The time in our doctor’s waiting room became unexpectedly enjoyable as we sat with an elderly lady and her family. No one had said much beyond “Good morning” till the elderly lady asked her daughter to push her closer so she could admire the ornaments on the tree The doctor had so generously decorated for her patients’ pleasure. She laughed and said, “I am eighty-three years old. I’ve come all the way from chopping wood to people walking on the moon. Oh, I’ve chopped lots of wood.” As she talked on, she cackled as she told this one. “I’ve milked many a cow in my time, many a cow. I remember one time, I was ‘a milking two titties and a pig was ‘a sucking on the other side.” She had us all laughing along with her. We would have loved to spend the rest of the day with her. What a wonderful visit we had!
My children took frequently took advantage of one of my fatal discipline flaws. Should their behavior cross the line and require discipline, activating my funny bone rendered me useless. The pastor in our small Methodist Church offered healing by laying on of hands at the end of the regular Sunday Service. I suspect that was one of the few times John, age ten, had ever listened. He made a move as though he were heading to the front. I was totally surprised, and caught his arm, thinking he’d misunderstood
”Where are you going?” I asked.
”I’ve got a heat rash!” He giggled.
”Sit down.” He got me
In the unlikely event I’ve not mentioned this before, I was raised Southern Baptist in Louisiana back in the fifties. That theology would pretty much pass for Christian Evangelical now, not to mention the “What will the neighbors think?” factor. No drinking, dancing, or provocative dress such as short or tight skirts, shorts, or swimsuits for women or girls. Most church members gave lip service to the rules and went on their way, but my Dad fervently embraced any rule that backed him up in rendering his daughter’s lives joyless.
Fortunately, it wasn’t one of those extreme cults that required long hair, dresses for girls, and no makeup, a fact I was truly thankful for. I soon understood that most sin resulted from trashy women leading men astray since “boys will be boys.” The subject of sex was off limits, except in sermons with scriptures and admonitions against fornication and iniquity, which flew way over my head as a young child. After a tentative question or two that seemed headed toward sex, I learned “That’s none of your business.” That was wildly incongruous coupled with the admonition we could talk to our parents about anything. I soon learned any question had consequences. By the time I actually garnered any true information about sex, I had amassed a fascinating compendium of misinformation from my friends, who were as clueless as I.
Way too many times, Mother rushed to turn the television off if it appeared a woman was about to go into labor. Should Red Skelton get too risque, the screen went black, which was a real shame, since we had no idea what he was referring to. The point was, anything suggesting sex was a sin. That promiscuous laboring woman and the evil Red Skelton had to be punished.
Fun was suspect, particularly fun not experienced and executed under the watchful eyes of a parent or stuffy chaperone at the youth group. I soon learned it was a sin to even ask about attending a dance or the school’s end of year party at the lake. “Don’t you have any morals?”
I knew better than to give a truthful response, “uh…..no. I just want to go the party or go swimming with the other kids.”
Nubile girls parading around in the modest swimsuits of the sixties was sure to incite uncontrollable lust in the hearts of schoolboys. Hayrides were pure iniquity. Imagine carelessly throwing boys and girls together to ride around on a wagon full of hay after dark unleashing their devilish hormones!
When you live in the South and visit old folks in the country, the first thing you have to do is admire their garden. If you run out of excuses, you’ll come home with a “mess of greens.” I hate dealing with greens. For the unenlightened, greens include turnips, collards, or mustard greens. Boiled down low, with a bit of pork, and garnished with a splash of “pepper sauce,” greens make a delicious meal. A true connoisseur polishes off by sopping up the juice, or pot-liquor with cornbread. If you’re above the Mason-Dixon Line, try a roll. That’s the happy ending.
Now, we get down to the nitty gritty, literally. Greens have to be “looked and washed.” The first step is dispossessing the wildlife who habituate greens. Nobody wants to find half a worm or a cluster of bug eggs in their pot-liquor. You have to give both sides of each rumpled leaf a good look, wash, and then rinse copiously. I’d heard the glorious news that greens could be washed in the washing machine, cutting down tremendously on prep time.
The next time Bud visited an elderly family member, he came back wagging a bag of greens. I didn’t moan like normal, having recently heard the good news that greens could be washed in the washing machine. As usual, the basic information registered, not the total technique. I loaded the washer with dirty greens and detergent and hit the start button. Quite a while later, the alarm sounded, and I went to retrieve my sparkling greens. Alas, no greens remained, just a few tough stems and a few bits of leaves. A follow-up conversation with my friend revealed that I should have only washed them on gentle and not continue on to spend.
Though I hoped he’d forget, Bud came in that night expecting greens. I feigned innocence. “What greens?” It didn’t fly. “The greens I brought in yesterday.” It’s hard to come up with an excuse how precious greens went missing. I gave up and told the truth, though I don’t like worrying Bud stuff with that gets his blood pressure up. I’m considerate that way.
“They went down the drain.”
