Enjoy these views of the chaotic world around us. Click on "Pages" in the right column below my bio for additional expressions of life in the fast lane. Share your thoughts by contacting me at mmjagger1946@gmail.com

Thursday, August 25, 2016



If you’re an HGTV fan like I am, that is the question we devoted fans of House Hunters ask ourselves routinely during the last two minutes of every half-hour segment.  We’ve followed the happy, and oftentimes highly critical couple, on their odyssey to find their perfect dream home!  A home in which they can grow old together…raise their family together, make babies there to fill the house with laughter and the patter of little feet.  Their life-long plans unfold right before our eyes, as we learn their likes, their dislikes, their budgets, their inner struggles--well maybe not their inner struggles--but we do seem to make that deep connection with them. We even want what’s best for them. As viewers, we are even willing to sacrifice our own tastes in houses for the good of what the struggling couple wants. 
And now we agonize with them.  Can they possibly reduce their three favorites down to two?  Can they eliminate one? Maybe one is over budget? “You’ll be house poor,” we admonish them. “Been there, done that,” we chastise them, as they smile and picture grilling on the large trek deck patio, entertaining 50 of their closest friends with steaks and lobsters.
Or…“It’s next to a major highway; don’t pick that house!” we
scream  through the television or computer, as they stand in the back yard on tippy-toes, looking up at a row of tall arborvitae and a ten foot high fence while listening to sirens and honking vehicles speed down a major highway at 80 MPH.  We’re hoping that telepathy, and our sound, objective voice will be heard by this couple.
Or…”It’s in the pathway of oncoming planes? Can you not hear them? Don’t pick that house!” But they seem to be distracted by the beautiful stainless steel appliances and the open floorplan they’ve always dreamed of, and oh-h-h… look at the beautiful granite countertops! “But wait….” we shout! “Be practical.  You don’t want to hear jumbo jets at 3:00AM, do you?” We tell them. We plead, ever the voice of sanity and reason.
Or… “Your dream home is on a winding country road, winding its way into the middle of nowhere! And, you’ll have a four hour commute to work-- one way,” we tell them. And that’s from experience, since we’ve made that same mistake before. Indeed, we have their backs throughout this entire house hunting process—if they would only have the common decency to listen to us, that is.
 My HGTV House Hunters’ moment happened recently as I searched in Florida, for the condo of my dreams, my forever condo (at least for six months each year)! I laughed out loud when I realized that I was playing out a movie trailer from House Hunters over and over in my head.  Having seen three distinctively different condos, and looking for my dream condo where I could entertain both family and 50 of my closest friends, I knew then and there that I had crossed the line into reality television.  I was now role playing an episode of House Hunters—but in real time, in my own life! And I couldn’t get the ticker-tapes out of my head. 
My dialogue went something like this:
“Well, dear, I think we should eliminate the most expensive one.  It’s way over our heads budget-wise. I loved  the condo on the second floor, across the street from the harbor. It’s right next to where our daughter’s childhood friend lived.  But, there’s only one major problem.  They don’t accept two dogs.  Shall we write them a letter telling them we will be good stewards of this condo and lovingly restore it? Then we can slip in the part about having two dogs, instead of the one dog with the 35 pound weight restriction?  Oops! We have two dogs, but together they both equal the 35 pound weight limit. We can’t possibly live without our dogs, both of them. Max is old, almost 100 years old in doggie years. Shall we ask for pet amnesty for Max? (We actually did write that letter!) After all, there are only a few units in this condo complex, and three of them are on the market. I really want to put a bid in on the second floor condo.  But it’s only got a pee-a-boo view of the harbor? But it’s such an awesome view from the second floor.  We could offer a cash deal.  Fingers crossed that they might allow us to bring our two dogs with us. 
That leaves the condo in The Gardens.  It’s reasonably priced, and all completely renovated with (BONUS) --granite countertops (Yay), and all ‘real’ wood cabinetry! And it’s on the first floor with loads of light and a lovely view of the trees.  And it’s walkable to the downtown and Fisherman’s Village. Did I mention, they don’t have a problem taking two dogs?  They also have a heated pool-- which the second floor condo is missing.
It’s settled then. We both know which one we want.  Are we in agreement?  Let’s tell Kate (our daughter). She’ll be so excited.  But we’ll just wait until we see if we can actually ‘plead our case for two dogs instead of the one dog limit!  Oh, and did you tell the condo association-- in writing-- that we’ll never-ever have two dogs again? Promise on my mother’s grave!  But Max and Oliver must come with us wherever we go! Swear to God, that’s how the dialogue is going. Just like Cameron Diaz in the movie, The Holiday, where her job is to write movie trailers, and she can’t get them out of her head.  She plays out her own pitiful life in movie trailers, too. 
Fingers crossed.  …and think good thoughts.  Our real-life movie trailer plays out in a couple of days. Stay tuned—“Which house did they pick?”


