Monday, June 15, 2015

A Farewell Tribute to My Love by Valerie S.

Attractions can be very strong, almost to the point of obsession.  Most of us show a strong need to have someone or something in our life that is hard to leave behind. Valerie tells us of her past love, and the strong hold it had on her.

A  Farewell Tribute to My Love

Love can make you do anything, including sacrifice for what would be better in the end. Everything seems brighter, happier, and wonderful when you are in love. It is an unconditional affection with no limits. The feeling it generates warms your heart and brings you serenity. It is a powerful word and not to be tossed about flippantly. Alfred Lord Tennyson’s renowned quote states, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” This is my love story.

It all began some 40 years ago. The first encounter was definitely not some tawdry prearranged clandestine lust filled rendezvous. It was not like that with us and never developed into anything of the sort.  Our love was pure and irreproachable. From the very first time, I touched my lips to his mouth and tasted his sweetness, I knew. My resolve recklessly abandoned me like a lost balloon jerked from a child’s hand by a violent gust of wind.  The chemistry between us was instantaneous. The bond was undeniable.  For the next forty years, he would be by my side.

According to society’s dictated criterions of attractiveness, he would never attain a position or honorable mention in the category labeled “beautiful people.”  That never mattered to me. It was not about looks and it never had been. He was a short man with a barrel like chest. This feature made him seem even shorter and stouter. His rather short neck sat atop his plump chest giving him an almost comical look.  Yet every time I saw him, I was not looking at the outward appearance, but instead blinded by the bright light of his intrinsic value and what he brought into my life. It was powerful and all consuming.

He was not a charmer in any sense of the word, but his presence was seductive and compelling. He unfalteringly remained at my side through thick and thin over the many years we were together.  He picked me up when I was down. He always came eagerly when I reached out for him and never a harsh word passed between us. When life overwhelmed me, I turned to him for comfort. When I was exhausted, his fortitude propelled me forward. He was my constant in an unpredictable universe. He was very altruistic never requesting or demanding anything in return. It was all about me! It was always that way. He was my everything. I often chuckled aloud as I playfully referred to him as my guilty pleasure!

He was my constant and faithful companion. Friends and family often joked that we were like conjoined twins: but our relationship was far from symbiotic. I was incapable of providing him the same level of gratification and comfort that I greedily usurped from his being. He never once complained! He unconditionally accepted me for who I was. Not one iota of judgment or reproach ever crossed his lips. He was my safe port on a stormy day.

It was not always as idyllic as it sounds. Over the years, I ended things with him on several occasions.  During these interludes, I thought about him repeatedly almost to the point of being obsessive. My friends and family would encourage me to move forward and not look back.  It was easy for them to minimize his importance in MY life. If circumstances reversed, their viewpoint might be totally altered.  So time after time, I summoned him back into my life and as submissively as he always departed, he returned. Once again, all was right with my world.
There came a point in my life were I was beginning to realize that the liaison was dysfunctional and not in my best interest. This time was different from the times before that I had half heartily terminated things. The stakes were higher and the end payoff indisputably greater. Our last night together was bittersweet. I conveyed to him with emotionally charged sentiment how much he had meant to me over the years. I thanked him from the depths of my heart for being my rock, my anchor, (and chuckling) my guilty pleasure. He sat quietly before me taking it all in and as always, he remained the ultimate consummate gentleman.  “I love you, “I gushed. “You will always be a part of me. That will never change. We shared the good times together and weathered many a storm. I will not forget you. ““What you and I shared is priceless, “I blurted all this out my eyes blinded by tears.  There was no more talk and gently caressing him, we walked to the door for our final goodbye. He was gone. This time it was forever!

Many a time, I have found myself frequenting our favorite haunts in hopes that I might catch a glimpse of him. My intention is not to reunite, but just to absorb the energy his essence exudes. It is comparable to basking in the sunshine and soaking up that wonderful warm feeling. It radiates to your heart and soul touching every part of your body giving you that inviting restful sensation. Many times our paths have crossed in these familiar settings. I always keep my distance and make sure that he is not aware of my presence. I do this not out of respect for him, but the temptation of being so close in proximity is just too risky for me.

