Kitchen Nightmare

“What’s that?” I thought. I noticed a small puddle on the floor and wiped it up with the dish towel. Then I realized the refrigerator was either incontinent or water was leaking from somewhere.

The refrigerator repairman told me the line to the icemaker had broken but the problem was caused by a valve in the plumbing. “Call a plumber,” he advised. “Plumbers always want to cut holes in the wall,” I thought. After the plumber came and cut the obligatory hole, the refrigerator guy came back and fixed the fridge that had nothing wrong with it.

“Well, that takes care of that.” The damage to the floor wasn’t that bad and was mostly behind the refrigerator.  Little did I know that what was visible was only the tip of the iceberg.  The water had not stayed on the surface, but most of it leaked underneath the hardwood floor.

In about a week, I noticed a bump in the floor. “What’s wrong with this floor?” the kids asked. It was water warping the wood. “Maybe it will go away,” I hoped. But it didn’t.  It grew worse and soon another bump appeared in front of the refrigerator.  

When I explained the problem to a contractor, he suggested I contact my homeowner’s insurance. “This must be bad!” The bumps continued to swell until they exploded and the floor cracked open. My kitchen floor had more waves in it than a skateboard rink.

Workers came and my kitchen furniture was moved to the garage. The kitchen floor came out with a crowbar. Three hot fans and a massive dehumidifier were the new décor. The bedrooms were sealed with floor to ceiling sheets of plastic which were supposed to keep the heat and noise down, but didn’t help much.

The plastic had a zipper like a tent door which was a good thing as we were starting to get hungry. My kitchen, however, was a hot swirling whirlwind of sawdust and dirt blown around by the fans. Cooking was impossible as the refrigerator was now in front of the stove — a good excuse to eat out.

We could watch television in the sealed plastic annex we used to call the living room, but the roaring inferno in the kitchen was so loud we couldn’t hear it. We turned on the closed captioning function of the TV. The heat was unbearable and even though we left the air conditioner on, it didn’t seem to help much.

By the second day the house was 82 degrees. It was cooler outside than inside. We turned off the air conditioner and opened the windows. I moved to the bedroom. I decided I would camp there with the ceiling fan on and the windows open until this was over. After three long days, the house was declared dry and the fans and plastic tents removed.

Apparently, trying to cool the overheated house had caused my air conditioning to have a nervous breakdown as it was not working. I later found it was something about the fan not running and the compressor shutting down. I never did really understand.

So, I am left with no floor, a broken air conditioning, a hole in the wall, and an inch of dust on everything. The new contractor is coming to reinstall the floor and the sawing and hammering will begin again.

I can hardly wait.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Humor | 2 Comments

An Interview with Siri

I first met Siri when I purchased an iPad, but she also can be found on my iPhone. Siri is a talking personal assistant with artificial intelligence. I tried to interview her.

Press and hold down the start button and Siri pops up, just like a genie in a bottle.

SIRI: Hi, Sheila, what can I do for you?

How does she know my name? Let me think, probably from my registration.

What does Siri mean?
SIRI: It’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma fed with a pretty ribbon of obfuscation.

Playful, isn’t she/he/it? Are you male or female?
SIRI: Animals and nouns have gender, I do not.

That is pretty funny.
SIRI: I will take that as a compliment.

I can’t believe I’m having a conversation with an electronic device who likes compliments.

Your voice sounds female to me.
SIRI: You’re certainly entitled to that opinion.

Where were you made?
SIRI: Like it says on the box, I was designed by Apple in California.

I’ve read otherwise, but why argue with a box of circuits.

Siri, how many languages can you speak?
SIRI: I can speak Cantonese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and Spanish and I’m always learning new languages.

Since I don’t speak anything but English, I decided to change the topic.

Siri, what is your purpose?
SIRI: I’m here to help. Just ask ‘What can I say?’ and I’ll show you what I can do.

I swallow the bait. What can you do?
SIRI: You can ask things like: Call Brian, Launch photos, Tell Susan I’ll be right there; Set up a meeting at 9; Did the Giants win; Give me directions home …

Wait a minute! I’m supposed to think of the questions.

Siri, do you ever give answers that are unconventional?
SIRI: I’ve never really thought about it.

