OCD Christmas

Every year I look forward to Christmas and every year I become overwhelmed by the number of preparations involved, so naturally I was happy to see this card, painted by my grand-daughter, Rachel, who is 10. I love the simplicity of the tree and the bright colors.

Rachel's Tree large

If only decorating the tree was as easy as this simple painting. The first thing I do is assemble my large imitation tree. I help my husband as he places the color-coded branches in their respective spaces on the pole, which eventually becomes an evergreen-shaped plastic object. Once the branches are in place, I go around the tree spreading out the small boughs like lettuce leaves, so they are available to hang ornaments.

Next I go for the lights! This year I am using the larger colored bulbs for a more old-fashioned look. As I struggle unwinding the cords, my husband says:

“Do you want some help?”

“No,” I answer, “Then I’ll just have to change them.” What? Can’t I accept help with this humdrum job?

No, because I am OCD. (Doctors say this means Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but I say it means Overly Concerned Dunce). I can’t accept help because I need to have all the lights spaced evenly around the tree with no two lights of the same color next to each other. No one else seems to have the patience or concern to do that. And if they do, they always make a mistake and I have to do it over. And if you are a mental health practitioner, yes I am in therapy!

Unfortunately, I am that way with the ornaments too, so the next day I drag out the old foot-locker that has held our Christmas decorations for the last 20 years. It is always fun to open it, because years ago I glued a giant picture of Santa’s face on the inside, and he greets me with a big smile. I can’t help it. I always smile back and giggle.

I begin routing around for ornaments, pulling out the larger glass balls first, then the medium and small. I put them on the tree carefully, according to color, spacing and size until I am satisfied that it looks perfect. Then I add the special ones, including angels of different sizes, a snowman, a glass elephant and a Madonna and child ornament.

At last the tree is beginning to look done. I fall exhausted onto the sofa, while my husband tries to revive me, patting me softly and saying “it looks beautiful.” But I don’t hear him, I’m asleep.

 

 

Heavy Purse Syndrome

As a hippie at 30 years of age, I hitchhiked for months carrying only a backpack. I went with two young men and we hitched from LA up the West coast to Vancouver, and crossed over into Newfoundland, a trip of more than 4,000 miles.  I did it without a purse.

How is it that as an older woman, I can’t go anywhere without my huge purse? It measures 15”W X 9”D X 5”H and weighs 4 – 5 pounds? At what point in life did I decide to carry a purse? I know the answer to that. I was 31 and I got a job. In other words, I went straight.

Believe me, it’s not the money that makes it heavy. It’s everything else that has found its way into my handbag. Apparently as I got older I needed more stuff, and I have inadvertently become a victim of heavy purse syndrome. By the way, punching a whole in the bottom doesn’t work. Even though the weight of the purse hurts my arm and my back, as soon as I take the smallest thing out, I need it within the first hour of leaving the house.

If I take out my comb, the wind comes along and tangles my hairstyle beyond hope.

If I take out my compact, my nose suddenly looks like a traffic signal.

If I take out my cuticle cutters or my Band aids, I get a hangnail that bleeds on my white sweater.

If I take out my day planner (which is the smallest one available) I am late for everything and miss my appointments.

If I take out my Kleenex, my nose begins running like a faucet.

ARE THERE OTHER WOMEN WITH THIS PROBLEM?

I know I’m complaining, but I don’t know what else to do but tell the world about my heavy purse dilemma. Maybe someone has a solution. I know African women carry things on their heads. Has anyone else tried that?

The worst part of it is that the older I get, the more stuff I need with me to stay reasonably alive until I return home. Of course I need to carry my cell phone, my keys and my wallet, and I’m just not comfortable without my hand lotion, a nail file, and lip balm. I mean they are necessities. Call it stuff ad infinitum (stuff that multiplies infinitely).

And now for the final admission of guilt. I am continually thirsty and I usually carry a bottle of Aquafina in my purse! All I need now is a sandwich, and … but hey, I have to draw the line somewhere!

 

The Joys of Summer

The joy of warm sunny days is upon us. We can finally relax and sit in the sunshine and drink iced tea. We can lay back and think about nothing. After all, what else is there to do?

I could do the dishes, but why spoil a lovely day over the kitchen sink, or anywhere near the kitchen sink. I could do the laundry and hang the sheets out to dry, but the clothesline fell down during the last rain and was never put up again.