There are times when I observe him from afar just hanging out doing his own thing. More often than not, he is in the company of other women. I have witnessed them putting their lips on his mouth. That enrages me. I must summon up all my resolve so that I do not sprint over there and angrily wrench him away from the arms of his current hussy. With heart racing, quivering knees and my lips yearning for a taste of his sweet mouth, I turn and leave. I have avoided the temptation yet once again. It has been over a year since our last fateful night and my paramount desire for him is slowly ebbing away. I am no longer the captain of his ship and I must leave him to steer his own course no matter where it transports him or how distant the land. As the saying goes, “all good things must come to an end.” We sure had one heck of a run!



Goodbye my love
Farewell my love
The time has come to part ways forevermore 
Hence I must bid you my final adieu!

I will miss you every day,
My thoughts will often be of you.
Time heals all wounds,
At least that is what I hope to do.

This parting of ways had to be,
All my friends and family agree!
Time to move on
Time to let go

A few last shared thoughts before I go,
I hope will ease the pain if I let you know.
I will remember the time spent with you.
I will remember the memories old and new.
But most of all,
I will always remember you!

Goodbye my love,
Farewell my love,
This is my final adieu.
It was never meant to be
We both know destiny stepped in and parted you and me.

Please join me as I raise my glass in a toast to pay homage one last time to my lost love…Diet Pepsi.

Valerie S.


Friday, June 5, 2015


The things man invents!  Does everything have both a good side as well as an evil side? No doubt you can find many situations where some invention has its pluses and minuses. Such love-hate relationships!


It’s a crazy relationship, that little tube and me. Whenever we meet I always get the short end of the stick, in other words, I loose big time!

It was early in the 1970’s the first time I saw the commercial of the guy in a hard hat hanging from a steel girder; I knew that was for me.  There were so many things to repair, but my savior definitely had other ideas as we entered into the love-hate relationship that we still enjoy today.
Remembering the thrill of the hunt as I headed into the hardware store on my quest for the magical fixer, my stomach takes a turn as visions of embarrassing and painful moments flash before me.
It was a lovely sunny morning in Salt Lake City and my partner and I had just won a doubles tennis match which left me feeling able to conquer anything.  Rushing home to shower and change in time to teach my Weight Watcher class at 11:00 always gave me a lift, but today was special. Tennis partner Caroline and I finally found our rhythm, and we trounced our nemesis for the first time.
I showered and dried my hair, grabbed a quick snack and went to get dressed. Reaching for the closet door I accidentally hit the door with my forefinger and broke my fingernail halfway down the nail bed. It really hurt, and I knew that a Band-Aid was not going to do the trick. I needed a quick fix and thought – CRAZY GLUE!

I ran to the garage to get my tube of glue and went into the bathroom to find my bottle of acetone polish remover. I took off my robe as I didn’t want to get any acetone on it. I sat on the edge of the bathtub, dressed in panties and bra, hesitating before starting to remove the polish, figuring this was going to hurt, but it had to be done. I screamed as the acetone hit my bleeding nail. I heard a scratching on the bathroom door. Sure enough there was Mitzi our little Pomeranian-terrier mix who came to see why I was making all that noise. Leaving the door open so she could watch would eliminate her scratching the door as she always did. So she sat in the doorway and watched me finishing with the acetone.

When finished I returned it to the cupboard under the sink. Sitting back down on the bathtub and crossing my legs to raise my hand by laying it on my knee, Mitzi barked at me. Could this dog be trying to tell me something?  I opened the tube and as directed broke the seal, where upon it spewed glue into the air which promptly landed on my hand gluing it firmly to my knee. Reaching for a towel while still holding the tube of glue, it spewed again going between knees. Trying to wipe it up before anything stuck was not a smooth move. There I sat on the edge of the bathtub with a hand towel stuck to my knees, my knees stuck together, with a hand stuck on the top of my knee and a broken nail throbbing after contact with acetone and glue. I reached under the sink for the bottle of acetone and screamed with pain as my legs could not decide which one was going to relinquish its skin. Mitzi started barking and dancing up and down, and I was trying to figure out how in the heck I was going to get unstuck and make it to my class in a half an hour.

Rolling off the bathtub would put me close enough to the door of the cupboard so off I went and just remembering the pain makes me want to cry. Screaming and crying brought the dancing dog to lick my face, then she licked my hand and the taste of the glue made her stop and the look on her face said, “Lady you’re on your own”, as she backed up to the door and promptly sat down on the threshold, where she would look at me shake her head then let out a bark. I really think she was laughing.
I made it to the cupboard door and low and behold I was lying on my left side where I landed on my arm, which was the only mobile one, and commenced trying to get my arm from under my body which meant a lot of screaming and barking.

