Monday, November 30, 2009

One of the Upsides of Aging

I have to say. .. not everything about aging is bad. Getting to the other side of menopause is cause for celebration. I was fortunate during that phase, because I hardly ever experienced any symptoms. One of my co-workers suffered from hot flashes frequently. Power surges, she called them. Her face would get all flushed, she would have to shed her blazer or sweater, dash to the restroom to soak a paper towel in cold water, and press her face into it. The only time I would suffer a "power surge" was occasionally in the middle of the night, when I might awaken in a pool of perspiration. Those surges seemed to be directly related to my intake of caffeine or too much sugar; once I figured that out, I was able to "stay cool" most of the time.

Whether the susceptibility to power surges and other menopausal symptoms is hereditary, I'll never know. My mother would NEVER have discussed it. The words 'menopause' and 'hot flashes' were just not in her vocabulary. I do remember her and my aunt having whispered discussions about "The Change;" knowing looks and nods would pass back and forth between them if one of their contemporaries was suffering from the condition; "nervous breakdowns" were not uncommon--but "woman things" just were not acceptable topics of conversation! And certainly not in front of children!

Childbearing was another unmentionable topic. I recall chuckling when Mom mentioned that a cousin of mine was "in a family way." Not appreciative of my mirth, she said, "What am I supposed to say? She's PREGNANT?" She spat the word out as though it were a curse word or worse--repugnant to the tongue!

I'm afraid Mom would not approve of this post; she probably would be shocked in general by many topics on my blog. I'm sorry, Mom; but you'll be glad to know I made it through "The Change" without having a "nervous breakdown." In fact, I can't really say I suffered at all, and the best part is, it's been years since I've had a monthly "visitor.."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Silent Sunday: Sunset in Aruba

Vacationed there once. . . will never forget it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I'm So Behind the Times!

There's nothing like having a conversation with your teenage granddaughter to let you know how little you know, or how far out of the loop you are. I learned Thursday that I'm way behind the times.

I had never heard of No Shave November. Where have I been? Under a rock, apparently. I thought surely she must be making this up! There can't really be such a thing, can there? Well, I did a little research and sure enough, I found there is a No Shave November . I can't believe I missed this entirely. As I understand it, there's a resulting fad called NO SEX November, which was started by the mates of the males who participate in No Shave November, in protest.

There's a cause for my consternation that this whole movement escaped my attention: In an attempt at being "Politically Correct," this celebration of hairiness has been declared gender-free. Yes, ladies. This means that for the entire month of November, many of us have been needlessly trimming the tresses from our underarms, legs, and our hoo-hahs. Who knew?

Instead of laboring with those razors to erase the fuzz, we could have been letting it all "hang out," so to speak. This could be me! (Well, with a few more pounds, black hair, cellulite, and glasses!) But I can't win. Just as I was about to trash my trimmer Thursday at twilight, I heard yesterday was Fur-Free Friday! Now I don't know which way to go!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Look Back at Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a great day yesterday! I just wanted to share a few pictures I took during our Thanksgiving at my son Jason's. Pictured above are my son Jason and his wife Shari--our host and hostess for the day.
Hubby waits patiently for dinner to be ready after having indulged in some pumpkin bread as an appetizer.

Granddaughter Tanya says, "You just hold your horses! All will be ready soon!"

My older son Eric gets an early Christmas gift from his dad, my ex-husband.

Granddaughter Jamie chills out while waiting for dinner.

Five-year-old granddaughter Allie smiles in anticipation of dessert!

Tanya is a big help to her mom; even made pumpkin pie and French silk pie! (delicious, btw)

Grandson Nick watches TV while waiting for the call to dinner.

Daughter-in-law Shari poses with her beautiful daughters Tanya and Jamie. You can tell the apples haven't fallen far from the tree!

After dinner, Jamie spends a little quiet time reading with her brother Nick.

Grandson Carter and his mom, daughter-in-law Kristen, discuss the situation.

Austin, Nick, and Carter find ways to entertain themselves in the playroom.

My sons Eric and Jason relax with full bellies after a sumptious meal.

Allie talks to her mom Shari and her Aunt Kristen as they, too, relax after dinner.

I can't believe I didn't take one picture of the great food we ate....too hungry and too busy eating, I guess. Everything was delicious, from the turkey to the stuffing, to the veggies and the bread. And that French silk pie was to die for! It was a wonderful day with family. Hope yours all were as much fun.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving 1983

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and let's remember to give thanks for all our blessings. This was our first Thanksgiving as husband and wife. This was obviously many turkeys, stuffing and pumpkin pies ago: We both were much thinner, and Hubby was much hairier!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Humor

I just thought I 'd share these cartoons I received on email; I know many of you are stressed and busy getting ready for the holiday, so I thought a chuckle might ease some of the tension. (And even if you're not getting ready for the holiday--feel free to chuckle anyway!)

