Friday, January 29, 2016

Werewolves Of London

Oh my goodness! I just heard a commercial that made me laugh. Now I do not mind commercials that use old songs as background music. As a music lover I usually enjoy hearing the songs.

For instance a few years ago when Yahoo was the "big thing" on the internet they sang "Yahoooooo-oooo". It was a song in the early fifties and I got a kick out of it.

Sometimes they take an old song and rework it to fit the time allotted or to be more representative of the product. Sometimes they do a good ob sometimes they do not.

Sometimes I have no idea why a particular song being used. It does not fit in with the concept of the commercial.

Back to the commercial I just heard. Vodka was being advertised. Werewolves of London was the song.

I realize that werewolves and vampires are sex symbols these days. Okay, I'll concede (I guess). And perhaps they do drink vodka although they have no need to drink what with being undead and all. And they would get no pleasure from the taste of the drink nor would they get the "high" many people look for when drinking.

But that was not the funny part.

The song was sung by a woman with an extremely sultry voice. Instead of the half growling, howling sound of the original recording we hear a sexy, slow version.

Instead of the loud guttural "Owwoooooo, Werewolves of London" we hear a soft breathy  "oh oooh, Werewolves of London".

I know it loses a lot in translation. Trust me. It is funny.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Trying To Get Back Home

All of this snow got me to thinking. When I was growing up we seldom drove anywhere when the snow was deep.

Only major roads were cleared. If you did need to drive you would find the ruts where someone else had been brave first.

The problem with following the ruts was that as the ruts grew deeper from use the snow surrounding the ruts built up higher. So many people lost mufflers because of the snow catching them and eventually dragging them right off the car.

So most of the time if we wanted to go somewhere we walked. It might have been cold but we were used to it.

Few roads were paved then. And many did not even have gravel on them. That meant that after a heavy or prolonged rain the road was nothing but mud.

One evening my boyfriend (who later became my husband) came over to visit. We were out in the yard with some of my brothers and my sister.

Some of his friends pulled into the drive. One of them had just bought a new (used) car, wasn't it cool?

They asked if we wanted to go for a ride. My boyfriend, sister, and I were ready. I ran in to get permission from my parents. Mom said to be back by curfew.

We were out driving in the country being stupid kids. We decided to go look at the new highway they were building. Actually they had just started to build it. But it was clear where it was. We wanted to be the first to drive on the brand new highway. so we did.

As we sped along the newly graded dirt we felt so daring. Suddenly we slowed and stopped. We hit a big mud pool. We were stuck!

Except for the driver all the boys got out to push us out of the mud while the driver steered and pushed on the gas. They succeeded in getting us stuck worse with mus up well over the axles. We were not going anywhere.

Of course there were no cell phones then. There were also no farm houses anywhere remotely close. Because of the road construction there was no traffic. And it was close to time for us to be home.

It was morning before a farmer came by on his tractor. After shaking his head about stupid kids he used a chain and his tractor to pull us out.

We raced home. My sister and I were the first ones to be dropped off. Then the boys all rushed to their houses to try to explain to their parents where they had been all night.

My sister and I rushed into the house. My mother was washing the breakfast diahes while we told her what had happened. When we finished she just looked at us with what we called her "go-to-hell" look and said, "I certainly hope you had fun."

We slunk off to our room. I am not sure she ever believed that is what happened.

A couple of years before that I had a different boyfriend. His family had invited me to dinner for Christmas Eve. I was thrilled to be included.

Around 8:00 that evening my boyfriend used his father's car to drive me home. It was one of those huge Oldsmobile tanks. It was a good car in the snow which was good because it had been snowing for quite a while.

Sioux City is built on hills. I did not realize until that night how steep the hill was that our house was on.

We went the normal way toward my house sliding and slipping all the way. With the snow and ice on the road we ust could not get up the hill.

We tried another street. Our luck was no better.

We went all the way around the huge cemetery and tried to get up that steep hill. We not only could not get up the hill we were sliding back down.

Those were the only way in. We were in the middle of a blizzard so walking was not a good idea. What were we going to do?

There was a subdivision on one side of the street opposite the cemetery. We decided to try to get up the hill far enough to get into the subdivision. We made it that far. Then we drove more in the direction of my house before trying to get back on the road by the cemetery. The ground in the subdivision had been somewhat leveled during construction of those houses.

We drove carefully and made several trips out to the main road and up just a bit before going back into the subdivision again. By doing this we were able to get to the road by way of the edge of the subdivision. There was still a short way to go before my house but with a running start from the flatter ground we made it to the top of the hill.

