Posts filed under ‘Humor – Commentary’

Let’s Be Friends

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump never helped me toilet paper a house.

Continue Reading July 22, 2016 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

Dare To Be Happy

A month or so ago, I completed a new book, Dare To Be Happy (more on that below). Just before I sent off the final file, I thought it would be fun to include a note sending people to see more at my very own, Big Girl (not just for free blogging) website. And I added a reference to an at-the-time non-existent, domain-name-only website while thinking, It will take a couple of days to create the website. It will be fun.

Other than this blog (which was very simple to set up) I have never created a website on my own, without the aid of people like designers, developers, or IT experts.

Now, this is not me bragging about being brave or smart or talented. This is me trying to explain my absence from blogging. This is me trying to explain a lapse—no, no, not a lapse. This is me trying to explain a full-on, tequila shots, Evil Knievel blindfolded, toddler on the stairs, Cannonball! leap into insanity.

I have not worked so intensely since my 20s or learned so much since grade school. For the past month or so, I’ve been working 72-day weeks, 159 hours a day. Old dog stumbling through new tricks. Dashing down blind allies in search of a pinata. Long walks on short piers. Bit by bit by bit building a website.

It was a labor of love. (As in, that big big love when you fall first-site, head-over-heels with that guy who is so wonderful at first and then starts to mess with your head and treat you like complete crap until you say you’re leaving and then he’s so dang sweet about begging you to stay that, like a fool, you stay and you’re so happy because you think it was a breakthrough moment and things seem great and you realize that you were right about thinking he’s a good guy underneath all the jackassery, and then 5 minutes later you’re miserable again and all your friends tell you he’s not worthy but you keep hoping and you spend a lot of time crying or banging your head off the wall but you survive on the little moments until you finally, finally, say, “This is bullshit!” and walk away.)

Yeah. It was a labor of love. But the process was fun at times. Well, maybe fun isn’t the word. It was cool. (No.) It’s all pretty amazing really. (Nope.) It was satisfying. (Uh, not really.) It was an educational experience. (Zzzzzzzzzz.)

Well, anyway, it’s done. I have the beginning of website that I like. And it functions all right as far as I know.

bethaschmidt websiteIt is (I may merge this blog with that site sometime in the future, but, right now, I don’t have a clue how to do that, and I’m taking a little break from the joys of learning.)

Take a peek if you’d like.

The main reason for launching it was as a companion to the new book. So I should probably share some info on that, too:



Dare To Be Happy (Inspiration for Girls Growing Up. And Women Who Don’t Want To.) is now on sale via amazon.

This paperback gift book (8×6, 56 pages, $10) is a collection of quotes, notes, warnings, and wisdom, some from famous people and some from me, including a few excerpts that came from Life Preservers posts.

Cheers, and thanks for reading.



May 10, 2016 at 2:49 pm Leave a comment

Happy Leap Day! Love, Francesca

Rarer than a birthday wish, more enchanting than a New Year kiss, less varmint-y than the beginning of this month: Leap Day.

It’s an extra day. A rare day. An abnormal day. A not-quite-real day. It’s the un-cola of days. It’s the Brigadoon of days.

It’s a disorderly day. An odds-and-ends day. A day to acknowledge the imperfect way in which the world goes ’round.

And that’s worth celebrating.

I highly recommend taking the day off. But, if that’s not (are you absolutely certain it’s not?) possible, try to work some disorder and silliness into your day. Legend has it that how you spend Leap Day portends your frivolity levels for the next four years. Ignore it at your peril.

Mark this day with hijinks, shenanigans, treats, and a touch of chaos. Fly your freak flag. Wear the Sponge Bob tie. Put a slice of baloney in each of your shoes.

Car, bus, or train, commute in Groucho glasses.

Order the whipped cream. Get the giant-size mocha. Tell the barista your name is something it isn’t.

Host a paper airplane contest in Cubeville. Sneak out of a seminar to go bowling.

Go out for lunch. Go out for a long lunch. Try a crazy food. Drink champagne. Buy lottery tickets. Visit the toy store. If you must go to the gym, do cannonballs.

Goof off as much as possible and, when the workday is done, run for the door. One absolutely mustn’t work late on Leap Day. Spend these extraordinary hours with people you like.

Have something random and yummy for dinner, like peanut butter and jelly or French fries or a pint of ice cream. Recite poetry. Tell jokes. Talk with your mouth full.

Dance in the living room, watch a classic comedy, round up your neighbors for some Kick the Can. 

Laugh a lot. Stay up too late. Enjoy every minute.

Because, when that clock strikes twelve, we’ll be back on course, behaving ourselves, masquerading as normal.

