07/06/11 10:54am
07/06/2011 10:54 AM

“You know, Molly, I ain’t stupid, right?”

“Let’s say you’re no intellectual, no Jean-Paul Sartre …”

“Who’s this Jean-Paul? You never told me about this old boyfriend.”

“He’s French …”

“Don’t tell me more. How could you ever go out with some dumb frog?”

“Fred …”

“I’m so angry. I don’t even like people looking at you on the street.”

“Listen to me, Fred, he’s not only French, he’s dead.”

“Well, that’s good news, Molly, and he’d better stay dead or I’ll kill him.”

“And he’s not only dead, he’s famous and I never met him. He was a writer …”

“You mean books?”

“Yes, that kind of writer. Writers write, cooks cook, bakers bake. That’s life. We each have a job to do.”

“And me?”

“Husband, friend, dog walker, caregiver, driver, barbecue engineer, carpenter, plumber, everything …”

“Lover, too?”

“That also. No need to be jealous. I’m your woman. Your old woman, I’m afraid. Nothing I can do about that. Jean-Paul had more than one woman at a time. Don’t do that to me. I couldn’t handle it. You might as well forget the young waitresses.”

“I’m too busy for that. But I need your help. All these years and I still can’t sew a button. How do you explain that? What’s wrong with me? Needle and thread and I’m lost. As confused as a chicken who’s found a knife in the grass. What will I do in the middle of the Atlantic with torn sails? All by myself.”

“You’ll never be in the middle of the Atlantic alone. Have you got secret plans?”

“I’ve been thinking …”

“That’s when you get in trouble. You need action.”

“Yeah, I like throwing them charcoals in the fire, flipping the burgers.”

“Sewing buttons, it gives you too much time to think.”

“What about a one-button shirt? Bet nobody thought of that. One big button, no more needle.”

“Except that one big button needs to be sewn, too.”

“I’ve been thinking about it in my sleep. A young waitress could teach me …”

“NO. No young waitress in my house. I’ve tried to teach you. It’s like having our dog Muffin read the Bible. Hopeless.”

“I built our house and I can’t sew a button. Don’t make sense.”

“But you can change the oil. You’re good with cars. The old Mercury Grand Marquis looks dead in the backyard among the weeds, with stuff growing inside. You sit in it, Fred, for two minutes and the engine shakes and growls, ready to go. I hear it from my bed. I love the sound. It means travel, happy times, the winding roads, from Orient, on to Southold, Riverhead, New York, down South to Florida till you can’t go no further, Key West. You know how to make it happen. Who cares about sewing buttons as long as we can dream.”

“You may be right, Molly, but so many idiots are sewing buttons around the world and I can’t do it! Billions of people are sewing buttons at this moment except me. Billions except for one little guy on the North Fork. Am I smart or what, tell me.”

“Some people build houses, some write poems, some race at Indianapolis, some plant tulips or do embroidery. Everyone has a story and a tune.”

“And some idiot, he don’t know how to sew buttons.”

“I’ll teach you. Tomorrow. All your shirts are missing buttons. I feel terrible. It’s my fault. My hands, my eyes, nothing works.”

“You was good at it, Molly. The quilts you made, the one everybody wanted to buy, but I wouldn’t let it go, even the little winter coat for Muffin. People ask where they can get one for their dog, and I say, my wife she made it, she designed it, not for sale anywhere. Your hands, they’re incredible.”

“Tomorrow I’ll teach you how to sew a button. We won’t quit. Remember the president: “Yes, we can.” You can, too. It won’t affect the future of the world. But it will make your world better. It’s a very peaceful thing to sew buttons. You’ll see.”

“Well, thank you, Molly. It don’t mean much to most people. But my first button, that will feel good. Now I’m taking Muffin out for her walk. Then I’ll flip the burgers.”

