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Write it Out/out


Our latest Dueling Laptops bowl word is “out”. Sounds easy, right? Took us a week to write something…not so easy!

Originally posted on Dueling Laptops:


The latest bowl word – OUT
Here is the outcome of our out of body experience in writing out “out”!

Write it Out by Mary

Out of luck
Out of time
Out of shape
Out of my mind

Out to lunch
Out of the blue
Out for service
Out with you

Out of sorts
Out of jail
Out of the closet
Out on bail

Out of the office
Out of gas
Out to the ballgame
Out on your ass

Out of my league
Out of line
Out of words
Out of time

Now that I wrote it
Now that it’s done
I think the word “out”
Ain’t all that much fun!


out by Richard

“out” is a word that can’t be trusted. Not for a moment. Even standing alone, “out” reeks of something negative.

“out” means gone, no more, not in and a few other thousand problem-posing developments. When “out”…

View original 473 more words

Memories Light the Corner of My…My…My

The latest in our Dueling Laptops Series! The word was memory.

Memories Light the Corner of My…My…My.

My Chickadee

(My sister, Tammy’s, 11-month old grandchild has been gravely ill. She recently had a liver transplant after a virus destroyed her liver. In listening to my sister’s fears for her granddaughter and for her son’s family, I wrote this for Paityn. God’s blessings on all)

I pray for them
I pray to Thee
I pray for you
My chickadee

A child so young
Her body slight
A virus hit her
In the night

Her cheeks were flushed
Her skin so warm
The virus raged
Into a storm

Her liver took the
Hardest hit
Five more days
Until it quit

The cry went out
Please help our child
Their fear was deep
Their eyes were wild

God heard their cries
His grace abounds
Her mommy’s cousin
A match was found

An act so great
No words to say
When Caitlin gave
Her gift that day

Paityn strengthens
Every day
Her liver functions
She’s back to stay

I pray for them
I pray to Thee
I pray for you
My chickadee


Guilt Tripping

Guilt Tripping.

Dueling Laptops III – Hearty

Well, the latest bowl word is “hearty”. Predictably, my hubby and I have a completely different take on such a basic word. I will admit here and now that I am bowing down to my husband’s imaginative and whacky mind. Written in news reporter fashion (in his past life, he was, in fact, a newspaper reporter) he has created a piece that brought a hearty laugh to my lips and laughter tears to my eyes. Out of the cobwebs of my mind comes yet another walk down memory lane and regales a group of wonderful characters from my past. To really do justice to these friendships, I should be writing a book – not a blog! Anyway, enjoy our latest offerings! (Next word…guilt/guilty – fertile material for Baby Boomers!).

hearty laughter


I’ve recently reunited with another one of my high school friends through that great connector of lost friends – Facebook. Those days, long past, have been playing in my mind since this latest reunion.

My parents had picked up our family of 8 over the Christmas holiday of 1969 dropped us in middle of nowhere – or that’s what we thought. We left a booming metropolis of 50,000 people to little, bitty Algoma, which just barely tipped the population scales at 4,000. I was in my second year of middle school before the move and wound up in my last year of grade school after the move as Algoma had two schools – grade school and high school. No middle school. No dignity.

it was a difficult period in my life. I had no friends in this new town, a new step dad and everything familiar was gone. I made it through that last year of “grade school” with a feeling of doom and shuffled through the summer dreading the thought of starting high school alone, shy and extremely insecure.

I walked through the hallowed doors of Algoma High School scared to death. My older sister quickly abandoned me and left me floundering on my own. I don’t remember who I met first, but somewhere in the middle of all that angst and insecurity, I gathered a circle of friends that would fill my high school days and nights with laughter, love and an incredible amount of fun. When I close my eyes, Wubby, Nell, Debbie Jer, Moon, Nake, Piette (a/k/a MacGruder) and I are sitting in the commons planning our next adventure.

