Toy airplane: far more interesting than real airplane.

Dear unknown, evil sorcerer at large,

I have been clutching my stomach for days and adjusting my heating pad settings. My children sing songs about diarrhea. My husband says he needs to burn the inside of his nostrils after sharing a bathroom with me.

Your curse may have been accidental. Your thought, “How nice that Dina and David are going away for a romantic trip to San Francisco. They could use a break…” did it. The curse of the mati unfolds…

We joke that our romantic, 24-hour tryst in San Francisco would be like a “Before Sunrise” film staring unattractive people. And it was, except it was filled with ceaseless burps, nervous stomach groans, near misses at public bathrooms and the wishful refrain, “I’m okay!”

Before Sunrise
No farm to table meal or authentic Korean clay pot entrée could rid me of the curse.

I am Greek so I live in fear of curse of the evil eye. I spit on my kids after I compliment then. Why? To humble them so the evil eye won’t curse them. Duh!

My parents say “ptou ptou ptou” after they give compliments (or even think them.) Now, when “ptou ptou ptou” is pronounced, bits of curse breaking spittle shoot into the air. This is a good thing.

So, now that I have identified that I am under a curse, what do I do? My children ask: “Mom, are you dying?” My answer is: “Quite possibly.”

Is it good for my children to see me this fragile? The mighty germs that topple their mother and send her running to the bathroom yelling: “Watch your brother, please! I will be a minute!”

I am teaching my children a simple fact: the human body is plumbing– what goes in, comes out. Sometimes in violent liquid forms.

The tough part now, upon returning from San Francisco, is that I could use a real romantic getaway with my husband. The most romantic exchange we have had for the past ten days was an exchange of unwrapped Pepto bismol tablets. He then brushed the hair from my forehead to tell me that I still look beautiful.

Catharine Lazar Odell bear love
I don’t want this illness again. Forget hand washing and vitamins and probiotics. I wear an evil eye bracelet (a well-timed gift from Sara Nee of Lotus World Foods.

Sara said: “You may have eaten food from kitchen where your food was prepared by a man, who wasn’t wearing gloves and he scratched his balls which may have been infected with herpes. Among millions of other reasons,” she continued, “is why I never eat out anymore.”

Who wants pizza?

Dina Koutas Poch

4:30 am

I use restroom.

Toddler uses diaper.

Dog uses neighbor’s front yard.

Cats use my pillow to lick their junk.

Sleepy daughters watch cats use my pillow to lick their junk.

Husband asks how many people’s butts does he have to wipe in one morning?

The answer is six butts, including his own.


It’s our ten-year wedding anniversary!

That is unimportant right now.


Soon we will be swooping, and whooshing,

fluttering, and floating in flight!


Flight 364 departs.

Daughters stare at iPad.

Window shades up.

Window shades down.

Toddler crinkles a plastic cup.


I’m up in the air; the wind in my hair!


Toddler makes echo sounds into plastic cup.

Plastic cup is hurtled at unknown bald man.

I apologize to bald man.

Toddler screams.

Cup reappears.

Husband blocks other attempted cup tossed in mid-air.

Husband and I high-five.


I’m leaping. I’m bouncing.

I’m high in the sky.


Smells like poop. False alarm.

Curiously, a small man exits bathroom.

Real poop.

Change yelping toddler on toilet seat top.

Discover loose stool, running up his back.

Baby touches side of toilet seat and fingers a pubic hair.

I yell.


Purell everything including eyeballs.


Window shades up.

Window shade down.


I am sailing and soaring, and learning to fly! I’m flittering, fluttering, floating in flight.


Give bottle of milk.

Empty bottle of milk is tossed towards a young, playful woman.

Bald man kills us with his glare.


Magazine pages torn. Magazine pages tasted.

My hair gets brushed. My hair gets pulled.

Toddler uses cell phone to call Pa-Pou.

Toddler is furious Pa-Pou doesn’t answer.

Seat belt fascinates.

I think toddler is a cross-breed between poodle and Velociraptor.  A Velo-doodle.


Toddler tries to escape. No luck.

Older sister comes to play.

Toddler is ecstatic. I am ecstatic. Passengers on plane are ecstatic.


Sister bores and returns to her seat. Baby screams for her.


I give harmonica to baby. Husband is astonished. Harmonica might be most obnoxious toy on plane.


Toddler puts my shoe in his mouth. I am astonished. Might be grossest object on plane.


Toddler spills yogurt drink across husband’s lap.

Husband stands to wipe wet lap.

This displeases toddler. He wants to wipe lap.


I’m dashing. I’m diving…

Toddler expressed interest in my husband’s headphones.

He listens to Sylvan Esso.

He closes his eyes.

I close my eyes.

My husband closes his eyes.


45-minutes of b-l-i-s-s.


Toddler coughs.

He wakes.


Four hours left on Hawaiian flight 364.


I’m toppling. I’m tumbling. I’m falling.  I crashed.

And, whoopsie, my parent’s mattress is trashed.


Inspired by and adopted from the poem: “Learning to Fly” by Kenn Nesbitt from the book, The Biggest Burp Ever.


Do writers feel pressure when they play Scrabble? Is the sky blue?

Do doctors run and hide when they see a person choke in a restaurant? Do professional dancers hate bachelorette parties?

I write vernacular, observational humor. I am not an intellectual, nor a linguist. Yet, an innocent game like Scrabble stokes my competitive spirit. I should know words, right? I live with them every single day.

But how wrong I am! There are words and then, there are Scrabble words.

Playing Scrabble last night crystallized one thing: I am illiterate.

