-counting process that takes place at these arcane traffic meeting places.  But like as not, the person who usually screws up at these intersections is an adult with a phone to their ear, driving a beautiful car I can't afford to hit, no matter how satisfying it may feel at the moment.  I am beginning to suspect that  Lexus owners' manuals instruct their drivers that a short brake-tap is all that is required of them at four-way stops.

4.  Parents who harass or berate volunteers when their child doesn't get what they want -  I have volunteered for many activities - charitable, musical, athletic, etc. - and have discovered a link between parent volunteerism and parent manners.  Generally, parents who volunteer to help with their child's activites, like coaching a team, working at a meet or competition or being a room parent, are patient and understanding about last-minute glitches, adjustments in schedule, and the many other things that can crop up when trying to herd a group of young people for an activity.  The parents who make a stink over Little Johnny having to sit out an inning or Little Judy having to wait ten minutes past her scheduled performance time never seem to be volunteers.  I have no way of knowing that for sure, but my gut tells me it's true.

5.  Wet dog smell - That probably doesn't need an explanation.

6.  Cold feet - I don't mind cold ears, hands, nose or any other body part that comes to mind.  But when my feet are cold, I'm miserable.  This has always been true, even when I lived down south and rarely got cold.  Nothing ruins my sweet, sunny disposition like icy toes.  And once they get cold, it takes major thermodynamic intervention to get them warm again.  Interestingly, this phenomenon can occur any time of year, and can happen to me in a warm, cozy house.  I have lots of plush socks, blankets and even some microwaveable slippers, but the best medicine is foot rub from the husband.  Unfortunately, I'm rarely well-behaved enough to earn one of those. 

7.  Self-scanners at the grocery store - Given my issues with technology, this probably doesn't come as a surprise.  No matter how few items I have or how straightforward the UPC label, I seem to always set off the siren on the pole at my location; I've come to think of it as "The Flashing Light of Mortification."  Whether it is a coupon that doesn't compute or the sensor thinks I'm trying to shoplift my winter coat on the bottom of the buggy, I can't seem to complete a transaction without a minimum of two visits from a store employee with a large keyring of importance and rolling "you again?" eyes.  Excuse me for trying to take the "easy" way out.  It won't happen again.  I am your paying customer.  Please be kind enough to check out and bag my groceries, and if you can spare a second, some eye contact and direct speech is appreciated.

8.  Snoring - It's one of those awkward, unanswerable questions every child asks one day..."Mommy?  Why do fish have to die?  Why do stuffed animals get lost?  Why did God invent snoring?" My feeling is, if it must happen, why can't it only take place only after I fall into a deep slumber?  Eric won the Silver at Montreal in the Nasal/Epiglottis combo event in'92, and he's really never slacked off on his training or dedication, even after all these years.  He is a proud world-class snorer, and I respect that, but some nights it makes me wish for an invisible cattle prod.

9.  The words "bore," "boring" and "bored" - My girls know better than to ever tell me that they are...I can hardly even think this awful word.  The hardest, nastiest chores are assigned to the person stupid enough to utter that word in my presence.  Boredom is a choice, and only stupid people choose to be bored.  Hrmph!

10.  Whiners who whine about other whiners - Oops! I guess I'd better sign off now!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Just Crown Me Now

I've done few things of distinction in my life.  Other than marrying well and having amazing children, I don't have many accomplishments of which to brag.  My career years were unremarkable as far as achievements, and academically, I waited until late adulthood to become a serious student.

I'm not at all athletic.  I possess no amazing skills or technical know-how.  Almost anything I do know how to do, like sew, I do with a goal of acceptable mediocrity.

There is one exception:  I am a world-class bargain-hunter.

My shopping skills make one stop and say, "Egads, you're good."  Really, once, I was at an antique mall, and the cashier who tallied my purchases used the term "egads."  She counts as one.  I'd like to bring that phrase back, starting today.  Egads, it feels good to talk about something I do well.

The flip-side of this talent is that I have a tendency to brag endlessly and drop unasked-for information about item cost, original cost, coupons, expected savings, the price of the overpriced item someone else bought, etc., when describing my incredible deals, so that some people just say, "Egads" and walk away before I can finish my bragging. 

I'm prepared to demonstrate the truth of my amazing talent by taking you on a pictorial tour of my shopping treasures, complete with any particulars pertaining to price, savings, laws broken in the procurement of, etc.  Those of you who despise this kind of self-aggrandizing crap should bail right now.