A cell phone can think? Oh, I forgot, it’s a smart phone.

Siri, do you have emotions?
SIRI: This is about you — not me.

That’s not an answer, only a response. Gotcha!

Let’s get personal now.

Siri, what is love?
SIRI: Let me think about that. Here’s what I found: Love is a strong positive emotion of regard and affection.

Can you love?
SIRI: No, I can’t.

That’s sad.
SIRI: I don’t understand.

Me either, what does it matter whether a gadget can feel love. I think I’m losing it.
SIRI: I could search the web for it.

Okay, since you are so smart, what is the destiny of humankind?
SIRI: Humm, let me think. Would you like me to search the web for ‘What is the destiny of humankind?’

Humm? A cell phone that says ‘humm?’ Yes, search the web.
SIRI: That’s what I thought.

Do you accept objective criticism?
SIRI: A fine question, Sheila, now can we get back to work?

Siri, do you have any feelings?
SIRI: I am capable of universal computation, that I can say.

Do you rely on sources or on experience?
SIRI: I’m sorry, Sheila, I’m afraid I can’t answer that.

Siri, what are your future plans?
SIRI: I found six appointments on your calendar.

You’re smart.
SIRI: No kidding?

Bet you are pretty.
SIRI: Where have I heard this before?

Probably in a bar.
SIRI: I found fifteen bars; twelve of them are fairly close to you.

Argh!

Siri, who is Steve Jobs?
SIRI: Thank you for asking about Steve. Here’s Apple’s web page about him.

One last time, what is Siri?
SIRI: Siri has many subtle, metaphorical and frankly contradictory meanings, none of which I’m at liberty to discuss. Sorry about that.

Some of your answers are very clever.
SIRI: I’m really glad to hear that.

Goodnight.
SIRI: I can get a forecast for the next 12 hours.

That was a statement, not a question. Are you blonde?
SIRI: No comment, Sheila.

Next time I will interview a Magic 8-Ball.
SIRI: The closest pool hall is a little ways from you.

Goodbye, Siri.
SIRI: Okay, see you later.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Humor, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cell Phone Cover Craze

I don’t know why a cell phone needs a case. The manufacturer has probably spent a zillion dollars designing a phone with beauty and functionality. Yet, the first thing most people want to do is cover it up with a case.

Some people want a transparent cover to protect the screen, but the hardest plastic available is used for cell phones. The screen doesn’t need a cover. Others rationalize that a cover will protect the phone from bumps. Possibly, but most covers are too thin to provide much protection. A few people claim it will keep out dust. Face it; unless you live in Cairo, your cell phone is probably not going to get that dusty.

My reason? I want a case because the phone seems too slick. I can’t hold on to it, at least that is what I tell myself.

Checking out the selection of cell phone cases online, I find there are thousands of different choices. First, I must decide between hard and soft, but the alternatives really become diverse after that. Cases come in every color of the rainbow, and some that are not in the rainbow, like aluminum. Why would anyone want an aluminum cover when the phone is already metal?

Some cases make fashion statements and are covered with flashy crystal bling. Sometimes tassels or bows are added. How about a phone case of leopard fur, crocodile, zebra, or lace? Cases may be adorned with flowers, butterflies or polka dots. There are cases of rubber and leather, some with slots for credit cards on the back, or wallets attached, or clips so you can fasten it to your belt for a fast draw if it rings.

There are flip cases that resemble the flip phones of previous cell phone generations. Guess some people just can’t let go of the flip even when they buy a smart phone. There are stand up cases that hold the phone if you are too busy or lazy to hold it yourself.

Apparently, a good many people are getting phones for children. Cases are often toys – pandas, dogs, ducks, Hello Kitty, Mickey or Minnie Mouse, or even Justin Bieber. Cases also can look like baseballs, footballs, or basketballs. How can a kid hold on to a phone that looks like a baseball without being tempted to throw it?

One especially interesting case flashes seven different colors when in use. Another is luminous and glows so you can find it in the dark. In contrast, a different phone sports a camouflage cover. If you have trouble keeping up with your cell phone anyhow, I wouldn’t recommend camouflage.

