Mercury is Retrograde and so is Uranus

I had never heard of Mercury retrograde until my friend Sharon Rosenzweig enlightened me. While sipping tea at her house one day a few years ago, I mentioned that everything in my life seemed to be going awry and askew and I couldn’t figure out why.

Sharon said, “Well, Mercury is in retrograde.”

I said, “Well, that’s nice, but what does that have to do with anything?”

Ever so patient Sharon explained that people tend to misunderstand each other, transportation can get messed up, and lots of other things can easily go wonky when Mercury is in that cycle. She also told me that the periods before and after retrograde can get messed up, too.

“That’s like my sister Beth,” I said. “She goes wonky before, during and after her cycle. In fact, she doesn’t have PMS; she has AMS!” 

I’m sure I gnaw away at Sharon’s patience, but she never shows it. 

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, “The planet Mercury rules communication, travel, contracts, and automobiles… So, when Mercury is retrograde, remain flexible, allow extra time for travel, and avoid signing contracts…” 

Actually, Mercury retrograde is an illusion that happens several times each year. When Mercury is in retrograde it appears to move backwards. But, “Mercury is just moving slower than Earth, causing the illusion that it’s moving in retrograde,” according to “Mother Nature Network.” 

While most astrologers and just plain regular folk believe that Mercury retrograde can mess things up in life, most scientists think the whole thing is just plain hooey.

In his blog “Bad Astronomy” Phil Plait wrote an entry titled “Astrology in retrograde” in the October 3rd, 2008 issue of “Discover” magazine. He wrote, “I was called by MSNBC reporter Helen Popkin yesterday because she was doing an article on astrology. And she stumped me with a simple question: “Have you heard,” she asked “about the idea that electronics tend to fail when Mercury is in retrograde?”

Uh. What?

I hadn’t heard of this little piece of nonsense, but according to Ms. Popkin, sure enough, some astrologers say that technology tends to fail more when Mercury is in retrograde… Since, astrologically, Mercury controls communication and technology, when it’s in retrograde things get screwed up. That’s why Hubble is malfunctioning, and why the LHC (I had to look this up: Large Hadron Collider) is having woes.

Yeeeeeeah. Oooooookay.

So for the next half hour we chatted technology, we chatted Mercury, we chatted astrology. You can guess how I feel about all this astrology stuff.”

He went on to say that Ms. Popkin had written “a fluffy humor piece, not really meant to sway people either way. I smiled a lot while reading it, even though astrologers make me want to stick my head in the microwave.”

Well, this is my fluffy humor piece! I am not of science or astrology, but I believe! So, go ahead and stick your head in the microwave, Mr. Plait.

I ask you, “How do you explain this?”

And, if scientific proof is needed, let’s go back in time two weeks to Thanksgiving weekend when winter storm “Bruce” caused, among other things, nearly 3,000 flight cancellations.

Was Mercury in retrograde then? As a matter of fact it was! 

“Bruce” dumped so much snow it was as if the heavy-duty laxatives it had been taking all month finally kicked in.

Many people say that when Mercury is in retrograde we should slow down, as Mercury appears to, and take time to reflect upon ourselves without placing blame.

So, during this time of reflection, I’d like to apologize to Mr. Plait. After watching a video of Taylor Swift explaining the ways in which Mercury in retrograde destroys our lives, I, too, would like nothing more than to stick my head in the microwave.

In the November, 16, 2018 article on called “Mercury retrograde, explained without astrologythere’s an embedded video of Swift who says that when Mercury is in retrograde, “You can’t blame yourself. You just have to blame Mercury ‘cause it’s just hella in retrograde.” Oy.

If I really wanted to, I could find out when Mercury will be in retrograde in the future, but I’m afraid that if I know I’ll just sit in the dark worrying and waiting.

Conversely, if I know when Mercury will be out of retrograde, I’ll have no excuses during that time for being lazy, unproductive, and disorganized. 

I prefer the element of surprise, so I simply ask Google, “Is Mercury in retrograde?” Usually, I get this response:

I’m always surprised when I ask and get this response:

But, in case you’re wondering, Mercury will return to its regularly scheduled orbit on November 7th, 2018 and won’t be in retrograde again until March 5, 2019.

It might interest you to know that ALL planets go into retrograde at some point; Mercury just gets the worst rap because of its ability to throw shade on so many important things in life.

You can do the astrological math to find out which planet rules your sign and how it might affect you when it goes into retrograde. But, to make it more fun, why not use that idea as a pick-up line at your company’s holiday party? “Hi! Which planet rules your astrological sign, when does it go into retrograde, and how does this phenomenon affect you?” I didn’t say it was a great line, but it’s something to think about.