It seems women and turkeys have a lot in common; self-esteem issues?

"Here turkey, turkey, turkey. . ."

Celebrating Thanksgiving in the Land of Oz.


Obviously, a couple of snowbirds!

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful day...hope these gave you a giggle or two!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Very First Contest! and It's Naughty!

If you've been a reader for a while, you've probably noticed that I've never held a give away on my blog. It's really not the reason I started blogging. So I guess you'd have to call me a contest virgin. Why would I suddenly decide to get on the Give Away Bandwagon, you ask? Because I discovered something so fun, so naughty, that I just couldn't resist!
The Greater York Chamber of Commerce here in southern Maine, decided to put the "Fun" in fundraising. Cathy Goodwin, the Chamber President, was able to persuade an impressive number of local businessmen, ranging in age from 20 to 70plus, to "drop their draws" for charity. In fact, there were so many eager entrepreneurs, that some months have multiple models provocatively posed for your pleasure. It just goes to show you that there's a willingness to grin and bare it for a good cause here in southern Maine!

The enthusiasm of the group moved me to part with a $20 bill plus $2 for shipping, for the opportunity to hang this piece of artwork in my office, knowing that the funds will go to the York Kiwanis Children's Program, York Hospital's "Every Patient" campaign, the Chamber Scholarship Fund, the American Legion Post, and/or the citizens' group "Think Again."

To enter the contest to get a copy of this calendar of your very own, just mention in your comment below that you want your name thrown into the hat. You can have your name entered a second time if you'll follow my blog (or let me know that you're already a follower) and sign my guestbook; and you can have your name entered a third time by mentioning this contest on your blog and creating a link back to Wrestling With Retirement. The winner will be chosen by a random drawing on December 5th.

If you don't trust your luck, and you really want a copy of this calendar for your very own, you can go to and order one for $20 plus $2 for shipping. You'll have a fun calendar to keep or give as a gift and the knowledge that you've donated to a good cause.

Note: No obscenity laws were broken in the publishing of this calendar.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Poem

A friend sent me this poem on email and I just had to share it...maybe you've seen it. If you have, I apologize for that. Unfortunately, credit is not given to the author, so I guess we'll have to go with anonymous. Hope you enjoy it!

Twas the night of Thanksgiving,
But I just couldn't sleep;
I tried counting backwards,
I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned,
The dark meat and white,
But I fought the temptation
With all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation,
The thought of a snack became infatuation.
So I raced to the kitchen, threw open the door,
And stared at the fridge, full of goodies galore.
Gobbled up turkey and buttered potatoes,
Pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.

I felt myself swelling, so plump and so round,
"Til all of a sudden, I rose off the ground.
I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky,
With a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.
But I managed to yell, as I soared past the trees,
"Happy Thanksgiving, please pass the peas!"

May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious,
May your pies take the prize,
May your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Silent Sunday: Best Friends

My not yet 3-year-old grandson Carter and his buddy Baxter.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Feel a Thong Coming On. .

No, I'm not singing with a lisp--  Will someone please tell me what the deal is with thongs? I can understand the male fascination with them; they bare the buns to the breeze for ogling with ease. But I just can't understand why any woman would want to don these flimsy fanny-flaunting tools of tush-torture.

Obviously they are great sellers, or Victoria's Secret wouldn't have an abundance of the ass-floss anomalies on display. I can understand the retailers' point of view (pun intended). They are raking in mucho moola for mimimal outlay. Think about it. I'll bet they don't require more than four or five square inches of fabric--and that's on a size large!

And once the young 'uns who are wearing them now get up there in years, how in heck are they going to fit these contraptions over their Depends?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Prozak Over-Dose?

I might be over-dosing on happy pills. I'm not sure, but I seem very happy for some reason. Don't get me wrong, I'm generally a pretty good natured person. The last couple of days, though, I've been bursting-into-song ecstatic! My husband keeps shaking his head as I go bouncing around the house in my unexplainable euphoria. If I were a musician, I'd be playing a song. Unfortunately, I lack the talent, the training, and the instrument. As a result, I resort to warbling my favorite tunes as I'm cooking, doing dishes, working on my laptop,, or riding in the car.

This has been difficult for Hubby. Some of you who've been with me for a while may recall that I'm not exactly Barbara Streisand. If you weren't aware of, or don't recall reading about my vocal limitations, you may want to go back here to refresh your memory. Hence poor Hubby walking around shaking his head. Actually, yesterday I nearly gave him a coronary when he was driving me to the UPS store to mail my package for the Christmas Ornament Swap, and I broke out with, "Whoa, whoa, whoa...." (I don't remember what song I was singing, but he thought I was telling him to stop and slammed on the brakes--frantically looking right and left to see the cause of my instruction--until I continued with the rest of the lyrics.)