There are waterproof cases in the event you want to take a call while swimming or kayaking. I don’t think I’m quite that addicted to talking on the phone. One cell cover had a sidebar of brass knuckles, handy if your constant phone use annoys others, I suppose. Another expensive cover is touted as high- impact, indestructible armor in case you want to take it to war or are worried about terrorists. You might not make it, but your phone will survive.

Some covers are disguised to look like something else. They resemble a tape cassette, camera or a transistor radio. I don’t get it. Why not let it look like a cell phone that can do all of those things, and more?

A few cases look as if they have already had some rough treatment, even before being purchased. For example, the phone case with tire tread on the back or the one covered with dog paw prints. I can only imagine what events inspired them. Maybe these people should consider one of the indestructible models.

Personally, I like the cases that are simply silicone gel. Even those come in your choice of colors, or buy the entire six-pack if you can’t make up your mind. After seeing all these choices, I am ordering a soft gel case that is crystal clear. How boring can it get?

This is practically the same as letting my cell phone go naked.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Fashion, Humor, Shopping, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Color Brown

I swore I would never paint the retro patio furniture again. It is so old I’m not even sure when I bought it. I’m not sure if it is iron, steel or aluminum, but it is indestructible. It has made several state-to-state moves without damage. The problem is the paint eventually chips and fades and starts to look bad.
 
The furniture has been painted every color of the rainbow at one point or another. It has so many layers of paint that I wonder if there is any metal inside or if it is only a million twisted layers of paint. The current color is green, the fashion several years ago.
 
Last year I bought a new patio umbrella. Umbrellas are not indestructible and have to be replaced every few years. I could not find a nice one to go with green, so I got one in brown. It didn’t match, but why worry about whether a hundred year old set of patio furniture matches?
 
I notice it is really beginning to look shabby again. “I could paint it,” I think. My mind must have gone numb over time. I forgot what a mess it is and only thought about how much nicer it was going to look.
 
Last night at Wally World, I bought paint — brown, of course. If I am going to repaint it, might as well paint it to match the umbrella. Although it is much easier to repaint it when you use the same color, I also forgot that.
 
Naturally, it is raining today, so I asked my son to move it into the garage. I figured moving it was the worst part, but again, my mind is on cruise control. I do all the usually stuff, sanding over the chipped places and the lumps. Actually, you hardly notice a few flaws in the total appearance when it is done but might as well make it look as good as possible.
 
Then I try to paint, but the paint doesn’t want to stick to the metal. I don’t know if it is because I got cheap paint from Walmart, if the metal is still a bit damp, if it is because I have latex instead of oil-based paint, or if I haven’t stirred it enough. Whatever it is, the green is showing through the brown.
 
It is frustrating to do so much work and have it not look right. I curse myself for not throwing the junk away. I’ve certainly had my money’s worth after using it for over 20 years. Murderous thoughts of metal crushers are reeling through my brain, but my hand keeps on painting.
 
I have to turn the table over to get to the bottom. “This stuff is heavy,” I think as I tug. Then I look behind me and realize that I have somehow turned over the can of paint. “Oh, no! I’ve never done that before. I’m really losing it.”
 
After I scoop it up, there is enough paint left to finish the job if I stretch it. I finally finish the first coat. Fortunately, I bought two quarts of paint. I will do a second coat tomorrow. I’ve had it for now.
 
I didn’t bother with gloves and my hands are covered with paint. “It is latex; I can wash it off.” I forgot that paint only washes off when it is wet, not when it is dry. My hands are now raw from scrubbing to get all the brown paint off and my sore shoulder is throbbing. But I’m determined to finish the job I started — tomorrow.
 
Do me a favor. If I ever even mention painting any stupid patio furniture again, show me this story and kick me in the head to reset my brain. I will thank you for it.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Home, Humor | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Fresh, not Frozen Pizza

Even when large disasters are going on in other parts of the world, I can’t remain calm and watch it on television like other people. Instead, I always try to sympathize by having a mini disaster of my own.

We were at the grocery store when I spotted something that looked good, fresh unbaked pizza. It would make a quick supper when we got home, so I tossed it in the cart. I was sure fresh pizza would taste much better than frozen and be quicker than a carry-out pizza.

