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Friday, February 20, 2015

Chair Yoga, or The Modern Day Rack

by Jody Worsham
All right reserved for a massaging, vibrating, heated recliner
Our Senior Center offers free excersize classes.  Free classes and the indisputable fact that I am, indeed a senior citizen, led me to my first ever Chair Yoga Class.

Now before you start visualization folding chairs in the Crouching Dog position or wing backed chairs in the Cobra position, I shall explain.

At the Senior Center there are various levels of yoga.  There is Chair Yoga, Floor Yoga, and Flat-on-Your-Back-Can't-Get-Up Yoga.  I had experienced the Flat-on-Your-Back-Can't-Get-Up Yoga sometime in the past decade so I decided to begin with Chair Yoga.  At least I would be closer to the floor if I fell out of my Tree Pose.

The first time I went to class, I asked the receptionist at the door for the yoga class.  Perhaps it was my accent, or my weight, because she said "The yogurt machine is right down the hall."  When I explained I wanted the Chair Yoga class, she said "Good!" and pointed to the right.

I was hoping I would not be the oldest living person there.  I was not.

The instructor had us spread out a yoga mat on the floor and place our chair on one end of the mat, then sit.  Ok, this I can do.  I was sitting in my chair, swinging my feet back and forth waiting for her to begin the relaxation music when I realized everyone else's feet were touching the floor.  While I was taller than the other ladies from the knees up, I was definitely on the short side from the knees down.

The music started. The instructor was facing us.  She told us to reach our left hand straight above our head, then slowly bend to the right as far as we could and hold it while breathing. I reached my right hand above my head, (I was copying her, mirror image and all) then I bent to the left as far as I could (about 12 inches) which put me face to face with the octogenarian who continued leaning until she had the palm of her hand flat on the floor.  I may not be the oldest, but I'm definitely the stiffest.

This modern torture version of the medieval rack continued.  We did stretches, pardon me, “poses” for another 29 agonizing minutes. No pose was done more than twice, but every muscle in my body argued vehemently that this was a lie. My hamstrings pinged like a guitar string.  My deltoids screamed.  Muscles that heretofore had no names let their presence be known. New words raced through my brain that even sailors did not use.

After class as I sat in my chair, breathing hard, with flushed face, and giving thanks for the short distance to the floor which I was sure I would soon be seeing up close, my chair mate quipped "Not much of a work out today.  Maybe the Floor Yoga class next will be more of a challenge."

I remember thinking "If I grab the legs of my chair and give a little jump, maybe I can work my chair over to the door frame where I can pull myself into The Standing-in-Severe-Pain pose. Then, in an hour or two, maybe I could make my way out to the car."

As I was sitting there, a 90 year old man came in with his walker and sat down next to me.

"Want me to put that away for you?" I hopefully asked.


With the aid of several wrought iron trellises normally used for climbing ivy, I “walked” myself to the exit.

At the receptionist’s desk, I paused.  The Suggestion Box tempted me. If they are going to call it Chair Yoga, shouldn’t the chair for beginners have wheels? I was about to put the suggestion in the box when a coupon for BenGay caught my eye.

Pain relief trumps suggestions any day.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"They call me Katherine that do talk of me"...or Some Name Like That

By Jody Worsham, aka Jo, aka Worsham, aka Mrs., aka Mable, aka MayBelle

All rights reserved and with apologies to Willie Shakespeare and Southern Moms everywhere

For over 65 years I have been known as Jody, the nickname I was given in the first grade, the name on my book “Kin We’re Not Related To”, the name on this blog, and the name I am known by to all of my friends and professional colleagues.

Name problems seem to have started when I married.  My husband had six brothers and sisters which, over the years,  netted four “Mrs. Worshams”.  During holidays when all the daughter-in-laws were home, you could not call their home and ask for “Mrs. Worsham”.  If you did, four different women might come to the phone or no one, each thinking the call was for the other one. Mostly “Mrs.” referred to the elder mother/mother-in-law.  It did not get much better with the Raymonds either.  There was Raymond the father-in-law, Raymond the son-in-law, Raymond the nephew, and Raymond my husband. Hence you always had to call a Raymond by both his first name and his middle name in order to get the correct Raymond’s attention, well except for Raymond the father-in-law.  I don’t think he had a middle name but since he was the first Raymond and the only one without a middle name, everyone knew the Raymond you were referring to if you just asked for Raymond.

