About Karla Telega

I'm a middle aged maven, winner of a Reader Views Award for my humorous mystery, Box of Rocks, and a five year survivor of Southern living. Seriously, you should see the size of some of these spiders!

Going for Gold

It’s never too early to be thinking about the 2020 Summer Olympics. My neighbor was out this morning (not the curmudgeon) training for the games, where it is rumored that there will be competitive lawn mowing for the first time.

His son was out with him, so he’s obviously going for the synchronized mowing event.

“How far down are you going?” the boy shouted over the roar of the engine.

“Just to the big wheel.”

Judging is based on uniformity of grass length, precision of matching up the individual patches, and the beauty of tandem movements. Extra degree of difficulty is awarded for fire ant mounds and low-hanging branches dripping with spiders the size of miniature schnauzers. Judging is done by a panel of Homeowners’ Association police.

It has taken a good deal of lobbying to get this event approved by the Olympic Committee, as several of the members live in neighborhoods where the front lawn consists of dirt, rocks, and the occasional land mine. I won’t get all snooty and say the Americans have it tied up, but really world, just look at our lawns! They are green, pristine, and notably lacking in explosive devices.

Other events will include the lawnmower slalom, 100 meter freestyle, and (of course) competitive edging. If you have suggestions for other Olympic events, by all means, let us know. I’ll get a petition going, right after I finish my yard work.

Survival of the fattest

The problem with reality shows is that I look at them and say, “I could do that.” I’ve been watching Mountain Men lately, and the one common ingredient is that these guys are old. I’ve got that covered. The other requirement is that they live in places accessible only by parachute.

I’m not likely to be jumping out of a perfectly good plane anytime soon, but I still wonder how I would fare living off the land with the grizzlies, cougars, wolves, and the occasional rabid beaver.

These guys build their own hydroelectric plants, and juggle chainsaws just for fun. I lack the basic coordination to walk the dog without injuring myself. I’m currently nursing a rope burn from the leash when my dog decided to lunge at an imaginary squirrel, and my wrist got in the way. The burn is bad enough that it had all the staff members at the doctor’s office gagging, and they see some nasty shit.

If I injure myself in the wilderness, I can’t run to the corner drugstore for industrial strength narcotics. This is a problem as I don’t want to be able to pass a sobriety test if I’m in pain. Conversely, when your life depends on bagging a 12 point buck for dinner, you want to be able to recite the alphabet while aiming your high powered rifle.

I picture myself enjoying the beauties of nature, like waist-deep snow in the winter, and mosquitos that can carry away fully ripened watermelons in the summer. As it is, I get frostbite just from opening the freezer door.

I’m not keen on the idea of taking a bath in a washtub. My showerhead might get lonely. I’ve had lots of practice stacking firewood, which is why I know that the woodpile is primo real estate for spiders. I think I’ll give that one a pass.

My imaginary wilderness adventure involves hard labor, blisters, bitter cold, and thirty channels of infomercials on TV. No internet, no libraries, and no UPS deliveries from Amazon combine for a colorless existence. I haven’t forgotten the fluffy woodland creatures that look at your cabin as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

You may think that this is a pointless flight of fancy, but don’t forget the end of the Mayan Calendar (blah, blah, blah) or the collapse of the US dollar (blah, blah, blah). Soon we may all be growing turnips in our front yard and hunting wild boar, or the neighbor’s Chihuahua for you suburbanites. Hey, it was either him or me.

Process of elimination

Another Friday the 13th, and it may have you feeling a little stressed out. It’s your lucky day! I’m here to lay some time-honored stress reducers on you. These techniques require no special equipment, mood altering drugs, or appreciable common sense.

Disclaimer: Results may vary. The use of this program will not tone your abs, get you a promotion at work, make you irresistible to women, or cure that rash on your butt. (You should probably have that looked at.)

An oldie but a goodie: call in sick and go fishing. Around here, that means avoiding alligators, snakes, leeches, and fire ants. You’ll want to stay hydrated in the blistering heat and unspeakable humidity, so beer is a must. Downside: beer can slow down your reaction time, so you may be picking any number of the above critters off what remains of your foot.

