Irony, the Opposite of Wrinkly

When I was growing up, we had an ironing pile. Once my mother went back to school and became a nurse, ironing was relegated to an as needed chore. We had a small loveseat in the kitchen next to the coat closet. The closet also housed the ironing board. The loveseat held the ironing pile. If I wanted to wear an item located in the ironing pile, I would have to find it, then iron it. I really appreciated the invention of permanent press clothes. I also learned that hanging or folding the clothes right away minimized the ironing.

ImageCute iron from

People have differing opinions about ironing. I have heard of people who still iron their sheets. I don’t think I know anyone personally who irons sheets. While many people love the feel of freshly pressed clothing, most people do not put ironing as one of their top priorities. People who don’t want to iron can delegate pressing shirts to the cleaners.

My friend Cherie earned money in high school by taking in ironing. My friend Janet adjusted the ironing board so that she could iron while sitting. Her mom thought ironing while sitting was cheating although Janet did get points for creativity.

As a young married woman, I was astounded when my sweet frugal mother-in-law confessed that in the early 70s, she had donated her entire ironing pile to charity when they were moving to a new army post. At that time, I thought only about the expense of replacing the clothes. Now as a mom with four children of my own, I totally agree with her logic. Anything that was loved had probably been pulled from the pile and ironed. The stuff in the pile had been there long enough that most of the clothing was probably too small by the time of the move. I don’t have an ironing pile, but my clean laundry pile is nearly to the point where I seriously consider donating all the clean clothes that haven’t made it to someone’s dresser.

My biggest ironing embarrassment happened a few years ago. Most of my clothing doesn’t require ironing. I do have a couple of silk shirts that look better when ironed. So if I wanted to wear one of these beautiful shirts, I would haul out the ironing board (or declutter it if it was already standing), plug in the iron that I had used since my college days, set the iron to silk, and proceed to run the iron over the fabric. This had been going on for weeks? months? years? when I began to notice that the shirts didn’t look that much better when they were ironed, but I didn’t suspect anything wrong. Some time later I was sewing something. Of course, pressing the seams makes the finished garment look so much better. So I hauled out the ironing board, plugged in the iron, set it for cotton, and waited for it to get hot. And waited, and waited, and waited, and waited. That iron never got hot! How long had I been ironing my silk shirts with a dead iron?

What can you learn from my experience? Don’t expect the iron you use during college to be working 25-30 years later. If you use an iron mostly for ironing silks, you should periodically turn up the heat to see if the iron is actually working. And if your silk shirts still look a little wrinkly, your iron might be dead.


Drama filled life

Robert Burns’ poem “To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church” ends with the theme “And would some Power the small gift give us/To see ourselves as others see us! (Translation from Wikipedia

I generally see myself as a kind and patient mother. But sometimes, I don’t think my girls see me the same way.

Let’s go back in time 11 years.

I had noticed an audition at the SC Children’s Theatre for Annie. Fiona loved Annie and knew all the songs, so it seemed like a good idea for her to try out. We went to the audition. A hundred or so other girls had the same idea. So many little girls auditioned for the 7 orphan roles that the director split the roles of the orphans and cast 12 regular orphans plus Annie. As we walked away from the auditions that night, I heard myself saying, “Fiona, I’ll be happy if you’re an orphan.” Taken out of context, that statement would be a little creepy.

My girls were excited about the play. We played the soundtrack almost constantly. All the girls had memorized all the songs and most of the dialog. Since I was surrounded by little girls, I especially liked Miss Hannigan’s solo “Little Girls.” My girls asked me to stop singing it, not because the words were scary, but they thought my singing was.

I was so excited for Fiona to be cast as an orphan! Then reality set in. I had no clue how demanding the rehearsal schedule would be. In retrospect, I’m glad that Fiona’s grades didn’t slip too horribly. And since this was our first time participating in a Children’s Theatre production, I hadn’t realized that parents were required to participate along with the child. Fiona, age 13, could not drive herself to rehearsals. From our house to the rehearsal space took 20 minutes. If I drove her there for a 2-hour rehearsal and returned home, I spent 40 minutes driving so that I could do things at the house for a little more than an hour. It made sense that I would put in some of my volunteer hours during those rehearsals. I worked in the costume room. Among other costumes, I made orphan dresses and Miss Hannigan’s robe.


If adding the play responsibilities had not caused enough stress, my husband Scott was spending almost every weekend doing things for the Army reserve as a result of the terror attacks the previous fall. Because of those reserve duties, I was solo parenting 4 girls almost every weekend. All of those things were stressful, but most stressful of all was I had not filed my income taxes!