Finally my arm was free but there was barely enough room to open the door and hopefully enough room to pull the bottle of acetone through. Yeah, just barely made it, but now what? In order to save the carpeting meant getting into the bathtub. I didn’t know if there was enough acetone in the bottle to do the job and didn’t want to waste any. I practiced some self-hypnosis, a technique that I had learned when pregnant. Soon I was in the bathtub with a lot of screaming and barking.

It was a long process of dripping acetone between my knees until I finally pulled them apart with out loss of skin, it just hurt like hell. Next came my hand. Noticing that my nail was glued and that it looked stable gave me some comfort. All told it took 45 minutes to become unstuck. I called the Weight Watcher Center and told them I had a little accident and would be delayed for another 15 minutes. I was told that was okay because there was a full house and they were still weighing and checking in. After finally arriving in one piece, the first thing the clerk said to me as I reached for the check-in cards, “Lee what happened to the polish on your nail?”
“Strange,” I said, “It came off in the bathtub.”
Over the years, due to Super Glue, I have had so many things stuck to other things that had no business sticking to those things. There are spots on cabinets and dressers where paint and finishes are gone because I had to chisel something off their surface.

While visiting my with my son in England, once again I was confronted with my old enemy.  Reaching for something in a cupboard, I broke a fingernail down to the quick, again! A search turned up a tube of the English version of Crazy Glue, but this time I would be smart and hold my hand over the sink. This tube had been opened, and now we had glue hardened at the opening and nothing wanted to come out. I found a pin and poked the opening.  I squeezed, nothing, squeezed again this time really hard. Once again the spewing glue found its way between my fingers and the one finger trying to hold my fingernail in place.  Trying to lift my middle finger from my forefinger was useless. At least I had a thumb and little finger to try and grab something. But there was nothing to grab, since my son doesn’t wear polish; he had no need for acetone.

Learning the hard way that polish remover without acetone does not remove crazy glue, I set out for the neighbor next door in hopes that she would have some acetone. Hope was dashed when she looked at my hand and burst out laughing. She shook her head and explained that she just goes to the nail salon in the village and they take care of all the messy stuff. She would have offered to drive me to the village but her car was in the shop. I was getting frantic as it was nearing time to leave for my appointment with the counselor. Maybe the counselor could tell me why I continued to have long fingernails, which on occasion brought me nothing but pain and embarrassment.

While waiting for my son Chris to arrive I tried every thing imaginable. Running hot water over my skin until I couldn’t stand it any more did nothing but give me red skin that hurts. Chris soon arrived and in his military problem-solving manor, assessed the situation and told me he would be right back. He took off and in 15 minutes was back with a bottle of acetone from the salon in the village. It took about ten minutes to get me unstuck, and off we went to the counselor. Of course we were late, but he delivered me to the door, stating to the counselor “Sorry I was late, it took me longer than I thought to unglue her, and she can explain.”

Of course she laughed!

The next day I was at the salon in the village having my nail repaired and all my nails filed shorter than they had been in years, and yes she laughed!

It was just two weeks ago that after noticing that there was a crack in a cup handle I thought that this time I would be smart and not have my fingers any where near the glue except to hold the tube.  I turned the cup upside down on my wooden worktable and squeezed the little tube. Not only did it come out of the tip but it came out of the side and right between my fingers.

I ran to get my acetone and fifteen minutes later freed the tube from my fingers. While checking the cup handle, it was apparent that the glue had hit the crack, and it looked good. About an hour later as I walked by the table, I grabbed the cup, and it felt like my arm came out of its socket. The cup was firmly attached to the table. Looking closer I could see that a line of glue ran down from the handle and worked its way around the rim. Using a very thin knife and working my way around the rim, I freed the cup without using acetone.

It is my firm belief that Crazy Glue is inherently evil. It was invented by some demented person to insure that innocent people like me will suffer the pain and humiliation of thinking they can actually fix something with Crazy Glue. Except for my fingers it has never adhered to something I wanted to repair as advertised. How they got that guy in the steel hat to hang from that girder was a trick! The warning label should read, sticks only to human skin.

It is my fervent hope that if someone is reading this in a hundred years, they can benefit from my disasters or maybe crazy glue now comes in a spew-proof tube, or some genius invented anti-glue.