I decide to put on my swim suit and lay in the sun, hoping the kids find something to occupy themselves. While I am putting on my suit, which reveals a few unsightly new bulges, I realize I am out of sunscreen. This is an emergency, because I burn right away and can’t risk lying in the sun without SPF 400. If I continue with this plan, everyone has to get dressed and go to the drugstore. For some inane reason, I don’t trust the kids to stay out of trouble when I leave home to do a simple errand.

Perhaps a fun activity is the answer. We can play badminton, but the net is still in the garage, tangled up from the derecho.

How about going to the lake and renting a canoe? Perfect. I can stop by the drug store and pick up the sunscreen on our way. The kids are onboard with the idea, and we get dressed for boating, including our hats, and drive 45 minutes to the lake. By the time we get there, we are hungry and grouchy, so we stop at the concession stand for $25 worth of hot dogs, candy bars, potato chips and drinks.

Hoping I still have enough cash to rent a canoe, we stand in line for 15 minutes. I notice the cost has been raised since last summer and they are now charging an arm and a leg for a one hour rental. I guess canoe robberies have escalated since last year and are now a big time operation, but I wonder how you can steal a canoe in broad daylight.

We finally rent a canoe. Our first challenge is actually getting in the canoe. Did you ever see a boat that tipped so easily? I sit in the front paddling the craft through the peaceful waters, while my 12-year old son, Jay, sits in the back, steering. He learned canoeing from his father last summer and is ready to show-off his skills. I am not as confident as he is.

My daughter who is eight, sits in the middle yakking about everything she sees. Doesn’t she realize the joy of canoeing is the peace and quiet of still waters? Jay is fairly quiet, only complaining occasionally about everything from being hot to getting his new tennis shoes wet.

Suddenly, we see a pontoon boat coming around a bend toward us. It is quite large and seems to be hogging the middle of the lake pretty well. Jay and I both see it at the same time and prepare to move the canoe to the left. However, Jay gets confused and moves the canoe to the right.

We are starring frightfully into the eyes of the man steering the pontoon boat, when he blasts an extremely loud blare from an air horn. It scares Jay so much he drops his paddle in the water. We are hypnotized, watching it sink. While I scramble to steer the canoe from the front, it bangs into the side of the pontoon boat.

Wham! There is a moment of terror while the canoe tips dangerously and we all nearly fall in the water. I wonder if we will survive. In my panic, I drop the other paddle, which seems to be in a hurry to join its partner at the bottom of the lake.

To my amazement, the man in the paddle boat doesn’t even stop to help us. He says a very nasty word and his party hardly notices us, as they grow smaller in the distance, leaving us up the creek without a paddle!

When we finally make it home, wet, disgusted and grumpy, I face a terrible truth. Tomorrow may be no better. The terror of warm sunny days is upon me.

 

 

 

Yard Gnome III

gnomeThe Yard Gnome Part III

I didn’t think things could get any worse, when Jessie devised a plan for catching her husband. She had found an old dolly in the shed. It wasn’t a baby doll, it was one of those gizmos men use to move heavy items. She thought we could pick up the gnome and move him back to the house on the dolly. It wasn’t a bad idea, considering the problem.

I wish you could have seen us trying to move that stupid gnome. We had a terrible time getting it onto the dolly, and when we did, neither of us had to strength to push it over the grass. We were groaning and moaning.

“Paul’s fallen off the dolly!” Jessie screamed after the gnome slipped and crashed onto the grass.

“How will we ever get him to the house?”

It was a predicament. The gnome was the heaviest thing I had ever tried to lift and even together we could hardly get him right side up. He was at a weird angle and pretty far away from the bird bath.

“He’s leaning over too much,” Jessie whined. “I hope he doesn’t notice.”

After our dolly folly, neither Jessie nor I could figure out what to do. Since I didn’t really believe Paul had turned into a yard gnome, I decided I needed to spy on him at night. I didn’t mention to Jessie that I thought he was seeing another woman, but she thought he must be moving around at night, doing the yard work by the light of the moon.

The next night we hid outside behind the bushes near the bird bath and watched the gnome. It was back in its original place, with the hose in its hand. Nothing happened for awhile and I almost feel asleep, when we heard a funny noise and something whizzed past us into the woods. The yard gnome had moved!

“Did you see something whiz past us?” Jessie whispered.

“Yes I did, and I heard it too. Do you think it was………could it have been…..Paul?” I couldn’t believe it. How could he move that fast. I must have been asleep.

