Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z.....is for Zebra

Zebras are unique in more ways than one. Now I'll give you a short walk down zoology lane as I tell you some facts about Zebras you probably didn't know.....and I wouldn't have either except I helped my granddaughter with a report.

The stripes on a Zebra are unique, just like fingerprints are unique on each human. It is being studied, but at this time it's unknown if Zebras are able to recognize each other by their striping. When a foal is born, it is brown and white striped rather than black and white. And since we are on the subject of stripes.....rather than black stripes on a white background as previously thought, it is white stripes on a black background....underneath the white, the skin is black.

When a foal is born, the mother keeps all other Zebras away for 2 to 3 days so it will recognize her scent and her striping as well as her unique call. Their calls sound more like a puppy yelping than what you would figure they would sound like.....a horse. A foal can stand within a few minutes of being born and can run within an hour.

They have exceptional eyesight and hearing and even have night vision as well as an owl. Their sense of smell and taste are also extremely keen.  They sleep standing up and always alert. They tend to stay in small herds, one stallion to a harem of mares. The stallion, however, doesn't always stay with them. There will be a dominant mare who is always at the front of the line with her foal.....the pecking order aligns with their place in the line. Rather than being scattered about, they walk in a single file line, the dominant mare in the lead....each foal right behind its mother.  They form family groups and even if they later join a larger herd, each family group will stick together within. Each member of the family will look out for the other members of their family, even coming to their aid in the event of an attack.

Their diet is similar to that of a horse and since their teeth are always grinding up the grasses, some of them quite dry, they get worn down. Therefore, their teeth are always growing.

It is thought that the striping confuses predators when a lot of Zebras are bunched together, making it look like one huge animal rather than a lot of smaller ones. If Zebras are attacked, the mares will gather the foals and circle around them for protection while the stallion fights off the threat.

I've just covered the basics here as there are different sub-species and their striping is a bit different, some with wider stripes or narrower stripes. The more narrow the stripes, the better it acts as a repellent from horse flies and the dreaded tsetse fly , which is another strange fact.

Ok, we're through with zoology for today......and this is also the end of the Challenge.  Hope you all have enjoyed it.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y.....is for Youthfulness

Youth is something that us humans have coveted for centuries. We've searched for miracles, magic and medicine to trap youth and have it bend to our will. Plastic surgeons are made astronomically rich by people who continue to have procedures done so they can look decades younger than they really are.

The cosmetic industry makes billions upon billions of dollars by tempting us to use creams and lotions that guarantee radical changes without going under the knife.

When we were young, we dreamed of being older. We didn't realize that to age isn't always pretty in the eyes of society. The aging process includes wrinkles, thinning and gray hair, changing eyesight and a mind that isn't quite as sharp.  No wonder we've searched for the secret to being forever young.

But, it's not going to happen.  Oh some may get to look younger, but the rest of our body is aging.....some slower than others, but aging nonetheless. Personally, I think each wrinkle on a very elderly person is beautiful in its own way. Each one tells a story. Hiding or eliminating my own wrinkles with surgery doesn't interest me.....but being able to get around without aches and pains certainly does!

I will have to admit that I have wished for the same bounce in my step that I had in my 30's many times. I could get so much more accomplished!!!  But I'm also a realist. I can't afford plastic surgery or even Botox. I do good to use some stuff on my face that I think helps. Because....my skin is now a lot drier than it was way back so many years ago.....when I was wishing so hard to be older so I could do just what I wanted to do.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

X.....is for a kiss

Well, we are all the way to "X" already.

So today I'm going to give you all a little history lesson.

A while ago I was thinking about this and that and then one thing led to another, which seems to be a way of life for me. But anyway.....I wondered how it came to be that an X meant a kiss when you were writing to someone. So I decided to research it and sure enough, the Internet came through again.

Back in medieval times not many people knew how to read or write so when their signature was required on a document (which makes one wonder what types of documents existed for a population of non-readers or writers....but continuing on now before I get too far off the path), they were permitted to place an "X" on the dotted line as a substitution of their written name. This was witnessed, of course, and then the signer of the X would kiss that X as a act of sincerity. Thus.....before you know it, an X started to signify a kiss.

There is also another version that states that the X is a symbol of two lips touching.....but I'm inclined to believe the first one as being more realistic.

So.....while we are on the subject and because, like I said, one thing leads to another with me......how did the O become symbolic of a hug. Well, again there are two versions. The first one is that Jewish immigrants did not want to deform the shape of the cross by using an X for their signatures, so they used an O and then kissed it like you would do an X.  The other version is that an O is symbolic of one's arms engulfing you.  I guess you can take your pick which one you'd like to believe evolved into meaning hugs.

