Category Archives: Journaling

Croquet, The Wicked Version

For two glorious summers in the early 70s, every time I had a barbeque for friends, we got into the habit of setting up nine wickets and two stakes in my backyard and we played a wicked game of croquet. I say wicked, because that’s the only word I can think of to describe the mayhem. The USCA (United States Croquet Assoc.) would’ve never approved.

The truth is, I had the perfect yard to set up a croquet course. It was long, about 100 feet and about 50 feet wide–perfect for croquet, except for one small detail. Running completely across the width of the yard, was a rolling hill. I’m not too good with measurements, but I’d say it was a foot and a half high.

Trying to get a ball successfully up or down that hill while at the same time trying to aim your ball through a wicket was, as I mentioned, wicked. That first Saturday, when husbands and boyfriends, who were inside playing cards, heard the raucous commotion coming from the backyard and realized at once that the ladies weren’t playing an ordinary game of croquet, they issued the challenge–guys against gals. Once that happened, as you can imagine, the game became even crazier.

Oh, to relive those sunny afternoons when icy beers flowed, and the burgers and hot dogs tasted so, so good.

Typewriter, Dictaphone, Mimeograph, Email, Laptop

I bought my first laptop today.

It got me to thinking back to my first secretarial job. Back then the qualifications needed to land a job were a good typing score (on a typewriter) with a knowledge of shorthand, or the ability to transcribe from a dictaphone or ediphone.

If copies were ever needed, you used carbon paper. Suppose you needed fifty or sixty copies? Then you had to rev up the mimeograph machine, but first a stencil had to be typed. Lots of good fun there!  See Boomer with a View.

I remember the first time I used Email. The system was installed into every employees’ computer in the company. Voila! I could actually send a message to someone on the third floor from the first floor. Believe it or not, it was only a test run at our company. The CEO didn’t see any future in it. When the test period ended, Email disappeared from my workplace. Wonder where that guy is working today?

Anyway, I wrote this post on my new laptop. Welcome to the 21st century.

DO NOT Keep a Diary

About a week ago, I sent an email out to several friends asking them to share a favorite childhood memory with me. Many of those who replied were the same people who have been telling me they can’t write.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I strongly feel everyone should be writing something –anything– so that the only thing one leaves behind isn’t just ashes. What would be the point of your being here if that’s all you leave?

Don’t even think about keeping a diary. Because you probably won’t. However, having a notebook sitting on an end table, a pretty one with flowers or something on the cover, might be just the thing. If it’s there, maybe you’ll write in it once in a while. I guarantee someone from the future will thank you for it.

From time to time, I’ll show some of the responses I received to my question. The ones I’ve chosen to share today probably took a mere five minutes (if that) for the respondents to write.

Here’s one from Judy H. It’s only two sentences long, but it says a lot about how kids entertained themselves before computers, and about the lack of crime in our neighborhoods.

I think my favorite childhood memories were playing games in the street – like “giant step” and neighborhood games like “Cops and Robbers”. Those were the days when you could run around the neighborhood without being afraid.

This one is from Judy C. Again, very few sentences. This one is a whopping three sentences. Who knew before there were Good Humor trucks, there were Good Humor bikes?

Let’s, see, I think it would be when my grandfather was a VP with Good Humor. I used to visit the warehouse where all the Good Humor Ice Cream bicycles were kept and riding them around the warehouse, not to mention eating the Good Humor ice cream birthday cakes he used to have made for me. Wow, that was a looooooooooooonng time ago!!

It doesn’t get much more succinct than this from Denise O.

When my sister ;o) got me Tony the Pony
>Xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox LOVE THAT TONY!!!

For the record, Denise is my sister and I bought the Tony the Pony for her birthday when she was four or five years old. Tony is a legend in our family. But who would know the story of Tony if we didn’t write about him?

Trust me, you need to buy yourself a notebook.

Things My Mother Told Me

My mother would say to me,”Don’t spray cologne on your neck.”

Here’s her rationale. The skin under your chin, the “front” of your neck, is thin, delicate skin. It is one of the first places where people show their age. Since the first ingredient in cologne is alcohol, this is NOT a good thing to spray on your neck year after year after year. Her advice–spritz a little to the “back” of your neck, your wrists and the inside of your elbows.

This was another of her favorites.  “Is there any reason why you have to look in the mirror at yourself while you brush your teeth?”