Pierre Gazarian is a poet and a writer of one-act plays. Email: [email protected]

06/14/11 2:14pm
06/14/2011 2:14 PM

While sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, I picked up a magazine and started thumbing through the pages. An article titled “Taming your monkey mind” sparked my interest. However, before I could read the first sentence, I was summoned into the exam room and that was that.

I was curious and clueless about the monkey mind thing — but not for long. Upon returning home, a quick Google search turned up the following: A monkey mind is best described as the endless chattering of one’s mind. The mind jumps from thought to thought, like a monkey jumps from tree to tree.
Yikes! The description fit me to a tee.

We live pressure-filled lives; therefore, our brains are constantly hijacked with anxiety and distraction. The experts say that stress is public enemy No. 1 (all right, outside of Osama bin Laden, who is no longer with us). Stress can cause a myriad of physical and emotional symptoms that may lessen our resistance to disease; stress can kill.

Luckily for us, there are numerous stress reduction techniques that are effective in lowering tension, and I’ve tried a good many of them. Exercise is a great stress-buster. OK, so I’m somewhat fanatical about getting in my daily walks, but with good reason. Walking usually fends off my “crazies.” Sometimes, though, the crazies get the upper hand and, well, you can guess the rest.

I practice yoga regularly at home. Occasionally, while relaxing into a pose, my monkey mind will taunt me with thoughts like, Am I doing this posture correctly? or Watch that knee! Twenty minutes of deep breathing is calming, except when I’m waiting for the timer to go off, signaling the end of my session.

Attending church has a soothing effect on my psyche, unless, during the homily, the vicar brings up a line of reasoning that I hadn’t previously considered. Then, it’s the same-old, same-old me.

There is one thing that tames my monkey mind every time. I rendezvous at a spot that is conducive to relaxation: soft music, low lights and scented candles — and it’s not what you may be thinking. I rendezvous at a spa where I indulge myself in a full body massage. If you’ve never tried it, do so; or if you have, don’t you agree that receiving a massage is better than chocolate? Well, some may argue that chocolate rules, but, hey, it has calories.

Upon entering said spa, my body readies itself for relaxation; my monkey mind, however, is still at it. Unlike in the game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” it doesn’t matter which door I enter, the treatment room is a haven unto itself. I disrobe to the extent that I’m comfortable and crawl under the light cover. Then the massage starts: I do not speak (quite a feat for me), and slowly, my body begins to yield; my mind becomes extraordinarily quiet. Truthfully, I have no idea what happens during my massage; moreover, I don’t care. All I know is that afterward, I am tranquil and could use a spatula to help pry me off the table.

Because we spend so much time in our heads, doesn’t our body deserve a maintenance plan? Shouldn’t we care for our body as well as we love and take care of our car or home? Learning to love and nurture our body is a prerequisite to a more peaceful life.

Frank knows how much I enjoy my massage experience. Consequently, when there is a special occasion, he presents me with a spa gift certificate. And, sometimes, he has surprised me with a “just because” spa certificate. Hmm. Kinda makes me wonder.

I’m certain that Frank presents me with said spa certificates because he loves me; he knows how much I value my serenity. I’m also certain that Frank wants to deflect the unfortunate spillover of my monkey mind into our daily lives.

Ah, yes. My Frank is nobody’s fool.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

05/17/11 12:29am
05/17/2011 12:29 AM

Celia Ianelli

Frank and I were dining out with friends and, as usual, the conversation was lively and varied. Unusual, however, was that the chatter bypassed our health and settled on kids: our kids, grandkids and everyone else’s kids. Several times during the meal this question was raised: “What‘s wrong with kids today?”

Although this column is titled “Forward Living,” let’s rewind to the ’50s and ’60s, when some of us were kids.

Differentiating between the sexes was easy: Gals wore skirts, dresses and jeans (at the time known as dungarees). We rolled up said jeans and paired them with our dad’s white dress shirts. Guys wore button-down shirts with cuffed jeans or white T-shirts under black leather jackets and boots.

