Archive for October, 2010

Mono…The Kissing Disease

When I was in high school, I was lucky if I weighed 90 pounds. I used to fry up two hamburgers most mornings before the bus came in order to gain weight. That is probably where the high cholesterol came from. Nothing worked. I was still skinny.  So, imagine my horror when I was diagnosed with….mono.

In 1973, mononucleosis, or mono, for those with mono who are too fatigued to say the longer term, was called “The Kissing Disease.”  I was pissed because I didn’t kiss anyone. I think it should have been called the “Water Fountain Licking Disease.” I don’t think I got it from there either. I really don’t know where I got it, but I remember there was a football player who had it a week or two before I was diagnosed with it. I bet he licked the water fountain and the bugs jumped up while I was getting water one day. I really didn’t mind people teasing me about kissing this guy, but alas, I was just a blurp on his radar screen.

I specifically remember my symptoms. The sore throat was intense. Mom mom got out a small flashlight and kept checking my throat. “My goodness, Vickie……There are patches of white all over your throat.” Thanks, Mom. Now it hurt even more. Later, it was found that they were pus patches, which is disgusting. “Hey, I have pus patches on my throat..Wanna see with the flashlight?  Hey, I know, let’s go lick some water fountains.” I really wanted others to experience this wonderful thing called mono.

I had a very high fever.  Before I was diagnosed with mono, I called what I had, “The Shuffle Flu.” I remember wearing those scruffy slippers and shuffling around the house because with each step, my head pounded like you wouldn’t believe. So, I couldn’t walk like a normal person. I was a shuffler.

The worse thing for me were the swollen glands. I had them wrapped around my neck. I had no idea there were glands behind your

neck. My neck hurt so badly. I wanted to wear one of those whiplash collars to keep my neck from moving. I felt awful. I might as well look stupid. I even had hurtful swollen glands in my armpits. I was a mess.

One symptom of mononucleosis that I couldn’t handle was the extreme fatigue. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that a trip from the  couch to the kitchen sink was like running a mile as fast as I could. By the time I would shuffle over to the sink, I would be sweating, my pulse would be racing, and I was spent, drained of all energy. I would shuffle slowly back to bed and sleep for hours. It was horrible. I would not wish this on anyone.

I had an enlarged spleen. I wasn’t allowed to pick up anything heavy. So, my mom wouldn’t let me even pick up my dog, Cricket. I just remember my mom saying that there was another boy who had mono in our city at the same time and he had an enlarged heart with his mono.  Oh great. I didn’t want an enlarged heart. I’d take some enlarged breasts though.  Too bad that wasn’t a symptom. So, now there were two guys and me with mono. I sure got around.

I can’t remember how long I was out of school, but I had been preparing for a Voice of Democracy Speech in Speech Class for weeks before mono attacked me, and I was determined to be in that damn contest.  Oh, what a mistake that was. I went to school for a half day and went to the contest at the local VFW that night. All I can remember was standing at the podium, breaking out in a sweat, dying for a glass of water, which someone gave me in the middle of my speech. I downed like I had been out in the desert for a month. Who the hell was I kidding.? I wasn’t going to win. I may have won for “Best Attempt to Utter a Sentence Without Passing Out” award.  I had to hold onto the podium with both hands because I was so fatigued. Stupid, Vickie, stupid. But, teenagers are stupid, so you know, you learn.

So, there are some ways for you to keep the mono bug out of your mouth. Don’t share anyone’s drink or straw. Don’t borrow anyone’s lipstick. Don’t use anyone’s used Kleenex. Ok, that would be gross, but I do want to mention that mononucleosis is spread by saliva and mucus, so don’t flick boogers at people. Ok, still being gross.

Mononucleosis is not fun. Diseases usually aren’t. Just take it easy if you are diagnosed with mono, and don’t rush back to your every day activities. I have found from watching others with it over the years that it can delay the return of your energy if you don’t take time to let your body rest. You could have relapses of fatigue for a while.

And just don’t spit on anyone, Luggie-style.

I Believe in Mary Worth…I Believe in Mary Worth

When I was young, we held seances whenever we had the chance. It didn’t have to be on or near Halloween. We usually went to Lori’s house, our friend who lived right across the street. She had a small fruit cellar in her basement that was jus the perfect place to light a candle, shut the door, and burn to death. But, we never dropped the candle and we never stopped chanting.

We really had no idea who the hell Mary Worth was, but we believed in her.

Tweens have no brains, they really don’t.  There were usually four of us who held these seances. We would stand in a circle, shut the fruit cellar door, and slowly begin to chant into a mirror,  I can’t remember for sure, but I think Lori put a mirror on one of the shelves, leaning it against the wall.  You had to have a mirror, because Mary Worth was supposed to appear in it.

We would start the chant, always serious, because we knew this would work.

We would start with a whisper. “I believe in Mary Worth……I believe in Mary Worth….” I think that’s  all we said. But, we said it over and over and over again, because that’s what you had to do if you wanted to bring her back.  Those were the rules.  I think that anywhere between the third and thirteenth chant, Mary Worth was supposed to appear in the mirror, looking all vengeful and malicious.

So, who was Mary Worth, you ask?  Well, hell, I don’t know. So, I looked her up for your reading enjoyment. There  are many different stories about Mary Worth. Some call her Bloody Mary.  One account is that Mary was wrongly accused of killing her children. She went mad and commited suicide.

I honestly can not remember if we even knew the circumstances of  “our” Mary. We just enjoyed scaring each other and occasionally  getting locked in the fruit cellar. Lori’s mom would also at times don a  mask and slowly open the door to scare us.

So, this Halloween, whatever you do, don’t repeat that phrase while standing in front of a mirror.

Unless of course, you want Mary Worth to appear, wondering who the hell  you are.