At the time, this seemed a little peevish to me, but I wasn’t the one cleaning off the tiny specks of dried toothpaste off the mirror. I am now. I don’t look into the mirror while brushing anymore.

Here’s another. “Always make sure you have money in your purse.”

Notice she didn’t say a “dime” (which way back when, that’s how much it cost to make a phone call in case of an emergency). She meant “real” money. To this day, I never leave the house with less than $10.00. And I have experienced my share of little emergencies when I was glad I had that money with me. Especially one night after midnight, when I got a flat tire and a good samaritan stopped and changed it for me. I forced that $10.00 on him, he didn’t want to take it, but I had it to give, and at 1:00 a.m. in the morning, I wished it could’ve been more.

She had some kooky ones, too. “Always make your bed in the morning.”

This had to do with one of her many “what if” scenarios. What if you went to work and there was a fire, (The firemen would see my unmade bed?) or what if you forgot something at home and had to send someone to your house to fetch it for you. (They would look through my house mainly to see if my bed was made?) Believe me, she had several more freaky reasons why my bed should me made, but I think she just liked the idea of a home that was always in order. This was her way of scaring me into being orderly.

Evidently, she was not alone with this last piece of motherly advice. I have friends whose mothers told them the same thing. “Always wear clean underwear.”

I will spare you the “what if” scenarios that go along with this one.

Many people recall insightful advice they’ve received from a parent. The young mother over at Verlanderville remembers an admonition from her mother.

Growing up, my mother told us that we were not allowed to use the word hate for things like vegetables, songs, people, etc.  She said that it was a very strong word and that we should only use it for things like sin, injustice, math, etc.

Clearly, dads can give good advice, too. See Mom & A Microphone

It was my 7-year-old’s first flag football game of the season. I was secretly dreading it, since my mother and father were always sitting on the sidelines at Griffin’s games, cheering him on. This year, Dad wouldn’t be there. Dad was Griffin’s biggest fan. Last season, when I expressed concern that I “wasn’t sure this was his strongest sport,” Dad told me, “be patient. He’ll get better with time.” And just like all the other advice my father has given me, he was right.

Makes you smile, doesn’t it?

Happiness Is A Walk In The Rain – Spontaneity


image from

Last Saturday afternoon, as I was getting ready to walk home from my friend Bev’s house, the clouds shuddered and an unexpected shower of rain began pelting the windows. It sounded good to me. It sounded like bad timing to Bev.

Her immediate thoughts were: maybe I should wait until the rain stopped or slowed down, or I should, at least, borrow an umbrella, or…

But I was thinking, I couldn’t remember the last time I walked in the rain. So, I pooh, poohed the offer of an umbrella and ventured outside. It was a hot day. The rain felt cool. I noticed steam rising from the ground, as the earth drank its full. Huge drops of rain cascaded down from my head. There was no lightning, no thunder–a perfect day for a stroll. I looked up at the sky as I walked and drops of water splattered onto my face. By the time, I reached my front door, I was soaked to the skin. I stepped inside and dropped my clothes.

Spontaneity had surprised me and gifted me with a glorious, divine, magnificent interlude!

From the news stan(d)

Someone’s said that “spontaneity is the quality of being able to do something just because you feel like it at the moment, of trusting your instincts, of taking yourself by surprise…

You don’t think about being spontaneous, you just do it. It comes from within you to do what you like, how you like it and when you want it. It just happens – unplanned, unstructured and best of all, unexpected but still within your power to shape it.

The Cook Family seems to know how to be spontaneous.

The other day Dan got home from work just in time to catch the sun going down . The second he came through the door he said, “grab a blanket, we’re going on the roof.”

This idea tickled me – Manufactured Spontaneity

At Flax, the art supply store, you can buy a notebook with napkins instead of pages. Because so many great ideas started on a napkin. So. You should be ready with some napkins.

Spontaneity–it comes in all sizes.

What about you? Spontaneous or Well Planned Agenda?

Write a Memoir-Share a Memory

Every once in a while, I feel the necessity to encourage people to write and record a memory or two. I often suggest this to friends and I receive a variety of responses:
“I’m not a writer.”
“Nothing interesting has happened in my life.”
“No one would be interested in reading anything I could write.”
“I’m uncomfortable revealing incidents from my life.”
“I don’t have the time.”
“I wouldn’t know what to write about.”