It could be that I just got a little too much oxygen to the brain during our Silver Sneakers workout at the gym; the excitement of the upcoming holidays; the fact that I'm putting up a Christmas tree this year, after two years without one because I was working too many hours to deal with it; or maybe it's just the onset of senility! Whatever the case, I can't seem to contain myself: "Forget your troubles, come on, get happy. . . . . ."

Why look a gift horse in the mouth? It beats being in the doldrums; I'm just gonna' roll with it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Throwback Thursday: May, 1967

This was taken at my college graduation. My oldest sister, who was taken from us by cancer several years ago, is the lovely lady on the left holding the camera and the white purse, my beautiful Mom (who would not have dreamed of attending any special occasion without a hat) is in the pastel blue; she, too, is no longer with us. The person in the cap and gown is me, before I discovered the joys of Lindt truffles and Godiva chocolates, and the lovely lady with the pink bag is my sister-in-law, who also appears on my blog here.

This was a huge day for me, as my Dad believed college was not for girls, and had refused to help me reach my goal. I did it on my own by working my butt off summers and saving every penny, maintaining a high enough GPA to qualify for scholarships each year, and by working while on campus: cleaning bathrooms freshman year, working in the kitchen sophomore year, and working in the school library junior and senior years. Needless to say, graduation was a milestone for me! (To this day, I hate to clean the bathroom...)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Perfect Holiday Gift!

I think I have found the perfect holiday gift for that hard to please lady; you know, the woman who has everything and you feel it would be crass to give her cash. Get her a scarf. "A scarf?" you say. "How mundane!"

This is no ordinary run of the mill scarf; it is a multi-purpose scarf. It can be used in the traditional manner, to keep those pesky drafts off her neck, or it can be used to pimp out a new outfit. It is perfect for the woman who likes to stand out in a crowd--be the center of attention!

For the less flamboyant woman, it can be worn under a dress or sweater to achieve that "extra fullness" that makes her figure really "stand out" without having to have surgery. As an added bonus, she can let her husband wear it to bed for his entertainment those times when she feels like saying, "Not tonight, dear. I have a headache."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yeah, It's That Time, Again.

Well, much as I hate to think about it, the time has come.
The time to dig out the sweaters and snuggies , get the shovel out of the shed, make sure the windshield scraper is in the car, stock up on canned soups and cocoa, and dig the boots out of the back of the closet.

Yep, winter is just around the corner. Up here in Maine, we'll be putting on the long johns and warming our fannies in front of the wood stove. We'll be making sure we have rock salt on hand to throw on the steps on icy mornings, and checking to see if the guy who plowed our driveway last year is still in the business. We'll be pouring some anti-freeze into the car radiator and some dry gas into the fuel tank. Maybe we'll even start a pool to see who can pick the day of the first real snow storm--the one that doesn't melt away, but leaves everything looking pure, and white and beautiful--winner gets one of them blankets with sleeves they've been advertising on tv.

Those more affluent will be packing their bags to play snowbird and take off for any place warmer for the duration. For some, it's Myrtle Beach, for others, it's Florida or Arizona. And then they'll regularly call us poor slobs back here in Maine just to say, "What's the temperature up there today? Ten below zero? No kidding. Well, it's eighty-four, here, and we were just going out on the deck to get a little sunshine and sip a pina colada before we jump into the pool!" (Those bastards love to rub it in your face! )

Monday, November 16, 2009

The HMO Mystery

I'd like to thank my bloggy friends who offered encouraging words about my having enrolled in an HMO health insurance plan. I needed to hear those words, because there's much confusion out there about this type of health insurance. My plan doesn't kick in until January, so we'll see how it works out.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Silent Sunday: Take Time to Smell the Daisies

My grandson, Austin, when he was about 16 mos.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me The Bill!

My health insurance company has decided to high-tail it out of the state of Maine. As I understand it, this was just not a profitable market for them. Boo-hoo. (They should talk with my plumber!) In any case, this means finding a new health insurance plan. Yes, I have medicare, but as you other golden oldies out there know, medicare does not cover everything...some things it doesn't cover at all! It is necessary to have some type of supplemental coverage to avoid bankruptcy in the event of illness, injury, or medical emergency.

I was a sales rep for Humana, the company that's leaving Maine, before I retired so I have some working knowledge of the field. There are many options out there, and it can be quite a task to wade through all the ads and brochures we seniors get bombarded with every fall. After all the browsing, and then meeting with a broker who represents several different companies and their plans, I finally made a decision.