Let’s Bring Back Houdini

I have always been fascinated with seances. I think it had to do with my brand new Ouji board I received as a present one year for Christmas. Everyone had Ouji boards. In case you have been living in a box, an Ouji board is a board marked with letters and numbers, and other symbols so you can communicate directly with the dead. It has a moveable piece that players put the tips of their fingers on, letting the spirits guide them to the answers they have questions to.    I always wanted to bring back Houdini. Harry Houdini was the famous magician who died doing one of his magic tricks.

According to Wikipedia, Houdini spent years trying to debunk mediums and psychics. He didn’t believe that anyone could have powers of that nature.  He would often go to seances incognito and then jump up to show the people attending  how things were faked.

Before Houdini died, he and his wife, Bess, agreed that if Houdini’s spirit came back after death, he would say “Rosabelle believe” as a secret codeword to prove that it was actually him. This was a phrase from a play that his wife  performed in when the couple first met. His wife held yearly séances  for ten years after Houdini’s death, but “Houdini”‘s spirit never appeared. Bummer.

So, of course, in 1977, I thought I could bring him back. In college, I lived in a house with 4 sorority sisters. We had a lot of ceremonial candles lying about. I can’t tell you how many seances I had in that house. We would light candles, drink, and then conjure up Houdini’s spirit. I remember one specific time when my boyfriend (later husband) kept telling me to be careful. I was wearing a sweater with a cowl collar and was leaning into my candle as I was laughing while chanting, “Harry Houdini, we are calling on you to come visit us this Halloween eve……”  We would drink a little more and conjure up people and I would always have someone hiding in the kitchen to creep into the room at exactly the right moment. It was just another excuse to have a party.

The best seance I had included a little trick I learned from living in a house with uneven floorboards under the carpeting. If I stepped directly on one place in the living room, the nearby lamp would flicker on and off. I guess the lamp cord was sitting on the long board. Or the light wasn’t screwed in all the way. Regardless, it was something I could use, perhaps. Hmmmmm. That gave me an idea.

I gathered my friends and their friends in a little circle after a few rounds of drinks and had them stand, holding hands with the person next to them so there would be no shenanigans. I lit my ceremonial candles and shut off all of the lights, except for that lamp. I changed the bulb earlier to a 20 watt bulb, so it wasn’t too bright. I opened up the living room window a bit to increase the creep factor. I loved it when it was a bit windy.  I started conjuring up Harry Houdini. I called to him several times before I said, “If you are here with us, please give us a sign…and I would slowly shift my weight to one side on that uneven board under the carpet. The light flickered. A couple people nervously laughed. “Is that you, Harry Houdini?” Slowly shift my weight to make the light flicker on, then off. I was starting to freak people out after a few minutes of my questioning.

“Harry Houdini, are you standing in this room right now? If you are, turn the light on and then off. Wow, this  is just too perfect. Someone was getting scared, but was still suspect. “Vickie, are you doing this?”  Haha. The people on both my sides answered in unison, “She’s not. She is holding my hand.”  I decided to get to business.

“Harry Houdini, are you holding hands with someone in this circle? If you are, give us a sign.” The light went off.  Someone screamed. It was a guy! A guy who screamed like a girl. I wanted to crack up laughing, but I was just beginning. “Harry Houdini, if you are holding hands with someone, gently squeeze their hand. I KNEW one of the 9 would squeeze someone’s hand. Everyone started screaming, which meant, more than one person decided to be a funny guy. I then started shifting my weight back and forth and the light was going crazy and people were screaming. It was a fantastic evening. It also helped that people were intoxicated.

I then announced. “Someone has broken the chain. He has left the room.”  I never told anyone what I did. I had three more “drinking seances” after that.

I’d like to think that the famous escape artist paid a visit to us during one of those seances. Even if he didn’t, I hope  he was having a good laugh watching from above.

Did I mention that he died on Halloween?

Vincent Price…..Priceless

Halloween is approaching and it reminds me of the things that really scare me about this fun holiday. A lot of people would vote for the shower scene in “Pyscho” or Michael Myers in the backyard in “Halloween.” But for me, Vincent Price would be at the top of the list. I was afraid of him, but at the same time, I just had to watch his movies. His voice was menacing, but yet peaceful, soothing. I thought he could probably put people in trances. He had this look that would send shivers down my spine.

He was Hannibal Lecter of the 1950’s.  He could be the Pied Piper with that voice, making the children follow him out of town, hypnotized and ready to be eaten. Well, except I don’t think he was like Jeffrey Dahmer or anything in his films.  He was too sauve and cool to eat flesh. He smoked cigarettes, wore a suit most of the time in his movies, and was just crazy, again,in a suave and cool way.

I used to think “House on Haunted Hill” was the scariest thing ever. We would watch scary movies every Saturday night on Chiller Theater, before Saturday Night Live took over Saturday late night. Vincent Price starred in this movie, and gave me nightmares for days.

I remember staying overnight with Cindy, a friend who lived down the street, one night when “House on Haunted Hill” was on tv. We watched it. I was creeped out as usual, and went to her bedroom to go to sleep. Her closet door was open and Cindy asked me to close it. I guess she was scared also. But, of course, that wasn’t the case. Her mom was standing in the closet with a panty hose over her head.  Surprised I didn’t pee myself. I sure showed the neighbors I had healthy lungs, though. When I rented the movie when my children were tweens, I professed that this movie will scare them to death, they laughed at me. It was sort of 1950’s goofy-scary to them. I thought that a skeleton making a woman back into a vat of acid was pretty darn scary. I believe they used the word, “lame.”  The disappointed me so.

 

Vincent Price could have been in Heidi and I still would have been creeped out. It was his voice. There are many actors who are known for their voice, such as say, James Earl Jones, or Pee Wee Herman.. But, this guy left an impression. I loved it when Michael Jackson used him in “Thriller.”  It really added to the creep-factor. There was another movie that he was in called, “The House of Wax,”  which I thought was pretty scary too. I think Tim Burton used the scene of the burning dolls in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” as a tribute to House of Wax. Don’t even get me started on his Oompah Loompah’s in that movie. I can get side-tracked talking about that creepy movie.