I have answers for each of the above. If you know how to talk, you know how to write. Everyone has something interesting and insightful to document for family members to read sometime in the future. And it doesn’t have to be anything too personal. As to having time–if you have time to read or watch television, you can steal a half hour to write. And what to write? Write about anything you think your children or grandchildren might like to know about you. For instance:
Where did you meet your spouse?
When was your first kiss? With who?
What were your parents like?
Tell about your favorite vacation.
What country would you visit if you could?

 Remembering is a good thing. I’m not the only one who thinks so.

This from an article in O Magazine 

Writing memoir is a way to figure out who you used to be and how you got to be who you are.

From Barefoottech in Australia

“When my Father was dying of cancer he started to write about his life. I longed for him to be able to record all of his experiences. Sadly, he only wrote a fraction of it, but I treasure to this day the bit he did accomplish. However, there is so much I wish I could ask, and can’t. Now I’m older I want to know more.”

Whatever memories or knowledge you may have, write them down. Her grandfather was a brilliant gardener, but unfortunately none of his tips were passed on.

In the July/August issue of the AARP magazine, there is an excellent article about memoirs, Everyone Has a Story to Tell. I agree.

Is there any reason why you can’t go out and buy a notebook? If it’s sitting on a table or a desk, maybe you’ll be moved to write something in it.

Things I Hate

Since I wrote all about things that I love last week, it seems only fair that I write about a few things I hated in the 80’s and still hate in 2008. As in my previous post, some of the things on my old list are outdated. For instance, back then I hated “window envelopes.” I don’t have a problem with them anymore because I pay the majority of my bills online. I also didn’t like to “clean the oven,” and thank goodness that has changed. I have a self-cleaning oven.

Following are still problem areas–things that I hate:

Toilet paper installed backward on the dispenser
Stupid TV commercials
Guests that arrive late for a sit-down dinner
Any kind of cruelty or abuse
Mixing ground beef with my hands (yuk!)
Golf (Sorry, golfers, but I just don’t get it.)
Hate when my feet are cold
Advertising cards stuck inside a magazine
Bugs, mice and snakes

Well, that’s it for me. If you need to vent, send me your list.

Things I Love


Years ago, and I’m talking back in the early 80’s, I made two lists. One was titled “Things I Love” and the other was “Things I Hate.” Why would I do that? I have no idea. Maybe just because I love to make lists. I’m a list-maker, okay?

Anyway, I came across these lists a few days ago and I read the “love list” to see if I had changed much over the years. Except for “E.T.” (I guess I had recently gone to the movies to see that), and my favorite name at that time, “Leeanne” (which I have gotten over) and “jukeboxes,” (where did all the jukeboxes go?), there weren’t too many differences.

Perhaps the “ziploc bag” had recently been introduced, because it made my list. And it appears I actually had time to do “crossword puzzles,” “jigsaw puzzles” and to play “Scrabble.” Just when I got to reminiscing about how much slower the pace was back then, I came across this entry “uninterrupted concentration.” I suppose that wouldn’t have made it to my list unless it was an issue.

Here are a few of the things I still love:

Birds singing in the morning
Hot dogs at the ballgame
Root beer barrels
The sound of a merry-go-round
Words with double letters (Don’t ask me why, but that still holds true. Love ’em.)
The smell of orange blossoms and jasmine
50’s and 60’s music
A good book
Watching and listening to ocean waves
A true friend

My list is much longer, but these are some of the highlights. Here’s something really funny. Last week I wrote a post about patience and perseverance. Guess what was on my list: “patience and understanding.” I wonder if I meant mine or everyone else’s?

Do you have ten things you can think of off the top of your head that you love? Let me know.

Patience And Perseverance

I’ve been recuperating from surgery and, believe me, it takes a lot of perseverance. I long to be 100% better, but recovery comes in small doses. It’s so gradual I can hardly recognize any change from day to day. I wish I could manufacture a little more patience. I admit I’m not known for a high patience quotient. I got to wondering how other people manage to persevere.

Look at this. It came from a blog written by William Biddle

Abraham Lincoln’s perseverance

1816, He had to work to support his family after they were forced out of their home.
1818, His mother died.
1831, Failed in business.
1832, Was defeated for legislature.
1832, Lost his job and couldn’t get into law school.
1833, Declared bankruptcy & spent the next 17 years of his life paying off the money he borrowed from friends to start his business.
1834, Was defeated for legislature again.
1835, Was engaged to be married, but his sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
1836, Had a nervous breakdown and spent the next six months in bed.
1838, Was defeated in becoming the speaker of the state legislature.
1840, Was defeated in becoming elector.
1843, Was defeated for Congress
1846, Was Defeated For Congress.
1848, Was defeated for Congress again.
1849, Was rejected for the job of land officer in his home state.
1854, Was defeated for Senate.
1856, Was defeated for Vice-President — got less than 100 votes.
1858, Was defeated for Senate for the third time.
1860, Was elected president of the United States.