And keep in mind, most of these aren't "restoration" projects (I have a ton of those, too).  These items went straight to work in my home with only minimal cleaning or repair.

I'll start with this beautiful chair.  Neighbors retiring to Florida just wanted to get rid of it.  It's a reproduction Rococo Revival with beautiful carving.  Toted it home for $35.

These counter-height chairs replaced standard stool which were not well-suited to Arnett body proportions.  We love these sturdy Windsor chairs, already painted black like my other kitchen accents, and unnamed family members usually leave them in the middle of the walkway rather than pushing them flush to the island - the better to admire them, I suppose.  A garage sale find for $10 for the set.

A couple of years ago, we began entertaining more, so I wanted to add more seating options to our porch and deck.  Our old black wrought-iron set only seats 4 and takes up lots of space.  Another neighborhood garage sale yielded this awesome lightweight set.  The table included an umbrella and stand, and there are 6 stacking chairs, so we got lots of seating which can be stored in the space of one chair.  The whole set sold for a measly $40!

We used to have a country hutch in this living room space, and stored liquor and glasses in it, but it was poorly suited to the task.  I prowled antique stores, flea markets and garage sales for two years, looking for the perfect replacement.  This retro Ethan Allen cabinet/bookshelf combo works perfectly!  It showed up at the Habitat for Humanity Restore, and with a handy coupon I netted this great piece for $35.

Now I know this isn't much to look at, but when you've got 4 visitors coming and you need more bedside storage, functionality trumps beauty.  Another retiree fleeing to Florida held an estate sale, and I got this heavy little guy for $10.

 The same estate sale had this beauty along with the matching china cabinet, table and 6 chairs for $1400 ("firm") the first day of the sale.  By the time I saw the set in person, someone had bought the table, chairs and cabinet (which I didn't need) and the buffet was priced at $400.  I had been looking for a piece like this since we moved into this house 5 years ago.  I went back twice over the weekend and his price steadily declined.  By Sunday morning he gave it to us for $100.  I probably love it a bit too much, since I've actually dreamed of carrying it out on my back during a house fire.

 This bread box is noteworthy because I was in need of a potato bin, but didn't have room for those big ones designed for potatoes and onions.  It slides in next to the dog food container on the floor of the pantry, holds 15 lbs. of potatoes, and set me back $3.

 This beautiful Tommy Hilfiger shirt is a garage sale find, and I knew when I saw it that Eric would look very dashing in it.  $4.

I don't wear heels.  In fact, when I do, accidents happen.  So I rarely shop for shoes like these.  But I happened to be at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, (home of some of the best clothing bargains ever), and saw these White House | Black Market shoes last summer.  I needed a look like this to set off a sundress I was planning to wear to an event, and the $5 price tag convinced me they were worth the risk.  Score!  I actually danced in these shoes (another form of risky behavior I normally avoid) and no one was injured.  Hoping for the chance to wear them again (hint, hint, Eric).

A friend with four small children decided to convert her formal living room into a more family-friendly space.  Her redesign is so smart and funky and perfect, but I feel like the real winner, since she sold me these chairs I'd been admiring for years.  They are tucked into a corner of my bedroom, flanking my favorite antique table, an awesome bargain brass lamp and a unique bookshelf where my beloved Keurig resides.  Weekend mornings are so nice in our cozy reading nook.  The chairs, which actually harmonize beautifully with my bedding and other furniture, were a steal at $100.

Have I used up all your patience and good humor?  I could add more, but I won't because I'm kinda over this subject myself.  It's been fun reminiscing about great bargains of the past.  I feel like I just need a title or a plaque to feel complete.

Because I've been reading about queens and royalty for years, I feel almost like I know some of them personally.  Eleanor, Mathilda, Isabella, Elizabeth, Mary, Katerina, Anna, Victoria - I want to be part of their realm.  So just crown me "Queen of the Bargains" and we can put my ego to bed for a while.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Friends with Gifts

I've been blessed with an amazing assortment of friends.  Some are in my neighborhood, others are on far continents.  Some friends are also family members, while others came into my life serendipitously.  Some friends share my values, my generational frame of reference and or aspects of my upbringing, but I have lots of friends with whom I have very few life experiences in common.