Friday-night dances were central to our lives. Gals sported sprayed-to-death bouffant hair and wore crinolines under poodle skirts. This getup gave us a circumference of five feet and added two inches to our height. (We thought we looked chic!) My favorite guys slicked backed their hair into a DA; others had crew cuts.

We slow-danced to Connie Francis crooning “Who’s Sorry Now” and Elvis singing “Love me Tender.” At the CYO dances, the nuns patrolled the gym and strictly enforced the “no close dancing” rule. Actually, the crinolines made close dancing a moot issue.

The nuns relaxed while we jitterbugged to Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock around the Clock” or Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” However, they frowned when Jerry Lee Lewis belted out “Great Balls of Fire.” (Hmm — I did catch Sister Josephine tapping her foot.)

Gals loved Elvis; some guys didn’t get Elvis, yet they took pains to imitate him. Chubby Checker taught us two new dances: the Twist and the Pony. Alan Freed, Cousin Brucie and Murray the K were the iconic DJs that dominated the airwaves.

Television needed no parental controls. Shows like “Leave It to Beaver, “Father Knows Best” and “Happy Days” idolized the American family. TV kids were polite; the dad dressed in a shirt and tie — and always knew best. The mom, a homemaker, wore shirtwaist dresses, high heels and a perpetual smile.

Because we married young, most gals skipped over college, although some of us earned our degrees later.
Methinks we never fully outgrew the doll phase; instead, our girls were clad in frilly dresses with matching hair bows and white Mary Jane shoes. Our boys wore saddle shoes and knee socks with short pants. (Forgive me, my sons.) Shoes required white shoe polish and those shoelaces! Lest you think we were too neurotic, our kids wore sneakers and jeans for play.

Back to 2011.

Jeans, unisex clothing, girlie-girl outfits, neon hair and guys sporting earrings are some of the norms. I don’t get Lady Gaga arriving at the Grammy Awards in an Egg; nevertheless, the gal is engaging. Pink and Kesha, aka Kes$ha (not a typo), although glitzy, are entertaining. But wait! Didn’t Elvis dress in flamboyant jumpsuits? And remember his swivel hips?

Today’s TV families are more grounded in reality. (Lord knows how many cumulative hours our generation spent in therapy bemoaning the lack of a perfect family.)

Many kids send and receive 2,000 text messages a month. Yours truly had the telephone cord stretched into the basement (no cordless phones) and yakked for hours. Mom couldn’t hear me whispering, “I dig … Joe is groovy.”
Two incomes are a necessity. Most moms multi-task and don’t have time to play dress-up with their kids. (Lucky kids!)

What’s wrong with kids today? Nothing!

If you’re in doubt, check out the song “Kids” from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” Here’s a sampling.

I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!
Who can understand anything they say?
Why can’t they be like we were.
Perfect in every way?
What’s the matter with kids today?

Incidentally, “Bye Bye Birdie” is a satire on American society in the ’50s. Wanna guess who they were singing about?

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

04/10/11 7:00am
04/10/2011 7:00 AM

There seems to be complete agreement. The North Fork is special, a place set apart. No need to list our blessings. We know we’re unique.

And yet in just a few hours we will forfeit that uniqueness and join with the rest of the country in doing something pretty ordinary. We’ll wake up to income tax day. Twenty-four hours of struggling with the checkbook and promising ourselves to set aside a few more dollars for next year.

Now, I know taxes are necessary. That I was carefully taught. But there is something I don’t understand. For years I’ve paid estimated taxes every few months. And yet, when April rolls around, I always owe more. If my grocery estimates were so inaccurate, I’d never have enough food in the kitchen. If my husband’s estimates were so faulty, he’d never have enough wood in the garage for projects not yet dreamed.

I suppose I know what I’m looking for. I need a way to bridge the gap between taxes withheld and the check I send to the IRS in April. Year-long small savings might do the trick, and since North Forkers appear to be frugal forkers, sharing our little money-saving ways might prove helpful cometh the tax man.

