The worst toy I ever had.

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Christmas, 1966.   For months I’d been begging my parents to buy me the hottest new toy the commercials were telling me I just had to have: a walking, barking dog called Penny the Poodle.  Even if you’re old enough to remember this horrible toy, you may not, because it was quickly forgotten after the initial pre-Christmas hype.    I’m sure millions of small children spent that Christmas Day in tears of disappointment and frustration when they realized Penny the Poodle did NOT live up to the hype.

Here’s the commercial, which in retrospect, was pretty creepy, even for those days:

I remember unwrapping the large box with joyful anticipation, ripping off the green and red foil paper and bows to reveal the “Penny the Poodle” logo and the see-through window on the side of the box that revealed Penny’s Pepto-Bismol pink head.

Eagerly, I pried her out of the box with my small sweaty hands and tried to get her to work.  No batteries were necessary.  Penny was supposed to stand, walk, wag her tail, bark, and turn her head.   She was supposed to do everything a real dog does except poop and pee.

She did nothing.  Instead, she lay on her side on the floor, twitching as if she was having an epileptic seizure.    I tried to right her and squeezed the little remote control to get her to walk, wag her tail, do SOMETHING, but no dice.  She fell over again. This time she didn’t even twitch and convulse. I righted her again and manually tried to make her legs move. Her right leg fell off and lay there on the rug like a turkey drumstick covered in pink gravy. Penny was DOA.

I was heartbroken.  I opened the rest of my presents apathetically, because Penny the Poodle was the toy I had REALLY wanted for Christmas.   I cried on and off for most of the day.

My parents returned Penny to whatever store they had got her from and brought me home a replacement, this one powder blue instead of Pepto Bismol pink.   But this one wouldn’t work either.  Back to the store it went.  My parents refused to get me a third Penny, but by then, I’d given up and was happily playing with my Barbies and Wishnik troll dolls.

Penny the Poodle has curiosity value to toy collectors.   You can find a few on eBay, but none of them seem to be in working order, and probably never were.

Thanks to my readers who voted for me to post a funny true story tonight in the poll I posted earlier. I know this story’s a little sad, but there’s always humor in pathos. Or pathos in humor. Or something like that.

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I’m stuffed, grateful and relieved it’s over.

We had a really nice day. The temperatures were in the 70s today and there was on and off rain all day. I felt more like I should be saying “Happy Easter” than “Merry Christmas.” We had dinner at my daughter and husband-to-be’s house. Although I’m not Italian, for the past 6 years or so I’ve been making meat and spinach lasagna for Christmas dinner. It’s a wintery dish, and is red and green and everyone seems to like it. I assembled it at my place, then brought it over to bake in their oven.

I brought the gifts over and watched as everyone opened theirs. My daughter got me a new phone! The one I had was starting to act weird and has never gotten a good signal. I think she was just sick of hearing me complain about my crappy phone so she got me a better one. 🙂

Seriously though, it was a thoughful gift. I did find out some *slightly* disturbing news though: although the doctors are quite sure my daughter’s stomach problems are due to Crohn’s disease, they want to rule out anything more serious, so she has to go have both a colonoscopy and endoscopy this week. Yikes. I don’t envy her a bit, but it will be good to know with 100% certainly that it’s “just” Crohn’s disease.

The ex (her dad) stayed out of the way in the kitchen or out on the sun porch playing with the dog. No family drama this year at all!

All in all, it was a good day. I always dread Christmas but almost always wind up having a good time. That doesn’t keep me from being relieved when it’s over.

Here is the lasagna recipe. If you try this let me know how it turns out for you.