February 29, 2016 at 12:17 am Leave a comment

Let’s Go Bowling

Life Preservers Blog Let's Go Bowling 2I used to say, If I win the lottery, I’ll buy a tropical island and live there in sunny bliss with a couple of gorgeous cabana boys. Today, the 22nd of January, 2016, with snow piling up outside, I announce to you this official change to my Lottery Winning Prospectus:

If I win the lottery, I will buy a bowling alley.


I just found out that Route 19 Bowling Center (the place where I currently bowl) will be gone in a few months. Done. Gone. Bulldozed. For a mall.


I like that bowling alley. I like bowling. I like bowling night.

Bowling is a family-friendly, date-friendly, friend-friendly, clutz-friendly, age-friendly outing. It’s an inexpensive bit of fun. It’s a stress-free escape. It’s a place where everybody gets a level playing field, and being average is perfectly all right.

I’m a single person who works from home. Bowling night is a life preserver. On bowling night, I get to leave the house. I get to knock down pins, knock back a couple of brewskis, hang with my friends, and laugh a full week’s worth. Bowling is the last vestige of Younger Days, when nights out were almost nightly. It is also the near end of a thread that weaves back even farther, to my earliest childhood . . . if an unsanctioned four-year-old wearing no shoes, standing at the foul line, and dropping a 12-pound ball onto a big toe can be considered bowling.

That cherished moment took place at the Mt. Royal Bowling Alley in Glenshaw, an alley within walking distance of where I grew up. It’s where I won my first bowling trophy.

I should note that (A) it was a mother-daughter tournament with the winning score based on a combined total; (B) my mom is a really good bowler; and (C) it’s where I won my only bowling trophy. But I broke 80 that day, my mom kicked butt, and we took first place. In the tangled jungle of my aging brain, that moment is a sun-drenched clearing. Unadulterated joy. Vainglorious triumph. In my mind, that bowling alley is perfectly preserved.

In real life, it’s a drug store.

Folks in the North Hills of Pittsburgh will also remember another once-great bowling alley: McKnight Lanes. That building is now a Bed, Bath, and Beyond. (I still stick out my tongue anytime I drive by.)

McKnight Lanes is where I bowled in my first league and enjoyed many happy, silly times as a kid, a teenager, and a young adult. I broke in my very own bowling ball there in the late ’70s. It is actually the same ball I used right up until a couple of months ago when it was, well, broken in completely. (See photo to fully appreciate bad pun.)Life Preservers Blog Let's Go Bowling

Mount Royal Lanes. McKnight Lanes. And now, Route 19 Bowling Center. The three main places I have bowled, gone, gone, and going soon.

I am bummed. I am sad. I am disappointed with the world.

I want to wail like a four-year-old with a bowling ball on her foot.

Yeah, I know. Time rolls on. Things change. And, while I kind of adore the tradition and kitsch of bowling, it’s not the everyman activity it used to be. I know not everybody loves bowling. But do we really need another mall?

No. We do not.

We need more bowling alleys. Bowling alleys with cabana boys.

January 22, 2016 at 8:01 pm 2 comments

Must Wii TV

So, every morning for the past 7 months, I have begun my valiant Last Stand Against My Fat Butt with a workout on the Wii Fit. Not because it’s the world’s best or most effective workout but because it draws me in as a willing participant. Then I swap disks to Just Dance because it’s fun and helps me lose weight.

This past Tuesday I got up, turned things on and . . . hrrm. Wii turns on, TV turns on, but switching the AV button (which normally switches from TV channels to Wii channels) gives me a blank and silent screen.

I didn’t have time to deal with it on Tuesday and was able to rationalize that a bit of par 3 strolling in the afternoon could count as a workout. Yesterday, fingers crossed, I tried again, and had the same result.

And so began a tale more convoluted than the tangle of wires behind my TV stand.

I checked and re-checked every wire, every connection. Unplugged everything. Waited. Plugged everything back in. Probably spent an hour or so checking connections, wiggling wires, and going back and forth with the AV button.

Read manuals. Searched websites. Scanned forums. (No helpful info.)

I began talking to myself. (No helpful info.)

Frustration had settled in at this point. Frustration irritated by the idea that a new TV or gaming console was not in the budget this month. Frustration compounded by an irrational but growing panic that if I couldn’t do my Wii Fit and Just Dance right this very minute, at my normal workout time, for the second day in a row, I was going to, at any moment — Poof! and a slide whistle and a noise like the stretching of a giant balloon — turn into Gilbert Grape’s momma.

It was also frustration multiplied by the torment of being a fairly intelligent middle-aged human faced with one of those illogical conundrums that only Technology can present. For example, I tested the Wii on another TV. It didn’t work. So I surmised the problem was with the Wii. I tested another gaming console on the TV. It didn’t work, which proved it must be the TV.