I couldn’t see Jessie’s face, but I knew she was excited. We began calling out Paul’s name into the darkness, sneaking through the yard quietly. Jessie handed me a flashlight and I lead the way, as we walked round and round the bird bath and through the yard. She was calling Paul in a plaintive voice.

“Paul……Paul, please come in….Here Paul…..I’m sorry I made you do all the housework…” She repeated it like a mantra for awhile. Finally she screamed “Come here you idiot.”

The situation was getting scary. Was Paul a ghost? Suddenly, something touched me on the shoulder and I jumped and screamed.

“I’m sorry I scared you,” Jessie said. “I see something in the woods. Turn the flashlight to the woods.”

“Of course,” I whispered. I pointed the light toward the woods, checking out the trees and the bushes, but no Paul. There was a slight glow coming from behind one of the larger trees, and suddenly I saw the top of a pointy red hat. I grabbed Jessie by the arm.

“Look over there,” I whispered. We both saw the red hat. We moved closer and I turned off the flashlight so Paul couldn’t see us. Then we saw the tops of more than one hat.  My thoughts were running wild. Could there be more of these little men? More yard gnomes? Was this a meeting?

“He has friends!” Jessie whispered.

There was a small fire in the middle of the group and we heard quiet laughter. We slipped up closer to the little fire and counted the gnomes. Six in all, and sure enough, there was a female gnome standing next to Paul. She looked almost the same as the other gnomes, but she had blond hair, no beard and she was wearing a skirt. Jessie was really mad by then, and I hoped she knew better than to make a scene.

I was wrong.

“Paul!” Jessie cried. “What are you doing out here?”

“I’ve met some other gnomes,” he answered. “This is Tiny and this one’s Cutie, and……”

“I don’t give a darn what they’re names are,” she yelled, piercing the quiet night. “Are you coming home to bed, or not?”

“Not!” he said. “I’ve met someone else.” He nodded his head towards the cute little female gnome. “You know what they say, gnome, sweet gnome.”

I was astonished, but I had the sense to make Jessie turn around and leave the woods. Soon after, the glow went out and the laughter stopped.

On the way home, despite her anger, a tear ran down Jessie’s cheek. “I had no idea my husband would become a yard gnome. Do you think I forced him into it? I miss Paul, and I am so lonely sometimes. It’s just not that nice at home anymore.”

I finally had the answer she needed. “Well, at least your yard is beautiful! The lawn seems to be perfectly groomed, and I got you a subscription to Gnome and Garden magazine.”

 

 

Yard Gnome II

This story becomes sadder and sadder every time I tell it. Jessie was coming over to my house every morning to discuss her problem. As I sat with her, I realized she was slipping over the edge.

“Perhaps you should see a psychologist,” I suggested.

“What!” she gasped. Oh, oh, I had offended her.

“You think I should go to a psychologist?” Jessie was definitely insulted and she got up and left, slamming my kitchen door so hard, I thought the glass was going to break. I felt bad about it, but I breathed a sigh of relief.

I didn’t see Jessie for several days and then one morning she was back. She had mellowed a bit and she said, “Wouldn’t it be better if Paul saw the psychologist?”

“Yes, but he’s not even able to speak anymore, Jessie. I think you need to get help for your own sake.”

“I guess you’re right. Do you have the name and number of a psychologist?” I gave her the number and she left. When I drove past her house I saw that the yard gnome had not moved and was still holding the hose, smiling. I was amazed that Jessie’s yard still looked perfect. How could that be? I asked her if she was doing the yard work.

“No, I haven’t done a thing. It still looks good though, doesn’t it?”

“Yes it does,” I agreed. Over the next few days I really tried to figure it out. How could a man turn into a yard gnome, I kept thinking. There had to be some explanation. Maybe Paul had put a stone yard gnome in his place and was sneaking off to see another woman. It certainly made sense considering the way Jessie treated him. But how could the gnome look so much like him?

Later that week Jessie knocked on my door. “Oh no, here we go again,” I thought. I was glad to hear she had visited the psychologist, but sad to hear the results.

“That psychologist is a nutcase. He kept asking me about my feelings. How did I feel about my husband turning to stone? Had I done anything to offend him? How did I feel about doing his household chores? Was I willing to give up my soaps? It was just hopeless. When I got home it was dark. I hoped Paul had returned to being a man, so I ran in the house hoping he was watching TV, being his normal self. He wasn’t.”