“Healthy” lasagna.

lasagna

Ingredients
1 lb. ground beef, drained.
1 32 oz. jar or can of tomato sauce
1 large can of tomato paste
1 box pot-ready lasagna (you can use the kind you have to boil too, but it’s more work and always falls apart for me)
green onions
16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan or Romano cheese
1 container Ricotta cheese.
chopped frozen spinach (1 small box or 1/2 16 oz. bag)
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
garlic (optional–I can’t eat it)

Mix the sauce, tomato paste, a little olive oil and Italian seasoning in saucepan. In another pan, cook the ground beef until done. In another pan, steam the spinach and drain. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta cheese in with the steamed spinach (wait until spinach cools some before doing this).

How to assemble.
Get the pan ready (use a lasagna-sized foil or glass pan) by pouring a little olive oil on the bottom and then a layer of sauce.
On top of that lay the lasagna sheets (if pot ready there is no need to boil them first), then spread half the ricotta-spinach mixture.
Sprinkle about a third of the shredded mozzarella on top of that.
Put half of the ground beef on top of that and spread out.
Pour another layer of sauce on top of that.
Put another layer of lasagna sheets on top.
Spread the other half of the ricotta-spinach mixture.
Put another third of the mozzarella cheese on top.
Sprinkle the other half of the ground beef.
Spread another layer of sauce.
Put another layer of lasagna sheets.
Pour the rest of the sauce on top.
Sprinkle the last third of the mozzarella cheese.
Put a layer of parmesan or romano cheese on top (this browns nicely).
Green onions (chopped) to garnish.

Bake at about 300 ° for about an hour. Serves about 10.

No white Christmas this year.

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I’m not a big fan of snow or cold weather, but this entire month has been unseasonably warm, and after two or three days of moderately cold weather (but still above freezing), the springlike weather is back. Her’es a screenshot of the weather forecast for the next week.

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As you can see, thunderstorms are supposed to move in tonight, with possible flooding or even severe storms possible–and stick around through Christmas Day. As much as I usually dislike snow, I really wouldn’t mind seeing a little of the white stuff on Christmas. Somehow, thunderstorms and rain don’t seem to fit the mood of the season. Maybe the weather isn’t feeling much in the holiday spirit. It’s just been a very weird month, weather-wise.

 

The scientific reason why the east coast has been so warm.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Here is my favorite Christmas movie ever. I’ve watched it almost every year since I was a small child. I always felt like I could relate to Charlie Brown–self doubting, a worrywart, a little avoidant–basically an introvert who tries hard to be liked. He’s never mean to anyone but often seems to be the butt of jokes and pranks.

Charlie also sees all the commercialism around him every holiday season (yes, it was bad even in the ’60s, when this was made) and yearns to know the true meaning of Christmas. Linus, always the philosopher and deep thinker, has the answer.

It’s refreshing that the story of Christ’s birth is central to this movie, which is still shown on network television today.
So here’s my Christmas gift to my followers. Enjoy!

The opening seems to have been cut from this movie (I couldn’t find a full version on Youtube), so here is that too. I always loved the jazzy piano music used in the Peanuts specials.

The famous Christmas dance, also not in the video above:

9 ways to survive the holidays.

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Many of us who were raised in narcissistic families or come from abusive backgrounds don’t have good associations with Christmas and the holidays in general. On top of this, Christmas has become overcommercialized and even people from normal, happy families get stressed. Everywhere you go, there are messages telling you to be cheerful and “jolly” and ads telling you to buy, buy, and buy some more. People who don’t have families (or have dysfunctional families) or don’t have a lot of money often feel marginalized, as if they’re defective because they can’t fully participate in all the hoopla or be as happy as the wealthy, perfect (and annoying) people they see in TV commercials. The days are also short and gloomy. No wonder depression is so common this time of year.

Even if you dread the holidays, it’s still possible to enjoy them. I used to stress myself into a frenzy every Christmas. When you have small children, it’s easy to do this if money is tight, which it almost always was for us. After all, children are expecting Santa to come with his bag of gifts, and they will not understand if gifts are few. But kids being around also make Christmas fun. Now that my kids are adults, I’ve learned to not stress so much about Christmas. It’s still not my favorite time of year, but here are some ways you can make the most of it. Even though I still dread the holidays, I almost always wind up having a great time.