I’d like to end with this: I feel it is my duty to inform you that the gassy planet Uranus has entered Aries and just won’t leave until January 7, 2019. My birthday is January 7th, so Mom, I can’t go out to dinner that night because I need to sit here and wait for the gas to pass.


P.S. I am still working on my book I Married him Anyway; I just wanted to write about Mercury while it’s still retrograding. 


Cooking With Leslie

For nearly 30 years, my attempts to prepare succulent, harmless meals for my family has been a crap shoot. In fact, there have been many shooting craps as a result of my cooking.

I’ve seen the look of terror on the faces of my husband and kids after I’ve informed them I’ve made dinner. When I send a group text to let everyone know dinner will be waiting for them when they come home, the responses are always positive and full of smiley-face emojis. Liars.

No matter how many smiley faces I receive, each member of my family comes home with a bag from a local eatery, such as Chipotle, Real Urban Barbecue, or even McDonald’s, just to be on the safe side. Their standards are low; right where they should be.

I now have a short repertoire of fool-proof dinners I can make that my family likes, but I still hear, “Did you really make this? It’s so good!” Gee, thanks.

I lamented about my culinary ineptitude to my very dear friend, and the extraordinarily talented Cartoonist, Sharon Rosenzweig, who created the cartoon of my family for my website.

Sharon’s talent extends into many facets of her life, especially her cooking. She’s one of the best cooks around. I’m sure she’s never made caca in her kitchen. Well, you know what I mean.

I told Sharon that my first attempt to cook a brisket resulted in a slab of meat so tough, it smote the motor of my brand-new electric knife without leaving so much as a flesh-wound.

The only person who could play the part of “The Brisket” in the movie adaptation of “The Brisket” is Mr. T. “I pity the fool who tries to eat this brisket. He’ll lose more teeth than a hockey player during playoffs.”

I showed Sharon a picture I took which demonstrated the way I recently “cut” a watermelon.

The next picture I presented as evidence of my misadventures in the kitchen was of my “Lunar Cornbread.” I admitted I had used a mix from a box, as if that would magically ensure perfection.

It didn’t. The cornbread came out of the oven looking as though it had been clobbered by an asteroid. I added the green beans before taking a picture of it to illustrate the depth of the crater. (Green beans not included.) Sorry. Old Sears Catalog copywriting habits die hard.

The one thing I can bake that everyone loves is my Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Brûlée. After the cheesecake has cooled in the fridge, I spread a thin layer of sugar on top, and then use a kitchen torch to melt the sugar. Then, I put it back in the fridge for several hours to set, making slicing a breeze! I even purchased a cake-tote so I can bring a cheesecake to a friend’s house, when requested. Yes, it does get requested.

On one such occasion, I hadn’t properly calculated my time (Shocking!) and had to bring the cheesecake, in tote, knowing it wasn’t cold enough to have set. There was no room in the hostess’s refrigerator to let it cool a little longer, so I prayed for some luck at the pot-luck, and set it out amongst the other offerings.

We all chatted for an hour, and then sampled the buffet. I glanced at the plate of the woman standing next to me who was known for her loud voice, and even louder lipstick. What was that clump of slippery custard with shards of what looked like brown glass sticking out of it, encroaching upon her Caesar salad, and broccoli Étouffée?


I slowly backed away from the pack, shoved the last bite of a lemon square in my mouth, and placed my plate in the garbage. As I quickly gathered my coat and purse, I found the hostess, properly thanked her, and told her I needed to go home to feed my dogs. I had to get out of there! I didn’t want to have to claim responsibility for The Pastry Formerly Known as my Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Brûlée! (Sorry. I don’t have a picture of that.)

Just as the screen door began to close behind me, I heard Big Old Lipstick Lips ask, “Who made the flan?”

I lost my last pinch of kitchen confidence after “The Great Exploding Potato Incident of 2013.”

I had forgotten to poke holes in a gaggle of potatoes before setting them in the oven to bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

When the timer rang, I opened the door expecting to find perfect, evenly browned potatoes. Instead, I found potato shrapnel glued to every surface inside the oven.

Oh, the tuberosity!

After admitting every walk of shame I’ve taken from my kitchen, Sharon seemed particularly fascinated by the story of “The Great Exploding Potato Incident of 2013.” As she looked off into the distance, I could almost see the chickens scratching at her brain as she began concocting the cartoon she would draw that’s debuting on my website at the top of this blog post, and beneath the next paragraph, in case you don’t feel like scrolling back up.

Without even laying an eye on a picture of the exploded potatoes, Sharon perfectly captured my bewilderment after “TGEPI of 2013.” She just nailed it.

