Archive | October 2011

Gumby Handshake

Reader’s Digest recently reported that the first seven years after the onset of menopause, women lose 30 percent of their bone mass.  How on earth is any older woman able to stand up?  All the menopausal women are turning into Gumby as I write this!

This is when I got very concerned about the proper act of handshaking. 

When I was growing up, no one taught me how to shake hands.  Believe it or not, this is not a thing that ladies did.  It is not anyone’s fault that I did not learn how to accomplish this little trick of etiquette and that I had to try to learn how to do this task on my own.  Sometimes we have to try to figure things out by ourselves.

“That is the wimpiest handshake that I ever felt.  It felt like a wet noodle,” a young man said to me quite a while ago, when the trend of shaking hands was becoming more popular.  I didn’t know how to respond to his comment.  I just smiled.  I didn’t want to get into how I didn’t learn how to shake hands and that I was in the process of teaching myself.  This guy probably was not aware that there are no classes being taught on this subject.

Now that I have experienced more handshakes, there are times when a man will shake my hand and their grip is so tight that it seems as if he truly wants to arm wrestle.  When these men’s fathers taught this mannerly deed, I am pretty sure that the Dads wanted their sons to have a nice firm grip, not to scare someone into thinking that they might have to be prepared to arm wrestle.  Well, let me tell the men of America that it is not necessary to shake a woman’s hand in that manner.  If you want to arm wrestle with boys, go find some to arm wrestle with.  If you want to arm wrestle with girls, tell us first, so we are prepared.

I think that I am probably speaking for most of the women in America when I say to please not squeeze our hands too tight, no matter how old we are.  We do not want all our fingers to get stuck together like Gumby’s!  Don’t embarrass yourself by breaking some lady’s hand bones.  We need to hang onto all the bone mass we can.


Scared and Screaming Halloween

“Aw, that was so cool.”

“Man, you have got to go in there.” 

“That was so neat.” 

The yells and screams of the laughing trick-or-treaters echoed around us as they ran from the house we were approaching.

“You have to go inside, if you want to get candy,” a boy yelled to us.

We never went through the front doors, but this house called us to enter.

My gut told me not to go.

Since I didn’t want to look chicken, and neither did my friends, we went inside.

The floor creaked as we slowly entered the warm living room.  Flickering candles made shadows bounce in the darkness.  

A lady with a white dress, long black hair and an eerie smile stood behind a man with green skin who was lying on a table. A red streak of blood slid out the side of his mouth. Black shiny hair covered his square head.  Shadows showed scars in uneven patterns on his face and hands.  Bolts grew out of each side of his neck, and he looked as if he might be sleeping. Large black shoes stuck out of the white sheet that covered the rest of his body.

The bowl of candy on his belly rose and fell with each breath.

Suzie, our bravest friend, reached for the candy, grabbed a piece and quickly made room for the next trick-or-treater. My sweaty hand trembled as I reached for a giant snickers bar. I tried to grab it before the bowl went too high and would be out of my reach. I let out a breath as I grabbed the candy bar and threw it in my bag, the bowl still rising and falling.

Next, it was Cathy’s turn. As she reached for the candy, Frankenstein grabbed her hand as he snapped up, his dark eyes on us. We all screamed.  Cathy grabbed candy from the wobbly bowl with her free hand, and yanked her other hand out of Frankenstein’s tight grip.  We couldn’t believe how brave she was! 

All our screaming relieved some of our fear as we ran from the house.

Another boy approached us outside and said, “You gotta see the haunted house over on Thomas Avenue. It really is haunted. No lie!”

We decided we had enough of being scared for one night, and we continued on with our normal routine – knocking and not going through doors – our pillowcases filled with candy treasures that weighed us down.

I was one spooked ghost that Halloween, but I still wish we would have gone to the haunted house!

This post was inspired by RemembeRed at “With Halloween approaching, many of us are revisiting fond memories of trick-or-treating, favorite candy, and parties. Reach back to a costume that made an impression. Was it yours? A friend’s? Maybe it was a costume you never got to wear. Show it to us with your words, draw us into the emotions it evoked at the time.”

To: Dog Lovers – You Know Who You Are!

When we were in between dogs, I tried to talk myself out of being a dog lover. I tried to tell myself that it is so nice not to have a dog because I don’t have to:

• Take the dog for a walk;
• Feed and water the dog;
• Clean up fur balls;
• Visit the vet;
• Buy dog food, treats and toys;
• Find someone to care for the dog when we were gone; and
• Pick up the poop!

I discovered that it is impossible to not be a dog lover if a person is one already. It is best to admit it, and move on. Let’s face it – it’s our destiny. The world needs people like us.

It makes me wonder how one becomes a dog lover. I think dog lovers are made that way from their beginning. For some unknown reason, when I was a very small child, I pretended that my white and fluffy blanket was a dog! I wrapped my hand around the silky corner and there I tied a rope and declared that part to be my dog’s neck. I took her on walks around our house and tied the rope to a knob on the bureau so that she would not run away. She was this girl’s best friend. I could tell her all things, and she stayed right by my side.  Don’t laugh – I couldn’t help it – I was made that way!

When Lila, my real dog, was taking me for a walk around our neighborhood park the other day, two girls of the age of about 11 years old were walking towards us. One of the girls was talking while watching the ground intent on her words. The other girl watched us as we approached. As we got closer, the quiet girl’s eyes squinted as she smiled all the while her eyes on Lila. After seeing that smile was when I knew that girl was a dog lover and that it would be her lot in life to love and care for a dog, if she wasn’t doing that already.