Here are some of the gifts my friends give me: 

One friend cries for me when I cannot summon tears.

One friend tells me I am amazing for doing the most mundane, unremarkable things.

One friend kindled the spark in me to write, then surrounded me with protective praise until the spark could grow to a self-sustaining blaze.

One friend lets me brag openly about my kids without apology.

One friend will not allow me to criticize my husband without demanding I think of something equally important to compliment about him.

One friend pretends she only cleans her house for me, so I won't be feel ill-at-ease in her spotless home.

One friend never cleans for my visits, and makes no excuses, proving her trust in my love of her for herself.

One friend, who is devoutly religious in a different faith from me, always closes our conversations with the statement:  "I am praying for you," and I'm thankful that she does.

One friend praises my daughters for things I forget to appreciate in them myself.

One friend maintains a "no whining" policy, no matter my complaint.

One friend encourages me to exercise in the most everyday ways; not to get her perfect body, but because she knows I feel so much better mentally after gardening, or rearranging furniture or walking the dog.

One friend knows just by looking at me that I need a hug.

One friend shares her costly professional knowledge with me and my family freely, because she loves to be of service.

One friend lets me hang out with her small children whenever I want to.

One friend calls me from her yacht on a Caribbean island to tell me that she misses me.

One friend constantly inspires me with her amazing powers of compassion.

One friend's dedication to helping underprivileged children feeds my faith in mankind each time I speak with her.

I may not call as much as I should, I may forget to send school pictures and Christmas cards, but wanted my friends to know that I appreciate the many gifts the give me, just by being part of my life.

To your health!

Take this simple test to see if you are ignoring important symptoms of an unpleasant, inconvenient but essentially non-lethal condition:

If you suffer from:
Then you may be afflicted by:
Metabolic syndrome
Compromised immune system
Trouble sleeping
Sleep apnea
Weak bladder control
Thinning hair
Color blindness
Low sex drive
Heartbreak of psoriasis
Uncontrolled weeping
Reduced liver function
Sinus blockage
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Hairy back
Hormone imbalance
Bad posture
Seasonal allergy syndrome
Dry eyes
Food addiction
Seasonal allergies
Epstein-Barr syndrome
Weight gain
Low T
Upset stomach
Old age

All you do is match the normal imperfections of the human condition on the left, to the serious-sounding condition or syndrome on the right.  Warning:  some symptoms are linked to all the conditions, so it may look a little messy when you are done.

My theory is that if it's called a syndrome or condition, the name was invented by a drug company to sell a product.  Once something is isolated as a specific symptom or set of symptoms, Friendly Farma Inc. can name the "syndrome" and develop an expensive treatment plan.  Catchy names, unpredictable spelling and acronyms play a large role in selling these new ideas to a sickly, whiny public.

(NOTICE TO WHINY PUBLIC: Please hold your fire. I'm not talking about true diseases or chronic conditions here.  This is innocent humor commentary and at least I'm not calling you a hypochondriac to your face.)

I've always thought that we are much healthier than commercials, magazines and drugstore shelves would have us believe.  However, it really started to bother me when our prescription drug plan changed significantly this year (along with our regular health plan).  This meant the Eric brought home lots of reading material to acquaint us with the new guidelines for dealing with doctor visits, approved prescriptions, payments, coverage limits, and other engrossing information.  Normally I'd just skim it and hope Eric would forget to quiz me, but the approved medications list caught my attention.  For some reason, it was a pretty short list.

How could that be?  I can't watch one hour of news without being regaled with the miraculous powers of Cialis, Lunesta, Abilify, Lipitor, Rogaine, Pradaxa, Nexium, Crestor and Plavix.  Doesn't my insurance company want me to benefit from the improved quality of life made possible by extensive research and testing on the part of the altruistic drug companies?  Well, of course they do.  They just don't want to pay the drug company prices, particularly if I'm not willing to either.

It seems our insurance company has recently decided that they only want us to take cheap drugs that prevent life-threatening conditions or regulate chronic conditions.  My blood pressure medicine and Eric's blood thinner are on this list.  They must want us to take them, because they are free (as in $0) on our plan.

But what about all those other drugs the pharmaceutical firms spend so much time and money advertising to the decrepit, whiny populace?  Why do they go to such lengths to make me want them, convince me that I need them, if my insurance company won't pay for them?  This seems patently unfair.