I don’t think there will be another scary movie that will affect me the way “House on Haunted Hill” did as a child. As I grew older, I found When a Stranger Calls and Invasion of the Body Snatchers to be the next best thing.  But, in the end, no one can touch Vincent Price, the king of horror.

 

Playing Dead

When I was young, our family lived in a neighborhood. People and houses were all around us. We didn’t really have deer in our yard too often. The only thing we really had come into our yard were crazy hummingbirds.Hummingbirds need to go to anger management classes. I’m serious. Even if they aren’t hungry, they will buzz right back over to mess with the hungry hummingbirds. My mom had several feeders out on the back porch and we had all the hummingbirds in North America visiting the nectar in our yard.

But, that was the extent of the wildlife. When I got married and we moved to my husband’s  hometown, I remember hearing owls when it was almost dark. I loved it.  For weeks I heard the owls. Until my husband informed me that they were just mourning doves. “Just” mourning doves. I had no idea what a mourning dove was.  And why the hell was it coming in the evening.  Nobody told me it was spelled like a really sad dove. So, what I  thought was an owl was really a depressed pigeon. Welcome to wildlife.

Who knew that when we built our house out on 13 acres that I would become a wildlife whisperer. See https://dyingbraincells.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/elly-may-clampett/  I was a stay-at-home mom and took daily walks through the woods and was amazed at all the wildlife. I loved it. I could tame anything. I am surprised I never got bit, especially during, “the Episode.”

We went to the animal shelter and brought home an outside cat. We didn’t know that people dropped off cats in the countryside, so I guess we could have just waited for a stray to show up, as they regularly did. But, we rescued Tiger and he lived outside. One evening I went outside to sit on the front porch. It was almost dark and my babies were in bed for the night. We hadn’t purchased porch furniture yet, but had 2 folding lawn chairs out there on the corner of our long porch. In the darkness I could see that Tiger was sitting under one of them, so I plopped myself down and then tried to get Tiger to come out from under the chair.

I sat in the chair, saying his name like I was a nutcase. “Ti-ger…come here, baby…Ti-iiii-ger…”, all the while trying to put my hand under the chair to try to pet him. I couldn’t reach him. My hand was moving under the chair some more, calling to him. Cat’s sometimes don’t do what they are asked to do. So, I just sat there, quietly waving my right arm sort of under the chair.

All of a sudden, I saw Tiger jump up onto the porch. Uh-Oh….My dangling hand froze. If that was Tiger……what was under my chair? My eyes grew huge…like cartoon, out of the head eyes.  I slowly got out of my chair and ran out into the yard.

I turned around to see a oppossum. It must have been playing dead under my chair. I was ready to be dead for real out in the yard. My heart was racing.Dear God, the thing could have taken off my arm.

Well, after a while, I got very used to wildlife at my door. The oppossum came back almost every night to eat out of Tiger’s food bowl. I named him Poopy Butt. I think that is a fitting name for an oppossum.

I will never forget that evening. My eyes have never been right since.

Did I Unplug My Curlers?

Have you ever left your home, only to turn your car around and head back because you weren’t sure you unplugged your curlers?  Well, I mean, bald guys wouldn’t have this to worry about.  But, some women do.  Like  me. I worry that I don’t have things unplugged or turned off.  I am a “turner-arounder”.  That is a person who turns around and comes back home to double check. I guess you could call it a “Double checker”.  Or a “Go back homer”.  There are many things to call people like that.  But, do we have OCD?  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?   I don’t think I am OCD by any means. If I was OCD, I would first have to re-arrange the letters to CDO so they would be in alphabetical order.

I am going to share a few of the things that make me a “Go back homer” or a “Turner-arounder”, or a “Double checker.” I really like all of these phrases. I just don’t know which one to use. I will have to think about this for a few hours, OCD-like…But, read on and see if you can relate.  Maybe we have one or two in common.

1. “Did I close the garage door?”-This is really important, because if you left the garage door open, thieves could just walk in and take your…paint cans or wheelbarrow or tool (I am sure we had more than one). Better yet, raccoons could walk in and then fall asleep and then when you come home at night and drive your car into the garage, and shut the door, they would become trapped in your garage and poop all over your car and scratch, “LET ME OUT, YOU JERK” on the side of the car. Or, someone like Ted Bundy would be waiting in the dark, and when I would step out of my car,  kill me, well,  just because. Then he would leave a note like, “She really should have shut her garage door….Love, Ted.”

2. “Is my toilet running?”- Yeah, that gets me all the time. I always use the bathroom before I leave the house. Isn’t it great how I can share my “pee time stories” with strangers? Well, I have to drive 30 minutes to work and I drink a lot of water. Anywho, I usually wait by the front door until the toilet stops making that “I’m filling back up with water now” noise and then I shut and lock the door.And drive off. “But, wait. Did I wait this time? I can’t remember. Did I go to the bathroom before I left? What if my toilet ran all day? I wonder what the hell my water bill would be?… Shit…I better turn around.”

3. “Are my curlers unplugged?” This is the worst one, because I never can remember. I know in my mind that I unplug after I put the last curler in my hair. But, did I really unplug this time? My poor family would all pile in the car to go somewhere and we would get halfway down the driveway and I would say, “I am not sure I unplugged my curlers.” It got to be to the point where as soon as we would get in the car, my husband or kids would ask me. And I would ALWAYS go back. Now that I am divorced, and live by myself, I stare at the plug outlet and say to myself or sometimes out loud if I was really feeling like a loser, “Unplugged.” And I would wrap up my curlers and put them under my bathroom sink. But, my mind is not free. While driving, I would then think, “hmmmmmm, I wonder if I put those curlers away too warm? Could they start a fire?”