Sunday, August 21, 2016


                                                         Circling the Moon

I’m ready to fall asleep.

I’m ready to be released, ready to have some unseen presence sprinkle angel dust upon my waiting body.

I lie here, millions of thoughts darting in and out, like the fire flies I use to try to catch, with my mason jar, three holes punched into the top and grass popping up helter skelter, anchored by stones plunked down in the bottom of the jar.

Fireflies flit and dart the way my mind does, lying here waiting for the angel dust, not settling my mind.

I tug at the blankets, covering my fully clothed body, socks and all, and I drift off—

I’m circling the moon.  I don’t know how.  I drift up and flit and blink out messages in Morse code like the fire flies do, mimicking them on the moon and stretching my body in downward dog to view fire flies below.  I am beguiled by them, under their hypnotic spell.

Both fire flies and I, each, stinging the black night with light, one dot matrix of hope, not insignificant.

Angel dust falls gently from the universe beyond, covering me in a white powder, aglow in silver, as millions of random fireflies blink upward, winking at me.   I float effortlessly around the moon.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Demise of the Pencil

Did you ever stop to think of what’s become of the pencil?  I remember always needing them for school.  Remember when you needed to keep three pencils sharpened at all times?  …Or when, at the beginning of the class, or before school began, you waited in  a long line  to sharpen your pencils for the day?  …And the pencil sharpener which was attached to the wall would grind the yellow wooden pencils as you twirled your heart out, round and round,, and periodically took the pencil out of the sharpener to carefully examine the point. Was it as sharp as it possibly could be?  Who has a pencil sharpener now?  Even the automatic, whirring pencil sharpeners seem like old technology.  Seems like the only thing we need a pencil for, and a #2 pencil at that, is for those high stakes test in school, or to evaluate your college professor at the end of a semester!  But even now, most major tests are being done on the computer, not with a #2 pencil..

Doesn’t that seem like a million years ago? It all started somewhere in the mid fifteenth century.   First the pencil was actually made of lead, which in, and of itself, was bad for kids, then graphite, lighter and thinner.  And remember as a kid you could actually buy your very own plastic pencil sharpener in a variety of colors to place in your “pencil box holder”?  Oh, hexagonal pencil made of graphite and encased in a thin coating of yellow wood, topped with a lovely pinkish eraser, where have you gone? 


It says in wiki (my personal go-to for a quick reference) that the graphite and wood are “permanently bonded- to the core”.   That is exactly how I felt about my pencil, bonded to the core of my being, indelibly imprinted on my soul.   Well, maybe I’ve gone too far!  But I do have fond memories of where my pencil and I have gone and how far we have both come!

As the pencil is all but gone as the writer’s implement of choice, I broke away- no pencil pun intended- and upgraded my pencil to word processing and texting. I think of an idea, and I immediately take out my iPhone and jot down those ideas on my phone’s notepad.  I wouldn’t be without it anymore. I write directly onto Face Book, Twitter, and in Pinterest, I upload my pictures to take the place of actually writing words sometimes.  My implement of choice has changed with the times, lest I become a dinosaur! And I won’t have that!