The lady on tv with the horrible toenail fungus stays quietly at home with the shades drawn.  But after a 30-day course of Phlizzerak, she's seen strolling the streets in broad daylight, smiling broadly at no one and everyone, stiletto sandals showcasing her beautifully healed toenails.  Why should she get to be happy because of a drug, while I have to suffer without it?

What about the couple who bump heads while they are working on some home-improvement project?  Do they get in an argument about his clumsiness or her inability to tell a crescent wrench from jackhammer?  No!  They magically appear in his-and-hers porcelain tubs, sweetly holding hands across the short distance that separates them from conjugal bliss.  And is this beautiful moment the product of years of hard work to develop their sense of humor, a climate of forgiveness and an understanding of one another's unspoken love language?  Not hardly.  This moment is brought to you by Schtiffenhaut Laboratories, makers of Xerdella, or some other nonsensically-named product designed to make you feel that you, Mr. and Mrs. Humdrum, are not living life to the fullest because you don't take this drug.

I'm not calling out Big Pharma for their profits, or Big Insurance for their cost-cutting strategies, or Big Marketing for the ads that do their best to create a need.  No one entity has forced one individual to buy one pill.  But the cooperative system of those three, working in tandem, is expertly designed to target the individual psyche, which is perfectly capable of evaluating its own situation and judging its own needs.  But does my psyche act on facts, or does it just want the tubs and stilettos?

I love spicy, hot, dangerous food.  Thai and Indian foods are my favorites.  If I suddenly found they gave me stomach problems, say, acid reflux that keeps me up at night, would I stop eating curries?  Probably not.  Commercials have been telling me for years to pop a pill before I engage in dangerous eating, so that I can enjoy my meals without interruption by the obvious symptoms warning of the damage I'm doing to my stomach.  Take an OTC acid reducer so I don't have to change my behavior or make a personal sacrifice - no-brainer, right?

I just wonder about our ancestors who didn't have access to 20,000 square feet of cures for every ailment, real or imagined, in the form of the ubiquitous Walgreens, CVS and Rite-Aid stores that seem to be everywhere these days.  I know there were snake oil salesmen, bogus treatments, home remedies, hypochondriacs, faith healers and leeches in our medical history, but did our forbearers spend so much time worrying about their body and its complications?  Did metalsmiths stay home from the forge when sinus pain and pressure cost them a good night's sleep?  Did pioneer women neglect the milking when PMS struck?  Did the laborers who built the transcontinental railroad complain about a sensitivity to MSG in their gruel?

It doesn't seem possible that I can be just 4 or 5 generations removed from hardworking people who put in 16 hours of labor on an average day, only to lay down on a bug-infested straw mattress on the floor - yet I travel with a special pillow or I "can't get a good night's sleep."  Really?

I think we've been had.  I think we are all much healthier, stronger and more capable than the product peddlers would have us believe.  I think if we all just sent the dollar equivalent of one month's hair care or bowel regularity purchases to President Obama, he could use that fast cash to pay bills, instead of raising the debt ceiling.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An Unexpected Shopping Spree

I am a dog lover.  Actually, I am a worse than that, because my dogs run my life the way some people's spoiled toddlers run theirs.  My children were subjected to strict, consistent upbringing with rare rewards (at least they rarely got what they wanted for rewards).  As a result, I have two lovely, well-behaved daughters who wouldn't dream of acting unpleasantly in front of visitors or deliberately making extra work for me.

The same cannot be said of my dogs.  They have too much freedom and make too many demands.  I didn't employ the same skills and expectations to rearing them as I did to my children, and my laziness shows in their behavior and unpredictability.

I could say much more on the subject, and probably will in another entry.  But right now I can see you furrowing your brow and scratching your head and asking, "What does this have to do with shopping?  Get to the good part, already!"

Well, dogs like mine, with bad manners, have been known to act like animals on occasion.  The most recent example of this tendency was demonstrated by Grant, the 3 year-old puppy.  Actually, we call all of the dogs "puppies," because it gives the hopeful (but false) impression that they may grow out of their annoying habits.  Grant, the bird dog, is 3; Gus, my mother's sweet Maltese, is 4-ish; Joey is a 6 year-old Shih-tzu who makes you want to pronounce his breed with an emphasis on the "t."