Only fair to start with me. I confess to saving soap slivers and fashioning them into soap balls (about the size of tennis balls). It’s always bothered me to throw away those tiny bits of soap that collect in a soap dish. So I put the soap bits into a huge glass jar I keep in the cellar. When a goodly amount of soap is saved, I put it in a big pot, add a little water, heat and stir. Meantime I spread some waxed paper on the kitchen table.

When I’ve a gooey mass in the pot, I ladle out, onto the paper, 20 or so soap mounds. Then I shape those mounds into soap balls. Careful, they’re hot.

I store the cooled and hardened soap balls in a bag under the kitchen sink. Since I don’t have a dishwasher, I use the balls for mealtime cleanups. Think of the money we’d save if every North Fork home had its own soap balls!

And we’d save quite a bit if we took a tip from Anthony Flynn. I found out about Anthony from his wife, Jodi, who works in Mattituck. Anthony and Jodi are married just a short time but, oh, did the young wife quickly discover her husband’s secret passion.

Stashed away on the top shelves of closets and stacked in the garage are the boxes Anthony simply has to save. Small cellphone boxes, slightly larger shoeboxes, all the way up to a carton once containing a vacuum cleaner, another that once held a lounge chair. Dozens and dozens of boxes.

Now, think about it. Anthony never has to purchase a gift box at the post office or buy expensive plastic boxes to store stuff in. Jodi let me know she sometimes gets rid of a few boxes. But please don’t you tell Anthony. I’d hate to have the young couple argue.

Anthony says he saves so many boxes because “you never know.” Anthony, that’s an admirable North Fork attitude. We’re saving money and we’re ready for anything.

Here’s another small-saving idea. This one’s from Joan Fabian, Riverhead artist. Joan’s watercolors, oils and acrylics are exhibited in galleries from Bar Harbor to Old Town Art and Crafts Guild in Cutchogue. Great work!

But you know what? Joan’s sandwiches are great, too. Especially those with pickles added — sweet and sour, crunchy, perfect. And all those pickles come in little plastic jars with lids. After the pickles are consumed, Joan washes the jars/lids and they join Joan’s painting paraphernalia.

Water, water, everywhere is needed when watercolor or acrylic is the medium of the day. Those little jars, filled with water, are ideal for cleaning brushes during a painting session. You “just can’t have enough jars,” says Joan. And she doesn’t have to buy them in a crafts store. You know what I say? You just can’t have enough pickles.

So save your soap, save your boxes, eat lots of pickles. Chances are, if we do so, North Forkers will have plenty of money to pay their taxes. Better yet, I foresee a cash surplus large enough for the whole North Fork to make a major financial move. I’m thinking we might even outbid Donald Trump for part ownership of the New York Mets. After all, the North Fork has more that its share of “Amazin’s.”

Ms. Lombardi is a resident of Cutchogue.

03/15/11 5:42pm
03/15/2011 5:42 PM

About a year ago, my sofa and love seat caught my eye, big time! It was as if I had never seen them before, which seemed weird. The set had been gracing my living room since it moved with me from Staten Island.

Most of us don’t discard our furniture as quickly as a dress or a pair of red shoes; we usually give it some thought. Well, folks, I gave it a lot of thought, and finally, during the longest winter in history, I casually broached the subject with Frank.

“Hon, I’m thinking of getting new living room furniture — just a sofa and love seat.”

“Why?” (A typical Frank answer.)

“I want to change the look.”

Frank shrugged his shoulders, glanced at the floral-print sofa and said, “It’s a little girlie anyway.”

“Girlie?” My instincts told me to say no more.

I was clueless as to what my “new look” would look like. However, I did know that my floral-print duo was making me a tad nauseous.

I was a gal on a mission. For weeks I scrutinized different styles of sofas online and was able to pinpoint a design that sparked my interest. I progressed to perusing furniture stores — alone. Really, it would have been counterproductive to have Frank tagging along, looking for a cup of coffee while I was mired in furniture decisions.