Lee V.
April 25, 2015

Thank you Lee!!



Embarrassing Moments

Many of us have had an occasion or two to embarrass ourselves. There's the "open-mouth-insert-foot" comment that totally mortifies you, and sometimes the "curiosity-killed-the-cat" situation which leaves you smelling more like a dead cat.  AND, of course, we cannot just embarrass ourselves in private...we need an audience!

Oh No!!!

We all like to retain our composure but sometimes life has a way of bringing us back to earth; sometimes with an embarrassing jolt. There are a few things that have happened to me that can still bring a blush to my face when I think of them. These are a few of them although I’m sure there are many more.

Early in my marriage I embarrassed myself in front of my new Mother-in-law. I liked Mrs. Kelley and wanted her to get to know my mom better, so we were all having lunch together on the patio. It’s funny how I can still remember where I was sitting and what was on my plate when I recall the incident. We were getting along just fine when I asked my mother for some advice on how to make gravy. I grew up on nice smooth broth-based gravy. I didn’t know how to cook too well at this time. "Mom, how do you make gravy?" I asked. "Jerry makes the worst lumpy, thick, white gravy I ever tasted." Then I went on to describe his method. He added flour to the frying pan after we had fried chicken, stirred it around until it was a gooey mess then put in milk and pepper. Ugh, it was horrible. "Tell me how to make good gravy."
Mrs Kelley spoke up and said very emphatically "That’s how I make gravy, and it’s good" I was embarrassed, but she was mad. After a beat or two of silence my mother interjected that there were two methods to gravy making, and that I should try both. I was so embarrassed and "Mom Kelley" was ready to go home right then. Nothing I said could smooth it over, and she thought I was making fun of her ways. I still turn red when I think of it.

The next incident happened years later. I was on a camping trip with my husband and another couple. We had known each other for years and although she was a little cautious and I was impulsive, we had a great time together. We were going to Eastern Oregon for fishing and camping, and had stopped in a small town to eat lunch. My friend and I were in the restroom washing up. While drying my hands I noticed a perfume machine on the wall. "Oh gosh," I exclaimed. "They have a perfume dispenser just like the one we had when I was in high school."
"Don’t mess around." she uttered from her booth.
"Oh but this is one of those that dispense tiny glass vials of perfume, I haven’t seen one for years." I was taken back to my teen years.
"Don’t touch it," she ordered. She was still in the booth. Huh, she has a lot of nerve ordering me around.
"Oh look it even has Chanel Number 5." I was very taken with it although I didn’t wear perfume at all. I was definitely going to explore.
"Just leave thing alone" she told me. Well I don’t like people telling me what to do and besides what was the harm. I wanted that tiny pencil shaped sample of perfume for old-times sake. I didn’t have a quarter and she wasn’t giving me one. What was taking her so long anyway? After digging through my purse I did find one and inserted it quickly like a naughty kid before she could stop me. Nothing came out, and I was trying to see how it worked, trying to figure out where it came out, I stooped down to see where the perfume was when it sprayed me right in the face and mouth. Yipes! I rushed to the sink to try and wash out my mouth, and get the yucky smelling junk off my face.
In the meantime of course Dee showed no sympathy. "Why couldn’t you just leave it alone." The more I rubbed water on my face the worse it reeked. Don’t say anything I warned her as we made our way back to the table.
"Boy you guys sure took a long time" our husbands said. We ordered and began to eat when they started asking what that horrible smell was. It was on my blouse and I guess some in my hair. Well we told our story and got a good laugh, but we rode with the windows down the rest of the way, and the smell stayed with me for a long time, saturating the tent and me for most of the trip.

Dede K.
Apr 2015

Thank you Dede.


Finders Keepers

All of us lose or misplace items and much more as we age. We have experienced the panic and frustration as we tear throughout house trying to locating the missing item.  This story will ring true for many of us, but hopefully, not to this degree. 

Originally, this memory was written in two parts but is presented here in full.

Finders Keepers...

You know the rest…Losers weepers. I’m weeping. Not really weeping, but I am a sore loser. Let me tell you my sad tale.

This summer Jerry and I celebrated our 50th Anniversary. We went on a cruise to Alaska with relatives and friends. It was an exciting trip, and one I’ll never forget. I will tell you about the cruise at another time. It’s what happened after the cruise that has made me a loser.