She started crying again. “It doesn’t matter how I feel about it, it only matters that he’s not around any more. He’s not around to do the dishes, or take out the garbage or wash the car. He doesn’t do the vacuuming, or dust. He’s just standing in the yard. I knew he’d find a way to avoid doing his chores.”

My Neighbor, the Yard Gnome

gnome A Three Part story by Nancy DeLaval   Miller

Part I

When I first met Jessica and Paul Yardley I thought they would be great neighbors. They were polite and friendly and their place looked like a picture from Home and Garden magazine. Often, during those first weeks after they moved in, I would see Paul working in the yard – mowing, planting, pruning, watering – he did everything with a pleasant smile on his face. He seemed very happy.

However, I soon learned that Jessie wasn’t happy at all. When we got together for coffee one day, she expounded on her husband’s faults. He was lazy and stupid, shirked his chores in the house, and all he wanted to do was work in the yard. I came away realizing she was very bossy and quite dysfunctional, even crazy perhaps.

Friday, she came rushing over to my house and knocked loudly on the back door. “Can I talk to you?” she asked, pushing her way into the house. I agreed and we sat down at the kitchen table. “Paul won’t come in the house!” I had no answer for this and she went on. “Paul went out to work in the yard on Wednesday and never came back in. He finished the mowing two hours later and I kept expecting him to come back in the house, but he didn’t. I didn’t really care at first. I needed my nap and I had to watch my soaps, plus I had to prepare dinner. It seems like the work never ends.

“When dinner was almost ready, I went out to call him. I saw him standing by the bird bath with the hose.

“Paul,” I called out.

“I’m over here,” he yelled back. His voice sounded a little weaker than usual, but I didn’t think anything of it. He was some distance away.

“It’s time for dinner.”

“I’ll be in soon,” he said smiling at me. I thought his smile was a little stiff, but I was too far away to get a good look. I was tired from a long day’s housework and I went back inside. I called him two more times that evening, but I finally ate dinner alone. I even ate some of his, but I left him some on a plate. Then I did his job, washing the dishes. That made me really mad and I called him several more times to come in, but didn’t get an answer. That evening I fell asleep in front of the TV, alone.”

Unbelievable as it seems, Jessie told me that Paul never came in that night. In fact, he never came back in at all, and it made her very angry. The next day she went out to find him. He was still standing by the bird bath with the hose. She decided she needed to check him out carefully, so she trekked all the way out to the bird bath to see him.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Making sure the flowers and the birds have enough water.”

“I see that, but what about you? Aren’t you hungry?”

“No, I’ve just been sipping a little water from time to time.”

She noticed that he looked shorter than usual. “Aren’t you going to come in soon? I’m sure the birds and the flowers have enough water by now!”

“I stop sometimes and wait for the birds and squirrels to get a drink. A deer came by last night with two fawns and……”

“I don’t really care if the president came by,” she screamed. “I need your help in the house!” She was finally losing her patience with her husband. Didn’t he know that he had responsibilities in the house? The dishes were piling up and he forgot she needed help with the vacuuming. And why would she care if the wild animals had enough to drink?

After an uncomfortable silence she said, “Well, I’m going ahead with my day. If you want to stay out here all day, I guess that’s up to you!” She was mad and stomped into the house.

The next morning she called me and asked me to come over and try to convince Paul to come back in the house. When I saw him I was shocked. He seemed much shorter than I remembered, so I looked down to see if he was standing in a hole. He wasn’t. His white hair had grown longer. His face looked the same but his body was much smaller than it had been. Paul Yardley seemed to be morphing into a little yard gnome. Even his clothes and shoes must have gotten smaller, because they still fit the same way. And somewhere he found a long pointy red hat.

“Take that hat off,” Jessie demanded. “It makes you look stupid.” He just looked at her and laughed. She didn’t want the neighbors to see him wearing it. She grabbed at the hat, but then grimaced.

“Feel this hat,” she said, giving me a direct order. To my surprise, the hat was as hard as a rock. I was taken aback. Jessie and I couldn’t pull it off. We looked at Paul with total bewilderment. Then I touched his shoulder and it was hard too.

“What happened to you?” I asked. He just stood there watering and smiling and didn’t answer. I wondered if he could even talk. Could his mouth move if it was stone? His eyes were still alert and moved around, looking at me and the lawn.

“Quit turning into stone and come in the house,” Jessie demanded, but by noon Paul had turned completely into a yard gnome. All the yard work was meticulously done, but we never saw him move a muscle or a stone arm or leg, or give a toss of his hard head. He was as hard as a rock, and couldn’t talk, so Jessie turned off the hose and went shopping.

