The Incredible Growing Spaghetti

spaghettiI was out of town attending a festival in East Tennessee. Even though we made reservations months in advance, that was not soon enough. We ended up staying away from the center of activity in a tiny town in a middle-class motel. It was actually okay as all we needed was a bed for the night and a place to eat.

“Is there a good restaurant around here?” we inquired of the desk clerk. “There’s an Italian place right across the street, and…” He covered his mouth and whispered, “They serve alcohol.”

Apparently, a restaurant that serves alcohol is a rare commodity in a small East Tennessee town. We really were not looking for a night out on the town, if you could call it a town. We just wanted food. But we decided to give it a try.

The restaurant was less than impressive, to put it kindly, but the smell of yeasty bread baking drifted out of the kitchen and by now we were starving.

“Booth or table?”

“Oh, a booth would be nice.”

“You’ll have to wait while I clean one off then.”

Dozens of empty tables and we had to ask for a booth, we thought, as the host/waiter/cashier/busboy cleaned dishes off one conveniently located next to the kitchen door.

Finally, seated, we looked at the menu. I decided to play it safe and order spaghetti. Surely I couldn’t go wrong with spaghetti at an Italian restaurant.

Honey asked what kind of wine they had, as if this step-child of a truck stop had a wine cellar.

“We don’t have wine – just beer. You are welcome to bring your own, though.”


Unfortunately, we were already there. I guess they meant next time — as if there would be a next time. I sort of wondered if they served Pabst Blue Ribbon in a can, but I figured I’d better just go with iced tea and leave redneck tradition alone. Such jokes might not be appreciated in this environment.

While we waited for the food, we were treated to the conversation of the cooks in the kitchen as they yelled back and forth, discussed the trials and tribulations of a mutual friend, and banged dishes. I won’t repeat the conversation, as you would not want to hear it. Besides, Mary Lou is over her surgery and doing just fine now.

The salad arrived. It was crisp and the bread was crusty and hot. I was beginning to feel more optimistic.

Finally, the food arrived. It was a bowl of spaghetti large enough to feed an entire family. The waiter sat it in front of me. It had one of those round spaghetti spoons that you use to help wind spaghetti on your fork. I was impressed. At least they knew how to serve spaghetti.

The spaghetti was good and I ate and ate. But the more I ate, the more spaghetti there seemed to be. I ate and it grew. I ate more and it grew more. I ate more and more and it grew more and more. Finally, I could eat spaghetti no longer. I could not even miss what I had eaten. In fact, I’m certain there was more now than at the beginning.

I asked the waiter to take it away before it outgrew the dish. “It was really good,” I apologized. “I just can’t eat that much.”

“It soaks up the sauce,” he mumbled.

Honey’s fettuccini grew too, but he managed to stay ahead of it somehow.

He got out his American Express card to pay. I nudged him, and frowned. He got my drift, and put it away and got out cash.

We paid and escaped quickly before the spaghetti could grow out the kitchen door and follow us home.

I’m still afraid that I will pick up the paper one day and read about a small Italian restaurant somewhere in East Tennessee where the spaghetti grew so incredibly large that it pushed off the roof and nearly killed several customers.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Posted in Food, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Gambler


Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

Someone won the lottery again, and again it wasn’t me. To win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket. And since I didn’t have a ticket, that’s probably a big part of why I didn’t win — that and the odds of losing vs. the odds of winning.

Some people play the lottery every week. “Somebody is going to win,” they say, “It might as well be me.” Yes, that way of thinking must be what keeps them coming back week after week after week in spite of losing.

I’ve never understood the allure of gambling. Obviously, I’m just not a risk taker. It just seems silly to continue making contributions to a vice on the outside chance that you might win. . . possibly. . . one day. . . maybe. . .

People who go to Vegas, Tunica, and Atlantic City love to gamble. “It’s just a sort of entertainment,” they say. “It’s fun to try to win!” They recommend setting aside the amount you can afford to lose and when you lose it all, it’s time to quit. You just chalk it up to entertainment expense and move on.