The day before the trip Jerry and I decided we had too much cash on hand to carry around on the ship. We had an extra $700 dollars, so I said, "I’ll take it down the basement and hide it.’’

This was fine with hubby so off I went. I was very busy getting ready to leave the next day, packing, watering plants, making phone calls, and going through the bills. I realize now that there were too many things on my mind. Everything went smoothly the next day, and off we went.

We arrived home seven glorious days later. We went to a cook out the next day then I came down with a summer cold and was sick for two or three days. It was a week later when I finally remembered the cash. Imagine my surprise when I went to the basement only to discover that I couldn’t find it. I looked in the places I thought it should be, but no luck. Therefore, I looked some more, no money. For the next several hours, I searched in earnest. My basement is my former workroom and office. I keep all my card making and art supplies there too. I looked in and under everything that is movable. In tiny boxes of screws and nails, in my ribbons, under the radio, in cans of buttons, in all my books, through my sewing supplies, in and under my sewing machines, through my files, and in photo boxes. I tore my desk apart many times; I looked behind the pictures on the wall and my calendar. I went upstairs and came back down thinking the hiding place would occur to me. My recollection of hiding the money was nil. Nothing.

The third afternoon, I finally asked Jerry what we did with the $700 dollars we had because I wanted to deposit in the bank.

"You hid it don’t you remember?"

"No I don’t remember."

I had to confess that I couldn’t find it. I have spent the last week trying to find that darn money. Day after day I looked. I tried putting it out of my mind. I tried sleeping on it, but no luck. I took all the envelopes out of the wastebasket and held them to the light. I went outside and went through the recycling, still no money. I don’t like to think of myself as a loser but what can I say? I’ve looked and looked and looked. I told my husband that maybe I will have to get hypnotized. He thinks I’m joking, but I am not.

At this point I have looked upstairs, downstairs, in the laundry room, and through both storerooms. I have looked in all our pockets in the closet and through all my purses.

I have not told my kids yet. I‘m afraid they will think I’m losing my memory, but I’m sure that’s not the case. I still remember my appointments and what people said to me yesterday and last week. Where is that money? I am leaving a folded one-dollar bill on my desk as a magnet.

To be continued…

Where’s the money?

It’s the third week in August and I am still looking for my hidden $700 dollars. By now, I have gradually told the kids. They have come up with some very devious places to hide things, but none of them has panned out. I haven’t let any of them actually look for it, but I have taken their suggestions. By now, I just look every two or three days, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to find that darn money, but it‘s like something you just can‘t let go.

One day, after another fruitless search, it occurred to me that maybe Jerry had found the money early on and was playing a trick on me. After all, he has been saying for years that he would pay me back sometime for the "laxative in the brownies" incident. He had been much calmer about the lost money than he usually was about things. He just kept saying, "It will turn up sooner or later. This wasn’t like him. So one day when my youngest daughter, Jenny was there, I confronted him with this idea. I knew he would fess up and have a good laugh with a witness. No, he didn’t have it. Well, that was the end of that theory. I was kind of disappointed to tell the truth. OK, the money is gone. Forget about it. That is it, I decided.

In the very beginning of September my son, Tom came for a visit with his girlfriend Joanna, and her daughter, Candice. We spent the weekend shopping for clothes and things for her college dorm. Tom spent the nights searching for the money. The last night they were there Joanna and her daughter asked if they could search. "Go right ahead", I replied I’ll just stay here and have a cup of coffee.

They had only been searching a short while before I decided to join them in the basement, curiosity you know.

 "Did you hide the money because you thought someone was going to break in while you were gone or did you just tuck it away until you got home?" Joanna asked me.

"I just tucked it away."

"Oh that’s a completely different story they said." 

They began to search superficially. It wasn’t five minutes before Candice reached in a basket and said, "could this be it?’ She held up a bank envelope. Oh my gosh! I opened it and there was my money. After the hooting and hollering, we told the guys. We jumped around and celebrated for a while. It was unbelievable. That darn money was in a basket that I had looked in more than once. It was pushed up under the rim. Jerry gave her a fifty-dollar reward.

People have asked me if I remembered putting it there, but I can honestly say I don’t remember hiding it at all.

My kids were a little disappointed that they didn’t get a chance at the reward.

Dede K.

Thank you for sharing Dede!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Great Depression and World War II

Jeanne has once again graced us with her memories.  Thank you for sharing!