Grant had the good fortune to catch a rabbit inside our fenced yard one day recently.  I didn't see him do it.  I don't know exactly how he accomplished the feat.  All I know is that the other two dogs were barking their brains out for no apparent reason, while Grant sat on the sofa, licking his stuffed animal.  Since I'd just cleaned house and put away their toys, I reached to take the toy when I realized it wasn't a toy.  It had been treated like a toy for the last little while, but now Grant was letting it rest.  On the couch.

Now this couch isn't just any couch.  It was part of a hand-me-down set from a neighbor.  Good pieces, well worn but still sturdy.  Unfortunately, since my living room/family room area has few long walls, we've never been able to fit both matching pieces in one room, so the couch went in the living room and the dogs took it over as one of their many napping areas.  We eventually took to referring to it as the "dog couch," because if anyone tried to sit on it, there would instantly be 3 dogs up there with you, jockeying for your lap, your scratching hand, your snack or the warm air blowing out of the back of the laptop.  Consequently, Eric and the girls only ever sat in chairs.

I liked the loveseat, in the other room, because it had room for one person and 2 dogs or 2 people, and it was in front of the tv.  If I'm going to bother to stop and watch tv, I need at least one dog to warm my feet.  But I digress.

Grant had the dead rabbit on the dog couch.  As unconcerned as I generally am about cleanliness, tidiness and overall upkeep, this was even beyond my ability to tolerate.  I could get the rabbit off the couch.  I could wash the covers, steam-clean the cushions and shampoo the carpets.  I could Febreze everything in the room.  But I'd always know there was a dead rabbit on the couch, once.  Since I never saw Grant bring his prize in the open back door, I had no idea how long it spent on the couch - only seconds or minutes, because I'd just gotten home.  But it didn't matter.  I knew in that instant I was getting new furniture.

Like so many other gross, disgusting household emergencies, Eric was out of town for this one.  The upside was that I could describe it any way I wanted or needed to, in order to make him understand that this furniture had to vacate the house post haste. (I don't want to advocate lying, but necessity is the mother of exaggeration...)  The downside was that I had to dispose of the mangled creature...alone.

Since there was no way I was touching it - I'd almost touched it when I thought it was a toy, and I was still having flashbacks and jerky hand spasms about that close call - I called a neighbor.  Not just any neighbor, but my neighbor with the husband who unclogged the 8 quarts of pasta primavera from the garbage disposal not so long ago.  I figured if he could deal with that mess, he'd could manage the poor wittle bunny.  Plus, these neighbors have a dog who has his own comedy/drama shtick, so I figured they wouldn't judge poor Grant too harshly.

The rabbit was removed from the premises, so there was just the small matter of the sofa.  It couldn't just sit in my house.  I called Eric, but he just had lots of useful advice about washing and sterilizing the cushions.  (That's what necessitated the exaggeration - there was very little blood on the couch, but that wasn't really the point, was it?)

Fortunately, I got my way and the sofa is history.  But even after I rearranged, repositioned and redistributed the excess furniture from all over the house, the sad fact couldn't be ignored.  I had to buy a new couch.

The space created by all this shifting around is actually not so big, so I was shopping for a small  loveseat.  I found something that fit the space and the budget, and is impervious to dog slobber.

As the saying goes, "When life hands you lemons, send them back and ask for a pitcher of margaritas."

And the rearranging project led to some nice developments elsewhere in the house.  When the spirit moves me, I'll have to post some pictures of the Cluttered Unmatched Florals Room, the Desk Underneath the Recliner arrangement, and (cue the choir of angels) the Cozy Keurig Reading Nook in the master bedroom.  But those will have to wait for another burst of blogging fever.

And I'm happy to report that all the dogs, even my step-dog McDuff, like the new furniture.  Occasionally they even let us humans sit a spell.

In which I apologize to my body

I was packing up some periodicals at my mother-in-law's house this weekend, and was struck by the similarity and unchanging nature of women's magazines.  Although she subscribes to some more erudite publications like National Geographic and Arthritis Today,  many of the others fall into a category I think of as "indistinguishable from the next one."  From the cover format to the cover models, these piles I sorted look almost identical, except for the name across the top: Redbook and Ladies' Home Journal - indistinguishable! Martha Stewart Living and O - The Oprah Magazine - same size, same template, same high-end advertisers.  Family Circle and Women's Day - same 5 articles every month ("Walk Off 10 Pounds a Week While You Sleep!"; "Redecorate Your Whole House for $50 This Weekend!"; "Balanced, Delicious Four-Course Meals in 15 Minutes or Less!"; somehow the last two have slipped my mind - Ed.)