Then a guy who won the lottery is on TV. He tells about how he plays every week, but can’t believe that he actually won. He says he is going to pay off his debt, quit his job, buy a new house, and travel the world.

“Gee, I’d sure like to be able to do that!”

I don’t even know anyone that ever won any big money. I can’t even name drop or say I knew someone before the big windfall that changed his or her life forever. I can’t even hope their luck will rub off on me just by knowing them.

Some people have lucky numbers that they play every week. Of course, if the numbers are so lucky, why don’t they win? I suppose that choosing your own numbers is a way of having control over something you actually have no control over at all.

My friend says that a quick pick is just as good as choosing your own numbers. I don’t think so. But it really doesn’t matter who is right. We both lose. That’s the problem with gambling, the probability that you are going to lose.

I don’t even want to get into the moral dilemma of whether gambling is right or wrong as everyone has his or her own opinion about it. Those who are morally opposed usually say it isn’t so much the gambling itself, but the fact that it can take away necessities, become an addiction, and cause you to spend money that you don’t have. These are arguments that are pretty hard to disagree with.

Of course, those who like to gamble can always justify the lottery expenditure. Here in Tennessee they say it’s a contribution to education since all the lottery money in this state is spent to fund education. Soon we will have the best-educated children in the country at the rate we are going.

So, the lottery is 15 million this week. My friend says that means someone won. Some lucky person is a multi-millionaire and here I am without a dog in the race, dragging myself through the same old routine again.

Guess that’s the lure of it all: the hope, the chance, and the belief that someone has to be the next one to hit it lucky. Maybe I should “contribute to education” this week. Maybe I’ll buy a couple of lottery tickets. Who knows? This might be my week.

Let me see, what is my lucky number anyhow? If you don’t see this column next week, you’ll know what happened. I’m in Hawaii enjoying the good life. There’s only one thing standing in the way of me winning – the laws of probability.

On second thought, maybe I’ll wait until the jackpot gets bigger. If I’m going to throw my money away, I might as well wait for a super jackpot when my chances of losing are worth more.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Posted in Entertainment, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Office 101


An office is a place where people go to spend the day in a tiny cubicle and wish they were not spending the day in a cubicle. Cubicles were invented to keep workers from spending time talking to each other so they could get more done. Instead workers hide and do less work. Funny that no one thought of that before they spent so much money building cubicles.

Offices are usually in tall building with large windows to let in the light. The windows are then covered with blinds to keep the light out. If the blinds are not enough to keep out the light, cubicles built in front of the windows finish blocking the light. This results in high-energy costs since offices must have light and because there is so little natural light that they must use artificial light.

People who are important get cubicles with taller walls. Really important people get offices with doors. Another way to tell how important a person is is by the size of the cubicle or office. Executives have offices large enough for a desk to set in the middle of it and still have walking space around it. According to this theory, the security guards in the lobby are the most important people in the building.

We don’t know exactly what people do in their offices, but they seem to spend a lot of their time working on computers and creating data. They create data electronically to avoid having too much paper to file. After the data is created, they print it and run fifty copies. They also send the information out by email and copy everyone in the office to show how busy they are creating electronic data.

Some people think their own job is the only job in the office that has objectives. They send email to all employees with information important to their particular place in the office pecking order. This causes a lot of time to be lost deleting job announcements for jobs so obscure that only alligators and cockroaches would be interested; computer tips that everyone deletes without reading; and automatically-generated email messages from computer security, usually to say that the computer system is down and you can’t receive email.

In order to send things from one office to another that can’t be emailed, offices have fax machines. Fax machines are very handy for people who do not know how to use a scanner or send email. Fax machines are not as fast as email because the machine must scan documents to send them. They are also not as fast because people are busy using computers and no one checks the fax machine for faxes that may have come in.

Telephones are another essential item in the modern office. Everyone has their own phone and makes their own calls. The secretary no longer has to answer the boss’s phone since he has voice mail to do this. Unfortunately, the person being called also has voice mail which results in a lot of time being wasted playing phone tag and pretending not to be in while the voice mail answers the phone. If they could just have voice mail without a telephone, it would save a lot of trouble.