Wubby (real name Debbie) was at the center of it all. She was one of the Catholic school girls along with Nell, Nake and Piette. Wubby had a laugh that was hearty and infectious. It would start with a ‘Bah” closely followed by “ha, ha, ha” with a finishing “heeeeeeeee.” When Wubby laughed, her face would turn bright red and she would begin fanning herself to turn down that internal thermostat that was threatening to blow the top of her head off. Her laugh took on a life of it’s own and would explode from her lips without warning – often during class. My face breaks into a wide grin to this day when I think of Wubby’s infectious chortles.

Nell was my partner in crime. Mary Nell was her name, but we tossed first names to the curb in high school and she remains Nell to this day even though she’s been married for 40 years. Nell and I started smoking cigarettes together. We smoked pot together for the first time in the bathroom behind the skating rink…emptied out filtered cigarettes refilled with a minute amount of pot. “Do you feel it,” we asked each other. “Oh yeah.” “Me too”.

Debbie Jer hailed from the Lutheran school along with Moon. She was a petite little thing, but had a laugh that seemed to surprise even her when it erupted. She was shyer than the rest of us, but when you got to know her, she was outgoing and hilarious. I recall that of all of us, she had the strictest parents. I think there was one party at her house all through high school and she and her sister got busted by her parents because the chairs weren’t tucked in straight under the dining room table.

Vickie Starr (we called her Moon) was one of those friends that was more in our group for the first couple of years of high school, but then got that dreaded thing called a boyfriend and left us. She was the first of us to get a learner’s permit.  One weekend, my parents left their teenage daughters home alone (along with the keys to the family roadster), and my friends and I thought it would be a good idea to take the family station wagon (Vickie obviously driving since she had the learner’s permit) and drove to a county bar/pizza joint. Oh my gosh, how brave and very stupid we were. I also remember sitting Vickie’s basement singing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s Our House, but instead of the standard words, we started each word with a B. Bour bouse bas a bery, bery, bery bine bouse. We laughed until the tears were sliding down our cheeks.

Nake (a/k/a Lynn Bair) was another friend that wove more closely in our group during the first couple of years than in the later years due to that boyfriend thing. The parties at her house were almost as legendary as the parties held at the Hutton house (my house) as she had a sister a year older just as I did. Obviously it was always the older sister rather than the innocent younger ones that had the parties. The Bair girls had the best albums and I developed my love of Crosby, Stills and Nash (4-Way Street) sitting in the corner of their living room during one of those social events.

Piette was another Catholic schoolgirl who formed the core of our group. Somewhere during the Nixon years and the Watergate scandal, Teri and I took to calling each other MacGruder. Maybe it just struck us as a catchy name. Maybe some big revelation hit us during Civics class and Jeb MacGruder became our hero. Maybe we were just nuts. All I know is that if I would see Teri tomorrow, I’m sure I’d greet her with a hearty, “MACGRUDER!!!!”

I am Facebook friends these days with all my old cronies other than Moon and if I’d get that random friend request from her, I’d accept it in a heartbeat. The friendships that were forged over Mr. Wadz typing class or bottles of Boones Farm Tinkle Me Pink (which we always called Pickle Me Tink) or nights spent “riding around”, were carefree and memorable. They filled us each with a lifetime of Bah-ha-ha/Heeeeeee’s. I would have sworn on our graduation day in June of 1974 that we’d be friends forever although decades passed without a word of contact. Through the beauty of Facebook, however, that has prophesy has come to pass and old friendships have been renewed. Who knows, one day we may cross the internet superhighway and come together to relive old memories and make new ones. While our conversations may revolve around grandchildren and our latest aches and pains, the center of it will be based on our repertoire of events such as “remember when the party at Krohn’s Lake got busted, and we hid in ditches as we walked back to your house…” Bah-ha-ha-ha. Ah, Memories.


Hearty Hit with Lawsuit

(New York, N.Y., Friday) — Media icon Hearty Harharre will be taken to court next month in a civil suit filed here today by his brother, Hale.

The action alleges that Hearty has unfairly capitalized on the “Hale and Hearty” image established by both brothers more than 50 years ago and has failed to equitably share the revenue generated by that image. The suit seeks a total of $11.6 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Industry experts have expected legal action on the issue for decades.

“The surprise, here,” observed Beatrice Kale, CEO of the Eat What’s Good for You or Else Conglomerate, “is not that Hearty is being sued by Hale, but that it took so many years for it to happen.”