I selected an HMO (Hospital Maintenance Organization) plan which includes coverage for my gym membership. I am cautiously optimistic about my choice. It does include lower co-payments for doctors visits, plus some dental and optical coverage.

The trade-off for the lower costs is that you must go to doctors and hospitals on their list. My doctor and hospital are on their list-- I'm good to go there. I say I'm cautiously optimistic, because HMO's in general have had bad press in the past. Rumors abound about what is covered and what isn't, so I can only wait until January when the new plan kicks in to find out the truth.
I do hope I've made the right choice!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Really Expensive Drip!

I sure wish I'd read the book pictured, because we had a plumber in our house last week and it definitely was not fun. At least, not for us.

It all started back before our road trip, when my husband noticed the faucet in the executive washroom had a drip. (I call it the executive washroom because it's right next to the room I call my office, and I consider myself the CEO of this household.) I took a look at it, and thought it just wasn't turned all the way off. I proceeded to give the cold water handle a hefty tug, and it broke off in my hand--the glass part of the handle, that is. No crisis: no water spurting everywhere, just a piece of broken faucet in my hand. We were leaving on our road trip the next day, so we planned to get it fixed when we returned.

After we got back, Hubby went shopping and came back with three sets of faucets. "We've been having trouble with the kitchen faucet leaking, so I figured we might as well have the faucet fixtures replaced in both bathroom sinks and the kitchen, too." Sounded like a plan. He called the plumbing company that had installed our garbage disposal in 1997--we've been fortunate enough to not need a plumber again since then. (Little did we know how fortunate!)

The person on the phone told Hubby they charge $79 for a house call (what other option is there?? We bring our pipes into their office???) and the $79 is applied to the cost of the job. First mistake: Not asking the charge for installing a faucet fixture. Second mistake: Not comparison shopping.

I was out when the plumber showed up. He told Hubby what the charge was to replace each fixture and then proceeded to do the work. Third mistake: Not throwing the bum out when he informed Hubby of the cost. When I came home, said plumber was laying on the floor with his head under the sink in the executive washroom. He pulled his head out from under the sink and greeted me all smiley and perky--I'd have been all smiley and perky in his shoes. too, knowing I was about to make an extra arm and leg on this job!

Hubby told me to go check the master bathroom, as that one was finished and see if I liked the fixture. There was a shiny new, modern set of faucets on the sink. What's not to like? A faucet is a faucet.

After what seemed like a really long time and a couple of trips out to his truck and back, he finished in the executive bath and tackled the kitchen sink. He took time out to tell us what a nice home we have (Puleaaase! It's a mobile home, it's not the Ritz!). On one of his many trips back out to his truck, he stopped to admire the pictures of our kids and grandkids on the walls, and the saber my stepson had mounted in a display case with an engraved "Thanks for the love and support, Dad" plaque when he graduated from West Point. (The whole time I was thinking, "cut the BS and get the job done, will ya!") His phone rang several times with what sounded like calls from his wife, with whom he stopped to chat. Then I nearly lost it when he stopped what he was doing to come into the livingroom to watch a particular item on the 6:00 pm news that interested him.

By the time he finished and my husband had paid him, and he finally left, I was livid. "How much did that cost?" I asked. I knew it wasn't going to be good, when Hubby hesitated to tell me. "$960." I could not believe it! We figured it came to $189 per hour. Apparently they charge $335 to replace bathroom sink fixtures, and $350 to replace kitchen sink fixtures; flat fees, not an hourly rate. A very hard lesson learned, late in life: Next time, get an estimate and do some comparison shopping!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Throwback Thursday; November, 2000.

My son and his wife just recently celebrated their 9th wedding anniversary. Because his wife already had two daughters from a previous marriage, the groom surprised everyone, including the bride, by asking her daughters to accept him as a bonus Dad in their lives, giving them each a ring as a symbol of his love and desire to be there to support them. The two daughters are the mini-bridesmaid in the white dress and the redheaded bridesmaid directly in opposite him in the picture below. There wasn't a dry eye in the church, including the bride. Poor girl was unprepared for that gesture and had to wipe away tears with her hand.

Now Tanya, the older girl who was 15 at the time, is graduated from college, and her younger sister Jamie, is a senior in high school. The family expanded to include a son Nick, who is 8, and a daughter Allie, who is now 5. I love them all.

Factory Work--Part 3

If you've been following me this week, you know I've been reminiscing about the summer after I graduated from college in 1967, when I worked in a paper mill. It was a temporary gig, just for the summer, filling in for people on vacation. It was among the most challenging times of my life. I worked 12:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. most of the time, because people who work shift work usually take their vacation during the shift they hate the most.