If you could migrate to the bottom of my purse, though, you will still find several yellow pencils of various lengths, and even a cute orange pencil sharpener, just in case I should ever need my trusty pencil.  Do you use pencils anymore? Let me know!

Quick!! Are You a Label Peeler?

Quick! Take a look at your shampoo, or the trash can in your bathroom, or even your scented candles.  If you notice a label or a price tag from when you purchased that item, you shouldn’t be inviting me to your house
any time soon! I am a professed “label peeler” and I have been from the time I could walk.  Most people just buy an item and have no problem just using it, enjoying it, not ever worrying about the “label”, you know, the label that tells the world you got a bargain at Marshall’s for $3.99, or that proclaims to the world the severe penalties that will incur should you, “remove a mattress tag” from a mattress you purchased and that is taunting you and sticking out every time you make the bed. Ditto for tags that stick outside the pillowcases on new pillows!

I was using the bathroom at my friend’s house recently (if you’re a friend of mine, don’t feel you have to check all your bathrooms for unplucked labels). As I said, I was actually sitting on the commode and noticed a step stool under the sink, which I supposed her small grandkids use to wash their hands.  Well, bonus time! Not only was there one label directly on the top of the step stool which read:  ”Caution:  Completely open ends to locked position before use.”  And in large bolded black lettering, “Not for use on uneven or slippery surfaces.”  Dah!  Now I know this stool has been under the sink for a couple of years at least, but the large yellow and blue label was intact, on the stool, sneering at me. I reached over from my perch on the toilet seat (pardon me), and plucked that large decal off immediately! Pure white spot where the decal was! I bet I’ll get caught since the rest of the step stool
was worn and definitely not white.  Oh, well. I ripped off the decal on the side of the stool too.  That one showed visuals of how to climb up and down off the stool! Well, I guess my friend’s grandkid had that one mastered since the stairs were well worn!  Now the stool was naked of all obvious labelling, but the imprint of those decals was conspicuous.  My bad!

As an educator, I have a major pet peeve with entering college freshmen, and for that matter anyone who has ever taken a college course anywhere!   I swear I can tell the level of studying that will be done in the course by whomever has taken off the numerous stickers affixed to their folders and three ring binders.  I tell the students that the three ring binders can never truly be their own UNTIL the labels (which came off easily) are peeled from their various resting places, particularly the spine! So that would be the first thing I would do! “Own the three ring binders or the folders!  Take control of them, ” I would tell my students passionately! Take off the damn stickers that make the binders store property!

Some stickers are more easily taken off than others! It seems that everything now- a- days is labeled, from  sports arenas,  to sweat pants that streak, “PINK” across the backside.  Can’t anyone buy a shirt or pair of shoes, or jewelry that does not have a label attached to them?   It’s become a status symbol with no way to peel them off. 


Even the cars we buy are labeled with the cherry on top.  You know what I mean, those status symbol trinkets jauntily proclaiming luxury! If I say jaguar, you think of? The symbol of an animal which cost a gazillion dollars, that hood ornament which screams, “I am rich.  I am a Jaguar!”  Ditto for those haute couture fashion designers, the ones at high end malls with guards inside --making sure their labels are safe from ordinary people who can’t or won’t pay $5,000. for a designer purse!

Well, maybe this annoying habit of mine, label and price peeling, will fade in time, but for now, not so much.  In fact, I just went back to the bathroom in my friend’s house, and checked UNDER the new bottle of hand washing soap with the great scent in the designer bottle, and yes, there it was-- the worn out price label. Scratch, scratch… I went straight to work, removing the price tag and placed it back exactly where I found it. Now, she owns the lovely hand soap! I won’t tell!

Lost in a Television "Time Suck".

So I read this editorial in the Boston Globe recently about things that “Time-Suck” your life!

Let me back up a bit. To define Time Suck is easy; to avoid it is a tricky mine field!  Anything that takes over your day before you have the chance to notice your day is gone is a  “Time-Suck”.  It’s silent and insidious, and addictive!