The Great Depression and World War II

For the past week I’ve been watching “The Roosevelts” on TV, Ken Burns’ latest serial about American life.  I was born in December of 1934, and FDR was the president throughout my childhood.  The events portrayed were happening as I grew up.
            Until I was seven we lived in Northeast Portland.  The Great Depression was apparent everywhere around us.  Fortunately, my dad always had a good job; we lived in a nice house and had plenty to eat.  That wasn’t true for some of our extended family.  I remember my mom making food boxes for my dad to deliver to aunts and cousins who had no work.  There were abandoned houses in our neighborhood because families had to move out due to the lack of employment.  Almost every day single men would knock on our door and ask my mother if they could work for food.  Sometimes she had no work for them but fed them anyway.  They would sit on our front steps, balancing a plate on their knees and silently eat whatever she served them. I was four or five years old and very curious about these people, but I don’t remember them acknowledging me in any way.  It seemed to me they were slightly embarrassed by their circumstances.
            One time when I was riding in the car with my dad we stopped at a light and there on the corner was an older woman, sitting on a couch with all her belongings piled around her.  I had never seen such a thing.  When I inquired about it my dad said she had been evicted by the sheriff because she didn’t pay her rent.  I asked my dad where she would go.  He didn’t seem too concerned or interested, but I was very upset by it.  When I was older, I realized he must have seen similar circumstances all the time as he drove around Portland.
            In April of ’42 my parents bought a house in the country.  We sat on a hill overlooking Tigard, Bull Mountain and the Coast Range mountains.  At that time we were really out in the country; all the growth in that area occurred after the war.  I think my parents moved there because people believed there was a real threat of the Japanese invading the west coast or at least bombing the cities.  No one knew what might happen, and people and the government became very irrational as witnessed by the interment of the innocent Japanese-American citizens.
            In school we learned what to do in a bombing raid (get under the desk; stay away from windows) and were paired with another student who lived very close to school so we could go to their house with them if there was time.  I decided right away that I would run the mile to my house rather than be with strangers.
            Every residential area was assigned a Fire Marshall for their district.  This was a neighbor who came around periodically to make sure you had a bucket of sand, a shovel and a fire extinguisher in case of an incendiary bomb attack.  No outside lights were allowed at night and windows were covered with blackout shades so no light was visible from the outside.  Car travel at night was restricted, and cars that must be out had special headlight shades installed.
            All kinds of good were rationed and some weren’t available at all.  Meat, sugar, butter, and coffee all required ration stamps to purchase as did shoes, tires and gasoline.  Many people had Victory Gardens.
            We observed more signs of war as time went on: convoys of hundreds of Army trucks and jeeps going form Camp Adair near Corvallis to Fort Lewis, squadrons of bombers coming and going from who knows where.  Everything was “Top Secret”. “Loose Lips Sink Ships” was the motto of the day. 
One day my four-year-old brother was playing outside by himself.  He came tearing into the house, his eyes huge.  He pulled on my mother’s clothes, “Mama, mama, look! There’s ……..somethin’!? The “somethin’” was a huge blimp form the Tillamook Naval Air Station handing right over the house so low my mother said you could clearly see the people inside.
            It was an interesting and scary time.  Then we entered another scary time when school kids once again had to practice for attacks. It was called “The Cold War.”
Jeanne R.

1 Oct 2014

Sewing Struggles

Once again, we have a guest writer from my writing class in town.  This class is not designed to make published writers, but to share childhood memories and family stories with their descendants.  Thank you Jeanne for your contribution!  I'm sure there are many others who feel the same way about sewing.