4. “Did I leave food for the cat?”- Well, this is important, because if I have a car accident and my head is wrapped in gauze, they won’t be able to hear me saying, “My poor cat has no food.” Therefore, it is imperative to leave her dish full of food and…just in case, the bag nearby. That way, she can knock the bag over when her dish is depleted of food and she can just eat out of the bag until I am released from the hospital. I do have one of those self-feeders, but my cat won’t eat out of it. I guess the food gets stale tasting if it is out too long and she sticks her nose up at it. Well, think about it. Would you eat a piece of toast with butter and jelly after 6 hours of being on the counter? I didn’t think so.

5. “Off, off, off…off..off..off..”-In OCD talk, that means, “Go make sure the oven knobs are all turned off.”  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have turned around to make sure my oven was turned off.  And as I touch each knob, I would say those words..”off, off, off, off, off, off.” And then I would stare at the oven, just one last time. Yes, they are off ….for sure. I would even ask the kids to check. I could hear them say, “off, off, off, off, off, off” in that mocking manner. They were probably thinking, “What the hell? We’ve eaten out for the past 2 nights.”

I guess we all have our idiosyncrasies. That word looks weird….I guess we are all weird in some way or another. I forgot to mention that I make sure that the match I use to light a candle stays in a little jar of water for at least an hour before I throw it away. I heard about a match being in a garbage bag and then smouldering and then burning down a house about a year ago..I like to burn my hazelnut cream candle about every day and don’t want to burn my apartment down. So, the match gets to drown to make sure it is not a fire hazard.

So, do I have OCD? Should a “turner-arounder” be labeled as having an obsessive behavior? I really don’t know the answer to that.

I do know that I have to stop writing this blog now because it is bed time. I have to go make sure my alarm clock is set. You never know when the electric will go off and you would then sleep in for work.

I am pretty sure I have it set… Maybe…..shit….maybe not….I will have to check after I make sure the tires on my car are not flat for the drive to work tomorrow.

Puntastic Halloween….Part 2

Well, I am on a roll now.  I really am the Queen of Halloween Costume Ideas.  It was wonderful to see the great comments from my first hit, “Queen of Halloween Costume Ideas….’Tis True”, and to prove I am not just any one hit wonder, I will offer up my next Halloween blog for your approval. I think I have better ideas on this one.  Enjoy!  These are easy, quick ideas that are cheap or will not cost you a penny.

Uh Oh....

Dog

“On a short leash”-For a guy, dress like a dog and wear a collar and a very short leash.

Dog with the words of the week written all over him. “Every dog has its day”

Dress like a dog, carrying a book with the title “New Tricks” X’d out (Can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

Cat

Couple- One dresses like a cat with a little brown bag, bloodied…the other is himself, but with fake blood all around his mouth “Cat’s got your tongue”

Dress like a cat, carry a bag – “Cat’s out of the bag”

Couple- one is a cat, the other looks disheveled, unkept “Look what the cat’s dragged in”

Heaven, Hell, Devils, Angels

Dress like the devil, carry bells -”Hell’s Bells”

Dress like the devil, tie a plastic ice cube tray on top of your head “Hell freezing over”

Dress like the devil, carry a mirror. When someone asks what you are, make them look in the mirror..”See you in Hell”

Dress like an angel and put a 7 on your chest “seventh heaven”

Dress like an angel and carry a stuffed animal pig “Hog Heaven”

Queen of Hearts- tiara and red hearts all over your body. King of clubs-crown and a golf club.

Queen Bee- tiara and a big B on your chest.

Pat on the back-  sign “Pat” on your back.

Brain freeze- ice cube tray tied on top of your head.

Ice Princess- gown, ice cube tray tied on top of your head.

3 children- Indians with the numbers 1,2, 3 on their backs-One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians

Stuffed bunny tied on the top of your head-”Hare-Brained”

Husband, Wife and Child- Child-baby bee (lowercase “b” on its chest)  Wife-Queen B, Husband-Bee Keeper (3 or 4 necklaces with B’s)

Get a sweatshirt and velcro a deck of cards (minus one) all over and go as ” 1 card short of a full deck.” (That’s what I am going to school as I think)

Draw a picture of a shark on poster board and cut it out and just carry it..”Card shark”

Draw a square with the number 1 inside of it and put it on your back “Back to square 1”

Roll some guaze around your neck a couple of times and put a sign on your chest that says Charley- “Charley hoarse”

Buy one of those fake birds and just throw it at people when they ask what you are and you can say, “Flippin you the bird.”

Wear one of those yellow slickers and put a big check mark on the back and go as a “raincheck”

Make a red heart and put it on your sleeve “Wearing your heart on your sleeve”

So, if you decide at the last minute to dress up for Halloween or if you really don’t want to, but your significant other is pressuring you to dress, I hope you will be able to use one of  these quick and easy costume ideas.

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*My Puntastic Title was suggested by http://abeautifulrind.wordpress.com/  Check out her blog!

Queen of Halloween Costume Ideas…’Tis True

Update:  Need a Halloween costume? I have put all of my ideas collected over the years into an ebook on Amazon.com

2 Bee or not 2 Bee: 430 PUN-tastic Halloween Costume Ideas   at Amazon $2.99

Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. You can download a Kindle app FREE.

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For Halloween, I want my fellow teachers to dress like medical professionals and put a sign on our backs reading, “Staff” Infection.  I don’t know why they just look at me like I have a third eye. I think it is funny.

Every since I was in college in the 70’s, I have been the Halloween costume “Go to”  person.  Sure, people are posting ideas on the internet, but yeah, most of them have come from me….’Tis true.

In college, a friend of mine wanted to go to a Halloween party at a bar, but you had to dress to go. He wanted to look good and wasn’t into wearing a mask. You know you make the face behind the mask, right? You know you do. Anywho, I told him to wear a suit, and put a tape measure around his neck and one of those tomato pincushions on his wrist  and go as Elizabeth’s Tailor. I know, creative, right?  He got in not really wearing a costume.