The funny thing about all these magazines is how they keep pushing one central theme:  I need to take better care of myself.  I need to put me first, I need to pamper my skin and take care of my one and only body.  I need to buy products that make me look younger, thinner and more "hip."  I need to relax my mind, I must strive to reduce my stress,  I need to indulge my passions, I should be sexy at any age, and I should never, ever forget that I'm the only me I have.  If I will just pamper myself, everything else will fall into place, these magazines assure me.


Try not to run screaming for the authorities when I share this little-known fact with you:  these monthly magazines are usually nothing more than annual retreads of previous issues.  The articles benefit the advertisers by selling products, more than they help the reader solve real problems.  But I got to their measure, this 50-year old body has suffered chronic neglect.  Is there anything to be done?

Well, since I'm unlikely to change my exercise or grooming habits at this stage, all I can do is say, "I'm sorry."  And because I've been guilty of a lifetime of neglect, I feel compelled to offer individual apologies to specific body parts that have suffered the most.

By no means is this list complete or exhaustive, but starting from the top, allow me to apologize to my:

Eyebrows:  According to an infomercial I saw once, the slightest effort on my part to accentuate you would cause me to instantly look 10 years younger.  And how can I doubt your importance, when faced with the picture of Anne Hathaway seen here? But I've been remiss. You haven't been plucked or shaped in months.  To be honest, I can't even see you very well anymore.  But I appreciate all you do to keep my forehead wrinkles firmly in place.

Biceps:  Short of adding webbing and feathers, I'm not sure what else I could do to make you look more wing-like.  But I've reversed my lifelong habit of hiding you under sleeves in all seasons and temperatures, so you should at least feel like you are getting some "exposure," if not "attention." Yes, I know the little dumbbells are just right there, under the desk, next to my feet at this very what's your point?

Cuticles:  You take the brunt of my nervousness, frustration and boredom.  I constantly peel, pick, nick, bite, chew and rip your ragged edges, usually without knowing it.  Once I quit smoking, picking on you gave me something to do with my hands. You were sacrificed so my lungs could have a better life.  I'm sorry, there's really no hope - you are destined to be sore, tattered and bloody.

Stomach:  My friends who work out (not really my "friends," but I tolerate them) refer to you as "abs," but in your sorry condition, I think "gut" or "belly" sounds more appropriate.  When I step on the treadmill and feel you bounce and jiggle, I smile inwardly, thinking that a little more exercise is all it will take to tighten you up.  But who am I kidding?  I could start doing crunches today and still have a droopy pouch 10 bazillion reps later. 

Thighs:  You shouldn't complain, since I actually was spending time on you as recently as...uh...was it September?  I mean, when I wear shorts, you aren't neglected.  But once the weather turned cool and you became sheathed in warmth-giving fabrics, you have begun to look and feel positively reptilian. Your rapid deterioration since the summertime pampering makes me wonder why I bother with the loofa and the lotion.  Right now there is a chalky residue clinging to the prickly surface that is covered equally by cellulite and stretch marks.  I'm very sorry, but both you thighs belong to the category of "out-of-sight, out-of-mind."  Get over yourself.

Toes:  After years of hearing me describe you as the ugliest toes in the free world, your resentful appearance is understandable.  However,  I've recently discovered the secret of beautiful toes.  Get a pedicure in December and wear socks every single moment from then on (except in the shower).  Yes, you are usually very neglected, but at this moment you have no reason to complain...well, other than the embedded sock fuzz.  You ten are good until the red polish wears off.

Heels:  Look - here's a sampling of the products and methods I've tried on you over the years:  Beeswax, lanolin, bag balm, honey, bacon grease, olive oil, mineral oil, petroleum jelly, sandpaper, cheese grater, vegetable peeler, acupuncture and meditation.  I can't help you if you don't want to be helped.  Your deeply etched lines and ridges remind me of those ancient sticks that archeologists say early humans used to keep track of the moon phases.  I haven't neglected you, you've just been unresponsive to my efforts.

Well, I feel better now.  My conscience is clear, my load lightened - a lifetime of thoughtless abuse and neglect is forgiven, just like that.

Incidentally, that is not my personal heel.