Some speculated that the closeness of the two brothers made the issue too emotionally charged for action until now. Others theorized that the death of their mother, Hedy, last month may have triggered the action. Their father, Hardy, died in 1996.

The brothers had been extremely close from birth. As identical twins, they didn’t have much choice at the starting gate.

They were inseparable while growing up in rural Vermont, becoming the very epitomes of robust young men in that healthy environment. Both got into body-building in their teens, and it wasn’t long before advertising agencies discovered the brothers and came a-knockin’.

A brand was born.

Soon, everyone wanted to be Hale and Hearty. Their images appeared on breakfast cereal boxes, soup cans and a variety of feminine hygiene products. The last didn’t do very well, but you can’t blame an ambitious advertising agency for trying.

No one knows exactly what happened, but in 1987, Hearty decided to strike out on his own. Perhaps he had noticed that no one ever referred to a substantial meal as “hale.” Hearty had become a standalone, household word, whereas Hale seemed to have virtually disappeared from the American lexicon.

“It was a logical move,” Kale said. “Hale had more or less just been along for the ride for quite some time, so it made sense to dump the baggage.”

Hale was blindsided and devastated. He tried to sell the Hale brand, but found no takers. Spelling-impaired focus groups associated the word with iceballs falling from the sky or yelling for a cab, neither of which were going to move goods and services. A rare exception was the Hale and Hearty Soups chain in New York, but Hale was not getting a cut of that action.

Hale sank into depression, becoming addicted to alcohol, Altoids and Candy Crush. He never spoke publicly of the rift with his brother, but those close to the Harharre family said that Hale never lost hope that he and Hearty would be reunited.

Each year on their birthday, insiders reported, Hale invited Hearty to celebrate. Hearty never accepted, leaving Hale alone with his symbolic single-candle cake.

“My client is only seeking what he deserves,” said Sharky Shyster, Hale’s attorney in the lawsuit. “He bears no malice toward his brother.”

“Hale was always a follower,” Hearty boomed in his trademark megaphone voice. “Going solo was as much ‘tough love’ as anything.”

“We are just twins, for God’s sake, not Siamese twins,” he finished with a hearty laugh.

Dueling Laptops – Handshake

Well, we found ourselves trapped inside today avoiding the heat and humidity of a sweltering Wisconsin day. We took the plunge and dipped into the word bowl for another offering of Dueling Laptops. Today’s word, handshake. Please excuse and bear with me…mine got a little lengthy! Enjoy!


by Mary

Back in the late 1990’s, I tried my hand at Internet dating. I’d been a single mom for almost 20 years and I was nearing that feared empty-nest syndrome that occurs after devoting your life to your offspring. What would I do, I wondered, once I no longer had soccer matches to fill my nights and weekends? How would I get through my nights when I no longer had to lie wide awake at midnight waiting for my child to return back to the nest? How would I ever fill all those lonely minutes?

My friend had found AOL to be a hotspot of available men, so I decided to throw my spinster’s hat in the ring and give it a whirl. I filled out my profile and invented my AOL and Yahoo Personal’s handle. I became BlondyinWI…how fetching, how alluring, how young and happening. I tossed out a lighthearted ad proclaiming I was merely looking for someone slightly girthy to laugh with. I skipped the moonlit walks on the beach or that someone to grow old with thing…that seemed too large a commitment when I was really just looking for someone to entertain me.


I sat back and waited. “You’ve got mail” proclaimed that yes indeed, there were a few catches out there waiting to be reeled in. The first was a guy named Jerry who wrote to say that he was quiet, but liked to laugh as well. Perhaps we could laugh together. Okay, sure. Let’s get together and laugh.

We decided to go to a movie. I met him at the local theater (taking no chances on having him pick me up). He told me he was driving a red older model convertible so I sat in my car waiting for him to arrive. I was slightly concerned when I saw an older model convertible pull up and park in the handicapped parking spot. He had not informed me that he was disabled. Not that it would have mattered, but I was still surprised. He got out of his vehicle and walked without issue into the lobby of the theater. I followed suit and went up to him with outstretched hand and introduced myself. We shook hands and proceeded to our movie.