The street was more level then and we finally made it to my house. My parents offered to let my boyfriend stay with my brothers but he said he would drive carefully. Besides it was all downhill to the highway that led to his parents' farm. And the rest of the way was flat.

He made it home safely in a lot less time than it took to get me home.

My oldest granddaughter was in college a few years ago. There was a major blizzard so classes were cancelled. The kids in the dorms had nothing to do. Cars were not to be driven so going out for fast food was not an option either. They were stuck in the dorms.

But young people are resourceful. Across the street from the school was a park with a good sized hill for sledding. But none of them had brought a sled to school.

The front page for the next day's local newspaper had a picture of several girls from the college flying down the hill on a mattress. My granddaughter was in front steering the mattress. It is a great picture.

I asked her if they were in trouble and she said only that the school asked them to not use a mattress again. When I asked if it was her mattress she said, "Do I look crazy?" It belonged to a girl who was not at school at the time. I am sure the school replaced it.

So with all the snow on the ground right now I find myself in need of groceries. I have to drive about 25 miles to do that. I am not looking forward to it. The roads are cleared better now but now I worry about falling on ice. I guess you just cannot win.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bringing Luck

Do you avoid stepping on the cracks in the sidewalk so you will not "break your mother's back"? Never walk under ladders? Turn around if a black cat crosses your path?

People consider these to be "bad luck" omens. So in order to have good luck you need to stay away from them.

And of course there are those things that are considered good luck or bad luck depending on circumstances or where you live. Some people refuse to accept a two dollar bill thinking it will bring bad luck. Others believe a two dollar bill is a sign of good luck.

When my children were small I would tell them that if a lady bug landed on them it would bring them good luck. We would lie for the longest time in a patch of clover trying to find one with four leaves. To receive a silver dollar was a guarantee of good luck to come. And how many little boys have you known who did not have a lucky rabbit's foot?

Grandpa used to nail old horseshoes over the barn door. He insisted that the ends of the horseshoe point up so the good luck would not spill out. I have heard other people say to point them down so the good luck will pour over the door. Since Grandpa was a cowboy I will agree with him.

My children used to go to the store to buy candy. There was some sort of treat that came with a little iron figurine. The figurines were like Vikings or Medieval soldiers. One of my sons named his first character Bruno.

Apparently another of the kids was afraid of something and my son said that Bruno would protect them all. Then he placed Bruno on the door frame and left him there. Soon all the figures they bought at the store were perched over doors all over the house. And they were all named Bruno.

My children still like the comfort of having Brunos guarding the house from the top of the door.

My oldest granddaughter was very small and having horrible dreams. She was too small
to even be able to tell anyone what the dreams were about but no one could calm her except her father.

My son would often be called at work because she woke from her nap screaming. He would talk to her on the phone until she was soothed enough to let her mother hug her for a while.

As she got older she did not wake up screaming so we thought the bad dreams were over.

Dream catchers had become a new craze. A dream catcher is a round frame with a webbing stretched inside. At the center of the dream catcher where the webbing comes together there is a small opening.

The story of the dream catcher is that you place it over your bed. When you dream the dream catcher will catch all the dreams. It allows the good dreams to go to the dreamer. Bad dreams are captured in the center of the webbing and will simply burn away in the sunlight of the day.

My oldest son saw a dream catcher that he thought was nice and bought it to decorate his room. My granddaughter was several years older by then. She saw it hanging in her uncle's room. I watched her as she studied carefully. She did not realize that I noticed.

Finally she looked at her uncle and nonchalantly asked him, "Does that thing really work?" He bought her one the following weekend. Now everyone has at least one.

When I was quite young my father introduced all of us to Petey. Petey is our family gremlin.

Gremlins are those little characters that cause glitches in machines. If the car develops a ping, Petey did it. If the television has wavy lines, Petey did it. These days if the computer crashes, Petey did it. Petey has been with our family since World War II.

Now I have all these little Irish children. You would not believe the tricks the leprechauns play on us. They hide car keys, put a very small object on floor where you are sure to step on it, or maybe rip a seam in your favorite pair of pants. They are tricky little creatures.

We all have leprechaun statues and figurines too.

So buy a shamrock plant and keep the luck growing at all times. Better yet, give some shamrock seeds to a friend and pass the luck on to them too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Good Old List

My son hates lists. Normally I am not overly fond of them myself. So today I am going to make us all suffer and make a list. See how many of these things you remember. Most of them I actually used. Maybe you did too.