Then for almost 40 years, I was Worsham to my students. They used Worsham in the same way athletes used "coach." It was faster for my students to get a response with “Worsham, fire” or “Worsham, light falling” or “Worsham, principal coming!” (I was a very creative and unconventional theatre arts teacher who made principals very nervous) then to call me “Mrs.” Worsham and wait for me to process that “Mrs.” was referring to me. But then my husband was also a teacher and his students referred to him as “Worsham” as well.  His brother, too, was a teacher and his students called him “Worsham”.  Over the years, any educational convention would find students and former students having to qualify which “Worsham” they were referencing.

Jody and Worsham served me for 50 years except for the choir teacher, who called me by my official name, Jo, and my mother, who insists on calling me by both my first name and the middle name she put on my birth certificate.  When I needed a passport, official birth name only was required.  Doctors began using computers and social security numbers for identification and part of my prescriptions are under Jody and part are under Jo.  I am afraid to buy Sudafed at the pharmacy for fear it will look like two people trying to buy the decongestant at the same time using the same social security number and a driver’s license that that did not have Jody on it

The name problems have followed me into decade number 7.  My nine-year-old and my thirteen-year-old go to a small rural school where all the students say “yes, mam” and “no, mam”.   Those that don't are probably transfers.  As a substitute teacher it is refreshing to hear "yes, mam" and "no, mam".   I did notice that when I would work in the concession stand for Little Dribblers, I was always referred to as “Mrs. Worsham” even though all the other mothers and dads with nine-year-olds had first names.  In Parent Teacher Organization meetings again everyone had a first name except me.  Finally I said to the other parents in the PTO (by way of Facebook of course):

 “Ok, why is it that everybody has a first name like Susan or Kathryn, or Holly, and mine is “Mrs.?”  I move that I be called Jody or Jo or Worsham.  Or I’ll even take a new first name like Betty or Tammy.  I’ll take a double name Mable Rae or Ethel Mae.  I may be twice your age…ok three times your age but with a nine-year-old, I forget how old I am.  You have my permission to forget it to.”

Of course one of the parents is a former student of mine.  She had trouble calling me Worsham even as a teenager but she promised to try “Jo .”  I could tell at the slight hesitation before “Jo” that she expected her Mama to pop her on the head any minute for being disrespectful to a teacher and the elderly.

I guess I will just have to answer to anything.  At my age people will just say “SORRY, MRS. WORSHAM.  I WAS HOLLERING FOR MINNIE LOU.”

Monday, February 2, 2015

Weather You Like It or Not

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for map and darts

We have watched the Weather Channel since the time it was only weather and music…on a loop, long before there were actual programs on the channel.  I think we were fascinated by the number of times their forecasts would be accurate and the number of times they missed completely.  Of course with Texas, you really can’t fault their forecasts.  It depends on the exact moment you tuned in to the station.  There is an old saying that if you don’t like Texas weather, wait five minutes and it will change.

I guess that is the reason they don’t name storms in our state, too many kinds.  Dust storms would take you through the alphabet in a week.  Thunderstorms, will that’s a daily occurrence in the spring.  Tornadoes, water sprouts, dust devils, “northers”…well I don’t think even the Cabbage Patch manufacturers could come up with enough names for all those.  Instead, we just seem to classify weather by names with our own lingo to describe the weather.

There’s the “blue tail norther.”  Now that is a cold wind blowing in from Canada cold enough to freeze your pipes and cover the tanks (stock ponds) with ice.   “Nothing between us and the North Pole except a barbed wire fence. “  Now that is different from just a “norther” blowing in.  A “norther” can drop the temperature twenty degrees in five minutes. 

  A “scorcher” is a summer day when the temperature is above 103 degrees.  “Big bank building up” is a row of dark clouds on the horizon building up to a thunderstorm or possible a “blue tail norther”.  A “downpour” is more than two inches of rain in an hour.  Of course you can have a downpour at our house and across the street they only get a sprinkle.  “Bottoms gonna fall out” means a heavy thunderstorm is going to produce a downpour soon.   We also have our share of hurricanes but we mostly just use the Weather Channels name since those are pretty widespread.