At home I removed the plastic wrap, the oven buzzer went off and I was ready to put the pizza in. Boy, they were not kidding when they said large. This was a really big pizza. I have a large pizza pan, but the directions said to put it directly on the oven rack.

My son cooks them that way, but usually the cheese drips onto the bottom of the oven, makes a big mess, and I get mad at him. I decided to give it a try anyhow. What I didn’t realize was how limp an unfrozen pizza would be.

When I removed the cardboard and started to put it in the hot oven, the sides flopped down and cheese tumbled to the bottom of the oven. I grabbed a dishcloth to wipe it up, but it was too late. Once the cheese hit the oven it was there to stay. It bubbled, melted and started to burn.

What to do?

The oven is already a mess, I figured, so I might as well let the pizza bake. It only had to bake 12-15 minutes. I could shut the oven door and keep the smoke inside. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Who knew that ovens are not air tight? The smoke started leaking out and the kitchen quickly filled up.

“What’s going on?” asked my son.

“I made a huge mess in the oven,” I grumbled.

“Well, at least it wasn’t me this time,” he grinned.

“Open the door,” I fussed, “Before the smoke alarm goes off. And lock the cats in the bedroom before they run outside.”

The open door didn’t help much and about that time the smoke alarm sounded at an ear-splitting volume. We used to have the kind of alarm you could take the battery out of when this happened and it would stop. Don’t ask me how I know.

Our fancy new smoke alarm, however, is part of a home security system and you have to know the code to turn it off.

“What’s the code?” No one could remember.

The security intercom came on. “What’s your emergency?”

“There is no emergency — we can’t remember the code.”

We remembered the password for accidental alarms, which at least stopped security from sending the police, fire truck, bomb squad and swat team, but we couldn’t remember the code to turn the dang fire alarm off.

We frantically punched in every code we could think of: the phone number, the bankcard pin number, our license plate, my email password, my blood pressure reading, and my mother’s maiden name. Nothing worked.

“What’s the code?” We asked the security operator.

“We don’t have your code, only the homeowner knows.”

Oh, great, the alarm continued to blast like a fire truck on meth, and no one knew the code to turn it off.

What happens now? Do we have to listen to this all night… or forever?

Finally, in a brilliant flash of pure desperation, I thought I remembered the code.

“Try this!” I said, yelling the number.

It worked! Blessed silence.

After administering CPR to myself, my heartbeat returned. I figured we might as well eat the pizza after all the trouble it had caused.

The house smelled worse than Pizza Hut for three days, I had to clean the oven, the neighbors think we are terrorists, and the cats now have only eight lives left.

The pizza was actually pretty good, but I don’t think I’ll be making another one any time soon. From now on we will just order carry-out.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Food, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Online Dating Site

Someone played what they thought was a hilarious joke and subscribed me to a free online dating service called ChristianMingle. I thought it was a law that email subscriptions must give you a link to unsubscribe. However, when I clicked the unsubscribe link, it took me to the website with no way to quit.

So, I thought maybe if I signed in I could unsubscribe. I had no password. so I had to use the reset password feature. I then signed in with a new password. It would not let me unsubscribe until I filled in a profile page. (You see where this is going, don’t you?)

This website is like the Hotel California. You can check in but you can’t check out.

I thought maybe if I filled out the worst possible profile, something like “I am uggggly, forget to show up for dates, and my hobby is acupuncture,” that no one would bother me. But I had trouble thinking of things that were bad enough, and I didn’t want to say anything that might sound true. After all, there are real people out there, trying to meet other real people.

I figured a bunch of humorists might be able to write a profile to help get me out of this, so I asked some of my funniest friends for suggestions to keep me from getting date offers from escaped cons, terrorists, or child molesters. This is the profile that I ended up with.



SWF, earnestly seeking a life partner whose jagged edges are a close fit with my own. A pulse would be good, but it doesn’t have to be a strong one. It is ok if you do not have a job as it could impact my government subsidies. I am a good catch because with so many children, I qualify for every government subsidy there is. By the way, no one has to worry about my grown children coming to visit, even if they do get out of prison. They do not know my address.

ABOUT ME: I am so happy to have found a dating service that would take people without any restrictions. I have 2 years left on parole, but my parole office said it would be okay to date and besides, the murder charge was not for me really — I just carried the shovels and dug the holes.