Ok, how about if you want to wear a costume, but your spouse/significant other does not. Well, dress as an old man and put a big C on the other one’s chest and go as Old Man and the C.

One year at school I just wore a tiara and a B on my chest and went as The Queen B

Two years ago I wore a white sweatshirt, put on some bunny ears and tail and put one of those plastic dusters  around my neck and went as a dust bunny.  Last Halloween, I just wasn’t feeling it, so I just got a huge cardboard quarter and put in on my back and went as a  Quarterback

If you don’t have much time to make an outfit, cut out pieces of a map and hot glue it to a cap and go as a Head Trip

If you want to look pretty, wear a gown and a tiara, get a box and a rope and go as a Drag Queen

I wanted my daughter to wear a tacky gold outfit, everything gold, and spray paint a kid’s plastic shovel and go as a Gold Digger

 Get a witch hat, a lab coat and stethescope and go as a Witch Doctor  or  a couple could dress like doctors and have a sign on their backs Which Doctor

I dressed my kids as bees and put the letters on their backs 2 Bee or Not 2 Bee

Black Eyed Peas- Blacken your eyes and wear the letter P all over your shirt.

Don’t really want to dress up?  Cut out little clock faces and tape them on your hands..Too Much Time on Your Hands

Illegal Alien-My daughter dressed like this when she was younger and was pissed because only the teachers understood what she was.  Jailers outfit, green face with alien antennae.

For a guy, Make a cardboard window, with saran wrap as the window pane (or nothing at all), write Tom on the window and he can go as a Peeping Tom

This is too old for many, but I had a friend name Judy in college and I gave her the idea to wear a Christmas garland wrapped around her neck like a boa and she went as Judy Garland.  I guess your name wouldn’t have to be Judy. Just put the name Judy, on our chest and the garland.

For a guy who doesn’t want to dress up, just carry an umbrella and go as Rain Man, you know, like the movie, (I just made that one up..’Tis true…)

A group could carry plastic hatchets and knives and put B’s on their chests and go as Killer B’s

Dress like any kind of animal and wear a party hat with it and go as a Party Animal

Couple-Guy could be a Knight, girl could go as the sun-  Knight and Day

 I guess I could keep writing for a while.  Coming up with a Halloween costume is fun and a little creativity goes a long way.

If you need a costume, drop me a line. I am the Self-Proclaimed Queen of Halloween Costume Ideas after all.

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Enjoy this story? Jumping in Mud Puddles is now an ebook. Have a look see.  :)  My literary debut. Amazon.com for $3.99.

Jumping in Mud Puddles: A Memoir of a Picky, Hyper, Big Fat Liar

Old Wive’s Tales

I have a sore throat.  It made me think of homemade remedies. Which made me think of old wive’s tales,

which made me think…I wonder how many were made up out of spite? I mean, if I didn’t like someone, couldn’t I easily make up something that would be funny, and not work?

For example, let’s say a friend who really isn’t my friend tells me  that they were going to the beach. I could say, “Don’t forget to pack some glue…..in case you get stung by a jellyfish. Pour glue on it and then rub it in with sand.”   And then add, “I read about it on the internet.”  And if you don’t lie, write it on your blog, read it, and then it isn’t a lie.You did read it on the internet.  There are all ways to cover yourself from going to hell.

Years ago, people didn’t have the communication options that we now have. They lived far apart from each other and had to travel a long way to get to town. You had to make due with what you had on your homestead. So, if  you got injured or sick, let’s say, burned, you  just went and stood in the backyard, and thought, “hmmmmm, what to do, what to do…” and then  you would grabbed some butter from your cold storage place and rubbed it on a burn. Actually, placing butter or similar greasy ointments directly on a burn is counterproductive since it can seal in the heat. People used plants like purple cone flower and herbs to help. Trial and error. Someone had to be the first to try it. I always wondered about the first person who drank milk..”See that cow over yonder…I think what I am going to do……”  Yuck.

My mom used to tell me things all of the time. I am sure they were passed down from her mother, and so on and so on. Momisms..I have used a few myself. But, not the ones my mom used.  Here are some of the Old Wives Tales  my mom used to tell me…

1. “Quit cracking your knuckles. You will get arthritis like Grandma.”- Well, hell, Grandma’s fingers went every which way but they way there were supposed to. I could stare at her fingers forever. Well, not forever, because that would be stupid, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of those fingers. There were like bird claws. She was in pain alot. That’s why she took her “medicine.” Yeah, Grandma was a regular Granny Clampett. For real. I did ask her one time, “Grandma, did you crack your knuckles when you were little?” She replied, “Why do you ask me that, Vickie?”  Well, hell, Grandma, take a look at your knuckles… I really wanted to know if her toes looked like that. She did walk weird…

2. “Don’t sit on the cold cement. You’ll get hemorrhoids.”- We didnt even ask what those were when we were little. I thought they were butt boils, but kept that to myself.

3. “Wash behind your ears or you’ll grow potatoes back there.”- I mean, seriously?  Like I was going to fall for that one. Who the hell made that one up?

4. “Quit wrinkling up your nose. It will stick like that for the rest of your life.”- Ok, that only happened once…on an episode of the Twilight Zone. I always wrinkled up my nose. I was a picky eater, so that went hand in hand with, “Vickie, eat your carrots…..Quit wrinkling up your nose, it will stick like that for the rest of your life…..What do you mean, name one person?……Vickie, eat your carrots…..I can think of plenty of  people whose faces have stuck……..Well, Reverend Harold for one.”  Ok, I almost believed her then, but what I didn’t know is that Reverend Harold had a stroke, so every thing on one side of his face drooped. Harsh.