Ok, class dismissed....that's your history lesson for today.  XO to you all.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W.....is for walking

Every morning that I go to work I see this guy and his dog walking on the bicycle path....the dog looks like this one and is holding its own leash just like this one. It's about the cutest thing.  As the weather warms up there will be more and more people out walking and it's surprising the number of people who take their dogs with them. Some people have two dogs at a time. I've also seen people riding their bicycles holding onto a dog leash. That always makes me wince because I'm always afraid the dog will get distracted and dart off to chase a squirrel and then....splat....bicycle rider down. The only thing I can figure out is that those particular dogs must be very well trained.

I have a variety of people who walk their dogs in front of my house. I enjoy watching what sort of dogs people have. Some of them are extremely impressive like the two huge, beautiful blue-eyed huskies. We have everything from greyhounds to chihuahuas going past. However we do not have pitbulls as they are illegal in our town. Every once in a while you will see two or three....probably new residents that don't know about that law yet.  The strangest one I have seen to date was the woman who was walking her descented pet skunk.  He was the cutest thing ever and she said he was a wonderful pet.

Of course, even stranger is the dog walker who drives while the dog walks like in the picture. I've never seen that myself and am not sure if people really do it......probably.  You know, anything is possible.

I don't walk my dog because she absolutely hates other dogs. The walk would be miserable for both of us as she would be snarling at every dog she saw which would cause them to do the same in return.  Too bad because she's such a hyper dog it would help wear her out.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V.....is for Varnish

Any time I hear the word, Varnish, I find myself slowly shaking my head with a small smile on my lips. It brings back a vivid memory for me.

I was a young wife and new mother living in a subdivision filled with others just like me. Our homes were close to being clones on the outside, but of course the interiors were a bit different. We would get together and have coffee most days and talk about many things but mostly about kids and about shortcuts we could take with home improvement or cleaning.

My kitchen floor was a thorn in my side. It was linoleum and well used. I would wax it and the wax would just soak in and give minimum shine. Back then we all took pride in the shine we could get on our kitchen floors.  One day my girlfriend and I were talking about this and she came up with the idea of putting varnish on the floor. She said it stood to reason that it would shine and if we used Marine varnish which was made for boats, it would be twice as good and able to withstand spills that happen in the kitchen. I didn't tell my neighbors about this but decided to do it. My girlfriend who had the idea lived about 3 miles away and she was going to do it as well. By the way, her results and mine were alike.

We went to the store and made our purchases. All I can say is that I'm so thankful that I had made up a new batch of baby formula that would last several days and also thankful that the refrigerator door could be opened and the contents accessed by leaning from the living room across the doorway without having to touch the floor.  I moved everything out of the kitchen that could be moved and painted away. Not one to cut corners, I figured I would do the countertops as well. I painted the varnish onto the surfaces and I will have to say that it did look absolutely beautiful. Now that was the shine I had been dreaming about!

However, I didn't anticipate it taking 3 days to dry!!  I think my husband was about ready to push me off a tall building by the time we were finally able to walk on that floor. But it did look great!!  My neighbors started commenting on my floor and asked me what kind of wax I was using. I hesitated telling them what I'd really done, but I finally broke down and did. Most of them were horrified. Eventually the varnish began to wear in the traffic paths and it looked dull in those areas, the rest of it looking nice and shiny. The countertops did the same thing with the varnish actually starting to peel in areas.  I didn't know how to safely remove it so it would look uniform and I didn't dare put another coat on it, so it had to stay the way it was. I imagine after the new owners took possession of our house several years later they called me a bunch of names.  The floor looked so bad after a while that I ended up putting a round rug under the table and chairs to help hide it.

So I learned a lesson.  After that they came out with flooring that had its own shine and then there was kitchen carpeting.....which I had at the new house and wouldn't recommend unless you live alone and never cook.  This is just one of several really dumb things I did when first married.....but hey.....this is how inventions are born, right?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U.....is for Ugly

What a sad thing. When I went to school many moons ago there were the groups of girls who were more popular and acted stuck up but they mostly kept to their own group. I never remember any of them going out of their way to insult other girls who had less or who weren't as "pretty".

Sadly that has all changed. I'm not quite sure when it happened. There was a little of it happening when my daughter went to school but nothing like it is now that my granddaughters are in school. And it starts early.....as early as first grade here in my community.

My one granddaughter was one of many picked on by a group of three little brats who thought they were extra special and it was only first grade. They were horrible little things who flung insults like confetti at a parade. My granddaughter came home from school crying so many times because of them that I lost count. Her schoolwork started to suffer and she had such a low opinion of herself all due to these girls teasing her. Top that with her getting bullied by some other kids on the playground....it was more than we could deal with. The principal didn't help matters at all so we transferred her to a Christian school where that sort of behavior is simply not permitted. Her grades improved to the point that she is on the honor roll and her self-esteem is back where it should be.