“How in the Hell did they go down the drain?” I don’t know why he gets all up in my housekeeping and cooking business. “
“They just did. Now don’t keep asking nosy questions!” “
“Exactly what drain and how did that happen?” “
“The washing machine drain.” I
I hoped if I answered matter-of-factly, he’d move on. I didn’t work. “
“You put greens in the washing machine? What in the Hell were you thinking?” I
I hate it when he apes back what I’ve just said. I’ve told him it gets on my nerves. “It takes forever to look and wash greens. Jenny told me she puts hers in the washer and it works great. I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to put them through spin.”
“Grouch, grouch, grouch @^%&( , #@$%! Don’t ever put )(^%&# greens in the washer, again!”
“Okay, okay. Don’t go on forever about it. I get tired of your nagging” Since then I’ve been careful not to spin them. It works great.
“They’re in the dishwasher, but should be finished by now.”I told him.
During my errands yesterday, I got a phone call from Bud. “Didn’t you tell me you washed those jars of corned beef you canned? I was going to put them in the pantry and I can’t find them. Where did you put them?” He sounded totally bewildered.
“Why in the world did you do that? Oh, never mind!” He blustered.
We’ve been married more than fifty years, but Bud still forgets it makes perfect sense to me to wash jars of canned goods in the dishwasher. We paid a lot for that dishwasher and need to get full value. Why run a sink full of soapy water to wash them by hand and risk having a slippery jar crash and break? The dishwasher does a great job.
I’ve always felt appliances should be multi-functional. I’ve already done my own research and can tell you some pitfalls, but the idea is great.
Ovens make excellent emergency dryers, but don’t do your hair. Putting your head in the oven makes a bad impression. Properly done, ovens could be used for clothes, shoes, and other stuff you might not want, or be able to put in your clothes dryer. Also, the dryer might be on the blink. (Possibly from Multi-Function Appliance Use)I do have a couple of cautions, however. When drying your dainties in the oven, pre-heat it to a nice warm temp, then turn it off. Be sure to put them on a nice cool cookie sheet before you slide them in. When mine hit the hot oven rack they sizzled and melted. Long crosswise burns across the butt was not a look I could live with.
I ran into a little problem drying my son’s tennis shoes in the oven before I’d worked all the kinks out of my system. His only pair had to be dry for school the next morning, so in the oven they went. It’s a lot easier to set the temperature higher than you think, believe me. I forgot to set the timer. In just a bit, I smelled rubber burning. By the time I got to them, melted shoe soles dripped to the oven floor. Still thinking they could be salvaged, I worked the shoes free, hoping I could saw the drippy soles off smooth. Didn’t work. The toes curled up till the shoes looked like skis. We ended up making a flying trip to the store with him in his socked feet, getting there just before the store closed at nine.Bud was totally unreasonable about the whole situation
To be continued
My mother, Kathleen, has suffered from Royalty Envy her entire life. First of all, Princess Elizabeth was born two years ahead of Kathleen, giving her an unfair advantage. Seeing Princess Elizabeth featured in magazines and newsreels in gorgeous dresses surrounded by her retinue fascinated and frustrated her. Clearly the young royal had done no more than she to deserve this sumptuous life. To add insult to injury, Princess Elizabeth had beautifully curled hair. Kathleen suspected it was a much coveted permanent wave.
One or two fortunate girls of Kathleen’s acquaintance prissed about haughtily showing off their permanent waves. Kathleen knew every penny in her household had a purpose, so it never occurred to her to mention her yearning for a permanent wave. Periodically, her older sister curled her hair with rag curlers, but those curls paled beside the beauty of a permanent wave. Even worse, Princess Elizabeth’s hair might have been naturally curly. What cruel accident of birth would bestow curly hair upon a royal child and condemn Kathleen, a tow-headed, child of American The Great Depression, to struggle through at least ninety-four years of lanky, string-straight locks.
Kathleen avidly poured over any mention of Princess Elizabeth in newsreels, news papers, and magazines, alternately admiring and envying the girl unaware of her existence. Every time she visited to outhouse, she read and reread a magazine article about the princesses, fully aware Princess Elizabeth wasn’t reading about her in her dainty water closet.
Kathleen excelled at the tiny school in Cuthand,Texas, sometimes helping her janitor father clean after school, aware that Princess Elizabeth was educated by governesses, later attending the finest private schools. While the princess attended soirees, Kathleen picked beans, fed chickens, and gathered eggs. There was definitely nothing privileged about her rural life.
As time passed, Kathleen had less time to devote to her rival who was now queen, though she noted with satisfaction her own children were more handsome and probably smarter. She was a bit critical of the queen’s style; too many pastels and over-large hats., though it seems she would have been pleased that something that obscured the queen’s curly hair.
Some things never change. I mentioned the other day the queen might be schmoozing with the heavenly hosts right now since she’d beaten Mother to Heaven. Mother remarked snidely, “You don’t know that for sure, do you?”
I knew she’d say that!
