How To Kill A Spider

"Is that a spider!?" I interrupted my conversation with Brady to yell and point from the comfort of the couch. Glowing in the light from the recessed ceiling lamp, a thin eight-legged intruder dangled. After quickly blowing at it (what did I hope to accomplish, except that it curled up it's legs and swung at me) I ran to the other room. "Keep an eye on it!" I yelled to Brady. I spotted the vacuum but my other son spotted the fake rifle sitting next to it and laughed. "Whaddya gonna do Mom? Shoot it?" "No," I rolled my eyes. "I'm gonna suck it!" So, in honor of the spider who's life I had to snuff out with the long end of the vacuum cleaner, I give you last year's lovable spider column "Miss Muffet and Me" just in case you missed it the first time around. By Wendy Pierman Mitzel 4/9/13 The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and last night I heard it: “MOM! There’s a spider in the bathroom! Come quick, kill it.” If I was the character Fern in the classic “Charlotte's Web,” poor Charlotte wouldn’t have had enough time to finish the “SOME PIG” message before I took a shoe to her. I am not a fan of the spider species. Just writing about it makes Read more...

My Dirty Little Casino Secret

By Wendy Pierman Mitzel While most of us are at the office or the grocery store or the basement laundry room rubbing out chocolate milk stains, there’s a place that’s hopping like it’s a Friday night in Times Square: Mohegan Sun Casino. Deep in the cavernous bowels of the casino, reached only via long passageways from each entrance, there is a daytime “underworld” that’s less Godfather and more Grandparent. Elderly gamblers ramble by on rentable motorized scooters like battery operated Vespas in Italian roundabouts. They are often followed by the accompanying spouse, who often has an oxygen tank on wheels and most likely a fanny pack and is yelling instructions no one is listening to. They beeline toward the sensory overload of slots with flashing cartoon women who entice them to play Mermaid Fin and Gypsy Eyes and China Shores and push the hit button over and over so they are rewarded with beeps and trills and scrolling reels that  almost never say jackpot. There, the slot players sit, taking advantage of the free drinks and discretely inhaling the lit cigarettes dangling from their non-playing fingers. Bored greeters wait for high rollers at the exclusive Read more...

Wet dogs, blue rats and TAB

By Cami Beiter  You have to see (and maybe smell) it to believe it.  A pungent, expired retail facility that’s been transformed into the dog food mecca and soda establishment of Hampden County Massachusetts.  Our aging Black Lab, Tuff, has some newly discovered food allergies and is now on a special diet. Intrigued by the pet store/soda shop combination, I headed out to locate his new kibble prescription. I walked into Dave’s Soda & Pet City in Agawam not knowing what to expect.  I’d heard stories, but nothing prepared me for the real life experience. Once inside the I grabbed a rusty cart with a shaky and bumpy wheel. A wad of aged gum embedded on one wheel caused an annoying, thump...thump...thump... with each rotation and it followed me around like a persistent mosquito on a summer afternoon. I looked around, feeling like a fish out of water. I focused on the neon decals on black walls and then scanned the vast aisles of pooch supplies.  The rear of the store was a large open area... bringing to mind an 80‘s roller rink or video arcade. Interrupting the Blue Oyster Colt instrumental, the loud speaker called for an employee to empty the overflowing Read more...

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s My Top 11 Good Reasons to Get Thee to the Green Isle

By Wendy Pierman Mitzel................ Last Spring I spent a week in Ireland and loved every minute of it! It was cheap and easy (and who doesn't like that?) The people are so friendly, the food is scrumptious, the landscape is stunning (dense forests of pine, to coastal flora, to mountains, to rocky shorelines, to near desert conditions) and the history is poetic and sad and inspiring all at once. So stop wondering if Ireland is as romantically beautiful as it looks in the movies, continue reading here for more inspiration and get thee on a plane already! Cheers!  Sláinte (pronounced "slaan-sha")       Read more...

Saturday Sushi With a Side of Screens

Family mealtime took a hit this weekend and R&R took note. By Cami Beiter This weekend called for a Saturday afternoon Real & Random lunch meeting. Wendy was feeling fishy so we headed to Meadow, a yummy sushi restaurant in Simsbury.  Welcomed by a friendly hostess, an invitingly warm room and a busy chef rolling Maki we made our way to a window table. It was early for the lunch crowd so for the first 30 minutes we shared the place with only a few other patrons. Ahhh, the peaceful retreat of a nice restaurant. We settled in. “Da, Da, Da, Da, DORA!” The restaurant instrumental was drowned out by an annoyingly familiar tune. Like dogs hearing a whistle we sat up and gave each other a quizzical look. The television in the restaurant bar wasn’t on.  And if it were, I sincerely doubt Dora The Explorer (an educational animated series) would be the choice of programming. I looked over my shoulder, searching for the source.  In the corner table sat a young couple, doting over their four-year old and his enormous iPad.  What’s this?  A restaurant of patrons must sit and listen to their child’s animated preference? And although I tried to ignore Read more...

Read Your Kid’s Phone…Unannounced, Regularly and Randomly

  We’re all busy.  We often remind and reassure ourselves that our children are fine, their homework is done, they’ve eaten all their vegetables.  And while their beds aren’t made and rooms are war zones, you’re fairly pleased with the day. Being a parent involves many unpredictable, shocking and surprising turn of events.  The groceries may be put away, laundry done and dinner on the table, but just when you think you’re ahead of the game, you quickly realize you’re last in line . Until recently, our three children, ages 16, 14 and 12, all had smartphones.  With my family’s schedule, we found it necessary to regularly communicate with their whereabouts, pick up times and afternoon activities.  The risk, and extra headache, is the hovering question of whether your children are using their phones responsibly.  We understand the phones are not babysitters, but providing adolescents with current technology also leaves a doubtful cloud of trust.  Kids today have the world in their hands, literally.  At anytime, they can search the internet for information, text a classmate, call a parent, FaceTime with family.  While all these abilities are convenient, Read more...

To Finish Or To Begin? That Is The Question

by Wendy Pierman Mitzel    I am a girl with many projects. Love to start them. Not so good at finishing them. The beginnings of many novels, short stories and essays germinate on my computer or in the many notebooks scattered about my house. Baskets with price tags still attached wait to be filled and organized. The new ceiling fans sit boxed at the ready next to the shelves waiting for hammer and nail. And inside my head?  In there is even worse! I am well aware the state of my physical affairs is a manifestation of my congested cerebrum. Popping around in there are kernels of ideas. Such as starting a creative center for autism, a place where high functioning kids can go hang out. Then there are the characters from all my novels and short stories. They pace around in that waiting room, muttering and begging for me to pay attention to them. Laying dead center is the long list of boring matters like making doctor appointments and searching for summer camps. I’ve recently begun to wonder what keeps me from moving forward. A lot of it is just daily life and distractions getting in the way. I spend a lot of time running out for milk and eggs and running Read more...
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