The one thing we don’t have a lot of, except in the Panhandle area, is snow. Let an inch of snow fall in any other area of Texas, and Jim Cantores could broadcast non-stop for a week.  First of all, at the first sign of a snow flake or sleet, all school administrators hop on a school bus at 4a.m. to check the bridges and roads.  They must decide if it is school as usual, late start, or If  they deem it is too slick for safety, they declare it a “Bad Weather Day” and alert the radio and TV stations, activate the automated parent calling program and school is cancelled. 

At that point all the children that have been waiting for the school cancelation news, gear up in their Carhart deer hunting clothes, ski clothes, or don seven layers of sweatshirts, thermal-underwear, and hats.  Without proper snow gear, Wal-Mart sacks are duck taped around tennis shoes and Zip-lock bags cover gloves.  Dish pans, cardboard boxes, and trash can lids are pressed into service as sleds.  Some kids are lucky enough to find left over inflatable rafts from the summer in the garage and those also become sleds.  Everyone races to the nearest drive-way, ditch, or anything with the slightest slope.  They have to hurry before the snow melts or is scraped away by careening cardboard sleds.  Mini snowballs are made and midget Snowmen are quickly made. Everyone sends their pictures into the TV stations. Whatever clean snow can be found is piled into a bowls for snow ice cream.

If there is more than an inch of snow lasting more than a day, the highway department will start sanding the bridges and iced roads but that only slows down the number of wrecks

Now I know my Northern friends think we are insane for cancelling school, shutting down the city , and declaring a State Holiday all because of a little snow; but it so seldom snows here, no one knows how to drive on it.

.  I took lots of pictures and made snow ice cream so the eight-year-old and twelve-year-old would have some kind of reference when the Weather Channel talks about Snow Storm Zelda or they study snow in science class.

In my little town, we usually get a heavy snow (for us) about every ten years. We had a good snow last year so it probably won’t snow again until 2024. By then I should have my guest room cleaned and set up for Jim and his crew.  

If it snow 3 inches, we’ll be in the news!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I, Eye, Aye

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for DIY Surgery

I recently joined the 21st century with the purchase of a smart phone but I did not understand why they called it an I phone if it is a smart phone.   Wouldn’t it be called an S-Phone ?  Maybe the I stands for intelligent.  When I told my mother about my I-phone, she could not understand why I wanted a phone that you had to hold up to your eye.  That got me to thinking about homonyms (words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have differently meanings) and my son’s doctor.   I shall explain.

My middle aged son has a prosthetic eye so when he gets an eye infection, I take it quite seriously.   When I saw the swollen tissue around his eye socket, I went into “Mama Over-Drive.”  I called our local VA clinic only to discover they were “in between” ophthalmologists.  No surprise there.  She advised me to take him to the Houston VA three hours away in heavy traffic.  “Nope, we will go to Shreveport. It’s closer, smaller, less traffic, and I know my way around.”  Civilian Mama’s can say that.

When dealing with government agencies, you go directly to where the power is and that would be a secretary or receptionist.  If you can find a person that is both, you are gold.  I called the Eye Clinic and hit pay dirt with James, receptionist and secretary.  I explained the situation and that we were already in the system.  He told me that if I asked for a referral from home, it could take two to three weeks so go directly to the Emergency Room.   “A nurse will look at him and say ‘Hummm’ and refer him to a P.A. who will look at him and say ‘Hummm’ and refer him to a doctor who will look at him and say ‘Hummm, send him to the eye clinic’  and I will get you in to see an eye specialist.”

The next morning we left at 6a.m.  My plan was to arrive in time to get a parking space within a mile of the emergency room, after the early morning heart attacks had been treated, and before the 8a.m. shift changes to avoid being lost in the switch over.  We lucked out in that we did get a parking spot a few yards from the ER entrance and before the shift change.

 I had removed my son’s fake eye and had it in a zip lock bag with water.  I contemplated having him carry that in his hand with his eye socket uncovered achieving a sort of a zombie look in hopes we would gross everybody out and get faster service but it was before breakfast and the only person getting queasy was me.