If you can’t get the time off work, you can still use the process of elimination. This includes pooping, peeing, and rubbing one off in the shower. This is science, people. It’s all about the release of endorphins. Naturally, if you want to maintain any street creds and avoid jail time, this is best done in the privacy of your own home. Again, beer can impair your judgment and leave you with the embarrassing situation of having to explain that floater in the neighbor’s pool. Don’t be that guy.

Laughter has been proven to reduce stress. There are, however, a few situations where this is not the case. Laughing at IRS agents, law enforcement, or members of the drug cartel, can ruin your day faster than you can say, “It’s Miller Time.”

My personal favorite stress reducer is sofa snuggles. For this, you will need a sofa, a pet, and something really inane playing on TV. Colt and I especially like re-runs of America’s Next Top Model. Small children and the elderly should avoid this exercise if the pet in question is a 200+ pound Great Dane. I can guarantee that when one of those is climbing into your lap, your stress levels will flat-line. Paramedics are standing by.

I think we can all agree that I mentioned beer several times in this post. While drinking beer will certainly relax you, it has the unfortunate side effect of making you stupid. Please don’t blame the calendar if your bad luck today involves two six packs, a bungee cord, and your garage roof. This can never end well.

Well, I’m off to de-stress in the bathroom. Please rest assured that I am going nowhere near the neighbor’s pool.

Writing from the heart

Have you ever tried peeling a pair of Spanx down to your ankles every time you need to pee? (Guys, you’ll just have to use your imaginations.) There’s that desperation point where the waist band is rolling over your bladder, and the pressure and urgency are enough to bring tears to your eyes. Writing is like that.

Today, I’m having trouble trying to squeeze out a rational thought without spewing musings on the effects of Cool Ranch Doritos on my breath. By the way, I heartily recommend the consumption of Doritos if there’s any chance you might be arrested and thrown into a holding cell with that twitchy little guy that everyone avoids.

Other mental garbage includes: Why did God choose someplace as barren as the middle east for the cradle of civilization? How many colors of crayons are they up to now? Why do front loading washers get that funk odor on a regular basis?

These are the thoughts that pop into my head when I’m trying to avoid the elephant in the room. This is my personal elephant:

Six years ago, a young couple living in a bad neighborhood decided to get a dog. They went to the pound and found a scarred up Rottweiller of indeterminate age. The card on his crate stated that he had serious social issues. He was aggressive, and bad with strangers, children, and other dogs. He was slated to be put down. Naturally, they fell in love.

Skeeter came home with them that day and filled their lives with joy. They didn’t want children, and Skeeter’s issues sealed the deal on that score. Skeeter especially loved Grandma (me) and pie. Say them both in a sentence and he lost his shit.

Sunday, Skeeter was diagnosed with advanced lymphoma, and my kids are devastated. I’ve been spending a lot of time at their house, comforting them, and just being there for Skeet. The meds are making him more comfortable, but we expect that he only has days to live.

All rules are out, and he’s being spoiled silly. You want pie? You want Grandma? You want Grandma to give you pie? No problem. Our time with our four-footed family members is so limited. Do me a favor and give your pets an extra hug for me today.

Spare the rod and prevent mood disorders

I grew up in a simpler time when parents could smack the snot out of you with impunity. My mom once told me that she preferred a wooden spoon for spankings because it stung real good without leaving a mark. Most muggings are not thought out so well.

In a recent video gone viral, a stepfather is seen spanking a child because he dropped a ball while playing catch. This spawned a backlash of public outrage from the same parents who get ejected from the little league game for publicly berating their athletically challenged offspring.

While dropping a ball is a crappy reason for hitting your child, I can think of dozens of good reasons for a good swat to the tooshie.

You hear people say, “Never strike your child in anger.” While I agree that you should probably extinguish the cat’s tail before ripping the matches out of Junior’s hand and putting him over your knee, it seems a little cold-hearted to wait two weeks till your blood pressure returns to normal before punishing the little pyromaniac.

New studies have shown that spankings can cause mood disorders in adults. Old studies have shown that spankings can cause good behavior in kids. Guess which one I choose.