1. Treat Christmas like a second Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving is probably the least commercialized holiday. In fact, it’s so underrated that now it’s been nearly co-opted by Black Friday, and stores remain open on Thanskgiving so people can get a head start on their Christmas shopping.
On Thanksgiving, the focus is on food, eating, and football. For the past few years, I’ve focused on the food at Christmas rather than the gifts. I give a few inexpensive or homemade gifts, but I spend more of my time and energy on cooking. My spinach-meat lasagna has become a family tradition rather than the usual turkey (I’m usually turkey’d out after a month of eating turkey, turkey soup, and turkey sandwiches) and the lasagna I make has all the Christmas colors too. (I’ll post my recipe later on). Add a salad and some garlic bread and some kind of pie (usually apple for us), and we’re good to go. Everyone’s so busy enjoying the food they barely register the fact the gifts are few.

2. Bake cookies (or other baked goods) and give them as gifts.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on presents. Everyone loves cookies and they can be wrapped in attractive and creative ways and given as gifts. If you’ve baked the cookies yourself, it can be a more thoughtful and personal gift than something you got from the store. If you prefer, bake a pie and wrap it like an Easter basket in red and green cellophane with a bow on top. Even a prettily wrapped basket of fruit can make a thoughtful gift.

3. Give handmade gifts.
I make suncatchers made of bits of glass, stone and small mirrors and they make terrific gifts. I haven’t made any in about a year, but I have several still around that I plan to give as gifts this year. Each one is unique and everyone appreciates them. Years ago, when I had a kiln, I used to paint ceramic tiles. People loved those too. If you paint, make jewelry, knit, or do any other kind of arts and crafts, think about making your gifts instead of buying them. People will appreciate the time and effort that went into making such a personal and unique gift.

4. Remember that the days are now becoming longer.

WinterSolsticeHappy

If you’re like me (I suffer from SAD), the short days of this time of year can get you down. But there’s an upside too. Starting the first day of winter, the days start growing longer! Christmas was originally a pagan holiday to celebrate the “return of the sun”–the winter solstice. Remind yourself of the lengthening days and try not to think about the cold months ahead.

5. Do something special for yourself.
If you’re not blessed with a big, boisterous family–or even if you have no one to spend Christmas with, you can still enjoy the day. Make it special: give (or make) yourself a gift, go to a movie, take a long walk, or a long luxurious bath. Also, you can remind yourself that sometimes big family get-togethers can turn into unpleasant drama fests. Remind yourself that you’re spared from that.

6. Volunteer.

volunteer

Most churches sponsor Christmas dinners. Other organizations do too. If you don’t have a family to spend the day with, or you have negative memories associated with this time of year, consider donating your time to preparing or serving food to take your mind off your woes. You might even meet others in the same boat and wind up making new friends and having a great time.

7. It’s only one day.
Even though the Christmas season can seem endless, it’s all leading up to one day, and then it’s all over for another whole year.

8. Skip Christmas this year.
I’m serious. If Christmas really stresses you out, consider skipping it altogether. Explain to your friends and family that you need a break from the stress and assure them it’s nothing personal. If they’re true friends they will understand. If you’re a Christian, you will not offend Jesus if you skip Christmas. The Bible doesn’t tell us we have to celebrate his birthday.

9. Remember what Christmas is really all about.

Three Kings Behold the Star of Bethlehem

Three Kings Behold the Star of Bethlehem

In spite of what all the commercials tell us, Christmas isn’t about the trees, Santa Claus, reindeer and gifts. It’s about the birth of Jesus Christ. Most churches have some sort of Christmas service. Consider attending and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas instead of all the material trappings. Watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” always a treat for me.

It’s a cat-tastrophe!