“So I can clearly not choose the wine in front of me!”

Round and round it went. I did more tests. I used tools. I repeated,”This just doesn’t make sense” as if I were an extra practicing a precious line of dialog. Eventually, I reached the conclusion that my TV would have to be replaced. You might think it was an embarrassment to be the only kid on the block without a flat screen TV, but, honestly, that big old beastie from the last millennium was a source of something like pride. I was bummed.

After a bit of online price comparison, I headed for Target, where I discovered that TV measurements mean something completely different now and so spent way more than I expected but still had a good experience and walked out with a new TV. Well, actually, I walked out with my car keys; a nice young man walked out with my TV.

(Holy crap! Did I just use the phrase nice young man? Technology is creeping beyond my comprehension and I’m saying nice young man?)

At about 3:00 p.m., I got home and, once I got the dang thing unwedged from the back seat of my two-door car, I thought, “Hooray! The frustration is over!”

{Evil chuckle from the depths of hell.}

Through a combination of pushing, pulling, ingenuity, and gravity, I got the old TV off of the TV stand. Then, I got the new TV out of box, connected everything, went through the startup and . . . Son of a biscuit! It’s not the TV. It must be the Wii after all.

Although both options were within the realm of possibility at that point, I neither cried nor threw up. Let’s fast-forward about 20 minutes, and I mostly calmly decided that I would head to GameStop for a replacement Wii and deal with returning the new TV the next day. I got home and connected the new-old Wii to the new TV. And, Hallelujah!, it worked. Then, before re-packing the new TV, just to be certain, I switched all of the wires and connected the Wii to the old TV, and . . . I got the blank screen.

Ohhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

So, my dearies, there were issues with both the TV and the Wii. And I recalled that, on Monday night, the night before this all began, there was a crazy-close-by lightning strike. My neighbors lost power, phone, and cable, and I suspect lightning fried the Wii setup as well, which was plugged in and on at the time. I don’t know if homeowner’s insurance will help or not yet, but it was a tremendous relief just to reach a logical conclusion.

It was 9:05 p.m. I was exhausted to the point of giggles, shaking my head at a lost day, and starving for some dinner. But you better believe I worked out first, even if it did mean dancing among wires, manuals, packaging debris, and the spiffy new ottoman.

August 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm Leave a comment

The Granola Bar Experiment

So, I got it in my head today that I should try to make homemade granola bars. If you know me well, you may be snickering. And, whether or not you are familiar with my culinary adventures, you do not know why I do such things.

Googling brought me to a list of 20 healthy recipes that the blogger promised were all legitimately healthy. I clicked through the list until I found one with ingredients I had on hand. And, encouraged by multiple sightings of the phrase “super easy,” I decided to give it a try.

btw . . . I don’t think you should call a recipe “super easy” if it requires a trip to a specialty store and/or a dictionary. Gee willikers, I am plum out of blanched almond flour, chia seeds, ground flax meal, and sucanat.

Sucanat? (And watch the left one wiggle?)

{Will anyone besides my sister get that joke?}

Anyhoo, I selected recipe #7, Granola Bar with Almonds and Dates.

From my point of view, it was more difficult than making chocolate chip cookies but not as difficult as that time I tried to make pie. I melted, chopped, mixed, and slid it all into the oven.

It did not smell great while baking. And, for nearly 25 minutes, I thought, “Geesh! Why did I make such a big batch before I even knew if they’d be good? What is wrong with me? Why don’t I ever learn?” I grimaced and let the granola crapola bake. Took it out of the oven and left it to cool.

Later, I peeked into the kitchen. Got a knife. Took a tentative, suspicious nibble.

Oh my goodness! It’s yummy! (I am not bragging. I am dumbfounded.)

Should you care to give it a try, the recipe (as I made it today) follows. Even if it wasn’t super easy, I will probably make them again. Who knows, next time, maybe I’ll even attempt to use chia seeds.

Anybody have a Chia Pet kit they’re not using?


1/2 C melted margarine
1/2 C honey
4 C uncooked oats
2 C extras (chopped almonds, chopped pecans, craisins, toasted coconut)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten

Preheat:  350º    Grease 11×17 pan

Combine honey and melted margarine.

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Pour margarine-honey mixture over dry ingredients and mix well.

Pour beaten eggs over the mixture and mix well.

Smoosh evenly into pan and bake 20-25 minutes.

July 1, 2015 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment

How to Get Rid of an Old Refrigerator

Option 1

Step 1:  The people you buy your home from ask if you would like them to leave the second, old refrigerator in the basement.

Step 2:  You say, “No thank you.”