Copy machines are another device that modern offices cannot do without even though the stated objective is to cut down on paperwork. Because electronic files can be lost, people still tend to think of permanence in terms of yellowing paper files that no one ever looks at because they are too inconvenient. Also, without paper being generated, it may seem as if no one is doing anything.

I hope this explanation of an office has been helpful to you. If it has, please sign below and make fifty copies to be distributed to everyone in your office. Send an email to all employees to let them know it will be coming and leave a message on their voice mail to tell them that a fax has been sent. If the copier doesn’t jam and if there is enough artificial light, you can then return to your cubicle and pretend to be working.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Posted in Humor, Technology, Work Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Who Is That Masked Man?


By Republic Pictures (Original text : eBaycard)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Who is that masked man, anyway?” They always asked, as he rode off into the sunset.

“Why, don’t you know? That’s the Lone Ranger!”

The William Tell overture swelled in the background as we heard him shout, “Hi Yo, Silver, awa-a-a-y! ” Is there a person anywhere who can hear the William Tell overture and not think of the Lone Ranger?

I spent many childhood hours listening to the radio or watching TV to hear tales of the Old West and the Lone Ranger with his faithful Indian companion, Tonto. I would rush home from school to be sure not to miss the program.

There were a lot of cowboy heroes back then: Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Johnny Mack Brown, Wild Bill Hickok and The Cisco Kid. But the greatest of them all was the mysterious Lone Ranger.

The Lone Ranger always wore a black mask to protect his identity, and the mask was part of his mystique. Because of this, he was sometimes mistaken for an outlaw, but he would always set the record straight and prove that he was on the side of law and justice. I think the idea was to be known not for WHO he was, but for WHAT he was.

Cowboy heroes needed suitable transportation and the Lone Ranger rode a large white steed named Silver. I’m not sure why its name was Silver as it seems that Whitey would have fit better, but nevertheless, the horse was named Silver. The horse was smart far beyond normal equine expectations and could always be counted on to gallop in and help the Lone Ranger out of a pinch if he whistled.

The Lone Ranger was really big on silver things. Silver horseshoes were worn by Silver, the horse, and the Lone Ranger always used silver bullets in his gun. According to legend, he owned a silver mine. I guess that is how he was able to afford to ride around the countryside hunting down outlaws instead of working.

Cowboys back then always had a “sidekick” that rode with them. The sidekick made the coffee and beans when they camped, held the horses while the hero fought the bad guys, and was always eternally loyal. The Lone Ranger had a clever companion in Tonto, who could sneak into town unnoticed and do surveillance. The Lone Ranger could not sneak in unnoticed as the black mask and white horse gave him away every time.

Like millions of other kids, I was completely taken in by all of this imaginary hype. I joined the Lone Ranger’s Safety Club and had my own card identifying me as a member. I had a genuine Long Ranger badge and knew the secret code for messages. I never had any bad guys or sheriffs check me out, but I was ready if they did.

I also had a cap gun and holster with silver plastic bullets. I would have worn a mask as well, but it was too hot and hard to see out of the eyeholes. I don’t know how the Lone Ranger became such a good shot while wearing a mask. The Lone Ranger could shoot the gun right out of a bad guy’s hand and never leave a scratch.

The Lone Ranger went from radio to become a star on TV and make movie serials, still wearing the trademark mask and fighting against the bad guys. Nowadays we would call him a vigilante, but in the Old West roaming the plains and looking for outlaws to bring to justice was an acceptable occupation.

The Lone Ranger captured the imagination of a million kids, and gave us a bigger-than-life hero with strong moral values, something we don’t see enough of now. I don’t know what ever happened to him, but I suppose he was canceled and just faded away into the sunset before we had time to thank him, leaving nothing behind but a silver bullet. Anything else would be travesty.

After all, he’s the Lone Ranger.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Posted in Entertainment, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Phone Fever

woman red cell

The other day I was at Walmart and walked by the electronics display. I made the mistake of stopping to look at the new iPhone X. It was all screen, no plastic frame. “I could use a new phone,” I mused. Of course, I was there for dog treats and toilet paper, not a phone.