Sewing Struggles

            I can’t sew.  Oh, I can mend a tear and sew on a button or shorten a skirt by hand.  As a kid, I learned to darn socks and embroider dish towels.  But I can’t sew on a sewing machine, and I’ve always admired those who can.  They seem to me miraculously blessed with great talent. 
When I was in grade school there was a class called “Home Ec” for girls only. (Boys took what was known as shop.)  One semester of Home Ec was devoted to sewing and one to kitchen skills.  During kitchen skills we made biscuits, learned how to set a table and what R.S.V.P. meant and what to do about it.
During the sewing term we learned how to hem flour sack dish towels and operate a sewing machine.  In the Home Ec room at Multnomah School there were rows of treadle sewing machines, leftovers from the 1930s.  Because of the war, new machines were not made during the 40’s. A treadle machine is powered by feet rather than electrically and the faster you “treadle” the faster the needle goes up and down.  It’s like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time.  I never could coordinate these movements. 
My mother had an electric machine which she rarely used.  When I was in high school I tried sewing on it and even cut out a dress from a pattern, but the thread kept tangling and the machine kept stalling.  I kept going into frustrated crying jags so my dad urged me to quit.  He tactfully told me what a good cook and baker I was and that I should further develop my kitchen skills.  I’m sure he was trying to protect the household from my emotional outbursts. 
Lately, I have had thoughts of buying a machine and learning to sew.  I’d love to learn.  But, on the other hand, would it make sense financially to invest in a machine at my age?  Could I possibly get my money’s work out of it?  AND, I don’t like to go on emotional tears anymore so I’ll probably stick with kitchen skills.  If you have thoughts for me on this, R.S.V.P.  I know what it means!
                                                                                                            Jeanne R.
12 Nov 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thank You, Mr. Bell

Once again, we have a wonderful story by a guest writer form my local class in Portland.  You may recognize her from some previous blog posts. Lee adds wonderful humor in her writing and definitely has had some great experiences!  I hope you enjoy this piece.

Thank You, Mr. Bell

            Jerry Seinfeld was ranting about some of the things in everyday life that perplexed him. It’s funny how he makes you think of things that annoy but can make you laugh. It reminded me of some of my life’s funniest moments that have happened on the telephone. Some sad and tragic news has also come along those wires; however, where would we be without it?
            Remember the days of going to the neighbors to use the telephone because it was the only one in the neighborhood? And now I have three in my four room apartment, and, of course, I can never find one when it is ringing. I often wonder if Mr. Bell knows what he started those many years ago.
            It took my mother a while to believe that the phone didn’t ring only in times of disaster. The telephone brought a call to inform my mother of the death of her younger brother. It was a freak accident while he was driving from Pennsylvania to California. Then there was the call from the coast guard to inform us my father and uncle had been rescued at sea. We knew they were late coming home from their fishing trip, but we didn't know they were adrift at sea. However, the telephone could be a very handy thing for my mother. She could call my friends on the phone and tell me it was time to come home.
            As I reached my teenage years I discovered the art of talking endlessly and not saying anything to my friends who did the same. The sole purpose being to irritate my parents, and this I learned when I had teenagers.

            In my later years I found the phone a nuisance but necessary in my business as an interior designer.  I spent most of my days on the phone with clients and vendors. One day a salesperson appeared at my office begging five minutes of my time. “I have the perfect solution for people on the go, you will love this.” was his opening line. He opened his brief case and pulled out a telephone that was at least a foot long and big enough that my hand could barely fit around. It weighed at least two pounds.
“This is a car phone. It will allow you to keep in touch with your office whenever you are on the road. You can conduct business from your car. It’s fantastic!”
            “You’re joking,” I replied. “The only time during the day that I have any peace and quiet and time to think creatively is when I am in my car. Thanks but no thanks!” The look on his face was non-believing. “
“How could I not want the latest thing? Any body who is anybody will have one!”
“I guess I am nobody,” was my reply.
Two day’s later I entered a client’s home with a key. She was at work in the Portland Mayor’s office and had called to say she would not turn on the alarm if I wanted to go in and measure the windows. Of course she forgot and turned on her alarm. It was so loud that it was rattling the windows and hurt my ears. I ran to the neighbors on both sides of the house and across the street, but no one was home. I waited in my car for the police to come, and about twenty of the longest minutes of my life later, a patrol car pulled up. “Should I arrest you for breaking and entering or noise pollution?” he asked with a grin.      
He went in the house, turned off the alarm and explained that he got the code from the alarm company. He told me to finish my business and lock the door on the way out. He also told me that he knew my client well and had responded several times to her alarm. He called her at work, and her office informed him that she was chairing a committee meeting on the escalation of home burglaries in the Portland area. We had a good laugh and then he said, “Too bad you don’t have one of those new car phones, you could have called the police”.