I recently sat next to a family while their children were having a food fight in the Golden Corral. The parents ignored the lovable antics. If I’m picking mashed potatoes out of my hair, I promise you that I’ll be first in line to put your child into therapy.

Another video showed a bus monitor enduring poking and horrible verbal abuse from her young charges. Not one parent made their children apologize when they found out. My kid would have his backside burning as he walked to school.

Choose your punishments carefully, and the few times you have to resort to spankings will make a bigger impression … on their butts.

Bedside Mis-Manners

Have you ever noticed how the usual response from the surgical staff when you wake up during a “procedure” is to stroke your head and say, “It’s all right.”  Seems pretty lame when you’re lying there with half a silverware drawer sticking out of your neck. At least when I started swatting at the oxygen mask and yelling, “Get it off me! I can’t breathe!” they were kind enough to remove the mask and just hold it over my face … as they cranked the anesthesia to Chernobyl. I think I managed to say “Thank you” before slipping into a coma. I’m all about the good manners.

As a society, without proper etiquette, we are little better than rutting warthogs. I’ve dated a few of them, so I know whereof I speak. I have been in the delicate and vulnerable position of being a hospital patient many times, and would like to address a few “issues” I’ve had with staff:

  • When it is fifty-cent beer night in the recovery room, you might want to offer a pint to the patient. I couldn’t believe the nerve of the nurses who were walking around with glasses of beer and not sharing. Had I been a little more lucid, I would have realized that a) there was a big herkin’ tube sticking north into one of my southerly orifices, and b) the “keg” was hanging on the side of my bed.
  • I’m all for having a little privacy when forced to use a bedpan, but this is not a good time for the nurse to do her nails, have a tryst in the linen closet, or go home. It took four days for the pan imprint to fade from my butt.
  • When a patient is hyperventilating, it is best not to administer medication. To her credit, I would like to commend the nurse for her timely execution of the Heimlich maneuver to clear the golf ball size pill from my airway and send it rocketing across the room like a pharmaceutical missile. Her aim was impeccable, as it scored a direct hit on my husband’s manhood while he was suggesting that I breathe normally.
  • After delivery, is it really necessary to stick the patient in a room next to “the screamer”? I already did my part and pooped a watermelon out of a space which normally accommodates a tampon. I’d prefer not having to listen to the next act warming up.

I understand that there is very little time to observe the niceties when dealing with a gaping chest wound, and I would like to give a shout-out to the emergency room staff at North Arundel Hospital for saving my daughter’s life. You all are doing a wonderful job … just watch that bedpan thing. You don’t want an oval imprint on your heinie when it’s hanging out of a hospital gown.

You’re invited to a coronary event

Last Saturday, the brakes were firmly applied to my June butt-busting. Towards the end of my book signing, I started having chest pains. I made the two-hour drive home, fed the dog, watered the plants, balanced the checkbook, and went to the emergency room.

After slapping oxygen on me, taking an EKG, giving me three nitroglycerin tablets, and leaving me with just enough blood to fill a shot glass, the nurse went to get the doctor. I could swear he was young enough that his voice hadn’t changed yet.

Doogie Howser announced that this was not a cardiac event. Hooray! But he wanted to keep me in the hospital to do a stress test. Boo! I swore that I would get a stress test Monday, signed the release form, went out to the parking lot, and (since the nitro had eased up the chest pain) lit up a celebratory cigarette.

When I called Monday to schedule the stress test, they asked me, what kind? Um, Doogie hadn’t mentioned that there were different kinds. After I waited a few days for them to find my records, they scheduled me for next week. I’m supposed to wear workout clothes and jogging shoes.

This presented a problem since I haven’t jogged since I got pregnant 32 years ago. If I wear the special walking shoes I recently bought, I can reduce the cellulite on my butt while making sure that I don’t have a pulmonary blockage. I’m all about any opportunity to multi-task.

Don’t think that I’m not taking this seriously. I seriously freak if I feel the slightest pain in my chest, experience numbness in my hands, or see a re-run of America’s Next Top Model. For God’s sake, practice your runway walk, Lauren.