The seed had been planted. I could not get it out of my mind. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the phone I have. “I am becoming a geek, wanting every new thing that comes along.” I could not think of a single reason to buy a new phone except that I wanted it. I had a severe case of new phone fever.

I browsed the Apple website. It only comes in black and silver. Apple finally figured out that the first thing people do is buy a cover for their new cell. And they had covers, silicone and leather covers in every shade of the rainbow. I felt my resistance melting.

I mentioned to honey that I would like to have a new phone.

“They will be coming out with a new model in a few months. You might as well wait till then.”

I couldn’t wait.

We were soon off to AT&T. The sales person was at the door to greet us. “What do you need today?” he asked. “I want a new iPhone X,” I confessed, as the dollar signs flashed in his eyes. I gave him my phone number and he looked up the story of my electronic life. Everything was in the computer except my passwords. He had exactly what I wanted in stock. His fingers fairly flew as he transferred my data from the iCloud to the new phone.

“A case — I want a case,” I said, “bright pink.” Bright pink was out of stock. He showed me some other cases, which I didn’t like. I suddenly remembered that pink Otterbox I had before my current phone. I hated it. I quickly changed my mind. “I will take the red one.” So red it was.

I already knew the retail prices from the Apple website, so I did not have a heart attack or go into sticker shock when I saw the bill. “Can I trade in my old one?” I asked. Yes, I could — except I had a passcode set up in “restrictions.” I had not the foggiest idea what it could be.

“We can’t take it as a trade unless you remember the code to unlock it. If you remember it later, you can come back and we will take it off your bill.” Naturally, I was not going to change my mind at this point, so I handed over my plastic card and the deed was soon done.

The new phone has a lot of features I will have to learn. There is no belly button at the bottom. You have to swipe instead. The main change, though, is that it recognizes your face and unlocks without a code or a fingerprint. Technology is getting almost scary.

The next day I hacked and hacked for hours on my old phone. I tried every password I could think of to unlock it. It was frustrating! Why did I set up a restriction passcode anyhow? As a last resort, I tried my phone number and the phone magically unlocked. I could not believe it.

I’m a happy hacker now and can play with my new red phone. Let’s see now, what is my new passcode? Oh, wait, I don’t need one. It recognizes my face.

Copyright 2018 Sheila Moss
Posted in Humor, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hello Operator

phonePeople’s love affair with the telephone has been going on for longer than I can remember. In the not so distant past, telephones were all standard black models. When you picked up the receiver, the operator answered and you told her the number of the person you wanted to call. If you couldn’t remember the number, she probably knew it anyhow.

The telephone occupied a place of prominence in the home, usually on a special table of its own called a telephone stand, for lack of a better term. This was a tiny desk with a matching stool that scooted underneath where you theoretically could sit while you talked. Some homes even had special “telephone nooks” which were built right into the wall.

In those days, telephones were often party lines. Entire neighborhoods shared the same phone line. If you picked up the phone, someone else might be talking, so you would hang up and wait until they finished before you could call. This led to much snooping and “listening in” on other people’s conversations. There were not many secrets in those days.

My family shared a line with another family that had a small child who often took the phone off the receiver. If we really needed to use the phone, we would go to the neighbor’s house, knock on the door, and ask them to please put the phone back on the hook so we could make a call.

Calling the operator became obsolete and new-fangled dials took over the phones. Everyone had to get a new phone and learn how to use a dial. We had funny phone numbers like TRiangle 6-7890. Eventually the phone company gave up on words and went to the digit numbers of today.

Wall phones, another innovation, were often located in the kitchen. Curly cords that were 11 feet long enabled one to talk while cooking. Women cooked a lot back then. Then in a stroke of marketing genius, phones started to come in decorator colors and different styles. It wasn’t too long before you could actually buy and own your phone instead of leasing it from the phone company.

When push button phones came along, everyone again had to get a new phone to keep up with technology. One phone in a home was no longer enough, and everyone had his or her own extension. Some families had separate lines for their teenagers, which enabled kids to tie up two phones instead of just one.