The media has helped form these mean little kids. They've been taught that beauty is everything; it's number one and top priority. The magazines that these parents allow their children to read all promote being beautiful and skinny and that people who aren't are the lowest levels of society. I wish I knew how to turn this all around and how to instill the knowledge that ugliness dwells in the hearts of those who chose to hurt others intentionally. You can pretty yourself up all you want, but if you are ugly on the inside, it shows through your facade of powder and paint.  Not to say I'm against makeup....cause I'm not. I think that whatever a woman does to make herself feel better is fine, as long as she doesn't hurt anyone else in the process. I always put some makeup on when I leave the house.  Not that it's going to make me a beauty queen by any means....but it makes me feel better about myself.

Now my youngest granddaughter is having the same problem in her second grade class. This is my son's little girl and he isn't able to pay the tuition to transfer her so she has to contend with the teasing. She's a different personality and usually insults the offenders right back, which is getting her into trouble. When she goes home and no one can see her, she cries and thinks everyone hates her.  It's a struggle to get her to school every day; she doesn't want to go.

Society and what the majority expect now has changed drastically. Just take a look sometime at the movie stars of the past and what was thought to be the "best" back in the 30's and 40's and then compare it to now. The breast sizes alone is enough to shock. The competition between all those stars is astronomical and it overflows onto our young girls.....these celebrities are their role models.....and for the most part, they are not good ones.

So Kudos to the designers who are now using models that are more realistic and not skin and bones and if the magazines would stop photoshopping all these celebrities to make them absolutely perfect, which no one is......then maybe our young girls will look in their mirrors and realize that they are not ugly.  Our daughters and granddaughters are all beautiful in their own unique ways.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T.....is for Tina

Tina owned us for a little over 17 years. She was the best cat ever. Even people who hated cats loved her. This is an actual picture of her atop one of her favorite perches; the cable box because it was warm.

One day when my daughter was nearing four years old I was driving home and passed by a yard sale. I pulled in to see if they had some extra toys that my daughter might like. In a box, off to the side, were three snow white kittens with the bluest eyes. The woman said they were a mixture of Siamese and Angora and she was giving them away. I couldn't resist.

My daughter named her after a girl that babysat for us once in a while and Tina settled in to run things. My dog wasn't too happy about the arrangement but Tina soon won her over.  When we moved to a bigger house I had to keep her inside for a week or so until she got the idea that this was where we now lived. My main concern was that we now lived on a paved road as apposed to a gravel road in a subdivision that didn't see much traffic. She was an inside/outside cat; she would rattle the doorknob with her paw when she needed to go outside. She never had a litter box other than when we kept her inside for that week after we moved....she preferred to go outside. She was a great watch-cat. I watched her chase two dobermans out of our yard one day, she managed to get a few digs with her claws into their rear ends as they ran away. Tina soon learned to sit by the roadside and wait until it was clear and then she would cross the street. I hated it that she did that but she was headed for the swamp behind the house across the street and the thrill of the hunt was just too much for her to ignore.

The biggest scare we had was one time when she disappeared for a week. The kids were beside themselves and I did everything I could to hide my fears that she had gotten run over. My husband went out and searched the sides of the roads, including the ditches, looking for her. He was unable to locate her....we were relieved at that but still worried.

I was fixing Saturday morning breakfast and it had been almost a full week since we'd seen our beloved Tina. I heard her meowing before I saw her. She jumped on the deck and leaped on the screen for the sliding glass door. I wasn't sure it was her.....she was a dark dirty gray in color. I opened the door and let her in and she was all over us....meowing loudly and then checking out her food bowl. I fed her....even gave her a treat of some milk.  It took her all day long to clean herself up....by the next day, she looked like herself again.  We figure this is what happened......

We missed her on a Sunday night. I think she got locked in one of our neighbor's sheds.  I think that when he opened the shed again the following Saturday to do yard work, she dashed out and ran home.  Of course we will never know for sure but I think it's a fairly safe bet that is what happened. We were delighted to see her and she was overjoyed to find her family again.  We loved this cat with all our hearts....she was one in a million.  I felt she deserved a spot on my blog for being a special member of our family for all those years.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S.....is for Sunday morning donut

I was going to write about something else but then last night I started thinking about my old dog and this came to mind.....so I thought I would share it.

I had a German shepherd mix named Babe. I also have a fenced in back yard, which was Babe's area during the day. She came inside at night as she was spoiled as can be.

We had Babe for a long time and when you have a pet for so many years, you think you know them. But after her death at 15 years of age, I found out some stuff about her that I did not know.

My neighbor and I were talking one day while weeding the flower beds and she started telling me about my old dog, Babe. I looked at her with disbelief but she assured me that it was a true story. What gets me is that she never thought to tell me while it was happening. I guess God just made sure he watched over Babe every Sunday.