“I knew he would figure out a way to avoid doing his chores,” she said.

Stay tuned for Part II of  The Yard Gnome

The First Day of Spring…or Bip?

Is anyone else glad the spring is coming in two days? I am.

My sister and her husband live next door and they have a beautiful male cat. Surprisingly, the cat was named for a sound he makes …. “bip.” Yes, this pretty gray and white cat makes a sound like he swallowed a clock. He makes this sound when he is happy, and if you listen very closely you can hear him bipping. Kind of like purring, but not.

All during the summer months, Bip loves to be outside. His favorite thing to do is walk around the pond and make his way to the edge of the woods. He will sit with his face to the woods for very long periods of time, watching for small critters to come into the yard. I’m sorry to say that he likes to play around with these little creatures until he kills them. It’s not very nice, and I have tried to tell him, but he just doesn’t listen.

During the winter months I missed seeing Bip on his rounds. Day after day, it was freezing cold and snowy, and Bip doesn’t like to get cold feet, excuse me, cold paws. He hasn’t walked around the edge of the woods for months, and who could blame him.

However, today I saw him sitting with his nose toward the woods. That is a good sign that spring is actually coming. Plus, he only missed the First Day of Spring by two days. It is Thursday March 20th. So I am nominating Bip as the new harbinger of spring. Move over Punxsutawney Phil, even though you are a very famous groundhog, you only tell us if there are going to be six more weeks of winter.

Make room for a timely cat to signal The First Day of Spring.

Wait until next year if you must. When spring comes to southeast Ohio, if you can find our house, you will see a gray and white cat sitting with his nose to the woods in our backyard. Plus, if you’re really quiet, you can hear him bip.

HAPPY SPRING!

PS. Please forgive me for not blogging for so long. I was waiting for my fingers to thaw.

Did you Find your Blogarithim Today?

I’ve decided that after two years of clogging blogging, I have enough experience to write a blog about how to bluff  blog.

Misspellings aside, I have noticed there is a certain rhythm to a good clog blog. If you have a blogger in the family, you may have noticed they make strange rhythmic sounds or moans during a prolonged process of writing. These are blogarithms. Friends and relatives of a blogger need to encourage quiet, so these sounds can be heard clearly throughout the house or office. No attempt should be made to stifle, muffle or mute a blogarithm.

Blogarithms are as necessary to the blogger as biorhythms are to the body. If the blogger has trouble writing his/her blog and find themselves with a bad case of no-writus (neuritis of the brain), it is possible at that time to create a bio-mathematical blogarithm.

Stand near or by the blogger and try to resuscitate his blogarithms. If he/she has already written a few words (up to three lines of a blog) begin to speak these words to him/her in a rhythmic cadence. Try to get a good rhythm going and hopefully this will restore the bloggers blogarithm and he will be able to continue. This is especially important for people who are paid to blog, (all twelve of them) but also necessary for us amateurs.

Sometimes bloggers make an unsuccessful attempt to write a blog. Words become glue, then turn into wordglue, thus giving birth to the word clog. See www.wordglue.com. (This link is ficticious). Bloggers also need plenty of fresh air. Stuffy air (smog) is not helpful to bloggers, who need fresh air to get fresh ideas. Their minds are often in a FOG, and when they are in this state of mind they are cloggers, not to be mistaken for those who dance a clog.

In my case, I am a multi-linguistic blogger – A multiple who studies weird words, and then blogs them in no particular order.

My Brain is Snowed In

I was going to blog about the psychodynamics of complex multiple personality disorder today, but when I woke up my brain went into a pathological brain freeze. When I try to think, this fluffy white stuff starts flying around in my head, giving me cerebral frostbite. I would very much like to share wonderful truths with my followers, but the truth is I have only frozen memories of such things. Things such as words, sentences, clear thoughts, memories, ideas and other assorted subjects evade me. In other words, my brain is snowed in. Sorry about that! Perhaps tomorrow there will be a thaw.

Global Warming causes Local Freezing?

Former Vice President, Alvin More, has announced that the latest weather trend, Local Freezing, does not preclude Global Warming. Now shown on all TV weather maps, one can readily see that the United States is a target of Local Freezing, or National Freezing, however the weather forecasters describe the current temperatures over the northeastern United States. Unfortunately, for most Americans, the weather map shows that the rest of the world is much warmer and, in some cases, rather balmy.