Answering machines became the newest trend and you no longer had to answer the phone unless it was someone you wanted to speak with. This led to much frustration by callers who were wise to the ways of the answering machines and yelled, “I know you are there! Pick up the phone!”

Things changed so fast after this that it became impossible to keep up with it all. Cordless phones, caller ID, voice mail, and a slew of other services so numerous that it takes an entire page in the front of the phone book to describe them and a technical genius to figure out how to use them.

Shopping for a phone involves an adventure into technology that boggles the mind with variety and complexity. The availability of different types and styles is more than anyone can imagine, much less describe. If you want a land line, plan to spend a lot of time reading about features on the boxes.

Personal cellular phones are rapidly replacing land lines and becoming smaller every day. Technologies are merging, with text messaging instead of voice, video apps, phone access to the Internet, GPS enabled phones and digital voice assistants to do everything so you don’t have to.

It’s a long shot from the old black phone on the telephone stand to the slim smart phone in my purse or the Blue Tooth hanging on someone’s ear. We can scarcely remember how things used to be. Still, the old black phone did have its advantages. It was never lost and didn’t require a battery to operate.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Posted in Humor, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Invisible Cat

Whoever said, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” was incorrect. Hell hath no fury like a cat that has to visit the veterinarian. This cliché was clearly demonstrated to me last week.

I was sitting at my computer at home on Saturday morning, still in my robe, drinking coffee and reading my email. It’s Saturday, after all, why rush? My daughter came in: “Did you take the cat already?”

“Take the cat? Where? OH! NO!” I had 15 minutes to get dressed and get there. I had made the appointment a month ahead as Saturday appointments are so hard to get — how could I forget?

I jumped into jeans and a sweatshirt and grabbed the cat carrier. “Where is the cat?” How is it that animals seem to know when it is time to disappear? A frantic search under the beds, behind the furniture, and in the closets and garage finally produced a cat.

Trying to get a reluctant cat into the carrier would make a good comedy sketch. Somehow she became all legs and claws. She sprawled her legs, caught the edge of the door, twisted and fought frantically, refusing to get inside. I eventually managed to squeeze her in and convince her that she was going whether she liked it or not.

I thought she would scream all the way there, but actually she was pretty good considering that cats, unlike dogs, hate riding in the car. I turned on the radio as I’ve always heard that music soothes the savage beast. I’m not certain if that includes country music, but that’s all I could find on the radio. She was strangely silent, however, pretending that she was not there, probably hoping that I would forget about her.

I sped to the vet’s office, keeping an eye in the rear view mirror — not that I would exceed the speed limit, of course. I screeched into the parking lot, grabbed the cat carrier and ran inside, only 5 minutes late.

“Is Frisky here for her shots?”

At about that moment, Frisky realized where she was and let out a blood-curdling howl that would have rivaled any of her wild African cousins. Apparently, she recalled her last experience at the vet and had no intention of repeating it.

“It’s only shots this time!” I told her. Of course, she didn’t understand and continued to scream bloody murder as we were ushered into the examination room.

For all the difficulty I had getting her in the carrier, you would think it would be easy to get her out. Are you kidding? She made herself as flat as possible at the back of the carrier and tried hard to become invisible. Finally, I had to drag her from the box. Her heart was pounding and I knew she was scared to death.

I tried to calm her but her eyes remained wide and her heart rate fast. The vet came and did the necessary deed quickly. Frisky was now finished for a year. This time, I had no problem getting her back into the box where she again squeezed herself into the corner and tried to disappear.

We had a peaceful ride back home. Thank God for cat carriers. I could never have done it without one. The cat meowed some, but I think she was just complaining to me about taking her to that horrible place where innocent cats are jabbed with needles.

Back home, I opened the door to the carrier and she shot out like a bullet, ran to the back of the house and hid under the bed. I’ve not seen her since. I know she still lives here as her cat foot is eaten and the litter box needs cleaning.

Apparently, she has finally accomplished her goal of becoming invisible.