According to my neighbor.....seems as though Babe could get out of the back yard whenever she wanted to. How she did this is unknown as she would go back in when she was finished with whatever she wanted to do. But on Sunday mornings, seems that Babe had a ritual.  I would let her outside and before long my neighbor would see her cut across her lawn, cross a small street, go through the school parking lot, then the playground and around the fence and cross a pretty busy road to get to the donut shop on the corner. She would soon return with a donut in her mouth. She would then lay in the neighbor's front yard and casually eat her Sunday morning donut before returning to our fenced in back yard.  She did this for years and I never knew it. I don't know if a worker at the donut shop was giving her the donuts or what....but I'm grateful that she never got hit by a car while on her jaunt.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R.....is for Rocks

As I've mentioned before, I grew up on a farm. I was an only child, so I had to find creative ways to amuse myself.  Most kids enjoy playing with mud and I was no exception. One of those times, however, I noticed some rocks. Each one was a little different from the others and pretty soon I found a hobby in looking for the most unusual rocks.

Every so often my dad would have a load of gravel delivered and he would spread it on our driveway, otherwise it would have been a muddy mess in the spring. I loved those deliveries because I had thousands upon thousands of rocks to go through.

Some had lines of gold going through them. I don't imagine it was real gold but it was pretty and, to me, it was special. The best rocks I found were the ones with fossils in them. I later learned all about fossils in school but before that knowledge I felt like I'd made a marvelous discovery. I found parts of fern-like leaves and things that looked like bug legs. One time I found something that looked just like a sea shell which caused me to sit and ponder where the rocks had originated from.

I know that there are people who make expensive hobbies out of rock polishing and then sometimes taking the finished product and making impressive jewelry or home decorations. My daughter knows about my interest in rocks and stones so once in a while she'll hand me an unusual one that she's come across as a gift.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q.....is for Quote

I love to peruse quotes from famous people as well as the not so famous. You can sometimes feel a whole
lot better about yourself or a situation after reading them because it makes you realize that you're not the only one who has problems.
Sometimes the quotes give you ideas on how to solve certain problems or else they simply give you the courage to just walk away and forget about it.

My mom had a quote that she said often to me from Shakespeare's Hamlet, . "This above all, to thine own self be true".  She wrote that in my yearbook and I've tried to live my life with that thought in mind.

The quote I most often gave my children is "never believe in never" but I don't know who said it originally. Personally, I think it's quite deep.  I wanted my kids to know that they could be anything they wanted to be with hard work and dedication and I would be there for them no matter what.  As parents, we only want our children to be happy first and foremost.

My personal favorite quotes are the ones that tug at your heartstrings and give you warm fuzzy feelings. I've often wished I could be creative enough to come up with some of those endearing type quotes that people would love and cherish for generations.

I especially love what Pooh says.:

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P.....is for Pothole

I once lived 2 miles down a gravel country road and the road was in better shape than the one pictured. When we moved to a house that was situated on a paved road I was happy. I figured no more mud, no more dust which meant for cleaner cars and cleaner houses.

I didn't plan on potholes but potholes we have and we have them every year. It wasn't that long ago that a pothole bent the rim on my car and caused me to buy new ones and new tires along with it.

We were told that lottery money was supposed to go toward fixing roads but I wonder just where the roads are that are being fixed......evidently somewhere obscure. Yes, I know.....winter has just barely shut the exit door around here.....but I've seen them fill in potholes in the winter, so I know it can be done.

Right now my main beef is that the road in front of my house looks a lot like the one in the picture. When cars run over those holes it sounds like thunder and sometimes it actually makes my house vibrate. I usually grimace when one of those happens, just knowing that the driver and passengers are doing the same.

Although a lot of people like to look at the silver lining in all this. Potholes are a sure sign that spring is finally here.  Yay!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O.....is for Outhouse

For people who have no idea what I'm talking about.....an outhouse is something like a porta-potty like people use at events when they have to use a toilet. Except the porta potties are probably a lot cleaner and smell better.  To create an outhouse, you dig a large hole at lease six feet deep, then place the small outhouse on top of it so that the hole in the ground lines up with the hole inside that will be used like a toilet seat. This hole will never be cleaned out; you are relying on nature's disposal methods (bacteria).  Not pleasant but a lot better than going in a bucket and having to carry it out in a field to dump it. Most people have never seen an authentic outhouse let alone use one.

I must have gone through a hundred pictures online and this is the closest one to what our outhouse looked like. We didn't have a crescent moon cutout on the door but we did have a bunch of flowers planted all around it. My grandmother had an assortment of morning glory, hollyhocks and sunflowers. It cheered things up a lot but you had to watch out for bees during certain parts of the summer.

Even though we had inside plumbing, which included inside toilet facilities, at the farm, my mom opted to keep the outhouse that had been necessary years before modern improvements. She had my dad move it behind the tractor sheds so it wasn't visible from the house. I don't think my mother ever stepped foot inside it but the rest of the family did. During the day when we were all outside doing various chores it was a rule that the outhouse was used instead of tracking inside when nature called. This was in the summer, of course.  In the winter we came inside.