That girl and other dog lovers like her discover the rewards that a dog brings, and that all the work a dog requires gets paid back in love over and over again.

This is part of the Saturday morning blog hop.  To get your link, click here.

Snow Angels to the Rescue

One Saturday morning last winter, just as snowflakes were starting to fall on existing heaps of snow and ice, our son drove off to work. The moment I knew his shift was over was the moment I anxiously started to wait for him to arrive home. The snow was piling up all around our house inch by inch making the outdoors a blur of white. 

My cell phone rang.

“Where are you?” I asked.

“Mom, don’t freak out,” Matt said. “I’m stuck.”

“Where are you?” I repeated.

“I’m just over by Caribou. I was getting off the exit from the highway, and I got stuck in the snow. Wait, how does Dad know where I am?”

“What?” I said.

“Dad just pulled up behind me. How did he know I was here?”

“Dad just left to go see if he could make it to the grocery store.”

I heard Dad talking to Matt. I was so glad they were together.

There was so much snow that even Dad decided that it was not wise to try to make it to the grocery store.  After Dad got on the highway and saw how bad it was, he took the first exit to come back home. Just as he was exiting the highway, he saw the family car stuck in the snow with Matt inside talking to me.

While I nervously changed the bedding to pass the time, I hoped they would both be home soon. Even though I knew they were just a few blocks away with snow dumping down on them, the sooner they were home, the better I would feel.

“So what happened?” I asked, after they got home.

“A guy helped us push the car out of the snow,” Dad said.

That wasn’t all who helped us.  How strange that Dad got there just in time to help Matt.

Thanks Snow Angels for coming to the rescue!  I pray that you will please keep watch over all our loved ones this coming winter!

Show Me the Way!

As I carefully laced and tied the skates with two wheels in front and two in back, I glanced up to see the skaters on the roller rink. Some were skating backwards; others were waltzing with partners. Since this was my first time skating with my high school friends, it was also my first time discovering that they were very experienced skaters.

This realization made my face turn red, my stomach churn and my hands sweat. I wasn’t ready to show my friends that I had a lot to learn. Skating on the slippery floor of the roller rink with these new skates was going to be a very different experience from skating with my first shiny metal skates that came with a key. The key opened a latch on the bottom that could change the length of the skates so they would fit right over my tennis shoes. I practiced on the sidewalk in front of our house by rolling between two chairs. Eventually I skated around the whole block lots of times. The vibration of the metal wheels traveling over bumpy cement made my feet and legs tingle. I hoped those days would help me maneuver the slippery surface of the roller rink.

Thankfully, my friends stuck with me as I slowly slid one skate in front of the other with one hand sliding against the wall for support. As they helped me along, my nerves started to calm. Eventually I got used to the surface after a few bumps on the knees and rear.

Many Saturday nights were spent roller skating. Before I knew it, my friends were showing me the tricks of how to skate backwards, turn around, and waltz. We even managed to dance the Bump!

Learning that my friends were willing to show me the way was the best part!

This post was inspired by Write on Edge’s RemembeRed prompt:  In On Writing Stephen King wrote, “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”
Write a memoir post – first-person and true – inspired by that statement. Word limit is 300.

It is What it Isn’t

During the middle of the night the other night, Lila came to our room because she heard the wooden floor squeaking when I got out of bed.  Lila had been in the habit of visiting us during the night whether she heard a floor board squeak or not, so I thought she needed to go outside this night too.  I was beginning to think that Lila had the smallest bladder ever given to a black lab!  I went downstairs with her, and as is our habit, I grabbed her collar so that I could put it on her before she went outside.  She looked at me, and quickly turned and sauntered off to her bed.  As she made herself comfortable, I understood what she was telling me!  Lila was just checking up on us to see if we were okay, and she did not need to go outside.  This beginning of sleeping through the night is a great accomplishment. 

It makes me very happy to see her communicating this way.  There were times when I was losing hope.  I thought that she wasn’t really making any kind of connection with us, but it could have been that I was not making a connection with her.  Part of me was still missing my old dog, Music.  I would think, “Oh, Music would never do that,” when Lila did something that frustrated me like bite and tear apart the tassels that held the drapes back in the dining room.  Music lived in our house for a very long time; she watched all of our movements and knew exactly what was going to happen.  We communicated with Music and she communicated with us.  It took me a while to figure out that our new dog is not my old dog, and that I will always miss that old dog of mine no matter how hard I try not to.  One dog is not a replacement for another.  We have been playing, bonding and taking good care of Lila, but I need to stop making comparisons. We are still getting to know her and she is still getting to know all of us, but still deep inside, I am realizing that Lila is not a substitute.

Lila needs to know that she will be loved for who she is, and that she does not need to worry about not being loved for who she isn’t.  Now we are doing just that every day and it is making life better.

This is part of the Saturday morning blog hop.  To see other posts on the blog hop, click here.


The dustiness covered what footsteps we might have left behind. Parched tan stalks towered over our heads while hiding dried cobs of corn. A shadowy trail was cast by the softening afternoon sun of autumn as earthy scents enveloped us.  Following others on this adventure, we wondered if our map was truly showing us the way.

The meticulously plowed course patterned the United States of America.  Each destination awarded informational facts that taught us something new or had us remembering something we thought we had forgotten. Winding and venturing through this reproduction of our country in one afternoon amazed us!

To learn more about USA’s largest corn maze, click here.

This post was inspired by RemembeRed.  The writing prompt was to conjure something:  An object, a person, a feeling, a color, a season – whatever you like, in 100 words.