Just as predicted at 9a.m. the nurse said “Hummm.”  At 10 a.m. the P.A. said “Hummm” and at 11 a.m. the doctor said “Hummm.  Send him over to the eye clinic.”

At 11 a.m. James got us registered and an appointment with the eye specialist.  Now I have learned over the years to be prepared for long waits.  I had my I-Pad and I-Phone fully charged.  I had my tote bag with water, diet Coke, Snickers, two skeins of yarn, crochet needle, scissors, a couple of “Kin We’re Not Related To” books to sell or read, the eyeball, and a list of all medications.

At 3 p.m. I had eaten the Snickers, drank the diet Coke, and crocheted three sweaters, an afghan, four scarves and a hat.  I had advanced eight levels on Candy Crush and texted everybody I knew on my now dead I-phone and I-pad.

Finally we got in to see the doctor who asked:

“Why did you take the eye out?”

“It was hurting him.”

“You took it out because it was hurting him?”




“You took it out yesterday, yourself, the eye?”

“That’s what I said.”

Finally my son said “A doctor took it out after a car crash fifteen years ago.”

The relief on the doctor’s face caused the color to return. 

 Fake eye, real eye.  Same word, same spelling, different meaning.

When the doctor could breathe again, he wrote a prescription and asked that we return the following week to re-evaluate the situation and to see if a new prosthetic eye is needed.

 I resisted the urge to say “AYE,  AYE Captain.  I will return with my son and the EYE as requested.” 

Ok, cut me some slack. I didn’t say it….out loud.  Both my brain and my butt were numb. I had been seated in a car or waiting room for 11 ½ hours.   Ayiii-ya-ya Ayiii







Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Where Have All the Turkeys Gone?

By Jody Worsham, yes co-author “Kin We’re Not Related To” in case you forgot

All rights reserved for handicapped ramps

From early November to late December the supermarkets abound with turkeys:  fresh, frozen, buttered, injected, smoked, fried, Cajun, Mrs. Smiths.  The turkey hotlines are staffed 24/7 to answer all of your turkey needs.  Magazines feature perfectly bronzed turkeys complete with drumstick booties deliciously displayed on platters with cranberry garnishes.  Google hits are in the millions for recipes for leftover turkey. 

And now it is January.  Where have all the turkeys gone?  They no longer fill the endcaps at the supermarkets.  So what has happened to the big birds?

Have the unsold birds been sent to the North Pole for low cost storage until next November?  Has the market been so over saturated that the mere mention of a turkey sandwich sends would-be-eaters racing for Taco Bell?  Has the turkey hotlines finally answered all turkey questions and has switched to automated calls only? Has the Google million hits counter now centered on diets and New Year’s resolutions?

But my next question is even more disturbing.  With the whole birds gone from the stores, where are those turkey legs coming from?  Do we have a lot of paraplegic turkeys wheeling around on skateboards?   And if all there is in the market place from January to late October is turkey legs and ground turkey, are the remaining whole turkeys in hiding?  Is there an underground turkey railroad moving the birds from carnivorous states to California, a known vegetarian state?  And is our ground turkey coming from those birds that did not make it to a vegan state?   

But most importantly, if all we have are paraplegic turkeys and “free” birds, where are next year’s whole turkeys coming from?  I can only hope there is a cashe of artificially inseminated turkey eggs somewhere waiting to be hatched. Otherwise Black Friday will become Black Thursday with no turkeys. 

Pulling a fish bone is just not the same as pulling a wishbone.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Strangers in the Night, Slot Buddies

by Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for oddities

            There is something about being confined with strangers for a lengthy period of time that makes you lifelong buddies, even if you never learned their names.  People trapped in elevators for a few hours might end up exchanging Christmas cards the next year.  It happens to people waiting in line for three hours at Wal-Mart on Gray Thursday.  And if you happen to run into those people several weeks later you might, as I was, be greeted with “I appreciate your teenager entertaining my two-year-old in the freezer line.”  But nothing bonds people together faster than a few drinks on New Year’s Eve in a casino around a bank of slot machines with a common “enemy”.