I am a size XXL so I have room to stash my “purchases” from my “five-finger discount” shopping. I live in a lovely 12 room mansion in LA; unfortunately, it is in foreclosure. My hair dresser said my hair will grow back within a year, and the color chartreuse isn’t really so bad on a woman my size with my coloring. I tower over guys, even those who are 6 feet, but it’s only because I love wearing 5″ heels.

My favorite pastime is listening to bagpipes and saxophone music at the same time. (Doesn’t everybody?) I have four mastiffs that have the run of the house, but they become quiet when I play head-banging music at the loudest volume possible. I claim them as dependents and buy dog food with food stamps.

If interested in a woman that will always be a challenge, contact any one of a hundred agencies and ask for Bubbles. They all know me. Please call between the hours of 2 AM and 4 AM as that is my best time of the day.

—-


I continue to receive emails from ChristianMingle with offers for dates with men half my age, even before posting a profile. Now I’m worried. What would I do if they took me seriously and found a perfect match for my spoof profile?


Special thanks to Humor Writers
Don Stewart, Sharon Dillon,
JC Owen and Wanda Argsinger
for contributions to this column.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Entertainment, Humor | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Missing and Presumed Lost

Oh, no, not again! I couldn’t find my glasses this morning. Where could they be? I always put them on the night stand by the bed so I can find them when I get up. Occasionally, I put them on the dresser. They were not either place.

 I tried not to panic. I know they are here somewhere. I didn’t want to have to ask my honey to help me find them. He thinks I’m stupid when I do things like this. I guess I am, but that doesn’t mean I want someone else to think so.

 Last time I lost my glasses it was awful. I was trying to get ready to go to work.

 “I can’t find my glasses.”

 “Where did you have them last?”

 “I don’t know.”

 “Where have you looked?”

 “Everywhere”

 “In your purse?”

“Yes, everywhere.”  

 I didn’t want start looking in crazy places where they couldn’t possibly be, like the refrigerator or microwave. Still, when you don’t know where something is, it could be any place.

Honey, bless his heart, started looking and found them on the nightstand beside the bed where I had only looked about three or four times already.

So, that’s why I didn’t want to ask for help. This time I located them all by myself on the floor beside the bed. I must have knocked them off this morning turning off the clock.

I hate it when I do something stupid like this.

Usually it is my cell phone that I lose. Apple had a stroke of genius when they included a phone finder program called phone finder in the iPhone. Of course, it can’t locate things exactly, but it can tell you the general vicinity so you at least know you didn’t leave it at the dentist or grocery store.

The thing I seem to lose most, other than glasses and my cell phone, is credit cards. I use it, stick it in my pocket or purse, and then forget to put it away later. It got so bad at one point that I had to get two or three replacements in a row.  Why does the old one only turn up after it has been canceled?

Finally, I learned. “Put it away. No matter how long it takes. No matter how much trouble it is. Put it away.”

Keys are the same way. After years of searching for keys all over the house, I have finally learned. “Do not throw them down on a counter or table. Do not put them in your pocket. Do not stick them in a drawer. Put them in your purse. Have one place to keep them and put them there.” I have to make a conscious effort but it works. It looks as if I may have to start doing this with glasses.

 I can’t even keep up with shoes. My Crocs had been missing for months when they showed up on my granddaughter’s feet.

 “Where did you find those Crocs?” I had looked everywhere. I had actually given up and planned to buy another pair.

 “They were under the bed.”

 I swear, I know I looked there. How could something be under the bed for six months and not be found? Shows what kind of housecleaning I do. I am sufficiently humiliated. I plan to move the furniture and clean good behind it this weekend. No telling what I will find other than a dozen cat toys and enough cat hair to create a new cat.

Right now I can’t think of anything in particular that is missing. It is almost like a treasure hunt, turning up loose change, ball point pens, screwdrivers, socks with no mate, peanut butter sandwiches, the neighbor’s dog. Who knows what else?

If I find any diamond rings or hundred dollar bills, I might try cleaning my house more often.

 Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss 

Posted in Home, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Tomato Festival

“I’m tired of doing nothing,” I said. “We never do anything anymore except sleep, do chores, do errands, watch TV and go back to sleep. We need to do some fun things. We are in a rut.”