For example, not long ago, I flipped the television channel to TV Land and noticed a Brady Bunch all day and night marathon.  Normally, in fact almost all the time, I would just wax nostalgic about the good old days of the Brady Bunch and then keep flipping the channels for the next half hour (which is, in itself, a major “Time Suck”).  This time, much to my shock and bereavement, I noticed the reason for the marathon.  Alice, the Brady Bunch housekeeper, and dearly beloved by the Brady Bunch, and all television viewers, passed away at the tender age of 88 years old.  Where did the time go? My flashbacks to the early ‘70’s seem indelibly etched in my brain.  Can she have gone from 40 something to almost 90 in some television time warp that I didn’t even recognize? That makes me—umm-never mind!!! But I digress from my original thought.  Well, in between the tears and loss, for Ann Davis, for my own memories of the Brady Bunch and raising my own children, for humanity’s loss of such a sensitive and loveable housekeeper, well, you guessed it!  I started watching Alice tributes, in one half hour segments from 6:00pm-10:00pm. By the time I really noticed what I had done, I had been engulfed full force in a major “Time Suck”!  And then what? I felt happy that I had been with her as a fitting and proper tribute to her memory, but angry at myself, that a half hour of remembrance was not enough. 

The “Time Suck” hits when you least expect it!  It’s a sucker punch—one that throws your entire perfectly scheduled day planner dead on its ear! The most common “Time Suck” for me is finding the perfect television show to watch. So I take the remote, and to save time, I press the red button to see the guide.  I scroll down the screen, sometimes a page at a time, instead of just one by one (I’m proud of myself for saving time!), and I can’t seem to find the perfect program that won’t waste my time watching.

“ I hate people who are time wasters,”  I tell myself. I am efficient at my use of time, even in my television watching. So I continue-- page after page after page after page.  Sometimes I stop and press the information button to see exactly what I will be seeing on NCIS or some other program. I don’t want to waste my time if I don’t think I’ll like the content of the program, yet I am willing to watch reruns of NCIS just to see the cute, dysfunctional things Gibbs will do or Tony Denozo (my personal favorite)!  That’s a “Time Suck” within a “Time Suck”  --double “Time Sucking”!

My goodness, is there no end to my wasting time?  Well, now that I’ve determined that maybe I will come back to channel 31, I continue to scroll pages well into the three hundred numbers, even though I clearly know that I cannot get any of these channels.  I then decide to go to Xfinity and see what I may have missed last week on my favorite programs! Maybe I can catch a particularly fun episode of NCIS where Abby does something really cool!  So now, I must decide between regular cable NCIS or Xfinity NCIS.  I choose Xfinity because I feel like I actually chose the episode tailored to my viewing need.  I then begin to watch the program on Xfinity.  I used to be able to fast forward through all the commercials to save time, knowing I am wasting it on some unconscious level.  Now, there is a disclaimer that “Fast Forward Button MAY be disabled”.  That means I WILL have to watch all the commercials and that I am in a conscious “Time Suck” hell!  But I justify it with, “At least I can mute the commercials”.  Now I have a “Time Suck” within a “Time Suck”!  Double Time Suck! Yuck!  So, in the end, I have “Time Sucked for three hours –between mindlessly (although I thought I was being methodical) flipping through the remote, both traditional channels and Xfinity, and watching the one 60 minute episode of NCIS where I had no control over fast forwarding, although I DID have the power to actually re-wind to the beginning, thus I could, theoretically, “Time Suck” through an additional 60 minutes, should I choose to!  

I wish I wouldn’t have read that original article about “Time Sucking” in the Boston Globe! I know I would have been a lot happier!  I never used to think that much about how much time I actually wasted.  And that’s just on the television flipping and re-runs.  Imagine how much other time I managed to “Suck” up into the universe, never to recover!  I should be ashamed of myself.  I will be—as soon as I check out what’s on TV tonight!