Has the Word “Cold” become Obsolete? Meteorologists, commonly called Weather Men, are confused and upset, unable to understand the connection all this cold has to do with that warming ‘balderdash.’

Mr. More refuses to back down on his stand for Global Warming, still insisting that it isn’t cold, just slightly cool, and it is not necessary to wear an overcoat, hat, ear-muffs or gloves to ward off this ‘anti-warming’ trend, which will soon pass.

Appearing in only his well-groomed brown suit, the former Vice President gave a speech on the front steps of his home in Nashville, insisting for the umpteenth time that global warming is a real phenomena, much like extra-terrestrials, ghost-busters and Big Foot. More claims the word “cold” has become obsolete. Unfortunately, his speech was cut-off prematurely, when his teeth began chattering and he ran into the house to get warm.

More was recently challenged by representatives from The Weather Channel, who accused Alvin of being cold and unfeeling, uncool and hot-tempered. The weather bugs are challenging More and his followers to a swim-off in Lake Placid in February to see who has the guts to swim in the freezing waters. Then maybe they will remember the word “cold!”

Betty Crocker – The Early Years

When I first got married in 1964, I didn’t have a clue about how to be a housewife. I was still in my last semester of college, and all I knew was what a knife and fork looked like and which appliance was the refrigerator. I did have experience at the sink, washing my hands and getting a drink of water, but as a teenager I had studiously avoided Mom’s kitchen. It really was a studied avoidance, because after dinner, I often gave my mother the excuse that I had to study, so I couldn’t help with the dishes. Unfortunately, it was true. I always had so much homework my eyes fell out every night at 10:00.

But I’m getting behind myself. My husband and I managed to eat out for the first few nights. My mom had given me her Betty Crocker Cookbook and after several days of screw-ups, mishaps, and culinary disasters, I decided to make chicken, mashed potatoes and peas. At least I knew about the three food groups: easy, difficult, and impossible.

Betty’s Cookbook  informed me how to bake the chicken, which turned out to be blackened but edible. It was the mashed potatoes that proved impossible. The recipe said to put the potatoes in a pan with ½ inch of water. Betty forgot to mention that the water needed to cover the potatoes and have an extra ½ inch on top of them.

Anyway, I burned the potatoes. I did cook the canned peas in a small saucepan with water and they turned out fine (1964 was during the pre-microwave period in culinary history). I think my husband was still hungry after dinner, but he didn’t say anything. The next night we went to “Big Boy” for hamburgers and fries.

My history of not-so-good dinners finally changed when I had children and was forced to stay home all day and take care of them. I began to care about cooking. Really, I began to care about eating, and I was serving Kraft Macaroni and Cheese every other night, so I needed to study up on making nutritious, edible and tasty dinners.

A neighbor taught me how to make a delicious pot roast. I’m getting hungry just talking about it. I had finally conquered baked chicken and I understood every step of making creamy mashed potatoes. My girlfriend found a great recipe for spaghetti sauce and I learned how to make that. At that point I was able to boil noodles.

“Mom, I learned to make spaghetti sauce from scratch.”

“Really?” Mother was astounded.

“Yes, it’s delicious.”

“Better than Chef Boy-ar-Dee?” Mom looked incredulous.

“Yes, Mom, even better than Chef Boy-ar-dee.” I remember laughing to myself because Mom thought sauce that came in a can would be better than homemade sauce.

So finally, as National Feast Day comes around again, I think back to Betty Crocker and Chef Boy-ar-dee, and although their food was not nutritious the way we insist our food be now, it was fairly good and kept us from going hungry when Mom was busy.

Chef Boy-ar-dee is a real man from Piacenza, Italy whose name was spelled Hector Boiardi. He had a famous restaurant in NYC and was one of the first chefs to package his ingredients together in a box for sale to the public. People ate it up!

Unfortunately, Betty Crocker is a crock. Yes, I’m sorry to burst your bubbles, but Betty isn’t a real person. She was started by the Washburn Crosby Company in Minneapolis in 1921, invented to give a personal touch to thousands of requests they received about baking. Here are some pictures of Betty during her early years.

Betty Crocker

Science Packs a Wallop

Since school has started almost all over the country, I am reminded of an incident from my school days in the fifties. As young girls, my sister, Gretchen, and I lived in Pittsburgh and went to Winchester Thurston School in Oakland. I was a year ahead at school, but our birthdays were only 22 months apart, so we were close.