Then there’s Louis Pasteur. He said, “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.”

So, alright. I guess I’ll try to persevere. Here’s one more example of perseverance. I know you’ll enjoy this one.

A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later, he calls, “Da-aad.”
“I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink of water?”
Five minutes later, he calls again. “Da-aaaad.”
“I’m thirsty.”
“I told you, no water. If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you.”
Five minutes later. “Da-aaaaaad. When you come in to spank me, can you bring me a drink of water?”

Well, that’s perseverance for you. It comes in all sizes.

If you are following my Chinese Zodiac articles, here are two more. Year of the Snake and Year of the Horse

Hospitals–Do They Help Or Hinder Recuperation?

For quite some time, I have been putting off cervical neck surgery. Unfortunately, disk degeneration goes on hiatus for no man. Finally, one is forced to accept the truth–it’s time to face the music and have surgery.

Too bad the surgery requires a stay in the hospital afterwards, because things ain’t like they were “in the old days.”

First off, if you don’t have nice, big, juicy veins…beware. Don’t go in the hospital expecting to find a crack-team of phlebotomists, those dearly loved persons who specialize in taking blood. I don’t think they exist anymore. Invariably, as a last resort, someone will have to insert the needle into a vein on your hand, because no one is adept at hitting a vein in your arm. Let me tell you, a needle stuck in the top of your hand is a whole lot more painful then one in your arm.

I’ll refrain from going into my entire bathroom fiasco. Suffice it to say that after the first horrendous trip, I suggested to the nursing assistant that it might be easier for all concerned if she supplied me with a commode next to my bed. Puzzled, she responded, “Oh, you want a commode?” The thought of a commode appeared to be a totally foreign idea to her. I can only assume she preferred yanking all my IV lines as she “helped” me back and forth from the bathroom.

24 hours later, and after at least two assistants heard and saw me cough up thick mucous, I asked one of them for a breathing machine. Again I was greeted with that surprised, kind of blank, look, “Oh, you want a spirometer?” After searching through the cabinet in my room, and finding none, she left, returned with one and handed it to me. It had no sterile wrapping, so I had no idea where it came from, or where it had been.

This is what should’ve happened long before it was necessary for me to ask for the contraption myself.

Your nurse will explain the deep breathing and coughing exercises you will need to do after surgery. These are done to improve lung expansion. This helps prevent infection and other lung complications. You will be shown how to use the incentive spirometer. This is a tool to help you breathe deeply. Coughing is needed when you have secretions in your lungs.

That is the procedure that is recommended at Incentive Spirometry, and has actually happened to me on previous visits I’ve made to a hospital.

About Medications–Prior to entering the hospital, I was told that the hospital would provide all medications that I normally take on a daily basis. The first night, I was offered the wrong blood pressure pill. Believe me when I tell you this, and I can’t stress it enough. Don’t accept any medication until you ask and understand what you are taking. This is by no means an isolated incident. See a post put up by Solid Geekery, a blog written by a group of people who are studying, working in, or are just plain interested in the shoddy treatment being dispensed by hospitals today. This particular post was written by Miranda, who is in her third year of graduate school, pursuing a Ph.D in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis.

Getting back to my particular nightmare, the second night, after having my blood pressure checked, a nurse came in and said, “Your blood pressure is normal. Would you like to skip your blood pressure pill tonight?” I was actually struck speechless for a few seconds before I could answer, “My blood pressure is normal because I take my prescribed medicine.”

During my second day in the hospital, I asked the nursing assistant to write her name and the name of my nurse on the board supplied for that purpose at the foot of my bed. She couldn’t. Want to know why? Because someone had used permanent marker on the board, therefore it couldn’t be erased. Think about that for a minute, because it is really scary. Someone, who dispenses medicines and supplies hospital care to patients, used permanent marker on an erasable board.

I’m not one to rant. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever have on this blog…ever. However, just for the record, I could write another four or five paragraphs about the oversights and lack of knowledgeable help I received. But I won’t.