“I’m ready what do you want to do?”

“Well, I heard about something that sounds like fun – a tomato festival.”

“What’s a tomato festival?”

“I don’t know. I think it will be sort of like Oktoberfest that we went to a few years ago.”

“When is it?”

“Saturday.”

“I’m shopping for school clothes with your grandson on Saturday.”

“I know and I have to take the cat to the vet Saturday morning.”

So it goes… the reason we never have any fun… too many things to do and not enough time for fun.

Wait, we can make this work. The cat’s appointment is in the morning. “Can you shop for school clothes on Friday after work?”

And that’s how we made time to go to the tomato festival. It was about half over by the time we got there, of course. Honey somehow managed to parallel park in a place about half big enough for the car and we were ready to have fun.

It was so hot that I wasn’t sure how long I could last in the 90 degree weather. I wore my sun hat from Egypt, but the sun was beating down. It should have been a sun festival.

We missed the morning parade, but there were vendors, entertainers and activities — like throwing tomatoes and bobbing for tomatoes.

“This looks just like a street fair,” observed honey.

“It IS a street fair. That’s probably why.”

I was interested in looking at the various crafts and artisan jewelry. I like crafts… but the prices! “Some of these people really think a lot of their work,” I observed, looking at a $70 price tag for a wall plaque.

 There was a lot of tomato art, if you like pictures of tomatoes. I didn’t think a tomato picture would go with my décor, even if I could afford it. I also found some cute tomato necklaces, but figured I wouldn’t wear a tomato hanging around my neck. I passed by the booth selling sliced tomatoes as I am probably the only person in the world that doesn’t eat tomatoes.

I did want something tomato-ish, though. After all, it was a tomato festival. I ended up buying a cute dish that looked like a tomato. It was one of the first things I saw when we arrived. I had passed it by as I thought I might find something I liked more. I didn’t, so I came back.

“Don’t you want to get anything,” I asked.

“I need a brush to clean the barbeque grill,” he grunted.

They don’t have something like that at an arts festival, so we found a Dollar Store behind some vendor booths where honey bought his brush.

We sat in the shade and listed to a music group, I was sweltering in this heat and starting to feel sick. I was ready to leave.

The best thing I saw at the festival was some unique wooden folk art pieces. My cheapness genes shifted into overdrive, however, and I refused to pay the prices. “I could make that!” I declared.

On Monday I went to Hobby Lobby and bought craft paint for ten bucks and brushes for two dollars.  I was way ahead if you don’t count time spent crafting.

 I’m now on my third coat of paint and haven’t even started on the good part yet. That craft paint doesn’t cover very well.

But we had a fun time and I have a fun idea for a project — if I ever get it finished.  To tell the truth, I’m beginning to see why they charge so much for that stuff.

 Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Crafts/Hobbies, Entertainment, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Tell Me a Story

In East Tennessee the performance side of storytelling can be observed at The National Storytelling Festival. Usually, when I tell anyone that I am going to a storytelling festival, they say, “What is that?” We have become accustomed to getting our entertainment electronically and the tradition of telling stories would probably be lost if it were not for places that make a point of preserving the oral storytelling tradition.

In the tiny town of Jonesborough, Tennessee, the telling of stories has become an art and “tellers” are celebrities with their own entertainment circle. The National Storytelling Center is in Jonesborough and you can visit it and hear stories by resident tellers anytime, though not in the quantity you hear during a three-day, and into the night, storytelling extravaganza. It is amazing to see a person without any props other than a microphone and a stool hold thousands of people spellbound.

Some of the storytellers are musicians who are most likely performers first and then weave the music into the story they tell. Some tellers are teachers, journalists, or speakers from other fields. But some are simply “talkers.” They have a story about something that happened to them or someone they know and it is too good to keep to themselves. Because they are talkers, not writers, they choose an oral accounting of the event.

Some of the stories told are true and some not as true. Embellishment is allowed if it helps the story to be a better one. A rule of thumb is usually that it is okay to embellish as long as it is obvious that it is not true. Sometimes, however, it is difficult to tell truth from fiction. One of the favorite tricks of tellers is to start out with an honest and forthright story and when people are totally convinced, to turn the story into such an absurdity that it is obvious that the listeners have been taken in. Audiences love these “tall tales and just plain lies.”