I had no idea just how many variations of outhouses there were until I went to Arkansas to visit my husband's relatives back in the 60's. About half of them had outhouses because it was necessary for them.....they lived in the sticks and even though they had running water inside their homes, indoor toilet facilities were not part of that luxury. It was sort of a status symbol, to tell the truth. Some outhouses were built haphazardly with minimum privacy while others had actual toilet seats and rugs on the floor. It generally looked bad for the man of the house if the outhouse was in bad shape.....like a leaky roof, holes in the floor, door barely hanging on.  Usually if the outhouse was in disrepair, so was the main house.

At my childhood home the inside walls of the outhouse were covered in layers and layers of newspapers and old magazines. We drew the line at using catalog pages to wipe, but the pages on the walls were good insulation. I can remember sitting there doing my business and reading various articles on the walls. We also had a three-seater, although I can't imagine doing something so private with two other people sitting only inches away. My dad had nailed covers over the other holes, leaving only the center one.  We also had a large bag of white powdered stuff in the corner with a small shovel sitting in it. I never quite knew what this stuff was, but I knew if some of it was tossed into the hole once in a while it was supposed to help with the odor. When I got older I found out that this was powdered lime.

If you overlook the fact that it's not the best smelling place to be, the creepiest thing about an outhouse is the fact that all kinds of insects dwell there, especially spiders. We also kept a broom in the corner to sweep away spiders and other crawlies. Thinking back on it, if I would have had an idea just how many spiders there probably were only inches from me back then, I don't think I would have ever gone in there.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N.....is for News

The old saying....."no news is good news" is really right on. When my daughter had her accident which resulted in a closed head injury, her doctor forbid her to watch or read any news because most news is so upsetting. She cancelled the newspaper and would turn off the news on TV but it still would seep in through radio or word of mouth. She's learned, over the years, to just block it out.

However.....when you do something like that you really are "out of the loop". Especially if you're still working.  I don't get the newspaper any longer, preferring to get my news online. That way I can sort of pick and choose what I want to read about. But Breaking News items get to you anyway.

It just seems like almost all the news now is not good news at all. Most of it just tears at you because you're helpless to do anything about it. So many situations are happening now that are way beyond our control.

My income situation had not changed from 2011 to 2012, yet I got 50% less of a federal refund and had to pay on my state taxes. This tells me that a lot of things changed that were beyond my power and that makes me angry. It makes me twice as angry because I am a senior citizen on a fixed income. Yes, I work a couple days a week but that position is not etched in stone; it could end at any time. Plus that, the pay is not that great so the few hours I put in doesn't reap me a lot of help.....but it does help a little and that's all I ever wanted. Now....it's getting to the point where I need a lot more than that and there are a lot of seniors in the same boat. Who am I kidding....there are a lot of people other than seniors in that same boat.

In closing, I'm not a big fan of the news but we do need to be kept informed, so it's a double edged sword. My head is still reeling about what happened in Boston and all you can do is just sit and ask....Why?.....the same question we asked not that long ago in reference to Sandy Hook.

Monday, April 15, 2013

M.....is for Monster

This picture made me laugh as I thought of my daughter who truly believed a monster lived under our basement stairs. She said her biggest fear was some scale covered, long clawed hand coming through the space between the steps and grabbing her ankles. Even after we got the stairs finished off and carpeted, her fear never left.

When I was a child I had no fear of the basement steps, I feared what dwelt under my bed. I just knew that there were thousands of disgusting snakes under there and they would wrap around my feet and ankles if I put my legs down next to the bed. Therefore, I would take a flying leap from the doorway to land on my mattress. Once upon the mattress my fears would evaporate. Once it was daylight my fears dwindled some but I was quick about getting out of bed. Once up, my fears totally went away until darkness settled upon us again.

When my daughter was very small and we lived at the other house she became suddenly terrified of the closet in her room. I can remember that she would scream and tell me about the monster in her closet with huge tears running down her cheeks. It was enough to break your heart. One night I took the broom in her room and told her I was going to chase the monster away and that they were so afraid of brooms, he would never ever return. (no, he just took up residence under the basement stairs in the new house, bwhahahaha). Anyway I made a big production out of it and it actually worked. I was so proud of myself. The basement stair one she finally outgrew. I don't remember my son having those sort of fears or maybe he was just too stubborn to tell me about it.

What causes these fears?  I know that movies certainly did not contribute to my fears about what was under my bed as I hadn't been allowed to see anything scary. I outgrew that fear, but I have always remembered having it. When my daughter had the closet monster fear, she was too little to have seen or even heard about anything scary. How did that fear manifest itself?