5. “Don’t swallow your gum. It will stick in your stomach.” -Well, I think it would be wrong if you shoved 5 pieces of bubble gum in your mouth and then swallowed it. You are just asking to choke and die. But, my mom said that gum stays in your stomach for 7 years, so if you keep swallowing it, your stomach will stick out. And then she added..like a Biafran baby. Well, I knew what a biafran baby looked like..we had the National Geographic in our house. That would be sooo politically incorrect nowadays. But, that’s mom for ya!

 

6. “Don’t so close to the tv. You will go blind.” Sometimes she would change this to “Don’t sit so close, you will go cross-eyed.” -Uh, wrong Mom…I could see going to school on a Monday with glasses and a cane. “Awww, poor Vickie, she must have been sitting close to the tv.” But, we liked sitting close to the tv while watching Casper and Romper Room. We didn’t have color..Just static from the rabbit ear antennae.

7. “Put that toad outside! It will give your warts!”- I was always bringing critters into the house. It was nothing to bring home salamanders, lizards, or baby bunnies on any given summer afternoon.  She always told me I was going to get warts. I never did. Well, I had planters warts on the bottom of my foot. I guess she would say that is from walking barefoot where toads hopped..

8.” You have to wait a 1/2 hour to get back in the pool or you will die!”  We heard that one all of the time. Like we were going to jump right back into the pool and do 50 laps. Come on!   We splash and yell, “Hey, Mommy, look.” We are not going to get cramps. Other kids were able to go swimming. Not the Mendenhall kids. We sat out, with our towels wrapped around us, watching the big clock on the pool house wall. I didn’t understand. “Mom, why can’t we go back into the pool?”  “Vickie, do you want to die? Do you?”

I enjoy reading Old Wive’s Tales. They are amusing and possibly painful.  So, the next time your kid swallows 7 pieces of bubble gum,…..

Get ready to do the Heimlich Manuever..

The Pistachio Nut

When I was little, I was allergic to Mohair and bee stings. I was a tiny, fragile thing, probably no bigger than a chihuahua. I had an intense love of animals and had my first experience going into anaphylatic shock after putting a wasp to my cheek after I accidentally stepped on it with my shoe. The poor thing was half-dead, so I picked it up to console it.  It promptly  perked up and stung me. Yeah, I wasn’t too smart. I was rushed to the hospital.

Fast forward many years. My family is hanging out in the kitchen, chowing down on some food. I know it was around Christmas, but I can’t remember how old my son was when this happened. I am pretty sure he was 8 or nine. He looked at me and held his hand to his throat. He was able to talk, so we knew he wasn’t choking. He said something was stuck in his throat. My father-in-law had a sliver of a fish bone stuck in his throat one time, so I was thinking whatever it was needed to be dislodged. Drinking water didn’t help.

Einstein here decided that he should try to swallow a small piece of bread to see if he could dislodge the item stuck in his throat. That didn’t work either. I decided not to mess around and got my shoes on and told my husband I was going to take him to the emergency room.  “Why you taking him to the hospital?”  He asked. Mother’s intuition. Something was not right.

On the way to the emergency room, I asked him to tell me everything he had eaten. The last thing he said before he mentioned that he was having a hard time breathing were the words, pistachio nuts. Uh Oh!   My heart raced. Oh shit….I felt my foot press harder on the accelerator. My son was having an allergic reaction to pistachio nuts.

Yeah, took me a while to figure that one out. And here I was, trying to get him to eat bread. Sheesh. So, after sitting at 2 hospitals (the first one didn’t see us as quickly as I wanted) and a shot of epenephrine or something, we came home with a diagnosis. Adam was deathly allergic to pistachio nuts.

Hundreds of people have died from a severe reaction to peanuts. It made me a very nervous mother.

We did pretty well watching what Adam ate when he was growing up and it wasn’t until he was 18 that he had his second attack. We were all sitting at a wedding reception near the table with the mounds of dessert. Adam remarked that he must have eaten something with pistachio in it, because his throat was closing in. Thank goodness we were about 2 minutes from the hospital. My husband decided to drive him. After all, he drove like Mr. Magoo and could get there quicker. The only thing I said as they left was, “Make sure they give him a shot of epinephrine.”

They weren’t gone very long and we hopped back into the car for the ride home. I was mad because they didn’t give Adam a shot or anything. The only thing they gave him was a pepcid for an upset stomach. We were pulling into the driveway when Adam said he didn’t feel well and his voice sounded gurgly. “Oh my God, he is going into anaphylatic shock, damnit.”  We jumped out of the car and my husband raced Adam back to the hospital. They had to put him in ICU under oxygen and shots to settle it down. I was so mad at the hospital for giving him a pepcid and sending him home. What a crazy place. He could have died. Can you believe the hospital charged me twice? After threatening a law suit, they took off the second bill.

Adam didn’t have anymore episodes. I was nervous when he told us he was going to study abroad in Morocco for 6 months. I had him go to the doctor to get a prescription for an epi-pen. When he landed in Morocco, the custom people didn’t understand what this strange thing was. Adam performed sharades for the people, and I guess they understood what it was for.

Adam had to spend Thanksgiving Day away from home. It was nice, though, because the university people in Ifrain cooked up a great turkey dinner for the Americans who were studying there. Adam was excited, because he was hungry for some American grub. When they brought out the turkey, it was smothered with a pistachio paste of some sort. Adam couldn’t eat any of it.

Adam is 25 now and has stayed away from all things pistachio.

And I stay away from that stupid hospital… Giving a person a pepcid and sending them on their merry way….

That’s just nuts….

Homemade Halloween

One of my favorite things about being a mom was making Halloween costumes for my children. It is not a requirement for motherhood, of course, but I took Halloween very seriously. I didn’t have a sewing machine, so I sewed everything by hand. I was Little Susie Homemaker.

2 bee or not 2 bee…..

I dressed my son, Adam, for Halloween when he was 1 month old. I did. Of course, he just sat in his little seat as I passed out Halloween candy, but he looked adorable. I made him a little jesters outfit out of his onesie.