I don’t expect to have a massive coronary, major stoke, or sudden desire to see Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer. But then, I also didn’t expect to be banned from donating blood at the Red Cross because of the possibility that I have mad cow disease. I think I would have noticed by now if I did.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if I found out the chest pain is caused by mad cow disease?

I didn’t get the muumuu memo

I have a small waistline … relative to a land mass the size of Pangea just south of the belt border. With a gut in the front, and a very generous booty in the back, it’s hard to find a dress that doesn’t breathe a sigh of relief when it goes from the dressing room to the rack of shame. Let’s just say that I’m not a stranger to the sound of popping threads when I’m trying on clothes. I tend to be delusional overly optimistic when selecting a dress.

I love wearing sundresses in the summer. The feel of fabric swishing around my legs … the ventilation … the lack of discernible shape. I’m starting to see the benefits of the muumuu: a dress originated in Hawaii for women with the physique of a sumo wrester on steroids. I’m not alone in this regard.

Walking through the Uber-Mart the other day, I noted that the muumuu was a popular fashion decision. Uber-Mart has a strict dress code. Tuesdays are jeans skirt days, and for those of us who cannot find industrial strength double stitching, Thursdays are muumuu days. I didn’t get the memo, so it was quite by accident that I found myself in fashion compliance last week.

The advantages of a muumuu in Uber-Mart are obvious. You can scratch your back against a freezer door handle without attracting undue attention. (Those things are awesome back scratchers). Disadvantages: a very cold breeze on your lady parts when climbing up the shelves of said freezer to get the last stuffed portabllo Lean Cuisine.

Traditionally, a muumuu should have enough fabric to house a family of four. I’m proud to say that mine could only sleep two midgets and a wet golden retriever comfortably. (My apologies in advance to any Hawaiians for this unfortunate stereotype). I don’t wear leis, play the ukulele, or wail out songs that sound like there’s a gopher in heat nearby. My muumuus aren’t printed with flowers the size of mini-vans. Still, I want to thank the Hawaiians for this ugly yet functional piece of apparel.

I just wish they would call it something that doesn’t sound like a herd of holsteins. There’s no need to point out the correlation between cows and my figure.

$40 T-shirt

I went to the company fair and all I got was this lousy t-shirt … oh, and a sunburn. I did all the right things: bought my $40 vendor spot; set up my table on time; and loaned the organizers my roll of scotch tape.

I gave them tape, people. You’d think that would get me a primo spot, but instead I was stuck behind the South Carolina Shuckers: a booth that sold nothing but decorative knives for shucking clams. I was all alone on the back row, right across from the Filipino Buffet trailer. People were jogging past me, trying not to make eye contact, intent on loading up on lumpia. I sold zero books.

Please enjoy Parnell Hall’s lament on book signings, while I go cry in the corner.

To sleep … perchance to dream

I dreamt recently that I was wearing a cowboy hat with the brim bent up tight against the crown. I looked like I was wearing a mackerel on my head, and I did not feel like I was boldly making a fashion statement. I just felt stupid.

So what was the hidden meaning of this dream? I already know that I’ve made a number of poor fashion choices in life. The piece of fabric that could be used interchangeably as a headband, tube top, or mini-skirt is a fine example.

My friend, Terri Sonoda, invites us into a world where dreams seem to have sinister meanings. Can they be trusted? With the release of Terri’s first novella, Sara’s Sleep, Sara takes us on a compelling journey through a widow’s depression, self-destructive behavior, and horrifying nightmares. Where does the dream end and life begin?

Sara’s Sleep is now available at Amazon in print and ebook (we’re talking less than a buck, folks). You can click on the book above to be whisked away to Amazon land. This compelling drama will keep you at the edge of your seat.

Please join Terri on Sunday, July 1 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM Pacific time at her Facebook online launch party for Sara’s Sleep. Click this link for details

When I learned that Terri wanted to self-publish her novella, me and my fledgling publishing company jumped on it. I’m so thrilled to be part of her writing career, and I hope she’ll remember us when she’s signing her six-figure contracts with the big boys. If you’d like to be a part of Terri’s wacky, inspired, talented world, you can find her at Terri’s Little Corner.