Wringer washers. And a washboard was used to scrub out stubborn stains before washing. After we did the wash (and hung it out to dry on a clothesline) we took it in. What needed starch was starched and all that needed ironing was sprinkled with water then rolled so the moisture would distribute evenly. Then we would iron it all on Monday.

Dimmer switches for the lights on the car.  The starter was right next to it. And before there were turn signals built into the light system of the car we had to use hand signals.

Pop beads were such fun. They were plastic and were supposed to look like pearls. You connected them by popping the stem end into the hole of the next bead. That way you could make the necklace or bracelet as large as you wished.

Bathing suits were one piece with that awful flat panel in the front. It was supposed to make your stomach look flatter.

The Civil Air Patrol conducted periodic drills to prepare us for the atomic bomb attack that was sure to come. At school we would duck under our desks and cover our heads with our arms. Apparently that would protect one from a direct hit.

Pep rallies. The pep club would lead us in cheers. The football team would run themselves out while the coach gave a pep talk. If we were really lucky there would be a big bonfire.

Full service gas stations. My children do not totally believe me when I tell them that the Texaco men were real. Maybe they did not sing to us but they did check the tires, oil, and water, as well as clean the windows all the way around. All without us asking. And gas was around 12 cents per gallon. Or less.

The telephone had to be installed. The phone man would come out with the phone and hook everything up. Then he would call the company to make sure it worked right and get the new number for us. The phones were black and had dials not buttons.

The bane of my existence was the outdoor toilet. I may not have mentioned this before (of course I have) but I hate outhouses!

But I did like cooking on the wood stove. Food tastes better for some reason. But I was not overly fond of pumping water for any reason.

I was in junior high school before I had physical education. Before that we had recess. For 15 minutes in the morning and again in the afternoon our teacher would take us outside to play. It gave us all a nice break.

Remember Dippity-Do? It was a clear goop we put on our hair to make the curlers work better at holding the curl. It kept our bangs and flips in place. It pasted down the mini sideburns of a pixie cut. Side hair for braids and pony tails did not fly all over with a small smear of Dippity -Do.

Of course a beehive hairdo needed copious amounts of hairspray to keep them in place.

Boys had Brylcreem. A little dab'll do ya. If they needed something stronger for a flat top for instance there was butch wax. Yep. They made fun of us but they actually waxed their hair. Military haircuts needed nothing but a shampoo once in a while.

Few girls wore blue jeans. We had capri pants and toreador pants. Many girls wore a girdle under them to flatten that stomach. And a female's chest was supposed to have two distinct points (sharp ones). When dressing up a dress was required with hose. Pantyhose? Not invented. We needed a garter belt to fasten those stockings so they would stay in place. Do not forget to make sure the seams wents straight up and down the back of the leg.

Our shoes were saddle shoes, penny loafers, or cheap little flats. With the penny loafers and saddle shoes we wore white stockings carefully rolled at the ankle.

For gym class we were required to wear a one piece gym suit. It was like a blouse and shorts combined and buttoned up the front. Ours were pukey green.

The boys wore blue jeans with the cuffs rolled. At home they could wear T-shirts but for school a dress shirt was required. Penny loafers were for dressing up if it was casual enough not to need dress shoes. Otherwise engineer boots were what the "cool" boys wore.

In every small town I lived there was a whistle or siren sounded at noon to tell everyone when to have lunch. We called it dinner and the evening meal was supper. People went home for meals unless they were at school. School lunches were optional and we could go home then too.

The televisions were filled with tubes. When you first turned on the TV you had to wait for all the tubes to warm up before you could get reception.

All boys had baseball cards fastened to their bicycles with clothespins. The cards were situated so that when the wheels were moving the cards would slap against the wheel spokes making a motorcycle noise. Too cool.

When the school year began you had to buy supplies like paper and pencils. For math you might need a compass. ruler, and protractor. For math and science a slide rule was a necessity.

Are you feeling nostalgic yet? I am just feeling old.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Lillian was one of the most loved women in the neighborhood. She had her own house and kept it neat and tidy but comfortable. My youngest brother shoveled snow and mowed her lawn. He would not charge her but she made special treats for him.

One of her legs was shorter than the other so she had a pronounced limp that would have kept most of us down. She just kept on going with an energy that would shame most of us. She did not drive so she walked everywhere.

Lillian always had a smile and good word for and about everybody. She had never married. I think she was told when she was small that her leg made her undesirable and she believed it. What a mate she would have been for some lucky man.

The one eccentricity she had was that she absolutely loved Elvis Presley. And I do mean loved. Anything having to do with Elvismade her happy.

There was one whole room in Lillian's house that was devoted to Elvis memorabilia. She had built her own shrine. And her a good Catholic woman too.