The picture on the right was my first real test at Halloween costume design. It’s a bit rough, but remember, I didn’t have a sewing machine. I had letters on each of their chest to read, 2 Bee or not 2 Bee, mainly because I am a sick individual, but I took them off right before we took off in the neighborhood.

I think I know how pageant moms feel. Well, not really, but I was loving the compliments my kids were getting. It validated me as a good mom. Halloween was fun. I would sit at the table and jot down ideas for crazy Halloween costume ideas. Some of my best costumes came from watching The Benny Hill Show.

Some of you young grasshoppers don’t remember Benny Hill, but he was an ornery British comedian who had wacky skits. He was hysterical. I used to watch his shows and then try to sketch some of the costumes people wore on his show. And then I put them on my kids for Halloween. One year, my son, Adam, won for best costume at McDonald’s. I dressed him like the scarecrow riding Piggy Back on the tinman. I don’t know why. Benny Hill had some man riding piggy back on an old woman. It looked so real. I even dressed my husband like that for one of our adult parties. It looked pretty good.

After the little parade walk at McDonald’s, we bought him his first hamburger and when they announced that he won, he started crying because we took the hamburger away from him so he could go get his picture taken. There was a picture of him in the newspaper and I was just beaming. I knew he was going to win because there were only a handful of homemade costumes. And homemade costumes always trumped an expensive store costume every time.

Another Benny Hill costume I took was the GunSlinger. Adam was dressed like a gunslinger, with his arms crossed, but actually his real arms were behind his back.  Benny Hill had a skit where he was dueling with another gunslinger and all of a sudden, his real arms took the guns in each holster and shot his opponent. I liked that. Now, Adam looks a bit possessed in this picture. He was mad about something.

possessed gunslinger

It was a little obvious that his arms were fake, but hey, a mom can do only so much. I thought he looked like a bad guy. Maybe the manic expression was a bad boy image.

He looks a bit scary.

Now, at first, my daughter, Alexandra, loved letting me sew costumes for her.  One year I dressed her like a baby chick coming out of an egg. I hand sewed each of those damn yellow feathers on her costume. She won the McDonald contest the next year.

I have to admit that I did get a bit goofy as the years wore on. Alex looked adorable the next year as a doggie. But, what you don’t see in the picture is the homemade window I made for her to carry.

How Much is that Doggie in the Window..

Yeah, that’s right. She went as How Much is That Doggie in the Window. She got mad because I made her carry it. I’m sure she didn’t understand my purpose. I didn’t even know the damn words to the song as I tried to get her to understand. she did look cute. I even found a little plastic bone to put on top of her head.

I took the scarecrow/riding on the tinman apart and Adam was just a scarecrow one year. That was the year he decided he was done with homemade costumes. I guess some kid at school called him Farmer Jones at school all day and perhaps for the rest of the year.

Well, that was the end of the homemade costumes for Adam. The next year he designed his own. He wanted to buy the Ninja turtle costume in the store, but I talked him into creating his own. He did pretty good. Alex was a cat that year.

He made the goggles out of a paper bag and brown crayon. I was proud of him.

As they grew up I had to let them do what they wanted. That’s the part of being a mom that is hard. Letting go.  That year Adam was a Pittsburgh Penguin killer?? and Alex was a witch. I made the design on my sweatshirt, so that’s what was homemade that year.

The kids grew up and wore what they wanted.  Alex turned into her mom and created great costumes for herself in college. I was so proud. She sent me a picture of herself in Japan when she had a hard time finding things for a costume. She ended up going as Cupid.                   Have a great Halloween!

Winding Roads, Feeble Drivers

So, I packed a bag this morning and had grand plans to drive to the gym right after school this afternoon. I was ready. I haven’t been on the elliptical for a month now, and was excited to get back into my exercise regiment. But, alas, it was not to happen.

After school, I changed in the teacher’s bathroom, put my hair back in a ponytail, and I was off to Healthplex. Just the thought of going put a spring in my step. Or I just liked the feel of my ponytail swishing back and forth with each perky step. I know myself, and if I drive home right after school, the chances of me going to the gym are slim. Once I sit down, I’m done. I haven’t even been walking on the Rails to Trails. And it is seriously right outside my apartment. So, I was ready.

I hopped in the car, pulled out onto the main road and looked at my watch. It was 3:45. I should be at Healthplex in 30-35 minutes. I got behind a school bus and about 5 other cars, which is normal every day. No biggie. The bus driver is great and pulls over after about 2 stops and lets the traffic go by. I wave to thank him every day and then I am off. But, wait. Why is this goldish Buick not speeding up? The bus just pulled over for us.

Dear God, I couldn’t see anyone driving. That only meant one thing- Old Lady Driver. And it was. And she had an even older, shorter woman as her passenger. She was driving about 10-20 miles per hour and almost came to a stop every time a car came toward her. Are you kidding me? It was a winding road and too narrow for her liking.

The old lady had her foot on the brake all the way down the hills. I guess she thought there were some icy patches on the road…in October. I am a patient person, but the speed limit is 40, and I think people are obliged to drive the speed limit. I don’t think she saw the 25 cars behind her. Every time there was a place to pass, there was someone coming in the opposite direction.

I started talking  to her. Yes, I realize that she could not hear me, but I needed to start ranting. Some of the things that were coming out of my mouth were-

“I bet you’re going to Walmart to get cat food, right?”

“Oh, Dear God, lady, pull over and adjust your pace maker.”

“Figures….Are you freaking kidding me?…….Do not turn right…Do NOT turn right…..Shit…Figures….Of course you’re turning right.”

“Don’t you see me? I can see right up your nose , I am so close to you. Speed, up, damn you, old lady.”

“Freakin turtle………………..”

“Don’t even turn left!!!!  Shit…….I am going to hit you!….I should hit you….and bump you out of the freakin road and into that cow pasture….How would you like that?”