The day after his wife disappeared in a kayaking accident, an Alaskan man answered his door to find two long-faced Alaska State Troopers.
“We’re sorry Mr.Jones, but we have some information about your wife,” said one trooper.
“Tell me! Tell me! Did you find her?” Jones shouted.
The troopers looked at each other. One said, “We have some bad news, some good news, and some really great news. Which do you want to hear first?”
Dreading what was coming, an anxious Mr.Jones said, “Give me the bad news first.”
The trooper said, “I’m sorry to tell you, sir, but this morning we found your wife’s body in the Bay.”
“Oh my God!” exclaimed Jones. Stammering, he asked, “what’s the good news?”
The trooper continued, “When we pulled her up, she had 12 twenty-five pound king crabs and 6 good-size Dungeness crabs clinging to her. In all fairness, you are entitled to a share in the catch.”
Outraged, Mr. Jones demanded, “If that’s the good news, what’s the great news?”
The trooper said, “We’re going to pull her up again tomorrow.”
Things didn’t go well from the start on Croc’s last visit to the vet. My half mastiff, half lab doggy boy weighs one hundred twenty-five pounds and pulls like a tractor. Desperate to sniff a steaming pile of poop, he snatched me down the instant I stepped out of the truck. I sprawled elegantly across the pavement, knocking my nose on the curb. I’d foolishly worn a skirt, so passersby were treated the view of my new undies as I struggled to grab the leash and avoid a greater disaster. Fortunately, Croc was fascinated by a steaming pile of dog poop and hadn’t escaped into traffic. He pondered sampling it as I struggled to my feet, felt around to find my glasses in another mess, and staunched the flow of blood from my damaged knees. He showed no sympathy for me as we made our way in, choosing instead to attempt a friendship with a five pound Yorkie. The tiny beast and her dainty mom were traumatized at the slobbering beast dragging me toward them. My muddied, bloodied countenance did little to reassure the duo, despite my assertion he only wanted to play. Happily, the teeny dog was the original mean girl. She tore into Croc, teaching him a lot about little, mean dogs. The staff got us in a room straight away. No waiting!
Four hundred and fifty dollars later found us checking out. By now Croc was happily munching his cookie. Once again, I was sobered at the cost of well-dog care, despite having experienced it only six months before. Incidentally, I had another dog at home scheduled for a pricey visit the very next day. I definitely can’t handle both at once. I’d made that mistake once, a sad story for another day.
Mean Doggy and her mom stood between my behemoth and the exit. Meany snarled maniacally at us, terrifying Croc. I enjoyed that. Momma was crying to the staff, “Can you find a home for her. I’m sick and I can’t take care of her no more.” She sobbed piteously. It was heartbreaking so I hurried out. After I got Croc, also known as Meatball, in the truck, I called Bud.
“Can we adopt a Yorkie? A sick, old lady has to get rid of her.” I went back for the poor dog. Miss Ann, her mama was delighted she’d found a sucker and pulled out her tattered checkbook to pay for Meany’s visit.
On learning her bill was ninety dollars, Mama paled. “Can you hold this check till next Tuesday?”
“I’ll get it. She’s my responsibility now.” Miss Ann took my number. True to her promise, she visits Biscuit, the little Yorkie, pretty often. She’s even taken Biscuit home for a visit a couple of times. Biscuit always seems to enjoy their visits, but doesn’t mourn for her.
More to come.
Kate was an absolutely adorable little bundle of energy, her smile, a burst of sunshine. I couldn’t get enough of her, except at bedtime. Bedtimes were a marathon of up and down, back and forth. She climbed like a monkey. By sixteen months, she’d mastered climbing over the rails of her crib. With no fear of falling, she’d plunge to the floor. In the interest of saving her brain, we had no choice but to put her in a twin bed. The total freedom of that bed made getting her to bed even more of a challenge, usually involving cuddling, books, quiet play, and numerous trips to put her back to bed. Most of the time, I had to lie down with her till she drifted off. As often as not, I’d be asleep first so she’d try to crawl over me to get out.
We had dinner guests one evening. I made a fruitless effort to get her to be early. It seemed to give her extra energy for her usual festivities. This particular evening, she was proud she’d learned to take her clothes off, so she stripped to the skin before emerging naked as the day she was born. I left the table four or fives times to times to dress her and put her back to bed. The admiration of the guests only strengthened her determination to show off. Bud always thought he knew a better way. The last time she showed up, ringlets bouncing and little pink butt shining, he took a stern tone. “Baby girl, if you pull your clothes off and come in here again, I’m gonna knock a knot on your head.” This would have been a first if he had laid a hand on her. He put her back in bed and said in a gruff tone, “Now, I guess she’ll stay there!”
Our conversationed resumed. I wondered resentfully why he hadn’t done that before. After a few minutes, we heard pat, pat, pat coming down the hall. A tiny girl, grinning like a bear eating briars tip-toed into the ding room. Naked as a jay bird, she wore her brother’s football helmet on her head. I guess he had made an impression.