October 15, the FINAL tax deadline, arrived. As we were driving in the car, I gently explained to my girls that I needed to file our taxes. Since filing taxes was very important and had to be finished that day, I needed the girls to start right to work on homework or read or otherwise occupy themselves while I completed the taxes. I thought I was doing a great job of patiently explaining the situation when Moira, then 3, shut me up with the sarcastic comment, “Ok, Miss Hannigan!”


She doesn’t remember the incident. I’ve wondered if she was just trying to get me to stop talking as in “I understand, Mom, you can stop talking now” or if she actually envisioned me as the mean Miss Hannigan from Annie.

Accident Prone

Our household currently has 3 drivers under the age of 25. Inexperienced drivers and accidents seem to go together. My daughters have had a few accidents. The accidents range from breaking the back window to totaling the car. I am grateful to God that the injuries have mostly been minor. I was feeling a little superior about my driving when I was their age, but then I started thinking about my own inexperienced driving.

One memorable experience was the time my dad taught me to drive a car with a manual transmission one day and the next day sent me in that car to my grandparents’ house several hours away. Being new to a manual transmission was bad enough, but that car’s transmission had troubles. I was forced to drive most of the way in 2nd gear. When I was going through King’s Mountain, NC,  I met another car full of teen guys. When they started honking and waving at me, I was so nervous about driving that car with the failing transmission that I assumed they were trying to tell me something was wrong with my car.

I’d like to forget the time when another driver turned left in front of me resulting in a crash more serious than most of my daughters’ accidents. So serious that my passenger spent several days in a coma. And I wouldn’t mind forgetting the time I was driving my dad’s truck when the truck hydroplaned and the truck spun and hit the guardrail. The truck was still drivable, but it had scrapes that added to its character.

Can an auto accident ever be funny? Maybe.

My aunt Diane’s house is on top of a hill. Her front yard slopes for a ways from the house, then there is a steep drop off to the road. The edge of her yard next to the driveway has a row of pine trees. Because her driveway is fairly steep, my dad always wanted me to put the car into 1st gear, even the cars with automatic transmissions.

One day my brother Bruce and I went to Diane and Ronnie’s house. I don’t remember why we were going there, but I do remember what happened once we arrived. I parked the car. My brother and I got out of the car and started walking towards Diane’s house.

Suddenly I heard Bruce laughing as if he had seen the funniest thing ever in his life. What was so funny to a little kid? It was the car, the car that was heading across the sloping yard toward the road. For a nanosecond, I thought about doing a movie style run to the car. I would catch up with the car, yank the door open, and apply the brakes. But the car picked up momentum and was obviously traveling faster than I could run. I envisioned the car landing vertically on the road below. I hoped it wouldn’t land on a passing car, but I could imagine it crumpled on the road below.

Then its course changed. The driverless car headed for the row of pine trees that stood at the edge of the yard above the steep driveway. Since the trees were right next to the driveway, they had less root support on the driveway side. We watched as the car rammed into one of the trees. When the car hit the tree, the momentum of the car pushed the tree over. The car shimmied down the tree and came to a stop straddling the tree. Now my aunt and uncle’s driveway was completely blocked by a pine tree across it. A fallen tree would have been an easy fix, but a tree with a car perched on it was a greater challenge. I’m sure if digital photography and the Internet had been around then, the picture of the tree and car would be on all the crazy accident sites.

So why did my car suddenly decide to roll away? Muscle memory. Whenever I parked that automatic, I would push the gear lever up 2 clicks, and the transmission would be in Park. However, because I had put the car into 1st gear when I went up the driveway even though dad wasn’t there to see it, 2 clicks put the car into Neutral. And I didn’t set the parking brake.

My uncle Ronnie and some of his pals cut the tree so they could get the car off the tree. The car wasn’t too much worse for the experience. We were able to drive it away later that evening. There was no hope to restore the tree. It became firewood.

Have you ever had an accident that is humorous in retrospect?

How Could You Say That?

This past April, one of western North Carolina’s famous retirees died. My sister-in-law Becky and her coworkers were discussing their encounters with this retiree. One fellow teacher told this embarrassing story.

The teacher and a friend had gone out to a restaurant to celebrate the teacher’s birthday. While they were eating, the manager came over to the table and asked whether it was ok if another patron sang “Happy Birthday” instead of the wait staff. The teacher agreed. The patron, an older gentleman, sang well. The teacher thanked the singer, and the singer returned to his own table. The other person eating with the teacher asked, “Do you know who just sang “Happy Birthday” to you?” The teacher admitted that he didn’t recognize the singer. When he learned who the singer was, the teacher wanted to go speak to the singer and tell him how much the teacher enjoyed his music, but everything seemed too awkward.

Becky then told her coworkers that her story would top the other stories. Before Becky was a teacher, she had worked in a bank.