Option 2 (Significantly Abridged)

Step 1:  Use refrigerator twice. Eighteen years later, call a service to pick up old refrigerator.

Step 2:  Knowing that it will be cheaper to get the refrigerator to the curb (and thinking, at Step 2, that it is worth saving a couple of bucks), make an attempt to see if you will be able to move it yourself. Bump, wiggle, pull, push, grunt, cuss, rock, bump, grunt-grunt-grunt, and move it about 10 feet. Think, “That wasn’t so bad. I can do this.”

Step 3:  Realize that it is not going to fit through Door #1. Also realize that your screw driver and the hinges to the door are in the next room. Bump, wiggle, pull, grunt, drag refrigerator back into the room. Go find screw driver. Remove door.

Step 4:  Push refrigerator through Door #1, including conquering the unexpected mountainous peaks of the threshold.

Step 5:  Push-pull it across cement floor; wiggle, grunt, rock it, wonder about death by refrigerator, and get it up over the edge of the carpeted area. Bump, wiggle, push, grunt it to Door #2, the door to the garage, the really big, really heavy door.

Step 6:  Consider measuring but think to self, “Well, they had to have gotten it in this way” and “I don’t feel like running upstairs for the measuring tape.” Eyeball it and think, “Yeah, I can do this.”

Step 7:  Standing on garage side of refrigerator, wiggle, grunt, and (using freezer handle and condenser coils as handles) pull like a maniac. Keep pulling until refrigerator is solidly, completely, totally, dagnabbittly wedged in the doorway.

Step 8:  Figure that you could probably do better pushing from the inside. Realize that the only (unlocked) door to gain entrance to your home has a refrigerator in it.

Step 9:  Get step ladder off garage wall. Climb up, belly flop onto top of refrigerator, and shimmy through the top of doorway. Once inside the basement again, realize just how far the top of a refrigerator is from the floor.

Step 10:  Dangle feet, wrangle body, stretch legs, pull back. Consider job as Elf on a Shelf.

Step 11:  Jump.

Step 11b:  Land and roll like James Bond (if he were still being played by Sean Connery).

Step 11c:  Lie on floor giggling in a very un-Connery-like manner.

Step 12:  Re-examine refrigerator in doorway and realize (1) pushing is no help and (2) you’re going to have to remove the really big, really heavy door after all and (3) the hinges are on the garage side.

Step 13:  Pull, wiggle, grunt in an attempt to get the refrigerator unstuck from doorway. Run up the stairs, unlock the back door, go out, run down back steps, run down front steps, open garage door, get back into garage.

Step 14:  Wiggle-push refrigerator back into the basement. Remove really big, really heavy door. Wonder about death by door.

Step 15:  Push refrigerator back into the doorway until it is solidly, completely, totally, dagnabbittly wedged.

Step 16:  Run up stairs, out back door, down steps, down more steps, back into the garage. Push refrigerator back into basement.

Step 17:  Remove bumper thingamajigs from condenser coils on back of refrigerator. Put pressure on coils until the side brace whatchamacallits collapse and the coils are (sort of) flat against the back of the refrigerator.

Step 18:  Push refrigerator back into doorway. Get it nearly there and realize the legs are stuck on the threshold, and the only way it’s going to go is if you just let it tip over into the garage. Figure, Why not? Let go and brace for terrifying, satisfying bang.

Step 19:  Marvel at the silence and gaze at refrigerator, which is now standing at a 45-degree angle in the doorway, half in, half out. Run up stairs, out back door, down steps and more steps, into garage and see that the 250-pound refrigerator is resting on a rickety little wooden ladder, which has only one leg on the ground.

Step 20:  Stare at that crazy tableau for a moment. Wonder about death by tableau.

Step 21:  Push refrigerator back upright (i.e., dagnabbittly wedged).

Step 22:  Move ladder, leave garage, go up steps, go in back door, go downstairs, and push that thing like a mother saving a baby, like a Grinch saving a sleigh, like a woman saving her sanity.

Step 23:  Feel it going. Let go. BOOM!

Step 24:  Curtsy and clap lightly. (Or let out a yell and stride around the room as if you are the person who moves appliances for Vince McMahon.)

Voila! That is how to get rid of an old refrigerator.


  • It’s a state law that any refrigerator that is not in use must have the doors removed or have the doors secured — even if you live in a household where there are no children.
  • Refrigerators cannot go curbside for regular junk pickup because they contain freon.
  • Some electric companies have rebate/buy back programs if your refrigerator is in working order.
  • I called Appliance Warehouse at 888-GO-FREON/463-7366. The cost is $40-60. I didn’t do a ton of research, but the other options I saw were about twice as expensive or required drop-off.

June 25, 2015 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

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