In the ten minutes we had prior to the beginning of the show, I learned that the handicapped sign hanging from his mirror was actually his mother’s (he took her to get groceries once a week and just “hung onto it”). I learned that this was the first movie he’d been to in ten years and that I was his 13th internet date (lucky 13) since he signed up for AOL Personals two months ago. I was already full of pity for No. 14. When he invited me to join him for a drink, I feigned a headache. A handshake and a promise to “be in touch” and I beat a hasty escape!


I brushed that date off to beginner’s luck or lack thereof. My next date was with Jon from Milwaukee. He proclaimed to be a police officer in Whitefish Bay. We met at the Horse & Plow Pub & Grill at the American Club in Kohler – again, not wanting to give away my address in the event this date did not produce that dream man to laugh my golden years away with.

We met at the bar having given each other general descriptions and providing our best photo taken in the most flattering light possible. He arrived 10 minutes late and tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “Mary?” I turned in my bar stool with my hand once again extended for the introductory handshake and he grasped it in an effort to pull me toward him for a hug. Ah, yes, the manly hug. After a drink and a lively exchange of basic information, we headed to a booth for dinner.

I slid into “my” side of the booth and was most surprised when Jon slid in next to me rather than across from me. It was a sign of things come. Okay. I found it rather awkward to constantly be turning my head to talk to either his ear or his face, but I was willing to play the game. We ordered (why I remember that I had a pork schnitzel is beyond me) and consumed our dinners while sharing pieces of our lives with each other. I was giving the date a preliminary 7 out of 10 over dessert when I suddenly felt Jon’s hand not on my leg, but rather working its way up the inside of my leg. I firmly grasped his hand and returned it back to his “space” and suggested that it was time to end the evening. Apparently experiencing temporary hearing loss, Jon ordered another round of drinks from our waitress and promptly placed his hand under my shirt. Excuse me….pork schnitzel does not a feely earn. I excused myself (remember, I was imprisoned on the inside of the booth) to use the ladies room, threw a $20 bill on the table and ran like hell. No goodbye. No hug. No handshake.


I have to admit that after Jon, I was convinced that somehow “ someone to laugh with” was actually code for “throw me down in public and have your way with me.” I was quite leery about continuing this dating game thing and let some time pass. I was still checking my inbox and had email conversations with a couple of guys, but I was not ready to actually meet any of them in person. There was one guy though that seemed like a nice enough guy who was a bit down on his luck. His wife had passed away several years prior and his daughters were encouraging him to try his luck at dating. We exchanged pertinent information and pictures of our kids and ourselves. While he wasn’t a looker, he seemed to have a nice, honest face and his kids looked a bit like him. “All right,” I thought. “It’s time to get back into the game.”

Bruce invited me to go to a play that his teenage daughter had a small part in. We met, once again at a bar, to have a drink and talk a bit before the play. I walked in the bar, looked around and didn’t see him so I sat down at one of the few available stools and ordered a drink. I felt hot breath on my ear and turned toward the bar patron sitting next to me. “Mary?” he asked. No. Dear God, no. This was not Bruce. This was not the nice honest face that asked me to attend his daughter’s play. This was some perspiration dripping, greasy slicked back hair styling, big old protruding lip smacking guy that seemed to know my name. He stuck out his hand and said, “Bruce.” I shook his dead fish of a hand and began to plan my escape.

The small talk at the bar was painful. I was not engaged in any of it. My brain continued to scream…RUN, RUN, RUN yet the more I talked to him, the worse I felt for him. He was everything I didn’t want in a man. He talked about his dead wife. He talked about his kid’s problems at school. He talked about the dates he had that didn’t work out. His eyes shone with hope. When the time came to leave for his daughter’s play, I couldn’t abandon him. I couldn’t kick that man anymore while he was down so I drove to the play and met up with him in the cafeteria of the school that the play was being held. He introduced me to his daughter…heaven help her, she looked just like her dad.