You would think I didn’t have a good cooking role model growing up, but that’s not the case. My mother has always been a great cook. She made dinners every night we all ate with relish; occasionally ketchup.*

Because my mother’s mother was not a very good cook at all, I could try to make the case that cooking, and other sports, skips a generation.

But, I can’t, because both of my kids are very good cooks.

I guess I’ll keep trying. Dignity is so overrated.

*An homage to my father.

Here Come the Hawks!

The ninth annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention takes place today through Sunday, July 17th. Doors have already opened for registration, which began at noon. The event officially begins at 5:00 P.M. tonight.

10,000 fans are expected to descend upon the sold-out event during the weekend at the Hilton Chicago, according to the official press release given to official press (of which I am not,) and, by clicking this link,

No one is more excited to get this season started than the most enthusiastic Blackhawk player ever, Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Hjalmarsson excitement



I was not allowed access to Mr. Hjalmarrson personally, mostly because I never tried to contact him. But, if these photos I snipped from a video interview of Chicago Blackhawk Defenseman Nik Hjalmarsson #4, the day before the 2016 Winter Classic outdoor hockey Stadium Series, hosted by the Minneapolis Wild are any indication, this guy is pumped.

Hjalmarsson may or may not attend the conference, but we don’t know because, as the website above claims, “there will be special Blackhawks guests throughout the weekend.” Who knows? It could be this guy, standing with Hjalmarsson! *

Niklas Hjalmarsson!
Niklas Hjalmarsson!

My good friend, and, in my opinion, the best TV Color Analyst there is, ever was, or ever will be, Eddie (Mr “Stop it right there!”) Olczyk has been tapped to be The Master of Ceremonies and will host the opening ceremonies at 5:00 P.M. today in the hotel’s International Room.



I’ve never met the guy, but Richard got to meet him at some client thing through work. Unfortunately, I don’t qualify to go to these events. But, to make it up to me, Richard chatted with Eddie, and told him how cool I think it is that there are people who keep track and know what’s happening in the lives of every family member of the team, equipment managers, and anyone ever involved in the Chicago Blackhawks franchise. And, not only that, Pat and Eddie announce birthdays, and send out get-well wishes to family members who are ill. Most families don’t know that much about their own family!

Richard also told Eddie how much I appreciate, enjoy, and look forward to the very gentle way he shouts to the guy in the booth showing a replay, “Stop it right there!” This is when Eddie is at his best, in my opinion, because he uses replays as teachable moments.

After shouting, “Stop it right there!” Eddie says, “For all you young hockey players out there…” and then continues to use the replay to point out how players either make good moves to help the team score a goal, and on fewer instances, make less than stellar moves. Even though I’m neither young, or a hockey player, I always learn something new about hockey, and most importantly, teamwork.

Blackhawks hockey games are so important to our family, Richard actually drafted up a handbook of what we are and are not allowed to do, and say during games. For instance, if The Blackhawks score while I’m in the kitchen, when I return to the family room, I am immediately banished back up to the kitchen to watch the rest of the game with the dogs.

I don’t mind, though. I get it! I don’t want to be that person; the one who ruins the Blackhawks mojo. If the stick ain’t broke don’t fix it.

On game night, or before an 11:30 A.M. Sunday game (whose idea was that?) Richard always announces, “Blackhawk Rules Are in Effect,” as if we don’t know. If Richard has DVR’d the game, super-duper, double-secret-probation Blackhawk rules go into effect. Richard claims that just by walking past one of us, or, heaven forbid, looking us in the eye, he can tell that we’ve secretly checked the score of the game on our Chicago Blackhawk iPhone app, or perhaps, (for shame!) watched part of the game elsewhere, or even watched the entire game and know who won.

Check out the way my friend, and Cartoonist Extraordinaire, Sharon Rosenzweig, portrayed Richard in the cartoon above. His wardrobe consists of Blackhawks sweaters, golf togs, and suits.

Pat Foley, is, in my opinion, the perfect co-announcer for Eddie Olczyk. His enthusiasm is contagious, and, since we watch every game, we understand their inside jokes, and laugh along with them. Pat Foley’s laugh makes me laugh, and, if you know me, that’s one of my favorite extra-curricular activities.

Pat’s energy never wanes. After the Blackhawks win a game, he says, “We hope you enjoyed the broadcast, I know you enjoyed the outcome.” And, if the Blackhawks don’t win, Pat says, with the same enthusiasm, “We hope you enjoyed the broadcast, in spite of the outcome.”

Eddie and Pat feel like friends we invite into our family room, and, no, I’m not hallucinating (again.) Because of them, I look forward to watching the Chicago Blackhawks, whether they win, or not, although, to be honest, there have been times when games have made me so nervous I’ve had to go upstairs and watch The Kardashians, just to calm myself down.