Most years Lillian made a pilgrimage to Graceland. I am not sure what she did there. I would think that she toured the house when tours were allowed. I do know that she was happy just to be there where Elvis lived.

Someone had the idea of commemorating Elvis on a postage stamp. Lillian was all for it.

For several years Lillian collected signatures on petitions. She called congresspeople. She contacted anyone and everyone who might be able to make the Elvis stamps happen.

She worked tirelessly and diligently. Lillian really wanted Elvis to be remembered on a stamp.

You should have seen her face the day she found out that there was going to be a postage stamp with the man she idolized on it. Her usually smiling face was glowing with joy.

One of the first things she did was to go to church to give thanks. She was a good Catholic woman.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dungeons And Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons is a board game that has gotten a bad name over the years. In some cases the bad reputation is deserved and I will discuss that too.

This is a fantasy game. Each player has a character with it's own special abilities and tools or armaments. Play is decided by the role of dice. Battles and other activities of the game are determined by rolling dice.

There are several different kinds dice. The number of sides on the dice is determined by the shape. They range from 4 sides to 18 sides. A player uses whichever dice is required for whichever play. I think it sounds more complicated than it is.

You can buy a game that leads you through the various adventures until someone completes it. Or if you feel confident you can make up your own game.

The reason Dungeons and Dragons has a bad reputation is that some gamers ( it is mostly blamed on college students but I do not know if that is the case) took the game too far. They dressed in costume to be their characters. Not a bad thing.

The problem came when they took the game to places like the woods or sewers and had live action instead of using a table and character pieces. There were stories of people being injured and even killed. I do not know which if any of them are true. But the bad reputation continues.

People who play have also been branded as "nerds" with no outside lives. They devote themselves addictively to playing Dungeons and Dragons.

I now have to be honest and say that I do not play. Not because of any labels attached to the game. It just is not the kind of thing I enjoy.

However my children had weekly Dungeons and Dragons dates with my mother.

They would really get into the spirit of the game. My mother told me about one time that my youngest son was in a stressful situation in the game. She said that he was straining so hard the veins were standing out in his neck and his face was red.

When the time allotted for role playing was over the game was put away until the next week. The characters were dropped and the players were themselves again. They knew the difference between make-believe and reality.

Each player was required to keep track of tools and abilities acquired during the game as well as what was used or lost. They had to keep a running tally of points gained or lost. My children's math skills accelerated.

Another thing the characters had to do was to keep track of where they had been. It was important to their progress in the game. So they made maps. The maps were labelled with places they had battles. Topography was important so that was included. How many 6-year-olds do you know who can make and follow a map? My daughter could.

All the players needed to use their brains to know what to do in a particular challenge. They needed to know what action they would take and what it might cost them. They also needed to protect themselves from harm at the same time. And it all had to be done quickly.

Of course each player had ideas for a new game. So they secretly worked on their own games too.

The game had to have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Simple enough. But within that game the challenges had to be planned. Where and when would they happen? How would they be resolved? What reqards would be found through out the game. When? How would they be won?

What would the characters be like? What talents and tools would they have at the beginning? Why would they be setting off on this particular adventure?

How would the game end? What would the requirements be to end it? Those are just a few of the things the game master had to take into consideration.

Dungeons and Dragons were a valuable learning tool for my children. Anything taken to extreme is not good but in moderation I think this is a good game.

Friday, January 8, 2016


I have never had good sleeping habits. I guess I should say after I was old enough to not have a strict bedtime as prescribed by my parents I have not had good sleeping habits.

When I was old enough to work I often had jobs that kept me up late. Neighbors who often hired me to watch their children while they went out for some fun did not come home until close to the time the sun was coming up. Of course I was not allowed to sit on school nights.

When I set pins in the bowling alley we did not get off work until 11:00 at night. Sometimes a little later if people needed to finish their bowling.

I did not mind. I am somewhat of a night owl. I like the peace and quiet late at night. Coming from a large family it is difficult to find the alone time that we all need. I found mine at night.

Being part of a large family also helped me to be able to fall asleep even if it is noisy. I can shut out noises and just close my eyes.

As an early teenager I spent almost one whole summer in bed. I had no energy and I was so cold. I was extremely anemic. It took a while to get the nutrients into my body before I felt better. In the meantime I slept under lots of covers.

When I was almost 17 I began to have seizures. The medications they had available then were not as kind to a system as some of the newer drugs we have now. I took phenobarbital which is an addictive drug in the beginning. They added dilantin later.