The weird thing is, even though I worked there all summer, I remember only three days out of the whole summer. (I mentioned earlier, I suspect my brain has blocked out most of the memories to save me further trauma.) These four days are the fodder of this week's blog. I don't know if they happened in any particular order, I just am relating the details as I remember them.

For today's tale, I tried to draw a diagram of the machine called the compressor, which was one of the tools I used on this particular day, but, unfortunately I'm not exactly a gifted artist, so you'll have to use your imagination. My duties on this day (or week? I have no idea) entailed standing in front of a bin which caught paper plates as they fell off the dryer conveyor belt, stack them in piles of 125, put them in the compressor, a lovely gadget that squeezed all the air out from between them so they would take less space when packed into a box for shipping, and pack them..

I've always been pretty good at counting--I could count to 100 before I went to kindergarten--so this should have been a "cream puff" assignment. The counting part was. Things got a little tricky at the compressor. (Explaining it is tricky, as well, which is why I unsuccessfully tried to draw a diagram!) The compressor was a tube-like gadget perched between two poles. At the bottom of the tube, which was about three feet off the floor, was a round flat surface on which I was to place the stack of 125 (no more, no less) paper plates. The front of the tube had a rounded screened door which when pulled closed, was designed to keep the stack of plates in place as the weight from the upper pole came down on the plates to compress them--force out empty space--so they could fit into the packing box.

The tricky part of this process was to keep the stack of paper plates straight while closing the screen door. The door closing caused the upper pole to come down slowly on the plates. It was necessary to use your left hand and arm to keep the plates perfectly stacked while you pulled the screened door shut. The door was curved, like the plates. Once the door came within a short distance of being closed, it would close the rest of the way automatically and lock, then the vertical pressure would be engaged, squeezing those mothers together for packing. It all depended on timing; you had to hold the stack in place with your left hand and arm while closing the door with your right hand, and yank your left arm out at the last minute before the lock engaged.

For a time, all went well. I was able to tune out the chugging and wheezing of the machines around me, focus on getting the right number of plates in a stack, get them compressed, and slide them in the box. (Did I mention most people who worked here for years ended up with varying degrees of hearing loss, due to the constant noise level?)

I'm not sure what happened next. Maybe the heat was getting to me; maybe I was getting tired; in any case, on one of my compression steps, things went awry. I wasn't quick enough pulling my arm out of the compressor before the lock engaged. There I was, arm held fast between the round paper plates and the round screen door. The screen wasn't the soft screening like you have in a screened door in your home. It was more like stiff chicken wire with half-inch square holes in it. I couldn't open the door, and I couldn't withdraw my arm. Little half-inch squares of flesh were being pushed out the half-inch squares of the screen. The skin wasn't broken--no blood pouring out, thank goodness, but it hurt like the dickens!
I yelled for help, but in the cacophany of chugging and hissing and wheezing of all the machines, it was several minutes before the foreman came running to my assistance. (yeah, the same guy who had yelled at me previously! He just loved me, by now!) He also tried unsuccessfully to open the door, but the lock was engaged; it would not budge. Ultimately a technician was required to disconnect the machine, which released the pressure, which released the door lock, and they carefully opened the door. I was holding back tears at this point--I wasn't about to let that jerk of a foreman see me cry!

I was taken to the infirmary, where an x-ray determined that nothing was broken. The doctor said I had suffered "muscle trauma" and prescribed ibuprofen and three days of rest--Music to my ears! I actually got three days off with pay because it was a work related injury! Yes, Eva, there is a Santa Clause!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Factory Work--Part 2

If you read yesterday's post, you know I spent the summer after college graduation working in a paper mill. I'm not sure how many nights I spent working on the machine I described yesterday. I suspect my subconscious is blocking that memory out to save me the trauma. In any case, the fun was just beginning.

The next experience I recall was another tray machine. This one, however had about four different size fruit trays which accumulated verrtically instead of horizontally. There were no bags involved, you merely took stacks off the machine and boxed them, and then put the box on the conveyor belt headed to shipping. I can't recall the details--if there was a counter system or not, or how many trays went in a box. (Must be my subconscious protecting me from excessive trauma again.)

The challenge, or course, was to keep the different sized trays separated, put them in a box, and stay ahead of the machine. (Did I mention these trays were formed from wet paper, were dried by HEAT on a conveyor belt on the way to my machine, which resulted in a 120 degree working environment?)