During this weekend’s frenzy, fans will have the chance to attend Q&A’s, and autograph sessions with players, coaches, and front office staff personnel. There will also be live and silent auctions featuring memorabilia, and game-used equipment! (Febreze sold separately.**)

Watch the excitement on The Opening Ceremonies will also be carried live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN Radio, and streamed live on Seven panels located in the International Ballroom will be streamed live on and mobile devices via the Official Blackhawks App throughout the weekend. For more information, please visit***

* Green-screen photo taken of Niklas Hjalmarsson cut-out, and the real Richard, not a cut-out, taken at the Blackhawks Flagship Store at tree-tirty-tree N. Michigan Ave, Chicago.

** Sometimes I just crack myself up.

*** Totally plagiarized from (Hey! At least I admitted it!)

Why did Leslie cross the road?

To help out my dear friends, Sharon and Aaron on their 11th wedding anniversary, I told them I would come over this afternoon, whether they were home or not, to hang “scare tape” in their yard.

Scare tape is mylar ribbon that repels predatory birds by reflecting sunlight, thus scaring them off. When well-hung in a yard, it serves the dual purpose of festooning your patio as you and your guests sit on the veranda sipping lemonade, while, simultaneously warning birds of prey to “stay off my property.”

Scare tape (ribbon)
Scare tape

The reason for The Hanging of The Tape was due to an unfortunate and tragic event last week. Bucky the chicken was abducted by a mean, old hawk.

All who had met and gotten to know Bucky were quite shocked and saddened by the news of her untimely and sudden demise. As chickens go, and I haven’t met many, what Bucky lacked in stature, she more than made up for in personality and moxie.

Bucky, of blessed memory, hanging with the big girls.
Bucky, of blessed memory, hanging with the big girls.

Our friend, Roberta, had a surplus of scare tape in her garage after a recent avian experience of her own having to do with a persistent bird trying to commit a “B & E.”*

Sharon, Roberta, and I spent a recent afternoon hanging scare tape in the yard in an attempt to prevent future carnage. It was a solemn affair, as we were all still reeling from the sudden loss of Bucky, may she rest in peace.

A moment of silence for Bucky, please.

I arrived in the yard today, as promised, after yoga practice. I had forgotten my boots, so I slipped on a pair of shoes from “Sharon’s Outdoor Walking Amongst Backyard Crap Collection,” which, by the way, I think the Kardashian sisters should consider adding to their line of shoes at Dash, their store in New York.

I snipped the ribbon and tied it along the fishing line that Sharon had hung with care in a perfect grid only an artist of her caliber could conceive. (She also created the cartoon of my family for my blog, so check that out!)

As I am often reminded, I am short. Thankfully there was a step-stool available for my convenience so that I could tie the ribbon to the fishing line.

As I backed off the step ladder, I lost my balance (shocking, I know,) and fell butt-first into a kiddie pool frequented by the ducks in residence. Luckily, no ducks were harmed in this piece of non-fiction.

The pool, after I fell into it.
The pool, after I fell into it.

As I do on nearly a daily basis, I just sat there, laughing out loud. I was slightly upset that no one witnessed my magnificent backwards swan dive, but profoundly relieved that I had chosen to drive my car today, and not Richard’s.

So, Sharon, this should explain why your waterlogged shoes are up on the glass table under the pergola, and, the obvious lack of additional scare tape hanging in your yard.

I tried to continue the task at hand, but began to feel squishy, and not in a good way. I piled up the reusable grocery bags I keep in my car, and then placed my sweatshirt on top of them to keep my contaminated derrière from soiling the interior of my car.

And, I want you to know that I recently had my physical and am up to date on all my shots, so hopefully your fowl will not succumb to my foul.

I also hope I did not contract the quack.

I have showered, am boiling my clothes, and toying with the idea of taking another shower. I am a big believer in no crap left behind.

So, please enjoy your anniversary. I will come back another day to hang more tape when I’m feeling less flighty.

In the meantime, every two hours, Richard is checking me for signs of:

1. Foul mood (there’s always a possibility of that, duck crap, or no duck crap)

2. The uncontrollable urge to scratch at the ground with my feet

3. Brooding (see #1)

4. Excessive preening

5. Unusually daffy behavior (again, always a possibility)

6. Strutting (my stuff)

7. Finding me asleep with my head turned toward my back

8. An uncomfortable feeling of being cooped up 

9. Involuntary arm flapping

10. Smacking him on the head, shouting, “Goose,” and running away.

*Beaking and entering