Father drove us to school every morning, but we took the streetcar in the afternoon. We took the #75 streetcar from Ellsworth Avenue, through East Liberty and east on Penn Avenue to our street, Homewood Avenue near Frick Park.

Our route took us past a bread factory, where the aroma of fresh baked bread tempted us every afternoon. Mother warned us not to get off the streetcar and try to buy bread at the factory, and she always had a snack ready when we got home. We usually had a choice between potato chips and Coke(my favorite) or milk and cookies.

One day, when our streetcar got to the corner of Penn and Fifth Avenues, the conductor announced that because of road construction, the streetcar was not going the rest of the way up Penn Avenue.

“We’re going to turn left here and go down to blah blah and turn onto blah and blah, blah, blah.” I suppose the adults on the streetcar understood these directions, but it was gibberish to us. We had no idea where our faithful #75 was going. We were panicked. How were we going to get home?

“We should get off here,” I said, thinking we could walk the rest of the way home.

“No, we should stay on the streetcar,” Gretchen said. “We don’t know the way home.”

“I’m pretty sure we just stay on Penn Avenue until we get to Homewood Avenue,” I said.

That day I made my sister get off the streetcar. We were standing by ourselves at one of the busiest intersections in Pittsburgh and Gretchen was mad. She was almost in tears when she said,

“What are we going to do now? We don’t even know where we are.”

With that BANG! She hit me on the head with her science book!

“Ow!” I groaned, surprised by her sudden turn to violence. “Why did you do that?”

“Because now we don’t know how to get home,” she yelled at me.

“I know how to go,” I said, trying to sound self-assured despite my recent injury to the head.

We stood there quite awhile trying to figure out how to cross the intersection. It was four lanes in one direction and three in the other. Using the lights to tell us when to go, I led Gretchen across both streets and we started walking up Penn Avenue. I didn’t know how many blocks it was to Homewood Avenue, but I knew it crossed Penn and we would eventually get to it. However, we were getting tired and I still couldn’t see Homewood Avenue ahead, so I suggested we turn into a drug store on one of the corners. Gretchen agreed. We did what our mother and father had taught us. I asked the salesgirl if we could call home because we were lost. She looked at me very strangely and let me use the phone.

When Mother came and picked us up, she only had to drive two blocks to get to our house. We felt kind of stupid, but she was glad we called her and said we did the right thing to get off the streetcar.

I felt justified, but I had a sore bump on my head for several days. I had learned that science packs a wallop.

Little Hansie

During the late forties, my family was one of the lucky ones who usually took a vacation to the beach every summer. We had several places in New Jersey where we went for a week or two to swim, go to the boardwalk and ride bicycles. Our favorite place at that time was Wildwood-by-the-Sea. We would rent a wood-frame duplex with two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room about two or three blocks from the ocean. It wasn’t fancy, but my sister, Gretchen, and I thought it was paradise.

Mother on the boardwalk

Almost every day, we packed up a picnic basket and grabbed the towels, beach blanket, sand buckets and umbrella and hiked a few blocks to the beach. We’d spend most of the day at the beach, enjoying swimming and building sand castles and eating delicious (but sandy) ham sandwiches until we went home for naps in the afternoon. Even our parents took naps, they were so exhausted from taking care of us.

We also usually took a boat into the ocean to go deep sea fishing. My sister and I were too young at first to be trusted with a hook and line when other people were around, but as we grew older we were also allowed to fish.

Summer vacation was a wonderful time for us, and I have dozens of sweet memories of it. But my favorite memory of all is playing “little Hansie.”

This game was played at the beach in the shallow water. My father’s name was Hans Beyerl and he had come to the United States from Germany when he was 19 years old. He still had his German accent. He would take us into the water and he would kneel down and pretend he was our little boy.

My sister and I would hold his hands and when a wave came we would try to help him “jump” the wave. He’d make it over the first few waves, but sometimes he’d let the waves smack him right in the face and we’d squeal and worry he would drown. Then a “big one” would come along and he would go under the water like he was drowning and we would squeal and try to help him up.

“Little Hansie’s drowning,” we would scream and try as hard as we could to lift him up. Sometimes he would come up and sometimes he wouldn’t. Then we would squeal even louder and try harder to lift him up, meanwhile laughing and giggleing, as only children can.