Early on, this task seemed reasonable; it did require a bit of quickness, but, hey, I was young and energetic--a piece of cake! For a while things went quite smoothly. Grab the trays, from one stack, and put them in the box. Grab trays from the matching stack, and put them in the box--and yes, the boxes were flat and had to be assembled. I would say there were about eight stacks of fruit trays accumulating at the same time--two stacks of each size and four different sizes; you merely had to be sure you put trays of the same size in the same box. I was all over this job! Grab a box, grab a stack of trays and put them in the box, grab another stack the same size, add them to the box, put the box on the conveyor belt; repeat with another size; repeat with a third size; repeat with the fourth size; begin again.

After a few hours of this activity, I noticed it was getting easier; I was able to keep up with the unending tide of trays. If there had been someone there to "high five," I would have been high fiving! But everyone was busy with their own machines. I reached the point where I had time to wipe the sweat off my brow with my shirt sleeve! I was ahead of the machine!! Euphoria mixed with pride filled my body--I had done it! I had not only kept up with the machine, I had gotten ahead of it!!! I was awesome!

Then it happened. Somewhere, an alarm went off: Blaaaah! Blaaaah! The sound kept getting louder and I looked up to see a frantic foreman running toward me. He ran past me to the side of the machine, pulled a switch and the chug, chug, chug of the machine came to a stop. (Did I mention that the noise level of these dozens of machines all chugging and wheezing at the same time was deafening?) Well, almost as loud as the voice of the foreman yelling at me, "Didn't you see the flashing lights? What the hell is wrong with you??"

Hey, I'm only a little over 5 feet tall--those flashing lights to which he was referring were 'way above my head! My attention had been focused totally on those fruit trays. Then he took me around to the right of my machine (MY machine--I think we had started to bond!), and showed me the problem. The trays were fed into the machine on a conveyor belt which was about six feet wide. Some where out of sight, the trays were spit out wet onto this belt by another machine, carried through the drying area, and then were deposited into MY (there's that bond again!) machine, where prongs would grab them, move them upward so another tray could be stacked under the first, etc.

The system wasn't perfect. Occasionally, the machine doing the spitting at the other end of the conveyor belt would misfire and a tray might land sideways. This would prevent it's entering my machine, which would eventually cause a tray jam (that's TRAY jam, not TOE jam). Those overhead lights would flash to alert the machine operator (in this case, me) of the jam. No one had informed me of this little detail. As a result, there was a tray jam behind my machine the size of Mt. Everest, and this was the reason I was able to get ahead of my machine. And here I thought I had mastered the skill! NOT.

We set about clearing all the trays in the jam off the conveyor belt, which was no small task--as I said, it was the size of Mt. Everest. Once the jam pile was removed, and all the damaged trays dropped in the "recycle" opening in the floor, the foreman turned the machine on again. This time he instructed me to sit by the conveyor belt with the trays coming towards me, watching for a renegade--a tray out of place--to determine if what had happened was a fluke, or if the spitter machine was malfunctioning regularly.

I sat there watching lines and lines of meat trays go by, all of them properly positioned for my machine for 20 to 30 minutes, until I got motion sickness and had to run to the ladies room and vomit. Needless to say, I may have bonded with that machine, but the foreman and I weren't destined for a warm relationship.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My First Experience as a Factory Worker--Part I

The year I graduated from college, I took a job in a paper mill for the summer. I was planning to be married at the end of the summer, so I wanted to earn as much money as I could before the wedding. The mill paid it's laborers in excess of $6.00 per hour, when most other jobs paid $2.00 to $3.00 per hour, so it was sheer greed that steered me on that course. I was 22, 5' 1", probably weighed 115 pounds, and had no clue what life in a paper mill was like.

My first night on the job--yeah, night, the midnight to 6:00 am shift, to be exact--I was introduced to my first paper machine. This particular gadget spit out one size of meat trays: the kind hamburger, chicken, pork chops, etc., are packaged in when you buy them at the supermarket. The trays were coming out of the machine on a track on each side, and the machine automatically inserted a little strip of blue paper after each 25 trays. My job was to take 100 trays at a time, put them in a bag, put the bag in a box, and put the box on a conveyor belt, and send it on it's way. I was instructed that occasionally, the machine would tear a chunk out of a tray or two, and if that happened, I was to remove the damaged trays, drop them down a hole in the floor to be reformed, adjust the blue paper back to 25, and continue with putting them in a bag, in a box and on the conveyor. Easy enough, right? NOT!

The first 10 minutes went smoothly; I would take the trays out of the dispenser, 50 at a time, put them in the bag, put another 50 in, then put them in the box, and put the box on the conveyor belt. (Did I mention the boxes were flat, and I had to shape and form them first?)