At the time this happened, she was a loan officer. One day she noticed a car at the drive through window, but the teller had stepped away for a moment. Becky wanted to be helpful. Since she didn’t have a customer at her desk, she went to the drive through and retrieved the papers from the drawer. The bank had a strict policy that the teller had to use the customer’s name three times during the course of the transaction. In fact, they had mystery shoppers to come to the bank to see if the teller used the customer’s name at least three times. If a teller failed to use the customer’s name at least three times, the bank would fine the teller’s paycheck. Becky didn’t recognize the customer, so she looked at his deposit slip for a clue.

Becky wasn’t sure of the name, but decided to pronounce both of the vowels in Shea, so her communication went something like this. “How are you Mr. SHE-uh? How can I help you today?”

I’d like to make a deposit.

“Ok. Mr. SHE-uh, I’ll take your deposit to one of the tellers and have her process your transaction.” That’s 2 times using his name.

Returning with the finished transaction, she gives the receipt to the customer and asked,”Is there anything else I can do for you Mr. SHE-uh?” (3 times) When he replied no, she added, “Have a nice afternoon, Mr. SHE-uh and your daughter too.”

Just as the customer’s car drove off, the drive through teller returned. She took one look at Becky and said. “You didn’t just call him Mr. SHE-uh! How could you make that mistake. Didn’t you read the name on his deposit slip? His whole name? That’s George Beverly Shea! And that is his wife, not his daughter.

Yes, Becky’s story about her encounter with George Beverly Shea was more embarrassing.

Internationally known singer, yet he did not take offense when folks didn’t recognize him or when they mangled the pronunciation of his name.


Abandon Shopping Cart Quickly or Humiliation 101

A friend of ours used to work at a company that required men to wear ties. On one Saturday this friend headed to the big hardware store near his house. He selected his purchases and started to make his way to the checkout. He saw a guy who sorta looked familiar, but going. As he started to pass this other guy, the guy spoke our friend’s name and started talking to him.

Our friend suddenly recognized the other guy as a coworker. He blurted out, “Sorry, I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.”

A Quarter Cup of Coffee Goes a Long Way.

Last Saturday morning it was rainy. A rainy Saturday morning in a July with record amounts of rain.

A lightning strike in the back yard the previous Thursday evening took out our Internet connection, and ATT hadn’t bothered to restore it yet. Without the Internet to distract me, I had spent the morning going through some of the accumulated mail.

Feeling good about having made great progress in decluttering mail, I reached a stopping point. To reward myself for my diligence I decided I would brew a cup of coffee, relax on the sofa, and browse through some magazines. After all, reading magazines is another way of dealing with the mail.


While my coffee was brewing, I noticed a piece of old mail that was tucked under the K-cup drawer. I would just pull it out. But first, I should fill up the reservoir so the light would quit blinking. So I grab the water filter pitcher and refill the brewer. Then I set the water filter pitcher down next to the brewer. Oh, look the brewer stopped. I’ll get that mail in a minute. Let me put cream and sugar in my coffee so it can cool while I deal with that mail that is just under the brewer and drawer. I’ll just set down my coffee cup so I can reach it.


Ok, now a quick tug, and I’ll have another piece of mail decluttered. Oh, it’s stuck. I pull a little harder . . . harder . . . harder. It’s really stuck. Pull harder. Finally . . . it comes loose. The force that I had been using to tug on the piece of paper sent my hand flying. My flying hand with the piece of mail jostled my coffee cup. Good thing that piece of mail wasn’t important, because it was now saturated with coffee. In fact, most of my kitchen was saturated. Although the cup did not overturn, coffee spread all over the place. Coffee all down the front of the dishwasher. Coffee covering at least 12 square feet of the kitchen floor near the coffee pot. Coffee all over the water filter pitcher. Coffee on the counter. It seemed as if there was coffee everywhere.

Of course, I had to adjust my plan to relax on the sofa. One simply cannot ignore a spill containing a liquid sweetened with sugar. To ignore such a spill would be like hanging out a welcome sign for ants and palmetto bugs (aka roaches).

Wipe up the spilled coffee on the floor. Wipe down the dishwasher to get rid of the spilled coffee. Rinse the water filter pitcher inside and out. You wouldn’t expect coffee to be inside the pitcher since it had a lid, but it’s there. Use a sponge to mop up the coffee spilled on the counter. Grab a paper towel to dry the counter. Notice that the edge of the towel that slipped under the storage drawer is stained with coffee.