While wandering around a furniture store, I hit upon a sofa and love seat that would definitely change the look. The next day, Frank accompanied me to the store and seemed surprised that I was on a first-name basis with the sales staff. However, when he saw my choice, he nodded and said, “Very nice, not girlie at all.”

The salesperson asked if I was interested in a coffee table. A quick glance at Frank told me he was looking for coffee, sans the table.

“Hon,” says I, “what about a new coffee table?”

Frank looked at me suspiciously and said, “I thought it was only going to be a sofa, and love thing — why not throw in a rug while you’re at it?”

“A rug? Good idea!”

Frank and I locked eyeballs; the salesperson walked away.

Frank sighed and said, “Look, Ceil, buy what you want, I’m going to the diner for coffee.”

I did some calculations: I had a consultation job coming up and perhaps I could squeeze in an extra freelance article and… Well, there were more reasons why I should, and so I did.

I put an ad in this newspaper and quickly sold my old furniture. Admittedly, I felt sad when I saw my floral sofa go through the door; after all, we shared a long history. However, the folks who bought the set were happy, girlie print notwithstanding.

When the new furniture arrived, I knew where I wanted the pieces placed. Or so I thought. After the delivery guys left, the furniture looked out of place. (Did I miss my girlie prints?) Frank began mumbling something unintelligible as we moved some stuff around. Finally, things looked right — for the moment, that is.

Then I remembered a lovely area rug that was stored in the basement. When I mentioned the rug to Frank, he got “that look.” I pretended not to notice and suggested that we put the rug in our dining room.

Frank was perturbed and asked, “What’s wrong with the dining room?”

“Nothing, but the rug would add to the new look.”

Frank and I hauled the rug up from the basement and centered it on the dining room floor. Frank put his arm around me and hopefully asked, “You OK with ‘the look?’ ”


Lately, I’ve been thinking that a fresh coat of paint in the living room and perhaps new window treatments would complete “the look.” But methinks I’ll not mention this to you-know-who. He can read about it in the paper.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

02/27/11 8:00am
02/27/2011 8:00 AM

I received this message from my son Greg, who lives in California: “Mom, I need to talk to you.” Mom-brain snapped to attention: Was my daughter-in-law Julie all right? Was Greg OK? I had to get home, and fast.

While driving home, Mom-brain was spinning scary tales. Then, I heard a bleep, bleep sound and saw a flashing red light through my rearview mirror. I pulled over and … you can guess the rest. How ironic: I didn’t use my cell phone for fear of breaking the law, and I’m one of the folks who complains about cars speeding on Peconic Bay Boulevard.

Fifteen minutes later, I walked through my front door and made a beeline for the phone. Greg and I discussed the matter at hand and then I swiftly dealt with the ticket. I pleaded guilty.

About two weeks later, I received an official letter from the Town of Riverhead. It stated that I had incurred six points on my driver’s license along with a hefty fine; however, I could conference my traffic ticket before the town justice. I called the court clerk and was given a date and time for the conference.

On the appointed day, I drove to court with a la-di-da attitude. After entering the courthouse, I immediately stepped up to the end of a long line. As the line inched forward, I passed through the metal detector, my purse survived its search (I carry too much stuff!) and my la-di-da attitude was gone.

Taking a seat in the courtroom, I thought, “This is the real deal.”

The fellow sitting next to me asked, “Whadjado?”

I quickly replied, “Speeding ticket.” He chuckled and proceeded to disclose his tale of woe.

That morning, I heard many tales of woe. When a recess was called, I had an opportunity to speak with a district attorney. She explained my options, all of which were unnerving.

Right about this time, the lovely gal who serves as a translator walked over to me and asked, “Are you ‘the Ceil’ who writes the column in the paper? I saw your name on the docket.”

“Lordy, lordy,” I thought, “did she say docket?” Wanting to disappear, I nervously answered, “Yes, but I’m only here for a speeding ticket.”