We sat down in the auditorium in the 2nd row and he promptly placed his sweaty paw upon my hand. He turned and smiled at me. I squeezed out a slight grimace back his way. The play began. Within five minutes, Bruce was snoring open mouthed and I was trapped next to him with his spongy hand encasing mine. My mind was frantically attempting to devise an emergency, which would give me my much needed leave from this date, but yet I stayed to the end.

When the play finally and most mercifully ended, I suggested that Bruce just wait for his daughter rather than escort me to my car. However, that was not to be. Bruce grasped my fingers and walked me through the parking lot until we were standing next to my car. I stretched out my hand and thanked him for a lovely day and yes, he pulled me to him and puckered up those froggy lips and smacked one right on my mouth. “I’ll talk to you soon,” I promised as I rushed into my car. Ugh. Yuck. Phooey.


Now you’d think after all those unfortunate dates, I would have retired from the dating game and whiled away the rest of my days on bus trips to Branson or volunteering at the local library, but no. After another series of misfit wonders, I finally found my knight in shining armor on the information superhighway. He was looking for someone to just do stuff with and to laugh with. We went on our first date nix the obligatory introductory handshake. There was no handicapped parking, no groping and no froggy-lipped kiss. There was just a really nice guy who made me laugh. Oh yeah, we did go on that walk on the beach and he gave me a warm hug at the end of the night. I’ve been married to that guy for nearly 12 years now and while we grow old together, he still makes me laugh.


The Handshake

by Richard

To so-called “normal” people (you know who you are), a handshake is a pair of right (or sometimes left) hands briefly clasped together, possibly moving up and down, in a gesture of friendship, greeting or finalizing some sort of deal.

The practice developed, as I understand it, back in more primitive times when two individuals advanced toward each other and mutually showed that they were not bearing weapons by offering an open hand. Naturally, they still needed to be wary of anyone approaching with one hand outstretched while the other was concealed behind his or her back.

So much for normal people. As a longtime computer geek, I also see the “handshake” as something completely different — the ofttimes frustrating and frequently fruitless process of getting two different electronic entities to play nice with each other. (Curse you, Play Station 3!)

At no time in digital history was this exercise more audibly obvious than when attempting to connect to the internet via telephone modem. For those who don’t go back as far as the days of steam-powered computers, it went something like this:

beep! beep! beep! beep! beep! beep! beep! (Hello, this is Mr. Micron [pet name for my longtime computer companion]. Anybody there?)

whirrrrr! whirrrr! (Yeah? This is AOL. What do you want?)

warble, burble (I would like to access the internet through this telephone number, if that’s OK with you.)

gimble! vorpal! snicker-snack! (Let me check your credentials. Hmm. Looks like you’re on the list. I’ll try to connect you. Hold on.)

wheeeeeeee! ding! ding! ding! ding! hissssss! hisssss! (Thanks. I’ll wait.)

honk! honk! (Standby) hisssssssss! (Well that speed is no good) Hissssssssssssssssssss! (Nope, that one won’t work, either.) HISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!! (Thaaat’s never gonna happen) stutter, stutter, hissss! (Looks like we’ll need to settle for this one. Does that work for you?)

klaatu barada nikto (Sure. I’m just grateful to be connected at any speed. Thank you so much.) 

waffle, baffle, zibble, zonk, bloof! (OK. You’re good to go. As always, remember that you may be disconnected without warning at any time, especially if you are cluttering up this phone line with an all-day download of the latest IE upgrade. Understood, Micron?)

bibbidi, bobbidi, boo. (Understood, AOL. Thanks again.)

Buzzzzzzz! (handshake completed)

I believe the whole handshaking process still takes place today whenever two devices need to connect. It’s just accomplished in the background, more speedily and efficiently — except when it’s not.

I last used the term when we had a cable guy come to the house because we were unable to get the box to connect to a new HD television set. I was aware that these devices, before they could hook up, had to reassure each other that they would never, ever consider, even for a microsecond, illegally copying intellectual property; but that assurance wasn’t happening.

“It seems like they’re not completing their handshake,” I helpfully volunteered to the technician.

The look he gave me began as a blank stare and finished with the one that said: “I guess this geezer is off his meds.” He made a non-committal noise and proceeded to replace the box.

As he left, neither of us extended a hand to seal the deal.

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