            Over the past few months at our favorite casino donation center, we have repeatedly encountered two people we have dubbed “The Odd Couple.”   The Odd Couple seems to have staked an imaginary claim to four of everyone’s favorite slot machines and no one else should ever play them.  If you do, they will stare at you, point at you, and frown if you win any of “their” money.  The maximum donation is $1 if you hope to ever hit the jackpot.  However, the Odd Couple will only play their system which involves keeping a thick notebook, using several player cards, allowing the machine to periodically rest,  having their spouse sit on the opposite machine so no one else can play it, and change up their bet ranging from 1 cent (yes I said 1 cent) to 20 cents and rarely $1.00. 

            Other people have come to recognize the Odd Couple as well, knowing them by various other names, of course.  I am not sure how it happened, but Carol and Sandra (we learned their names several hours later) and Dr. Hubby and I managed to occupy their four favorite machines at the same time much to the chagrin of the Odd Couple. 

As we were being entertained by the spinning slot wheels, the Odd Couple began to circle.  They pointed.  They stared.  They whispered.  We kept playing.  Dr. Hubby’s system involves “talking” to the machines so when Carol would go to the bonus round, Dr. Hubby would begin calling for more doubles, or bonuses, rather loudly.  When Carol got them, we all shouted. People gravitated to the excitement expecting to see a great win only to be disappointed at all the excitement over a $1.32 cent Jackpot.

 It seems, I am ashamed to say, the more the Odd Couple frowned, the louder we got.  To keep my playing money from running out too quickly, I would take frequent potty breaks.  The longer we held onto the machines, the odder the Odd Couple became.  Sandra said “I’ll play a penny at a time before I let them have my machine.”  After a couple of trips to the ATM machine, Carol vowed “I’ll outlast them even if I have to mortgage the farm.”  We learned later that she didn’t have a farm.   

As it got closer to midnight, the champagne began to flow even as the Odd Couple continued to circle.  Sandra wanted to go to her room and put on her warm pajamas and come back, but she was afraid one of the Odd Couple would grab her machine.  After a few glasses of champagne, referred to as “this kerosene stuff” by our new friends, one leaned over to me and said “If I was a drinking woman (I didn’t count the number of empty glasses) I might go over there and whip her butt.”  By this time my butt was numb and Dr. Hubby was hoarse from talking to the machines.  Somehow this had turned into an endurance battle, us four against the Odd Couple.  There was a sign on the wall with a 1-800 number to call if you had a gambling problem.  I think we had an Odd Couple problem.

At exactly midnight, 2015 arrived and 2014 left as did our Odd Couple. We won!  We were broke, but we had won. “Thank goodness.  I was about to run out of money,” said Carol.  “Now I can go to bed.  I have been wanting to for the past two hours,” came from a very tired Sandra.  Heady with our victory, we all smiled, wished each other a Happy New Year, exchanged addresses and I think secretly promised to meet back next year.  Strangers in the night no more.

 Odd, isn’t it?

Monday, December 22, 2014

T'Was a Few Days Before Christmas

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for steel gift boxes
T'was a few days before Christmas

And all through the halls

Christmas decorations covered everything, every  wall

Gifts were wrapped in early NovemberI

Problem was I could not remember.

Was this a toaster or blender for Aunt Sue?

And this odd shaped box all wrapped in blue

With no tag how do I know to whom it was to?

Oh Black Friday  saved me lots of cash, of that I  am clear

But forgotten contents leads me to tears.

With no list and no time to re-wrap, what was I to do with this pile of…..stuff.

There was only one thing for me to do in this quandry

Call in the Christmas snoopers and forget the laundry.

Two little elves who live here year round

Came when I whistled and appeared in one bound.

They spoke not a word but went right to the task

As if to say, “We knew this day would come at last.”

Their skills for snooping and identifying by touch, led to no surprises on past Christmas Days for this bunch.

“Our skills are unsurpassed.  We can save this holiday disaster.

This is a tackle box for Uncle Lassiter.”

And in a twinkling the job was completed.

They gave me the list and no name had been deleted.

I knew at a glance what had been given to whom.

And I heard them exclaim as they raced to their room,

“Merry Christmas dear Mama, the gift you got us is nifty.

We promise to look surprised when we open the X-Box 360.”