Ever seen the animated movie, Monsters, Inc.?  It's one of my favorites and it certainly brought back some memories. The plot of that movie shows me that fear of monsters is a very common thing among children.....I'm just glad we outgrow it.....even though the world really does have monsters that are every bit as scary as ones from our imagination.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L.....is for Laughter

We've all heard that laughter is the best medicine so many times but do you believe it?  I do.  As far back as the 1300's, Royalty used to have jesters as part of their court just for the sole purpose of creating funny situations and stimulating laughter. I don't know what the king's "fools" got paid but  if they weren't funny enough and didn't produce laughter, they were often whipped and eventually lost their place in court.  Talk about performing under pressure!

The last couple years I worked before retirement we were all working under a lot of pressure. There had been some changes in administration and I think that was the main cause. I had a co-worker who had a talent for making people laugh and I am eternally grateful to her for getting me through those last years riding the funny train. She found humor in almost everything and had us laughing every day.  She has a true gift.  It's been a lot of years and she just recently retired and she still has that wonderful sense of humor. I hope she's able to keep it when she enters senior citizenry. That's when mine packed it's bags and fled town on the red-eye. I did manage to get some of my sense of humor back.....but, unfortunately,  not all of it.  I find it takes more to get me laughing now and some things I used to think were funny, I don't so much anymore.  But, also I find that things I never thought were funny, I now laugh at. So, it shows we are constantly growing in one way or another.

Laughter kicks stress and tension right out of the room. This is proven over and over by the popular television programs and movies. People want to be entertained; they crave something that will take their minds off of worries. The only thing I have to say about the entertainment industry is that they have gone off the main road when it comes to comedy. Most of the comedy now is totally inappropriate. For the most part, you can't sit down as a family and enjoy a comedy that every family member can laugh along with. Sex is playing too much of a role now. Remember back when we all laughed at Bob Hope, Abbott and Costello, Red Skelton, Milton Berle and Jackie Gleason, just to name a few. Good clean fun that gave us all the giggles.  I really wish they would bring some of that back again. OMG, remember the Flip Wilson show and his portrayal of "Geraldine"?  Now that was some funny stuff.

I think the leader of N. Korea is in desperate need of some good belly laughs....what do you think?  So, keep smiling, laugh out loud and set free all those worries and fears....even if it's only for a little while....every little bit will do you good.  Laughter is really and truly the best medicine.

Friday, April 12, 2013

K.....is for Kenmore

Well, because I can be unpredictable, this post finds me skipping down memory lane.  Sorry but I couldn't resist. The set up pictured is close to how my mom had her washer set up except the laundry tubs were against the wall in the basement. Wash and two rinses and then lug the basket of wet clothes up the stairs and outside to the clotheslines. In case of rain or in the winter, there were clotheslines strung in the basement. I remember the whole procedure for washing clothes like it was yesterday. Hard to believe it was so many years ago.

I have many happy memories associated with helping mom with the laundry. I was the one who "guided" the clothes out of the wringer so they wouldn't wrap around again and jam the rolls. I loved it that I could be an actual help to her on laundry day.  I remember when dad bought mom the automatic washer....not the dryer, just the washer cause mom loved the smell of clothes line-dried outside. She was very fussy about her laundry and didn't quite trust the new machine; she wasn't certain that it would get the clothes clean. She was pleasantly surprised.

Mom always pre-soaked my dad's white socks and they were blindingly white. She always used Fels-Naptha soap on the collars (no ring around the collar here) or any other areas that needed some extra attention. Even after she started using the automatic washer she did all that pre-treatment. Now me, I'm not into any more work than is necessary. I will pre-treat spots and if something is really dirty, I will pre-soak it but usually I just wash them as I regularly would and I have nice clean laundry. Maybe mom did all that extra work unnecessarily. But I'll tell you, when someone would compliment her on her whites, she would beam.....so the extra work involved brought her great joy.

Now Kenmore has been around for years and years. That old wringer washer probably is still working somewhere. Because of my parents' luck, I stuck to the same name brand and haven't been disappointed so far. I may hate to iron, but I love to do laundry. Call me weird, but I have stood, leaning on my elbows, and watched the clothes agitate in the washer for several minutes at a time; it has a calming effect on me plus I love the smell of soap. Pictured below is my set.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J.....is for Jealousy

Well, you may not believe this.....but I am not, nor have I ever been, a jealous person. I think it may be due to the fact that I grew up around a bunch of kids who were always jealous of me, as well as others; they were literally consumed by it. It hurt me deeply.  It hurts everyone deeply. My mom was not a jealous person either and I really do think there is truth to the fact that your moral fiber is based on your every day life; how those around you live their lives as well as the lessons they teach. I was exposed to jealousy and all the hurt it brought at the hands of my peers from a very early age and I never wanted to do that to anyone.