When the court reconvened, I waited anxiously for my name to be called and heard more heartbreaking stories. At one point, some folks in the courtroom snickered. The judge silenced the court by saying something like, show some compassion, everyone has troubles. I was impressed with his own compassion and hoped he had enough left for me.

When I heard my name, I jumped up and faced the judge. The upshot? I received 14 hours of community service and a fine, which will be imposed when I return to court in April.

Tearfully, I called my priest and recited my tale of woe. He told me not to worry; he had plenty of work for me. I vaguely remember the words “indentured servant.”

Frank volunteers on the first Thursday of the month when our parish, Church of the Redeemer, hosts Maureen’s Haven. I tagged along with Frank and began my community service.

Under Frank’s watchful eye, I made numerous pitchers of juice. Other volunteers were busy preparing lunches, setting up tables and heating the donated food. Everything was ready when our guests arrived.

While I was scraping and soaking mountains of dishes, I realized that we volunteers were all our guests had on this very cold night. I wondered what sad tales brought them here.

This whole episode gave me pause. I bumped myself to first class by insisting it was only a speeding ticket when, in reality, I could have maimed someone, hurt myself and caused untold misery to others.

I signed up for another night at Maureen’s Haven; methinks they are serving humble pie.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

02/13/11 9:00am
02/13/2011 9:00 AM

I’ve been thinking about the word love, and why not? We’ve been blitzed with Valentine’s Day hype since January. I’m as romantic as the next girl and, surely, roses from Frank are always welcome. Methinks, however, Cupid may be a tad annoyed that Valentine’s Day has become a profit-making business.

Although love is an emotion we all feel, its meaning can be perplexing. I was surprised to learn that English has but one word for the different nuances of love. Professing love for my computer or my red shoes is certainly not the same love I feel for Frank or my kids. For argument’s sake, I’m gonna stick to this definition of love: “The profoundly tender emotion we feel for another person.”

Love has a long history dating back to biblical times. We’re all familiar with these romantic twosomes: Adam and Eve, Mark Anthony and Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Ceil and Frank, and so on.

Love songs have been written since ancient times and they continue to dominate the music scene today. Romance-themed movies — aka “chick flicks” —  are a popular genre. Many gals attend chick flicks together to have a good time crying.

The sheer number of romance novels is mind-boggling. They can range from Harlequin romances to “Jane Eyre.” Love poems and sonnets are in abundance. King Solomon wrote the “Song of Songs,” found in the Old Testament, which extols the virtues of love. Even Shakespeare got into the act and wrote 154 love sonnets.

I suppose, then, the adage “Love makes the world go round” has merit. This brings me to my burning question: Is the word love overused or underused?

Years ago, I had a friend who was married to a seemingly nice guy. He spent long hours in the office and provided well for his family. From my vantage point (and my friend’s) theirs was an ideal marriage.

Deciding to surprise him at his office one day, she was shocked to discover that he had left for the day. She did a little detective work and … you can guess the rest. With mascara running down her cheeks, she revealed to me that he never missed a chance to say, “I love you.”

Ending a telephone conversation with a casual “Love you” is in vogue today. Certainly, many of us mean it, while others may speak empty words. Ironically, the “love you” folks are sometimes missing in action when trouble strikes.

The expressions “Love ya” or “Love U” are added ad nauseam at the end of an e-mail.

Alternatively, there are the silent folk. Here’s a typical dialogue that may sound familiar:

He/she asks, “Do you love me?”

“You know I do, why do you ask?”

“Because you never say it.”

“But you know I do.”

Couples who are together for some time may get comfortable with each other. Saying these three little words can seem unimportant and, for sure, it’s not always the assertion of love that speaks the loudest. Saying “I love you” is a great and effective aphrodisiac.

Deathbed guilt is the worst. The coulda, woulda, shoulda trio can ravage your emotions. Yet, sadly, one of the most prevalent regrets heard is, “I should have said ‘I love you’ more often.”