At this point, I realize that I’m living in a grown up version of one of Laura Numeroff’s IF books. Here goes my version. If you notice that the paper towel has a coffee stain, you will want to move the single cup brewer and the drawer it is sitting on so that you can wipe up the coffee underneath. If you move the brewer, you will notice that the coffee spill extends underneath the adjacent tea brewer. If you move the tea brewer to clean under it, you might notice that the carafe could stand cleaning and you put the carafe into the dishwasher. If the carafe is no longer in the way, you might notice there are some tea stains on the tea brewer itself. If you tilt the tea brewer just a little to get the pesky stain, you might realize there was still water in the appliance, but you might not realize that fact until the water spilled on the counter. If you clean up the water, you might also have to move the next appliance on the other side. If you keep this process up, you might find that you have cleaned under all the appliances on that side of the counter.

Finally finished and ready to relax with my coffee, I figure I’ll need to brew another cup. I glance at my coffee cup expecting it to be nearly empty, but I am surprised. The cup is almost completely full. Maybe a few ounces are missing. Amazing how much mess a few ounces of liquid can make.

Happy Birthday Aunt Eloise (or a funny thing happened on the way down the aisle)

On the occasion of Eloise’s birthday, I thought I would share a few memories of Aunt Eloise, aka Aunt EE. I always thought it was cool that Aunt Eloise’s first and middle name started with the same initial. Then when she married, her name became even cooler because her maiden name and married name started with the same initials – EEMM. EloiseBruce

Eloise has always been interested in history. My family often vacationed with her; her love of history rubbed off on me. I remember visiting Gettysburg, Washington, DC, Amish country, and several other locations with Eloise. Rarely did we get to pass a historical marker without reading every word. Between Eloise’s love of history and my dad’s desire to see every odd or peculiar thing within driving distance of our hotel, we spent a great deal of vacation time in the car. Usually, I felt that I needed a vacation to rest up after we returned from our scheduled vacation.

Recently Eloise shared the following story with me and I’m including it with a couple of editing tweaks: My cousin & I [Eloise] were sharing a house in DC. A good friend called and said that he was in DC just returning from Army deployment in Korea. We invited him for dinner and mentioned if he wanted to bring along another guy he could. (That made 2 gals, 2 guys). Oops. Serve a Jewish guy ham for dinner—learn next day he was Jewish! It was a pleasant evening—I do not even remember that red-headed Jewish soldier’s name!!!! Just a funny memory now….and a faux pas! He was courteous and ate it without a word.

Here’s another memory that makes me smile. I recently mentioned this story to Eloise, but she didn’t remember it. However, she told me about the incident when I was visiting her in NC one summer probably a decade or more ago, so I guess I thought it was funnier than she did. The day before my visit, Eloise had sliced up some cucumbers fresh from the garden and decided that they would be better with a splash of vinegar. She carried the bowl to the laundry room because she kept the vinegar there to use as a laundry aid. She took off the lid and drizzled the liquid on the vegetables. When she got to the table, you guessed it, she had sprinkled the cucumber slices with bleach.

When my brother tells the following story about a time he and my parents were eating lunch with Eads and Eloise, Bryan includes arm motions and everything. Here’s Eloise’s version of the story (copied and pasted with minor edits): I do remember when your family came to visit us while we lived in Maryland—–I believe Bruce was a toddler. I had forgotten the event until someone (probably Bryan) reminded me of it in recent years. Evidently it struck him as funny even though he had deep sympathy for the dog. We had just sat down at the dining table for a meal. I picked up the catsup (or salad dressing?) bottle, gave it a quick check to see the cap was on securely. Then I turned the bottle upside down and I jerked the bottle down quickly by my thigh to get the contents flowing quickly. I did not know that our beloved dachshund was standing by my feet. Wham! Poor doggie! He got whacked right in the head. I guess he forgave me….we kept him for years and always enjoyed him.

In 1968, Eloise married Eads (Bill) her longtime boyfriend. My family went to the DC area for the wedding. I was hoping to get to be a flower girl since many of my friends had been flower girls in weddings, but that wasn’t the plan. Perhaps it was a consolation prize, or perhaps it had been the plan all along, but Eloise asked my brother Bryan and me to light the candles in the branched candle stands on either side of the platform at the beginning of the ceremony. Being 10 years old and very responsible and very proud of myself, I listened carefully to the instructions. Bryan, being almost 7 and not that interested in the wedding was playing with the wick in the lighter and looking all around at the vestibule. I was so excited and felt so important. (If this incident had happened recently, the video would be YouTube or Funniest Home Videos.) Finally after waiting so long, it was time for Bryan and I to walk down to light the candles. I followed the instructions. I walked over to the side, walked up the steps, and started lighting the candles from the highest to lowest. Bryan just saw the candles. There were candles, and he had fire to light them. Who needs steps? I was indignant when I realized that he was lighting the candles from lowest to highest. I was embarrassed when he climbed on the altar rail to reach higher. I was mortified when he began to tumble into the greenery. I think the soloist had to grab him. Despite all that, Eads and Eloise had a nice wedding and recently celebrated their 45th anniversary.