Monthly Archives: July 2020

Aging gracefully

I have been writing columns, blogs, stories, etc., since I was 32 years old. I started when my younger daughter was born when I was hired as a sports writer for the Mobridge Tribune. If you are done laughing now, I will admit that as a sports writer I wasn’t too savvy. I had a lot of trouble telling a fish story from a football stat, but nonetheless, I wrote sports for a year.

After that, they moved me into features and editorials, and I was a little better at that. It was a long road for me, but the thing that always remained the same was that I wrote an article every week that entirely featured my big mouth and whatever I chose to comment on that week. For me, that was a dream job!

Because I am now…a great many years older than 32, I recently started cataloging the many thousands of editorials which began as Fauth’s Fumbles and evolved into Wells’ Wisdom and went online as Drops in the Well.

These articles are like a personal history of my life over the past thirty years. I feel like Captain Kirk on Star Trek: Captain’s Log, Stardate 6-26-88..today, I turned another year older and deeper in debt. Film at eleven.

There is something a little unnerving about reading your life’s story; complaining at age 33 about how old I was getting (someone should have slapped my very young and ignorant face), reliving the moments in my daughters’ lives from potty-training to prom debacles–they loved that, I can tell you! Then, there is my husband, a very private man, who frequently locks himself in the bathroom to read my column, hoping there is nothing in there about him!

I remember the day he chopped a whole in the basement floor to put in a sump hole. He was standing in a basement closet, in about two inches of water, holding a sledge hammer and drenched in a thick layer of concrete-thickened filthy water, when he looked up at me and pointed the sledge hammer in my direction and said, “Whatever happens, don’t write about this in your column.”

I didn’t know if the hammer was a threat, but I never wrote about the incident…oh, except for now. It’s all right, though, because he can’t carry the computer in the bathroom, so he’ll never know…and don’t you tell him!

I’m not sure there is a real point to this, except for the observation that we all grow older; we live our lives day by day and mostly we just try to get through. It’s only as we get further along that we look back and realize, just like George Bailey, that life is actually pretty wonderful…in spite of potty training, prom drama and flooded basements.

As for the aging gracefully, I don’t really know what that means. But it sure sounds like something I’d like to think I’m doing…clear back from when I was 32, and all written down in black and white. Computer, end Captain’s Log, Stardate 7-31-2020.

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God loves a good set of collars

Okay, so I don’t sew. I think everyone who knows me knows that I feel about sewing the way most people feel about finding a dead rat in their food. I just don’t connect with the sewing machine.

Oh, I know how to sew, I just don’t do it very often. It has something to do with my childhood. I took the prescribed Home Ec class–which only the girls were required to do, by the way–and we learned how to make an apron. I worked hard on that apron and I was proud of every lop-sided, poorly cut inch of it. Then, I discovered it was a trick. They taught you to sew the apron, then they wanted you to put it on…and learn to cook. I don’t do cooking either!

After that, I avoided Home Ec until finally, my mother made me a deal: if I took an independent sewing class, no more pressure to be in Home Ec. I happily went for four weeks to lessons on patterns, construction, sewing and finishing a garment and at the end of that time, I ended up with a dress. I was proud of that dress and I decided school pictures that year should be in that dress. So, I have a school picture of me, with my hair out of my face for a change, wearing a dress that was so poorly constructed that it was randomly pleated across the front–the pattern didn’t call for any pleats!

Thus, I left sewing behind–until I had children. Even then, the sewing projects were few and far between. When my older daughter got married, she thought it would be fun to sew the wedding dress and bridesmaids outfits. She was wrong. Thanks to her grandmother, she managed to construct the wedding dress, but I was in charge of six bridesmaid’s dresses, complete with tons of black flounces on the skirts. I dreamed about those bridesmaids dresses for years afterward, including the recurring dream where I cursed and swore at the sewing machine until it reached out and slapped me.

That brings us to my latest projects. As each of my grandchildren have been born, I have sewed them a christening outfit from material left from their mother’s wedding dress. We had a LOT of that material left over and it’s a good thing, because I have used a great deal in trying to make those outfits. Usually it ends up requiring me to rip it out or re-cut pieces before I put together an outfit.

The older two boys wore their outfits with no complaint, but then, they were a month or two old at the time…what did they know? Now that I’m working on a third, I am hoping for the same lack of criticism of the outfit, mostly because the child won’t be talking yet.

I chose this pattern because it had cute collars on the outfit and looking back on that decision, I can only suppose I was intoxicated at the time, and that’s quite a feat because I don’t drink..yet. Give me a couple more weeks with this outfit and those “cute” collars, and I may hit the bars!