He would always come up drenched in water and looking like he was going to drown at any minute. We would help him up and help him brush off the water, trying to care for little Hansie.

father on the boardwalk

I remember the joy of playing this game, perhaps better than anything else from my childhood. I’m sure we squealed enough to bother a few people trying to relax, but we had such a good time I don’t think anyone was upset about it. And my poor father. We always wondered how he withstood getting salt water all over his face all the time, but he didn’t seem to care. I think he loved this game too!

Do you remember any special games you played at the beach?

Did You Celebrate Multiple Personality Day?

I am so embarrassed. I missed Multiple Personality Day, which was March 5th. I hope I have not lost any readers because of my memory lapse!

Did you celebrate? Are you a multiple or a single-minded individual? I’m sure many of you had great celebrations with cakes, gifts, and balloons, but what about those who are not multiples? We could call them indivisibles, with liberty and justice for all. I think that’s what we should call them.

My guess is that most multiples had no idea it was Multiple Personality Day. Most of us try so hard to appear normal that we forget everything else.

Some parts of me realized this special day was during March, but my overall presiding personality, Control, wanted confirmation in black and white. Unfortunately I was not able to find the information I wanted on the internet, but I did find a great video on multiple personality, which I presented in my last post.

Since I have mentioned Control, I will describe him/her/it. Control was created in the eighties, when I became a married middle-class woman living in a small university town. My third husband kept coaching me on how to raise my two daughters from previous marriages. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to do it right.

“You have to be consistent,” he said. Well, if there’s anything a multiple can’t do, it’s be consistent. An untreated  multiple has little chance of being consistent. Some of us can’t remember what we did yesterday, much less what significant lesson we were trying to teach our children.

So I created Control, who has no feelings, no gender and no past. This personality was the perfect entity to run a complex household. He/she kept track of holidays (unlike Nancy), car pool schedules, grocery lists, Doctor’s appointments, church responsibilities, cleaning schedules, laundry and meal planning and execution. (I don’t actually execute my meals, I do cook them!)

Control handled all of the above without getting upset. Most of my other personalities can’t do that, because they get upset if there are too many details. They get overloaded and then, wham, they change into someone else!

So that is my excuse for forgetting Multiple Personality Day. I hope you were able to have a nice celebration anyway! Did anyone do anything special?

Bad Face Day?

Sometimes I wish I was invisible. It happens when I’m tired, relaxing in my pajamas, and have totally neglected my grooming for a day or two. Have you ever done that? As long as no one sees you (husbands excepted), you’re okay, but what if you suddenly have to go out? What can you do to disguise your bad face day?

Suddenly you realize you’re out of something vital such as milk, coffee, ice cream or donuts, or another item that is necessary to your survival on the planet. Maybe your prescription needs refilled. Maybe your son needs a ride to kick-boxing class, or perhaps you left your driver’s license at the market.

Whatever emergency has occurred, you must leave the house. How can you disguise yourself quickly in case you see someone you know? What if they see you?

I’ve got just the remedy for a BAD FACE DAY, and it can be accomplished in five minutes. I timed it.

  1. Immediately put on a maid’s uniform. This has been known to fool many friends and neighbors, but not all. Don’t forget clunky shoes. You need to look like you’ve been cleaning the kitchen floor all day.
  2. Quickly smear WHITE OUT  all over your face. I recommend having at least a gallon of this cover-up ready for use.
  3. Plop a wig on your head. The wig must be a different color than your hair, so people will think you are someone else.
  4. Put a hat or scarf over the wig.
  5. Put on a pair of sunglasses.

By this time you should be disguised enough to fool your neighbors and friends. Move quickly once you’ve left the house. Get to your car immediately and jump in and shut the door. If you move really fast the neighbors can’t get a good look at you and will think you have hired a maid.

Movie stars have the hardest time being invisible. Every time they walk out the door some photographer is ready and waiting to get a picture of them. I can’t imagine a worse fate. If someone snaps a photo of them, a tabloid editor may decide to run the photo in an article called, “Bad Face Days for the Stars,” or “Who’s the Ugliest?” How do they handle it?

They follow the above instructions and remember to move quickly once they’re outside the house. Any photographs that are taken will probably be blurred and the tabloids can’t use them. Ha ha!

There is one drawback to this plan, so watch out for it. You will forget you look terrible and see yourself in a mirror. Inexperienced women have been known to scream. After going to so much trouble to disguise yourself, try not to be frightened by the maid in the mirror.

 

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If you know someone with multiple personalities, please tell them about my blog. I would like to connect with them