My daughter posted this on her Facebook today. That’s her kitten Zelda up there at the top of the tree. Maybe she thinks she’s an angel. NOT! Click to enlarge.

cat-tastrophe
😆

Surviving the holidays

Ugh. It seems to be that time again. Now that Halloween’s over, all the Christmas decorations are going up. Annoying Christmas carols being blasted in all the stores. Even more annoying office Christmas parties and fakey-cheerful people wearing Santa hats and reindeer antlers. Please. Bah humbug.

What happened to Thanksgiving? Does anyone care about it anymore? Oh, that’s right–everyone’s rushing out after eating to be the first in line at the stores for Black Friday deals. 🙄
Anyway, I wrote this last year but I thought it was time to post it again.

Lucky Otters Haven

charliebrown

I relate to Charlie Brown. As a kid, “Peanuts” was my favorite comic strip (I owned all the Peanuts books too), and Charlie Brown was a lot like me–fearful of what others thought of him, frequently bullied and taken advantage of, and often pessimistic. But he also had a good heart, and his faithful dog Snoopy brought joy to his life when he was ready to give up. So I have used some photos from the classic “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in my post.

The holidays are a rough time for many people, but they are especially hard on those of us who have been victims of narcissistic abuse and been cut off (or have gone No Contact) with our families. It sure doesn’t help either that I have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and become very depressed during the shortest and coldest days of the year.

I have described the…

View original post 1,222 more words

Best day ever

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862 views on Christmas day, FAR surpassing any previous Best Day. It didn’t seem real.

Then I got 2 private emails.

I won’t quote them here out of respect for the privacy of the individuals who wrote them (I did initially, since I wrote this post under the influence of a little too much wine, LOL). Both queries were from people who’d been referred here through Vaknin’s links.

The first one was from a woman who knew about the book I was thinking about writing about Sam. She lives in the same country as him and attends conferences with him. She offered to help me with editing/writing but more impressively she said she could help me be able to get an interview with him without having to fly to Macedonia. I am not sure how she knew about the book I’d been planning to write unless he told her himself (not surprising for a narcissist to brag someone wants to write a book about him, hehe). I had put that idea on the back burner, but since it’s something I still want to do, this offer would be incredibly helpful to me and maybe I can get to it sooner.

The second email was from a woman (Aspie like myself) who said the article that’s getting so much buzz right now made her cry tears of hope because both her sons are on the autism spectrum–the youngest one also Bipolar and showing possible narcissism. The sons’ father is a malignant narcissist and sociopath. She wanted her sons to read portions my blog because she thinks it might be as inspiring to them as it is to her.

I have no words to describe all the emotions I’m feeling right now. I love the idea this blog might be growing legs but even more so that it’s giving other people like me hope. Later my thoughts will be clearer and I’ll be able to reply to both writers of those emails.

Until then, I’ll just share some some photos I took today at Molly and Paul’s house. We had an incredibly good time and the food was amazing. Molly told me they have even been talking about marriage. Time will tell.

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Dinner!

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The lasagna before baking.

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Blue lights on spiral stairs.

God’s presence in my life was like a flashing neon sign today. For the first time ever, I really understood the true meaning of Christmas. It has nothing to do with gifts, money or greed, but has everything to do with asking God what he wants from you and truly listening to the answer. You might have to wait a while but it will come with faith.

All that said, I’m still relieved the holiday season is over for another year. It’s not an easy time for a lot of us who have faced the worst humanity can dish out for most of our lives.

Joy to the World

Call me stodgy and old fashioned, but I love old, classic, Christmas carols over the more modern remakes.

There’s 45 minutes left of December 25th. Hope everyone is in good holiday spirits and peace be with all of you.

For many years I’ve avoided Christmas carols, always thought they were stupid (and most still are), but something happened today which I will share with you all later. These two songs in particular speak to my heart right now.

This may have started as the worst Christmas I ever had, but ended as the best one I ever had.

It’s overwhelming what happened. I don’t even have words right now. I’ll write more later.

Forgive me for this but…

I almost choked to death laughing.

tampax

On a less irreverent note:

reindeer

and on a more serious note:

merrychristmas