Desperatly Seeking One Last Chance

He dressed hurriedly. His rumpled linen pants, ringed with black earth around both cuffs, covered scuffed shoes, soles worn inward.  Chilled by the autumn air, he drew his oversized coat tightly around his lean body, hoping to shake the cold and his own sense of impending dread. 

It was, he knew, a last desperate attempt. The heaviness weighed on him, gnawed at him, causing his back to arch like the bend of the willow tree in a stiff breeze.


A chill ran down his spine as he stood transfixed on the cobbled driveway which snaked its way to the ramshackle cottage at the water’s edge. His feet were clay, each slight movement deliberate, heavy, exhausting.  He paused.  It seemed that each step brought him closer to that all too familiar house, that sense of place so familiar to him, yet a distant memory. Involuntarily, his palms began to sweat, and rivulets of ice water drizzled down his face, almost freezing in place. Facing his fears, the demons within were something he was used to. He realized too late what he should have known all along.

His eyes scanned the large Cape Cod style house.  It wasn’t as quaint and homey as he had remembered it. The sea air assaulted the white paint, causing peeling, and he saw the rot beneath, deep and etched into the wood,  almost beyond repair.  The welcome sign was lying on the front porch upside down. He noticed the colonial door, its bright red dulled and the small square window panes flanking the door, cracked and lifeless. The white putty had turned a sullen gray and pieces of putty holding the glass in place were missing, dropped to the ground and decayed. 

The lawn surrounding the house leading down to the ocean’s edge was overgrown, unkempt.  In helter- skelter fashion, daisies rose up, defying the odds, holding promise but suffocated by an infection of weeds, everywhere. “No hope for this lawn,” he thought as he nodded his head. Memories of caring for the lawn, taking pride in having the best lawn in the neighborhood, made him smile, just for an instant.  Then his back arched lower to the ground as he picked the few scattered daisies before they were suffocated by the bad weeds.  He couldn’t let that happen.  Not yet.  Not until he tried one last time.  Desperately seeking one last chance, he stepped up to the front door. And knocked….

Just What Is Human Resources? Are We a Thing?

I’ve always been stymied by the termHuman Resources”.  Most of us don’t even notice the insensitivity of this term.  If you are applying for a job, you must go to Human Resources to apply, or get “processed” or for a leave of absence, or for any number of reasons.  At least they could call it the Human Being department, or Taking Care of Work Related Business Department.  But Human Resources should be a tip off right away that you are expendable.  Especially now.  Especially in the 21st century, where everyone is expendable and discarded.  At the very least we should call it the Humanity department. After all, isn’t that where we pee into a bottle, often referred to as drug testing in some companies?   And get finger printed to make sure we are not sexual predators?  Guilty until proven innocent, after all.  Can’t be too careful! 

The Human Resources has often been called the “engine room” of any organization.  Your health care benefits are also in “Human Resources”.  How’s health care a resource?  I thought health care packages were a drain on a company rather than a resource?  When you retire, that’s the place where you going to go to find out about that retirement package for the 30 plus years you put into the company?  Human Resources”.  Exactly,  how is retiring a resource?  Seems more like a drain on the company than an added benefit to the company.  Training programs as a Human Resource?  How so?  Is that meant to enhance the worker’s job skills?  Well, then maybe that one is a human resource, or at least an attempt to be a resource, if the training actually produces resources to help the weary human!

It seems that the dehumanizing of people in the modern workplace does warrant the handy, catch all term, “Human Resources”.  It’s certainly the engine that roars!  When you don’t know where something fits, it could be placed into the silo labeled, “Human Resources.” 


Maybe that term needs to be humanized so that we mere humans feel we are welcomed into a company or institution and that we are not a disposable resource to be used and discarded.  Maybe we could sort out the hodge-podge of “stuff” we randomly place into Human Resources because we don’t know where else to place it.  Maybe we could be more humane to our workers and treat them with dignity.  A first step would be to change the name “Human Resources” to ????  It’s your dignity at stake; you name it!