Copyright 2006 Sheila Moss
Posted in Creatures, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Plight of the Firefly


The Analytical Luminescent Lab in Baltimore put out a bounty on fireflies. Yes, it’s true. They are buying bug scalps. Well, okay, it isn’t the scalp they are interested in. It’s the opposite part – the flasher. While entomologists (big word for bug lover) do catch specimens to study, they do not harvest them in quantity.

Something about the idea of catching and selling these harmless creatures rubs me the wrong way.

Fireflies of the world, listen to me! It is time to flee for your lives. In the past you were valued for the beauty and joy you brought with your flash. Poets have written about you; children have delighted in your flash. You have been mysterious twinkling creatures of the night, pondered and studied, but never quite understood.

Your flash has been understood by you alone, or perhaps only by your Creator. You have been captured, bisected, and studied by those who wish to discover your secret. Science has determined that one of the chemicals producing the light in your glowing tail is called “luciferase.” This is where the problem lies.

You see, fireflies, they have put out a bounty on your life! You are being systematically captured and sold for the very enzyme that creates your magic. A laboratory is buying your brothers, mates and offspring by the gram, by the ounce, by the hundreds. Your value is no longer in your luminescent beauty, but in your chemical composition.

Magical creatures, you want only to flash, to wave your lanterns, to dance, to live your brief life, and lay your eggs for the next season before you expire. But in the name of science, you are a wanted species. What is your life worth to science? About $1.30 for a hundred of your kind, a small amount for so many lives.

Fireflies of Tennessee are especially valued. Your species, photinus pyralis, is wanted for the quality of the enzyme. You are a slow flying species, easy prey, easy to capture, easy to kill. Hundreds of you will die prematurely. Some will make it to the labs of genetic research. Others will most likely die in vain and not be harvested in sufficient quantity to sell.

Is it not enough that your habitat is being destroyed, that you must struggle to find a birthplace for your glowworms and the natural environment to sustain them? Now you are being deliberately and systematically captured and slaughtered. You will be frozen alive, your tails removed and liquefied to be made into a crystal for scientific application.

You are only a bug. That you are harmless, do nothing except seek a mate with your twinkling flash seems not to matter. It is the advancement of science that is important, not the preservation of nature. In the name of genetic research all things are believed to be worthwhile.

We have seen the mysterious disappearance of fireflies in other areas where they were once plentiful. What happened to the fireflies of Houston is a question frequently asked. Destruction of habitat has been your major enemy. Your bitter taste and your warning flash have protected you from most predators. But they do not protect you from your major enemy – man.

In our haste to understand the basics of life, men willingly destroy the creatures that give them the knowledge. Insects are merely insects, they say. To kill a few for the pursuit of knowledge is not a bad thing. Insects and animals are put here to serve man, not to exist of their own right. The species is plentiful. The bugs that are sacrificed will hardly be missed in the vastness of nature.

And so, something is wrong, terribly wrong. When we are wise enough to understand all the mysteries of biology, and expose all the secrets of the universe, let us hope that the sacrifice has been worthwhile and that there will still be a universe left worth understanding.

Copyright 2003 Sheila Moss
Posted in Creatures, Environment, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Goin’ to the Creek


“Can I go to the creek, grandma?”

“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said, thinking of the possible danger.

The creek runs through a grassy field across the street from my house. I know it is over there, but I had never paid much attention to it except from a distance until my grandson found out about it from other kids.

My daughter intervened. She thought it was better to let a child satisfy his curiosity. “There is a natural attraction between boys and water. If he knows he can go with an adult, then he won’t try to go by himself,” she reasoned. That seemed to make sense.

The next evening, he decided he wanted to go to the creek again and since he is not allowed to go by himself, she went with him. About dark he came in crying, saying he didn’t know where my daughter was.
“It’s mommy,” he sobbed, “She dropped her lighter and went back to look for it. I don’t know where she is. I think she fell in the creek and hit her head on a rock.”

Of course, I was in a panic when I heard this. “Show me where you were!” I exclaimed. We crossed the street and ran through the large grassy field as fast as a grandma with bad knees could run. It was much further than it looked from the other side of the street.

“Mommy, Mommy, where are you?” called my grandson.

“Did you see her fall?”