            One night after a dinner out with friends, I came home about 10:00 and since it was too early for bed, I settled on the couch to catch some television. The phone rang and when I answered a quavering voice said, “I would like to make a pledge.” 
            I told her she had the wrong number and we both hung up. I turned to OPB, and sure enough it was pledge week. My phone number was 245-2345. The pledge number was 245-2346, and I usually got a call or two during pledge week. About 10 minutes later the phone rang again. It was the same quivering voice wanting to make a pledge. Again I told her she had the wrong number and this time she apologized profusely, but before hanging up I explained that she wanted a six instead of a five.
            A few minutes later the phone rang again. This time I had pen and paper ready, and I took her pledge information. Then she told me the story of how she had been calling the wrong number and a very nice lady answered and gave her the right number. After we hung up I called in her pledge and mine, and I have been an OPB member ever since.

            It was summer and the weather had been great. I told my crew that I wouldn’t be in the office before 10:00 the next morning because I had client appointment that night and I fully intended to sleep in. My phone rang at 7:30. I answered, “Do you know what time it is?”
            A male voice responded, “Yes gorgeous, I know what time it is, and I know how you look just waking up, and I was wondering why I wasn’t there? But I’m calling to see if you would like to go on a picnic today. The day is beautiful, and I don’t have to be in the office today, so what do you say?”
            By this time I was awake and wondering who on earth this was. I would hate to think I have slept with someone and not recognized his voice…that was just not my style. When I asked who is inviting me to a picnic? He responded, “Come on Sally, don’t kid. You know who this is.  We had dinner last week and a great night and morning in bed.” Evidently Sally had more style than I did, and now I was intrigued.
            “Where did we have dinner?”
            “Zeffiro. Come on, you remember.”
            Wow, I thought, that was the newest restaurant in town and very expensive so Sally did have more style. “Listen to me, we did not have dinner and my name isn’t Sally. You obviously have a wrong number at 7:30 in the morning, and I am not happy.”
            “Are you sure this is not Sally? Is your number 245-2345?”
When I replied, “It seems Sally gave you a wrong number.”
I expected some protests that she wouldn’t do such a thing but without missing a beat he said, “Well, she wasn’t that good in bed anyway. You sound really sexy, would you like to go on a picnic?”
“Well, I would. You sound sexy, too, and I think we could have great fun. I will be honest with you, I have a weight problem, but I am down to 350.” The phone went dead.
Now that I was wide-awake I got ready for work and went to my office. When they asked why I came in so early I told them about my phone call. They all laughed and Helen said, “Lee go write that down and put it in your book.”
I used to say when something crazy happened, “One day I am going to write a book!”

I had been retired for one week and was already bored. My son’s friend was working with a company that did political polling and had just been promoted. One day she called and pleaded for me to help out as they had a rush poll to do and had several people out sick…and two had quit.
I went to the office took a short test, and they hired me. What an experience that was!
I was amazed at the messages people left on their answering machines and the old people who loved answering polls just to have someone to talk to. It was also a confirmation of my opinion that a large percentage of the American people should not be allowed to vote due to stupidity. The call that made me quit was truly funny.
A young man of twenty-eight from Hood River didn’t know the president’s name let alone his congressman or senators. He answered every question with a question. I was thinking, “how does he live, he’s as dumb as a fence post”. At the end of the poll we were supposed to ask, “Do you have any questions?” 
When he answered yeah, I thought maybe he’d taken an interest in his government. Then he asked, “Do you date?”
Flabbergasted, I answered, “Yes, yes I do but I live in San Francisco.”
“Oh damn” was his response and hung up.
The auditor who listened in on phone calls came over to my desk laughing and said, “I could not believe how dumb that guy was but you were great keeping your cool. You deserve a raise”
I said, “Thank you very much but this will be my last week. My frustration factor is full.”

Yes, Mr. Bell you gave the world a great invention, but gone are the days of the polite phone operator; she has been replaced by the frustrating voice mail. Gone is the rotary dial and the ability to connect with people.
Instead we have phones that can answer any question that you ask, take pictures of things that should not be photographed. And now you don’t even have to talk on a phone; you can type out your message in shorthand. But mostly today’s phones keep humans from connecting to humans. I thought it was just desserts when the Japanese government said that the number one accident for teenagers was walking into objects while texting. If I never hear the words selfie and apps again, it will be too soon.
I am hoping that soon texting will be limited to a certain area like smoking. I have banned phones at my dinner table, and if someone has to answer their cell phone they can go into another room. Phones should not be allowed in public places as there are things I have overheard that could get people arrested and things that make me think less of my fellow man. But the lingering question I have Mr. Bell is why does my phone mostly ring when I am in the bathroom?
                                                                                                          Lee V. 
                                                                                                          12 Nov 2014