I don't hate someone because they have more than I do or they are more intelligent than me or better looking; I'm happy for them. If there ever are any bad feelings, it's me beating up on myself for maybe not studying harder for that test or not applying for that certain job or sticking to that diet. If a man cheats on his wife, why be jealous of the other woman? It's your husband you should be miffed at for throwing those wedding vows out the window.  I never could understand people who would go to extremes and damage someone's property or maybe damage someone period because they are jealous.  I had a cheating husband and I certainly didn't feel jealousy. I felt anger that he was such a shallow person and anger at myself for just plain picking the wrong guy.

I worked as a police dispatcher and believe me when I say that I've seen some pretty horrendous sights due to jealousy. There have been murders committed over this emotion as we all know.

So, I'm very grateful that I don't have this problem; I tried to raise my children to be the same. Have a friend who has achieved something you'd like to do?  Then work harder and DO IT. Be glad for your friend and use her for an example on how to reach your goals. This is what I taught.

I've seen a lot of mean spirited young people in the schools now, picking on other kids. It's obvious that a lot of parents are falling down on the job when it comes to envy and jealousy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I.....is for Instinct or Inner Feeling

The dictionary's definition of "instinct" is: "an inborn pattern of behavior that is characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli".  This doesn't exactly define what I'm talking about but the inner feeling is instinctive to me.

My mom always called these feelings, "hunches" and she had them a lot. I inherited them from her and until I was old enough to know better, I thought that everyone had them.  My inner feelings have been very accurate and I've learned to listen to them. For example: there are several ways in which I can come home from work but I usually stick to one particular route. Every once in a while I will deviate from that route just because I have an inner feeling about it. I don't question it, I just do it.

When I was in my 20's I started having instincts about people; I found that my accuracy rate was nearly 100%. I kept my thoughts to myself at first, then as I got older, I shared them with family. Now that I'm a senior citizen, I share my thoughts with close friends as well. They have come to respect what I think and are impressed I have this gift.....their words, not mine.  I actually thought everyone had these same feelings about other people and was surprised to find out otherwise.

When I meet someone for the first time I can 'feel' whether they are a troubled soul or not. Sometimes I feel like I want to help them....just by being a shoulder.  Sometimes I really do help. Then again, sometimes the feelings are so strong that I want to get as far away from that person as possible and as soon as possible.....they feel toxic to me. Please don't misconstrue this as judging because it's not like that. I can't help what I feel. I'm having a hard time explaining it. But I have learned to respect it. It has saved me and my family from a lot of heartbreaking circumstances....in one case it involved a child molester years before it was discovered that's what he was. It's interesting to note that my son inherited this ability, but not my daughter. My daughter thinks that everyone she meets is basically good and kind. No matter how much she's been burned, she continues to feel that way. I'm not sure it's a bad thing.....it's just a dangerous thing.

I truly believe that if we would all listen to our inner selves....no matter what it may be about.....that we would be happier and safer in the long run. We tend to push those inner feelings aside and plunge into a situation without giving it a second thought. We all have an instinct to danger but we tend to push those fears aside, thinking ourselves to be silly or having over-active imaginations and go right ahead and walk down a dark path or open that door to a total stranger.

I think the reason why most people don't pay attention to their "hunches"  is the fear of ridicule. Afraid that their friends will think they are "weird" and talk about them. Do me a favor please.....if you're ever in the company of someone you trust who, for example, suggests you take a different route or maybe eat at a different place, and they really can't give you a reason..... try and respect the feelings they may be having.  It just could save your life or, at the least, from food poisoning.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H.....is for Hairstylist

Even though this picture is from one of the funniest cartoons that Bugs did, we women take our hairstylists serious.

While every single hairdresser has skills that I certainly don't have, there are only a choice few that can make my hair do what it's supposed to do. I have never really understood it but that's the absolute truth.

Years ago I found a terrific hairdresser.  I just loved what she did with my hair. Now this was back in the late 60's when updo's were the thing and also hair that added maybe a good 6 inches to your height. Marge Simpson and her blue hair had nothing on me as far as updo's were concerned. For years I followed this one specific hairdresser, Susan, to various shops within a 20 mile radius. She was a gem as far as I was concerned but when I think back on it, she may have been hard to work with....why else was she always leaving one shop and going to another. I can safely say that I followed her to at least 8 different places before I stopped because she was getting just too far away. She eventually quit to become a SAHM so it was good I found someone else. Even though I've found some great hairdressers since, she's always been my favorite.

A hairdresser is not only your hair's best friend but she or he is your confidant; they must know more secrets than the FBI and CIA combined. They have the ability to make you overjoyed or the ability to shove you to the depths of depression.  When a woman does not like her hair.....she is not one to be messed with. Jokingly telling someone they have a "bad hair day" is not really funny to most women. If a hairdresser screws up your hair once, you may never ever sit in her chair again simply because the trust you had is gone.