After days of cutting, re-cutting, sewing, ripping out and some pretty good guesswork (everyone knows that pattern instructions are written in Klingon) I have managed to construct…the collars, and I attached them to the top. I only made seven mistakes and you are welcome to find them if you can.

In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how to convince my daughter and the latest grandson that God will be perfectly satisfied with just a set of collars set imperfectly into a top…without sleeves. When I’m done with this outfit, I’m going to sell my sewing machine; that is, if I don’t fling it through a window first!

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I could be Ravaging Red…

51c93OLpPOL._AC_UL200_SR200,200_You know, sometimes all it takes is an accidental encounter to start you on the road to a new career. That is how I feel about my recent opportunity to enter the wrestling arena. When you are done sneering, let me tell you how I became a wrestler.

I was taking care of one of those chores that always gets put off at my school. There was a collection of donated jewelry to be used for drama productions, and when we made the move from the “old stage” to the “new stage”, this jewelry was left behind. After four years, I finally got up the energy to go get it.

I marched up to the old gym, a dark, cavernous building with lights which could only be reached by walking through the building, up some steps and across the stage. I used to do it without even thinking, but for four years, this gym has been the domain of the wrestling team, not the drama department,  and I was out of practice. I felt my way into the dark cave of a stage, walked confidently across and there, in the dark, I stepped on a body. I knew it was a body, it was squishy like a body and when I kicked it in my fright, the arms flopped over, grabbing my legs.

This was too much! I screamed several times–the echo was great–and then I began to karate chop what was obviously a not-quite-dead zombie from the deep. After a couple of minutes wrangling with it, I managed to pull myself free and run for the light switch.

Still screaming, my heart pounding I dramatically hit the lights and…my zombie was a practice wrestling dummy–complete with head and limbs. It didn’t help at all that the dummy looked worse off than me…he was hanging off the stage head first and looking pretty shaken up.

That’s when it hit me. I had taken out the wrestling dummy, which meant that I must be pretty good. Certainly, that wrestling dummy won’t be dumb enough to mess with me again. Once I stopped my heart from pounding out of my chest and changed my underwear, I was feeling pretty tough.

Maybe it’s time I tried out a new career. I’ve seen those professional wrestlers; it’s easy. All you do is give yourself a cool name, get spandex and some sequins and you’re a wrestler. I’m going to do it. I’m going to launch into a new career. I’ll call myself Ravaging Red and rat my hair and throw some glitter in it. Now, do you suppose I can get the dummy to write me a reference?

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Back where I started…

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No one understands the ins and outs (or ups and downs) of yoyo dieting better than I do. I have been up and down that scale so much, that if it were a piano, I’d have written an opera by now.

I have had the problem of  being a little on the heavy side since I was a child. My grandmother used to say I was “pleasingly plump,” but there was never anything pleasing about being plump in my mind. It took me a while, but I eventually equated my love of anything loaded with sugar with gaining weight. So I learned to cut down on the sweet stuff and I was a lot less pleasing and a lot more trim for most of my teens.

I blamed my children for my weight gain as I got older. It was because I had children, that I sacrificed my beautiful figure, I told myself. However, I knew the real culprit was sugar. Add to that the fact that I love my carbs and I’ve never met a hamburger I didn’t like, and my weight added up.

Oh, I would get the flu or something and shed a few pounds, but it always came back. I had the typical yoyo dieter closet: on one end, the clothes for when I had trimmed off a few pounds…building up to the other end, which held the clothes for my ballooning  days of high poundage. Of course, in between that were clothes in every size I had ever reached.

Then, my daughter announced she was getting married. Well, what could I do? There was no way I could be at the top of my weight gain when she married, could I? As it turned out, I found a unique way to scale my weight down: I sewed six bridesmaid’s dresses in a nightmare of silky teal material and countless, endless black flounces. I was so busy cutting, sewing, worrying, panicking, etc., that I had no time to eat.

I slid into my daughter’s wedding at the trimmest point I had been in years and was able to get the requisite fancy dress in a smaller size — that’s right, I didn’t sew it! I was so proud of that dress—that dress that I didn’t sew, but that was a significantly smaller size!

But, the years rolled on and the yoyo slowly crept back up. Then, my younger daughter announced she was getting married. The good news was that I didn’t have to enter sewing hell, since she bought the attendant’s dresses. The bad news was that I had reached that point on the scale between heavy and “take the tank off the scale, for the love of of heaven!”

I bought a dress for that wedding, equally fancy, but several sizes larger than my first one. It was shortly after that when my doctor said, “It’s now or never, time to let go of your potatoes, bread and sugar.” I was distraught. He had just described my entire diet!

I buckled down. I exercised, I gave up potatoes, bread and fish sticks. I stopped having my five candy bars a day and started walking instead. Slowly, I began the climb down the scale once more.