After that first smooth 10 minutes, when I was pretty proud of myself--I could do this!--Satan took control of my machine. Damaged trays started appearing; that meant pulling out the damaged trays, moving the blue paper back in the row the number of trays I had removed, (the trays were being added at the far end of each row, and the trays were advancing toward me), damaged trays dumped in the "recycle" hole, the adjusted count put in the bag, the bag in the box, and the box on the conveyor belt. Of course, once I had moved the blue paper, I had to keep moving each new strip, to keep the 25 count standard.

That demon machine kept spitting out trays, with damaged ones appearing with greater and greater frequency. I was frantically trying to keep the count straight, and keep up with the machine. The stress started to get to me! My bowels started to churn--OH NO! I had to leave my machine and run to find the restroom. In my haste and desperation, I had run into the men's room by mistake--no doors on the stalls. I had absolutely no hope of turning back to find the ladies room without disaster! I used the men's john, and prayed that no man would come in and catch me in an embarrassing situation. If Satan had taken over my machine, the good Lord was in charge of the bathroom, because no males walked in while I was there! (Thank you, God!)

This crisis dealt with, I ran back to my machine, where trays were falling on the floor because no one was there to remove them. I hurriedly picked up the trays that had fallen off the machine and dumped them into the recycle hole, and rushed to catch up with the endless line of trays. All of the above were repeated, over and over (including the mad runs to the restroom--at least I finally found the ladies room!) , over and over for six hours! Don't ask how many perfectly good trays got desperately dropped into the recycle opening! I began to think if there was a hell, this must be it! I somehow survived, exhausted and drained--both literally and figuratively--my first night in the paper mill.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Old Age or True Love?

This gave me a chuckle, so I thought I'd share it. But I don't agree with the lady. To me, that's the definition of love: when you are so committed to your partner, that infidelity is not even a possibility. It may take years for some relationships to achieve; for others it's instant and automatic.

For me, love and trust are interchangeable terms. There have been many occasions over the years when my husband and I have had to be apart. Sometimes, it's been merely overnight; other times it's been for two or three weeks, due to the demands of our jobs. It was never a problem for us. Each of us has always known that the other was incapable of betrayal. When you deeply care for someone, you want to protect them from harm. You choose never to hurt them, no matter what temptation comes your way. That is love; that is trust. It's a wonderful gift.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Public Service Announcement

As I browse the blogosphere, I've noticed blogs on all kinds of subjects. There are blogs about books, blogs about dieting, blogs about exercise, blogs about scrap-booking, and blogs about art. Some blogs feature fantastic photography; there are blogs about parenting. You name the subject, someone is probably blogging about it.

Some of my favorite blogs are about cooking and feature wonderful, mouth-watering recipes! What I notice is missing, or at least I haven't encountered the subject, is a blog about buying and storing produce. Sometimes it's hard to know the shelf life of a fruit of vegetable. In an attempt to help fill that void, I thought I would post this helpful reminder, How to tell when bananas have gone bad:
I hope all you mothers, chefs, and others benefit from this tip. Just consider it my public service announcement.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Throwback Thursday: Third or Fourth Grade

I think I was in the third or fourth grade when I started my journey on the road to fame. I was cast as Little Red Riding Hood's best friend in an elementary school musical. There were a few things about this situation that arouse suspicion.

In all the versions of Red Riding Hood I've ever read, I don't recall her having a bff. Also, this play was a musical. The bff was the only non-singing role in the production. Some of you may remember reading about my talent in the genre. Also, there's the fact that the I was given the central position in the photo--a spot which of course should have gone to Little Red. And I have the only straw hat with a bow under my chin--definitely a ploy to draw attention to me. Then there's the deliberate mis-aligning of my knee high stockings.

The only explanation can be that the writer/director, even back then, sensed my star quality and created the bff character with a non-singing part specifically to get ME on stage! I suspect that person's motivation was sheer selfishness; once I achieved the stardom for which I was destined, he wanted to be able to say, "I knew her when she was a nobody; I gave her her first big break!" Terrible to think someone working with children could be so self-serving. I hope you're happy now, Mr. Director!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Travel is Fattening--but then so is everything!

I returned from my cross-country road trip to discover, car travel is fattening. I gained back some of the weight I had worked so hard to lose. I guess 30 days of sitting on your butt in the car, stopping to eat at great restaurants, indulging in free continental breakfasts at hotels, and passing the hours on the road munching on assorted goodies like chips, ice cream, and peanut butter cups is not the best idea. Who knew?

Well, I say no use crying over spilled milk (or butt-spread), it is what it is and time to move forward--if in fact I can get this over-weight carcass moving! I've resumed my trips to the Chamber of Horrors; if that term is new to you, you may want to click on it and get in the game, here. I can deal with the Goddess of Pain, who seems to be perkier than ever, but it's really difficult trying to avoid the inevitable " nooner," as we KNOW that is counter-productive.