Now I no longer get my hair done once a week; I get it cut about once every 2 months. If the one girl cuts it, it will be super behaved and do just what I want. If I can't get an appointment with my first choice and have to take my second choice, my hair has more of a mind of its own, even though it looks like they are both giving me the exact same cuts. That's the mystery.....how something that looks the same can be oh-so-different.  So....here's to our hairdressers.....they are certainly loved and cherished; do they even know how much?

Monday, April 8, 2013

G.....is for Games

If I had a dime for every game of Pinochle I've played, I would be a very wealthy woman. That is our very favorite card game. As a young married couple, my husband and I played cards every weekend with our neighbors. We had 2 sets of neighbors that were fond of this game and if one couldn't play for some reason, the other family pretty much always could.  Besides that I belonged to a Pinochle club where most all the members were residents of the subdivision I lived in. We met once a month and had it at a different house each month.

After we moved from that subdivision because we outgrew the house and the neighbors we most frequently got together with moved out of state, we didn't play so often. We would make a date and play cards maybe once every 3 or 4 months.

I remember one particular night we went to our friend's house in the old neighborhood. He had been working on a remodel of his house and we were initiating their new family room. He had a lovely fire going in the fireplace and we set up the table there with our usual snacks; beer for the guys, chip, dip and Pepsi for the women.  We always played guys against the girls....we were all seasoned players but we always had fun playing.  That night she and I were acting sort of silly. We hadn't seen each other in months and we were enjoying the game to the max. Everything was pretty much ok while the guys were winning but then.....she and I started acting goofy and we were chanting little songs and acting like we were putting spells on the cards. "Acey, acey, where you been....come back to us girls again".  What was hilarious is that it was actually working.

We won hand after hand.....game after game.  The more we won, the more giddy we became. Finally, her husband could take no more. He jumped up from the table.....gathered up the cards and threw them into the burning fire in one big swoop, announcing that it would take a burning fire to get rid of the curse we had put on the cards.  It was the end of the evening anyway.....so we left shortly after that.  I found out later from her that she found out that her husband actually believed in spells and curses and felt that we had really done something like that.  Amazing.  We had known them for way over 15 years at that point and never knew that about him.  Heck....she was married to him and never knew it.  I guess it came as no surprise when they divorced about a year or so later and my husband and I followed suit shortly after that.  Anyway, we did make lots and lots of happy memories with our get togethers....even this one is a good memory because we were having so much fun.  Gosh, I miss playing that game.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F.....is for friends

I grew up on a farm and when I was young like the girls in the photo my best friends were animals. There were the dogs and cats but more interestingly was my Rooster. As I grew I started making human friends. I can safely say that my friends fell in the quality category more than quantity. I have several really good friends and we made many wonderful memories.

This is a bittersweet post, however, because almost all of my friends are no longer here; some have passed on, the rest have moved to warmer climates. I can't even begin to tell you how much I miss them.  Of course with the Internet we are able to keep in touch....but it's not really the same as sitting down at the kitchen table and having cups of coffee together.

My dearest and closest friend and next door neighbor had to move to Phoenix many years ago and we tearfully promised to never lose touch.  We were able to keep that promise for a whole lot of years (about 18) but then our interchanges became further and further apart. She met and married a great guy and.....well, I haven't heard from her in about 5 years now.

Anyway, the memories we make with our friends last forever. And I know that everyone believes this to be true....that they are the luckiest in the world because they have the best friends that could possibly be. That's how I feel and to each and every one of them.....no matter where you are.....I think of you often and I still love you with all my heart.  God Bless.

Friday, April 5, 2013

E.....is for Exercise

I so envy people who love to exercise. I hate this activity even more than I hate to iron. I have tried several times to get with the program. I've joined clubs with my girlfriends quite a few times only to quickly lose interest.

One of the worst things about "going to work out" is that you walk in there, all porked out, obviously in need of a new body only to look around and see all these women who look like swimsuit models. They flit around the place having a great time while you self-consciously try to hide behind the nearest machine. With all the mirrors in the damn place it's hard not to see what you look like and also you get to see yourself in comparison with the other clientele. These gyms would do a far better business if they restricted entry to only those who have a fat problem. You'd sure feel better if you walked in and noticed immediately that everyone else was far larger than you are. Matter of fact, you'd probably feel so good about yourself that you'd skip the exercise and go have a hot fudge sundae to celebrate.

Hmmmmm.  I think I just discovered why gyms don't have those restrictions.

Feeling too self-conscious to go to a gym, I figured that I would do exercises in front of the TV. Maybe you're supposed to have an exercise program ON the TV at the time and do more than arm lifts from snack bowl to mouth, but it didn't seem to do much for me. Now that I'm a senior and I have all sorts of aches and pains, I've found that it hurts to exercise, so I don't. I really and truly know that I would feel better if I could just get around that pain problem, but then again, if I didn't have the pain problem, I wouldn't need to feel better.

It's enough to drive you crazy if you let it.  Pass the M&M's please.