That was three years ago and since then I have been locked in my own house in a pandemic and after a while, I renewed my acquaintance with bread and potatoes. I may have started eating a lot of candy bars as well…but I kept on walking and exercising. I avoided the yoyo dieting problem by refusing to step on a scale. Then I wouldn’t know if I was getting heavier again.

Today, I was cleaning closets and I came across the dress of my slim memories from Stefanie’s wedding and I decided to see just how hard it would be to get into it. I shut my eyes, tried not to think of the Twinkies and Pepsi I had for lunch and slipped on my “skinny” wedding outfit. The picture with this article tells you that I proudly and surprisingly found out that it still fits! I didn’t even have to unzip it…it was perfect. It gave me the courage to step on the scale. I am right back to that pre-Stefanie’s wedding weight! What a kick!

I celebrated by not taking a walk today and having a half a box of cheese crackers washed down with a couple of Pepsis. I think the yoyo might be on the way back up?

 

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With my pants down…

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Okay, this title might be a little misleading, but it does sort of reflect the topic of this article. It is also not a lead-in to something pornographic or to bathroom humor either. Although….the bathroom does become involved.

Perhaps I should start with the water heater. We recently had a water heater conk out on us and with admirable speed, a new one was installed. What I didn’t know, however, was that after the install, someone would be coming to check…something, I’ve never been quite clear on just what.

At any rate, I was busy working in my living room, with a large picture window and a window also along the door (check the picture) on a hot, sticky afternoon this week. I had finally succumbed to the misery of the heat and removed my trousers. It was a huge improvement, and I continued to work from the comfort of my chair in a short shirt and my underwear.

I was writing an article about unexpected events and the thought passed through my mind, “Wouldn’t it be terrible if someone rang the doorbell now and here I am?” It was only a passing thought, though. I wasn’t expecting anyone and people simply do not just drop by my house. I mean, come on–there’s a pandemic; people stay home, right?

At about that time, I heard a footfall on the front steps outside and then the unbelievable happened: someone rang the doorbell. I was frozen…in my chair… in front of the windows…with no idea where I had put my pants when I took them off. I didn’t want to look out to see who it was, but the dog immediately set up a barking, letting whoever was outside know there was something inside.

There was no hope for it: I was going to have to make a dash for the bedroom. With no throws or pillows for cover, I jerked my shirt down as far as I could and hoping the dog would keep the visitor distracted, I flashed by the windows and made a beeline for the bedroom. I looked frantically for the discarded pants–no luck. With the doorbell still peeling, I grabbed the first trousers I could find, pulled them on and went to the door.

It was a repairman who needed to inspect the new water heater for…I honestly did not register what he needed to see; I was way more concerned with what he might have already seen. It was also at this point that I realized that my pants were on backwards, thus explaining the weird feel of them.

The worst part about this, was that it was an awkward situation already and I have ever had a talent for making an awkward moment worse. So, in giving the repairman permission to look at the water heater, I added, “Sorry it took so long, I was sitting here without any pants on.”

This poor man looked at me with that look on his face which clearly said that he would be unable to unhear that which he didn’t want to hear in the first place. He quickly donned his mask, completed his inspection and ran for his truck like HIS pants were on fire.

That was disquieting, but my week of impromptu undress was not over. I went walking on a hot morning this week and came home so sticky that I threw my clothes down to the laundry room on my way to the shower. While I was in the shower, the dog suddenly went into an hysterical fit, which should have warned me. I figured someone had driven by and I continued the shower.

The dog redoubled the fit, however and, remembering my hapless repairman friend, I turned off the shower. It wasn’t possible that someone was at the door again…with me in a worse state of undress…again.

As soon as I turned off the noise of the shower, I could hear the doorbell. Jumping from the shower, I grabbed a towel, but I had already traumatized one repairman this week; it would have made me serial flasher if I had gone to the door in a towel.

Thanking my lucky stars that the path to the bedroom from the bathroom didn’t cross any critical windows, I sprinted, half-dried, for the dresser in my room. Anyone who has read this far will understand when I say getting into any kind of clothes was impeded by the fact that clothes do not slide easily on a sticky, wet body.

All this was done to the music of the doorbell and the dog’s wild barking. When I finally made it to the living room, admonishing myself on the way not to explain the reason for my tardy appearance to yet another innocent worker, I discovered it was my cousin…from Denver…that I thought was still in Denver. Astonished, I opened the door, dripping from my head to my foot in very damp clothes…never mind what I had on under them and how did I greet her and her daughter? “I’m sorry it took so long, I was in the shower and I didn’t have clothes on.”

From now on, I’m gonna need a twenty-four hour notice before anyone approaches my door. In addition, it’s important that you know that I am now fully dressed at all times, even in the shower!

 

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