The nature of both drugs made me extremely sleepy. Two aspirin will put me to sleep for several hours so you can imagine the zombified sate I was in when I began to take these drugs. Once again I was often sleeping all day.

After a few months of taking these drugs my body finally adjusted and I began to have normal waking hours. More than 50 years later I am still taking them and I feel no different than I would otherwise.

When my children were small they kept me so very busy. Too often a spit and a promise was all I had time for when it came to cleaning my house.

Every once in a while I would just stay up all night and go through to do the major cleaning I had ignored for too long. I could thoroughly scrub floors and clean under the furniture. There were no children and no husband under my feet needing attention.

My three boys were night owls too. We used to stay up watching horror movies on TV after their father went to bed at night. They all still like to stay up late. I think they like the quiet time too.

My daughter on the other hand is a morning person. She is usually in bed by 9:00. To be fair she has to be at work at 4:30 ot 5:00 so she needs to get her sleep. When they were a bit younger her children would go in and tuck her in right before they went to bed.

Waiting in the doctor's office is long and boring. I take something to read with me. But after an amount of time even reading becomes sleep inducing.

I used to fight sleep in a waiting room. People chuckle at those who fall asleep there. I used to fight it. Then I realized I do not care if they laugh at me. So now I just find a comfortable positio0n for my head and purposely take a nap.

These days I find myself sitting down and then waking up. By that I mean that I did not intend to sleep in my chair but it happens in spite of me. The only time it bothers me is when I intended to watch what was on television and I slept through it.

As you can see sleep has consumed at least a third of my life. I am at a time in my life now that I enjoy a nap now and then. I not only do not feel guilty but I am happy that I am able to have the luxury.

But the best sleep is in my cozy bed. I like my cool sheets and lots of pillows. Then the comforting weight of the blankets and the gentle warmth they provide put me to sleep in no time.

Good night.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

About The Dog

My son's dog has hurt herself. It snowed and she went outside to do her thing. When she came back in she acted like her paws were really really cold. We gave it little thought because she warmed up right away.

When she went out again later she acted even worse. We chuckled and teased her a bit about becoming a soft old house pet.

Later in the day my son was in his room napping. I was beginning to fix supper. The dog came into the kitchen for a drink of water. The poor thing could barely walk. It looked like she was having a hard time with the pads of her fromt paws gripping the tile floor because she was slipping as she tried to walk.

I was appropriately sympathetic. I told my son about it when he came from his room. He clucked over her because she likes nothing better than to be babied by him.

The next time she tried to get up she could not do it. My son lifted her back end and she stood but put no weight on one of her back paws. She could barely walk.

The dog is much too heavy to try to carry her. When she needs to go out my son goes with her to help her maneuver down the steps. He waits patiently in the cold for her to do what needs doing.

When it is time for her to come back in my son helps to boost her from the back so she can get up the steps. I hold the door open for her.

This happened a couple of days ago. Today she is doing much better. She is able to stand by herself. She still limps and gives muffled cries of pain when she is trying to rest. And we are still a two man crew assisting her in and out of the house. But as I said she seems much better.

Last year my son bought one of those cheap little laser pointers. His thought was to tease her a bit with the light from it.

He would point the dot of light on the floor. When the dog went to pick it up with her mouth her would move it quickly. The dog would chase the dot of light until she would finally give up and take a nap.

My son was amazed when he realized that she knew where the dot came from. When he reaches for the laser pointer she immediately goes into a pounce position.

Every time we go to the grocery store we buy the dog a cheap little toy. She has so many toys in her toy pile. Many of them she has not seen for a long time.

Recently we went to the grocery store and... forgot her toy!

As we brought in the groceries she sniffed at each bag to see which one held her toy. She kept sniffing.

My son snuck over to her pile of toys and pulled one from the bottom of the pile that we had not seen in a long time. He put it in a grocery bag and pulled it out grandly to give to her.

She sniffed it once. She took the toy in her mouth and dropped it to the floor.

Then she gave my son a look of such disdain. It was as if she were saying, "How dare you think I am that stupid!"

The next time we shopped for groceries he bought two toys. One for her to have that day and one for the next time we forgot.

Well the next time we went for groceries my son decided not to buy her a new toy. He would just give her the one he had in reserve.

Do you know that she sniffed it, took it in her mouth, then dropped it in disgust! She knew it was not freshly bought from the store.

I will repeat myself to let you know that this is the funniest animal I have ever seen.

P.S. We ended up taking her to the vet. She has arthritis and he gave her some medication to take. It may take a few days to work so we  will have to see. Otherwise she is well. And funny.