I lost the game. I high-fived and celebrated when playing words like: “muff”, ” jugs”, and “ox”. Ox was a triple word score! Hooray, we made a 12-point word! Amateurs.

MUFF Scrabble Tiles

But after a night’s rest, I realize that if I memorize the following key words, my Scrabble future will be a success. Bingo. (15-point word, fyi…).

Za is an accepted word for pizza. What the hell? Ridiculous.

Muzjiks are Russian peasants. My spell check doesn’t recognize this word for a reason.

An Aerie is an eagle’s nest or some kind of a bird home, high in the air. I could use this in everyday life like in the following sentence: “I will launch myself off an aerie when I present this word on my last turn and die of smugness.”

Caziques — what the F? is going on here! I have NEVER heard of this word, but now, I will never forget. Here’s a little intel on this word from the internet:

“When Spanish explorers first reached the West Indies, they found tribes of Indians who described their chiefs using this word. The conquistadors applied the word, which can also be spelled “caciques,” to all native chiefs. It also refers to a tropical bird similar to an oriole. In a game in England in 1982, Dr. Karl Khoshnaw set the record for the highest single word score Scrabble competition. He played “caziques” across two triple word squares for a total score of 392.”

The expression of superiority after creating a 392 point word, must have been amazing. Did it look like this?

Dr Karl Khoshnaw

Faqirs were originally monks in the Sufi sect of Islam, who took vows of poverty.

Quixotry means a visionary scheme, action or thought and is derived from the fictional character Don Quixote, whose visions led him to joust with windmills. Hey, Scrabble gods? It seems a bit of a stretch to make a word based on a character in a book!

Silly words evolve from legendary works of fiction. In fifty years, will we refer to Bellazing as the act of falling in love with a vampire and then having his demon baby after a love tryst on a remote island of Brazil.

Zax came to describe a tool for cutting and punching nail holes in roofing slates. Is this a tool used in Minecraft? Should be.

Chutzpah is a winning word. It’s a winning attitude in life, too. This goyem balabusta has some chutzpah by being a yenta in this mishpocha. Oh, bubbameisse! Punkt farkert!

A qanat is a tunnel used in arid regions for irrigation. It was invented in Iran, then called Persia, about 2,500 years ago and is still used today. It taps into underground water and uses the slope of the land to bring that water to where it’s needed without pumping. Despite living during one California’s worst droughts in history, I do not use this word enough.

And, in case you didn’t know, but solidified lava comes in two forms. Aa is rough-like cinders. Pahoehoe, formed from hotter lava, is smooth. Both words are Hawaiian. My young daughters are fascinated by this, but confused by the spelling. They are not alone.


Xi – is a Greek letter.

Syzygy – an alignment of three heavenly bodies.

Yo  – a greeting.

Cwm – a valley, especially one created by glacial movement.

Xu – Vietnamese money.

I am ready to play Scrabble again and annoy my friends and family. “Booyah!” I will decry and then sit down and tell them booyah is not actually a word.

I just showed this video of me, when I was young and free, to my daughters when I was convincing them to cut their hair. They claimed: “You don’t understand! You have short hair! You never had long hair!”

A photo didn’t really cut it. But a video, of their mom with long hair? They loved it. Ate it all up. And acquiesced to a hair cut. Phew — thank goodness for youtube.

Our family is quite accustomed to spending time at the hospital.


Welcome to my new website! I have been busy: digging tunnels, clearing out old debris (like an outdated former book website), and generating new blog posts. It has been a pleasure to work with and receive guidance from Sondra, a friend and social media professional. She has been very patient with me and my — ahem, questions.

The photographed ant farm belongs to my eldest daughter. I relegated it to the garage, of course. Who wants harvester ants INSIDE their home? Let alone, near their desk, or bed or kitchen. Well, after reading about them, I find them completely inspiring.

Harvester Ants from Colony IPP have been welcome into my home with a red carpet. We ensure their habitat isn’t too warm (I mean, they work so hard all day long, why bake them?). We can’t identify the queen, yet; however, my daughters imitate her voice when they stare at the farm: “Go this way! Make way for the queen! Intruders are lurking. Get back to work!” She is not a very nice, nor tolerant queen.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would have to live with or among insects. But of course, I daily confront spiders in my house. About one third of my home is covered in ivy, so yes, I live amongst spiders. My cat, Hot Pants, had a flea on its head the other day. And now, I am caring for ants. This is in addition, to the fish, dog and cats I already provide daily food for. Clearly, I am weak in the “No, we can’t have another pet” department. I should practice saying that. For reelz, yo.

This is a wall of fox wish plates at The Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. My husband traveled to Japan to observe a medical procedure for patients with pulmonary hypertension. On his day off, he poked around Kyoto.

I love this photo. Apparently, they had a lucky charm store and a couple of shrines. They sold wooden plates that look like a foxes. You can buy a fox plate, draw your wish and a face for the fox on it, and put it on the rail by the shrine. Pretty cool!

When I saw this image, I want to do a DIY project in the hallway of our house. This completely negates the shrine aspect of the fox god. But, still, it would be cool if you could decorate fox plates upon entry to our home and then hang them on the wall.

I can only image that many of the fixe faces would look like a TV remotes, as my girls want to watch videos all the time. I would wish for a real fox. And then I could ask it, “What time is it Mister Fox?” My husband would wish for unlimited amounts of time to play loud music in the house (so maybe he would draw a fox with a jaunty jazz hat and drum sticks?). What would you wish for?

Obviously, we wish for good health. Actually, we wish for that every night before we go to bed.  Fox or no fox god, please protect us.

Best way to have your morning coffee, me thinks.