“Come on!!! It’s 4:00..Why the hell are you out this late anywho?  It’s going to be dark by the time you get to Walmart and drive back home……Shit, it will be midnight…Come onnnnnn!”

I am sure the person who was behind me was highly amused. I didn’t even look in my rear view mirror to see if it was a fellow teacher or anyone I knew. It was probably one of my student’s parents, laughing at my venting. Vickie venting. I had one hand on the wheel and was talking with the other like I was Italian. I thought the old lady would get the hint and pull over. Then it dawned on me. She wouldn’t be able to look in the rear view mirror, because that would make her drive off the road. She never used her mirrors once. Her eyes were above the steering wheel looking straight ahead. She wasn’t even talking to her passenger. Maybe her passenger was dead.

My rant continued for 30 minutes. ” Freaking Blue-Haired Turtle, pull over!!! She went my entire route. I just knew she was going to Walmart. She never went over 20 miles per hour the entire drive. I was thinking that it would be amusing if she flipped me the bird as I passed her, but she didn’t.  I would have flipped me off. I was right on her butt the entire drive. She had to know I was behind her.

Well, I was quite mad  by the time I pulled into the Healthplex parking lot. And the parking lot was about full. So, I just parked and sat there for a second, and then said, “Shit.”  I was spent. I was done. I had no desire to punish myself on the elliptical. I could have taken my frustrations out on the machine, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t even turn off the car. I was pissed.

When you are that mad, there is only one thing you can do….

I went through McDonald’s, ordered a Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal and drove home.

And I am too mad to write a blog this evening.

Stick a Fork in Me Cuz I am Done

I was a stay-at-home mom until my youngest was a junior in high school. I wouldn’t have traded the time I was able to spend with them for the world, but it was just too much “staying at home”.  It was at its worse when my son, Adam, was in third grade.

We had just had a terrible winter and the kids never had school. I was so tired of the Snow Bird  report on tv early in the morning. “Hey kids, there’s no school today in Marion County.”  I wanted to kill that damn penguin.

One day I told the kids I was driving them to Wetzel County because they had school that day. Gonna drop them off at the door. I think they believed me. I had a bad case of cabin fever. Cabin fever like Jack Nicholson in the Shining cabin fever.

My niece and sister-in-law used to call me early, before the announcement was  on tv. They had connections. Or a scanner.  Anywho, they would call and just say,”No school”, or “2 hour delay.”  I always had some smart-ass remark for them, especially as the cabin fever became more pronounced. “Stick a fork in me, cuz I am done” became my phrase, I guess.

One day, when the snow had finally melted and it looked like I would be able to send their butts to school,  Adam became sick again. Poor Adam was sick so much when he was little. He had pneumonia several times. There is nothing worse than a child with a 105 degree fever. He had drainage all the time. It was so bad that his teacher sent me a note that his clearing his throat was driving her crazy. Well, she didn’t write that, but that is what she meant. So, after trips to his pediatrician, who I swear put him Augmentin 300 times, I took him straight to an ENT, who announced that his adenoids were so huge, he could see them. I guess you aren’t supposed to be able to see adenoids. His tonsils had to come out. The scheduled surgery was right when it looked like school was going to be back in session after the perpetual snow event of that winter. Figures..

Adam;s surgery went well and when he came home I made him a bed on the couch in our Hearth Room so he wouldn’t have to go up and down the steps for awhile.  I made the HUGE mistake of giving him a bell to ring for me. I walked in after only 2 hours, and snatched the bell away from him. So, the mute improvised, and started tapping his pencil against his glass of water. I created a monster.

I really don’t remember how long he stayed home from school after he had his tonsils taken out, but I think it may have been 6 months. Ok, not 6 months, but it felt like that. His tonsils were healing nicely and he was ready to go to school. Well, that would have been nice, but that’s not what happened. He woke up one morning, and said he didn’t feel well. I felt his forehead and he felt a bit warm. I noticed that there was something on the tip his nose. At first I thought it was a booger. Kids wear boogers sometimes. I hurried and raised his pajama top. Shit. “OH MY GOD!” I said out loud. I never cursed in front of the kids, but if I did, I would have said something like this-” Are you shitting me?…… Damnit!”  Yeah, Adam was breaking out with chicken pox.

Chicken pox. A stupid disease. I mean, what the hell? I was just in the house all winter, then he had his tonsils removed, and now chickenpox. Real funny. Poor kid…… Poor Poor Mom.

So, in the house we stayed. We played with PlayDoh and colored and played with Lego’s. I loved my time with him, but I really needed to get out of the house. After another six months (ok, I exaggerate), he woke up one day, and was ready to go to school. Yay.

Not so fast. I have two kids.

Yeah, that’s right. Alex broke out with chicken pox.

What a rough winter. Don’t get me wrong. I loved being home with my kids. But, when you are stuck in the house because the snow has piled up and you are stranded, it just gets to you.  I wish I had a maze like they did in the Shining, so I could have chased my husband with an axe.

He got to leave every day. He got to see people.  “You got to see people at the hospital,” was his explanation.  Big Whoop. Like I wanted to enter Room 122 and talk to someone with The Elephant Man disease….I had to get the hell out of the house. I NEEDED  to get in the car and drive around. But, you can’t. It is snowing non-stop and Snowbird is singing his stupid song. Adam had a penguin collection when he was little. I swear it is because he anticipated the SnowBird Report every morning that winter and liked seeing that penguin.

I was pissed when a chickenpox vaccine came out for children.  That’s what’s wrong with the young parents of today. You  don’t have to walk two miles to school every day with a piece of cardboard placed in their shoe like I did. Ok, not me, but I heard that from one of my damn relatives. You young grasshopppers have it too easy. Your child should get chickenpox like everyone did before…… In fact, I think you guys should line up for a shot of polio to the shoulder like I had to…. And put butter on your burns…And breathe in some asbestos while you are at it…..

Sorry for ranting, but you get my drift. Or you will this winter.

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