This is the absolute worst time of year to try to lose weight! We only had about a dozen trick-or-treaters, so there's all that leftover Halloween candy. And lurking on the horizon is Thanksgiving; disaster on a plate! I love turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, and the heavenly desserts. And as quick as you can say, "No, thank you," to the third or fourth helping, Santa will be here! Who can celebrate Christmas without chocolate fudge, plus a repeat of all the Thanksgiving goodies?

I think it must be an end of the year conspiracy to bully you into making New Year's resolutions that will be impossible to keep! Maybe if I try chewing on my nails instead of chocolate?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Envelope, Please (Part 2)

Yesterday I acknowledged various awards that I have received from fellow bloggers and passed them on to deserving individuals. I have one more award that I didn't get to yesterday: The Superior Scribbler Award which is given for great writing. Cougar at Cougar Tales gave me this award, and it means a lot to me. I decided in my retirement to take up writing, and the fact that someone thinks I do it well pleases me to no end!

That being said, I'd like to pass this award on to Mesina at And Then There Was Me. She is, indeed, a superior scribbler! I love reading her posts, and I'm sure you will, too. She manages to write thoughtful, entertaining posts, despite the fact that she has 3 kids!

Blogging has been a godsend to me. I retired in April of this year, and if I hadn't discovered blogging as a creative outlet, I'd probably have torn out all my hair by now! (And-trust me on this one--an old, overweight, bald-headed woman would not be a pretty sight!) Also, I gain inspiration from reading other bloggers' posts. There are so many, talented, funny bloggers out there. Thank you all for the laughs, the tears, and entertainment you have all brought to my life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Envelope, Please.

Time to break out the bubbly again! I have been fortunate enough to have a few more awards bestowed on me! It's always an honor and a thrill to get recognition from my fellow bloggers, and it truly means a lot to me.

I spend a lot of time here writing and sharing my thoughts, and knowing that someone out there is reading what I spew and even enjoying some of it, is just amazing.

There are so many funny talented people out there in blogland, that it's also fun to have the opportunity to pass the awards on to other, in many instances, more deserving bloggers than I.

The first award is the Honest Scrap Award, from Laura at Ziggy's Blog , and also from Cougar at Cougar Tales.

This award comes with some rules:

1. Thank the person who gave the award, list their blog and link it.
2. Share Ten "honest and random" facts about yourself.
3. Present this award to 7 others whose blogs you find brilliant in content or design, or those who have encouraged you.
4. Tell these people they have been awarded "Honest Scrap" and inform them of the guidelines for receiving this award.

First, I'll share 10 honest and random things about myself:
1. In my freshman year of college, I "went steady" with two guys at the same time: one at school, and one at home. (evil, I know)
2. At one time, I swam 75 laps a day around my backyard pool. (I was younger and thinner then!)
3. I love to play cards and board games, especially Cribbage and Balderdash.
4. I've been known to carry my cell phone in my bra if I have no pockets.
5. I seem to have a problem hanging on to my underwear; to learn more, click here.
6. I worked one summer as an A & W Root Beer Drive In car hop and accidently dumped a whole milkshake in a customer's lap.
7. In my days as a high school teacher, I let my students spray my hair green on Halloween, and wore it that way all day.
8. I could live on pepperoni pizza, fried chicken, and chocolate.
9. I am the youngest of seven children.
10. I have seven grandchildren.

I would like to pass the Honest Scrap award on to:
1. Elizabeth Patch at More to Love
2. The dieter at Top Secret Diet
3. Jules at Night Notes on Napkins
I will only be passing the Honest Scrap Award on to 3 recipients, not because there aren't enough deserving bloggers, but because I am stingy with my complements...I feel they mean more, if I'm extra selective. (And this is sosoo time-consuming!)

The next award I'd like to acknowledge is the Gorgeous Blogger Award which comes from Debbie at Blueberry Plains. It happens that Debbie lives about 30 minutes away from me, so we are practically neighbors! This award asks that you disclose six things about yourself; I figure I met this requirement with the first award, so I won't bore you with any more info about me!

I would like to pass this award on to Cinnamon Girl at Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice because she does have a gorgeous blog, and her recipes always make my mouth water!

The last award I want to acknowledge today is the Friends Award for being a friend among others in bloggy land.

This also came from Cougar at Cougar Tales. I would like to pass it on to Natalie at Raising Normal Kids, because she can always be counted on to visit your blog and comment.

Again, thanks for the recognition, and I'm glad to be able to pass these awards on to some great bloggers out there. I have one more award to acknowledge, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. Tune in again, same time, same place!