“No, but she didn’t come back!”

We finally reached the creek. “Good grief, that thing isn’t a creek, it’s a baby river!” I didn’t know it was that big! We climbed down the bank onto a big rock and peered into the darkness. By now it was pitch dark and we couldn’t see a thing.

“Go back and get the flashlight, honey. I’ll stay here and look for her.”

I was scrambling over tree roots and large rocks, calling and calling, but was unable to see anything except dark water. I couldn’t tell how deep it was. Then I suddenly stepped on an uneven spot and turned my ankle, falling down.

I decided to go back home and call 911.

As I limped back to the house, I saw two flashlights coming toward me across the field. As I got closer I saw that it was my daughter with my grandson.

“Where were you?” I asked my daughter. “We thought you fell in the creek.” She had gone back home and we had missed seeing her in the dark.

Naturally, I was beginning to feel pretty foolish by then. My ankle was throbbing, probably sprained, and I had scrapped my other leg, which was turning black and blue.

So, my daughter didn’t fall – I did. I didn’t hit my head on a rock. It was my leg.

However, I’m not allowed to go to the creek by myself any more.

Copyright 2005 Sheila Moss


Posted in Family, Humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Spring Break in Pittsburgh


Some people go to Florida for spring break. Some go on Caribbean cruises or to other warm and wild locations. So where did I go? Pittsburgh. Yes, of all places in the world, I somehow ended up in Pittsburgh with not a Cracker Barrel in sight anywhere, just 334,000 Yankees and me.

I’d like to go on record as saying Pittsburgh is a very big place. What I didn’t realize before is how many hills and mountains are there. I thought San Francisco was the city with all the hills, but Pittsburgh streets are straight up and straight down, like a roller coaster. All the houses lean to the left.

In addition to hills, the streets meet at strange angles instead of having crossroads with square corners. Often the intersections have five streets coming together instead of four. It’s hard to know where to go with so many choices and navigating the city is somewhat like working a jigsaw puzzle.

There are also a lot of bridges with two rivers meeting to form the Ohio River. It is impossible to go anywhere without crossing a bridge or going through a tunnel. With all these obstacles, traffic is very haphazard. Drivers have adapted to the adverse situation by becoming overly aggressive drivers. It is surprising anyone gets anywhere as zipping in and out of traffic is a favorite game.

So why go to Pittsburgh, you ask? I was wondering that myself, but my honey grew up there and wanted to visit family, so I was talked into it. He drove just like the rest of them, and I just hung on for dear life and tried not to look as cars pulled out in front of us, cabs cut us off, and city busses nearly sideswiped us on the narrow streets.

Cities do have a sort of beauty of their own, best observed from a distance in my opinion. In most cities, the best view is from the tallest building. But here, the best view is from the top of a nearby mountain where the skyline, rivers, bridges and odd angles are apparent. I must admit that it was impossible to take a bad picture, though, with a bird’s eye view.

Like most large cities, there are cultural areas, numerous museums, entertainment, shopping areas and other “advantages” that can be supported by a large population and a large tax base. Unfortunately, to see any of them you must first find a parking place.

The most amazing thing to me was to find that Pittsburgh is no longer a city of steel. All the steel mills have closed, unable to compete with foreign markets. The mill areas are now ghost towns and mills stand empty or have been turned into other things like shopping malls. I’m sure the city is much cleaner than when steel mills belched smoke and soot, but there is a certain sadness about the industry that gave Pittsburgh its life becoming extinct.

There is abundant evidence of the people drawn there to work in the mills, and Pittsburgh is a no nonsense sort of middle-classed place with many ethnic neighborhoods forming its roots. It seemed no matter where we went, we somehow ended up in the old neighborhood seeing the places where my honey used to hang out back in the good old days.

The strange thing is that the people who live there seem to like it and not to notice the traffic, weather, or inconveniences. I suppose that’s a good thing, because it means most of them will stay there instead of moving south to try and recreate us.

So much for spring break in Pittsburgh, but I think I’ve seen enough of  Yankeeland to last for a while anyhow.

Copyright 2005 Sheila Moss
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