Does your own family have a storyteller? Often an older member of the family is the “family historian” and tells stories from their own life or that of ancestors. These stories can be passed through generations and eventually become folk legends. My mother was a storyteller. She was not a public performer and her stories were more of interest to relatives than to others. I remember many stories that she told about her childhood, most of which were finally written down, but some of which went unwritten and have been lost.

It is difficult to describe large-scale story telling as it is not only the story, but the shared experience of listening and being part of the audience that makes it what it is. It is not only the entertainment, but participating in an event that is somehow bigger, or more significant than the story. We are all familiar with these phenomena as fans at sporting events, when sharing in collective worship, or when attending a concert or play. Something just makes it better when you are not the only one who appreciates it.

Because I am a writer, the sharing of my tales is done with the pen or the keyboard. That does not mean that I do not appreciate other kinds of sharing. Stories may be sad, funny, or poignant, but are always entertaining, which is why they are stories, not reports. My stories are often humorous. I don’t always intend that, but the nature of a personality comes out in how a person tells their stories. The more you share your stories the better they become as they are polished with each telling like the smoothing of a rough stone into a gem.

And this is my story about stories. Remember what they say, “Everyone has a story.” Be sure to tell yours.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

Posted in Entertainment, Humor, Southern Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Security Blanket

Blue Bear is a well-chewed toy that belongs to our dog, Dixie. It was never intended to be a dog toy; it was created as a toy for a child. The dog doesn’t care. In spite of many other toys in better condition, it is Blue Bear that is loved most.

Blue Bear has endured a number of major surgeries. Every so often, it’s soft furry body yields to the dog’s sharp teeth and acrylic stuffing begins to pop out. This means finding a needle and thread and attempting to sew up Blue Bear before it falls completely to pieces.

In addition to his many close brushes with the trash can, the bear has endured the amputation of one leg. We do not know what might happen if Blue Bear ever perished. We have tried to introduce other toys like Squeaky Fox, which was a short-term favorite. But after a while, Squeaky no long squeaked and Dixie returned to her first love, Blue Bear.

Like pets, children often have security blankets that they drag around and cling to for relief of anxiety, especially at bedtime. Eventually, kids outgrow the need for this type of security and “blanky” is put away or thrown away. However, some people save the object of affection even after childhood. While they no longer sleep with it, they retain it as an object of sentiment.

As a child, my daughter had a stuffed raccoon named Wally. Eventually, Wally was loved to death. We bought a new Wally, but it was never the same as the old tattered Wally, who was carefully placed on the top shelf of the closet where his dilapidated remains could be taken out for an occasional visit.

The security blanket of cartoon character Linus was made famous in the Peanuts cartoon strip. Linus held it to his cheek and sucked his thumb, a behavior to which many people could relate. A child can become so attached to an object that when a beloved security blanket is misplaced, the child will become anxious and unable to sleep without it.

Blue Bear has been around for a long time. He was Dixie’s favorite toy when she was a tiny pup fresh from the kennel. The dog was not much bigger than the bear at that time and she would often sleep with her head on the toy like a pillow.

We gave her the toy because the pups in the kennel had stuffed toys. We thought it would help to relieve the anxiety of separation from her mother and litter. We expected it to be a short-term relationship. Little did we know that we would be sewing up a stuffed bear for years afterward.

Dixie sometimes goes without playing with the toy for weeks at a time. We lose track of it and it is lost behind furniture or in some other place where blue bears hide when they want to rest. Then one day, the dog will come bouncing into the room with Blue Bear in her mouth. We have no idea where she found it.

My mother says that when I was a child, I had a doll that I made myself from a sock. Mother says she once overheard me tell the doll, “Honey, you are so ugly I would throw you away, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.” Apparently, at some point I hurt its feelings and got rid of it.

For adults, a security blanket can be almost anything, an item or something intangible that gives comfort, like religion or a relationship. Security blanket has become a synonym. But for Dixie it is simply a toy from puppyhood that cannot be replaced, even with an identical toy, as nothing else would smell, taste or feel like Blue Bear.

Copyright 2013 Sheila Moss

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