Scientists have proved that there is a thin line between love and hate. The same brain chemistry is involved in both emotions. It’s like: Sometimes you feel love; sometimes you don’t. Huh? Better leave it to the scientists.

So, is the word love overused or underused? Alas, I’ve drawn no conclusions. Perhaps, it just depends on the circumstance and the source, or maybe it’s a moot question. Hmm. I’m going with the latter.

But hold on! I do know a reliable source that says, “Love is patient, love is kind.” Maybe this is all we need to know.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

01/31/11 9:27am
01/31/2011 9:27 AM

Frank and I were heading to his daughter’s home for the evening. To save time, Frank suggested that we order takeout. I nixed the idea, saying that throwing together a quick meal was no big deal. Or so I thought.

I don’t know how it happened. While heating up leftover spaghetti sauce in my microwave, I suddenly heard a “pop.” The dish (supposedly microwave safe) exploded, spewing tomato sauce throughout the microwave. I reached for a paper towel and, wouldn’t you know it, the holder was empty. The only thing immediately available was a clean white dish towel.

I gingerly opened the microwave door, and yikes! The dish towel could not stem the tide of sauce flowing onto my stove. I watched helplessly as bright red tomato sauce continued its downward journey, splattering my wood floor with red dots. (Come to think of it, the whole scene looked pretty gruesome.)

Frank heard my moaning and groaning, along with some expletives. He meandered into the kitchen and suffered a moment of incomprehension and shock. However, being Frank, he recovered quickly. He hopefully asked, “Is that … um, the spaghetti sauce?”

Stony silence.


“It’s spaghetti sauce!”

Calmly Frank said, “Ceil, stuff happens.”

I wasn’t in the mood for “reasonable” and snapped, “Why me and why now?”

“Well, I could have gone for takeout.”

Frank recognized the murderous look in my eyes and walked out of the kitchen. He returned with three rolls of paper towels and together we cleaned up the mess.

Frank was correct on all counts (yup, even about the takeout). Unexpected stuff does happen.

My spaghetti sauce debacle was very small potatoes compared with the unforeseen dreadful things that some of us have suffered. You know, the stuff that brought us to our knees, or the thing we thought we couldn’t live through. Enough said, for now.

Then there’s the good stuff, like falling in love. Many folks turn to the match-em-up networking sites, where they have hopeful expectations that they may meet someone resembling their ideal. Or, there’s love that comes from out of the blue. Either way, you’re unexpectedly walking on air and singing schmaltzy songs.

I wasn’t remotely looking for a relationship when I met Frank and, to my knowledge, neither was he. We were seated at the same table at a mutual friend’s wedding. Frank asked me to dance, and love joined in.

The unexpected good doesn’t have to be as big as falling in love. If we’re open to what comes along each day, our brain will signal, “Good stuff!”

I attend a study group that meets on Thursday mornings. This particular morning our discussion veered to an unexpected topic. Our dialogue, although eclectic, was compelling, tender and lively. The class was so enjoyable that we all agreed that our time together passed too quickly.

Here’s more unexpected good stuff that can make our day:

• Receiving a call from an old friend.

• Being paid a compliment, especially if you’re having a bad hair day.

• Hearing a forecast of rain, and seeing the sun.

• Receiving flowers for no reason.

• Your kid shovels the snow without you asking.

• Getting an invitation to an impromptu get-together.

• The gas gauge reads empty, and you make it to the service station.

Well, OK, winning the lottery will do it, too.

Naturally, it’s always easier to accept the good when it comes, and conversely, we gotta learn to accept the bad, with grace. But alas, there are no red lights blinking wildly to warn, “Crisis, crisis, ahead.”

Our carefully made plans may go awry; pain, sorrow, disillusionment and disappointment may occur unbidden. When the unpleasant stuff appears from out of nowhere, the only thing to do is to throw on a life preserver and go with the flow.

But wait! In the event of another exploding spaghetti sauce incident, the said flow will have to go on without me.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.