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Friday, September 23, 2016

A Quilter's Guide to Weight Loss

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for fabric and chocolate

Over the years I have discovered that my closet, or possibly just those plastic hangers, have caused by clothes to shrink.  As I approach middle age (assuming I will live to be 146) I have come across a new weight loss program.

It involves location, activity, and obsession. I shall explain.

There are three reasons I overeat.  Boredom, boredom, and boredom.  Oh and total lack of interest in anything domestic, well except ironing and laundry.  I do like to do that. If you have read any of my writings before, you know I come from a long line of non-cookers so eating food was never a gastronomic highlight in my formative years. I ate food (mainly sandwiches, hard to burn those) so I would not pass out or get a headache or have my clothes fall off.

When I was teaching theatre, raising six children, and putting in 18 hour days, overeating was not an option, because a) there was never time, and b) with six children groceries seldom lasted long enough to get from the car to the pantry.  Now that I have retired and with only two additional children at home, there is a) more time between school pick-up and drop off, b) food actually makes it to the pantry, and c) I do not have four major productions a year to keep me out of the refrigerator and at rehearsal. Hence BOREDOM.

I tried substitute teaching and that helped but you can’t substitute teach every day.  I tried “Sweating to the Oldies” at home but I noticed no matter how many times I watched that video, nobody ever lost any weight.  I have even gone to yoga classes and while I stretched every known and unknown muscle in my body, I seemed to always reward myself for such a strenuous workout with a Big Mac and ice cream.

Now my Mother was excellent with making coconut pies, chocolate pies, and divinity candy, but my doctor tells me you cannot live by sugar alone.  I beg to differ, she’s 96, but in my case my waist line and my closet say my body is gaining weight.  So it has come to this:  What can I do that is fun, time consuming, produces a finished product, and does not encourage hangers to shrink my clothes?  

Mother, was an excellent seamstress and she did beautiful embroidery work.  She taught me when I was very young.  My mother-in-law always had a quilt frame up so I spent lots of time watching her quilt.  As I made my fourth trip to the refrigerator to check and make sure the pie had not spoiled, it hit me.  I would take up quilting…fun, time consuming, finished product, and no time for eating (I get obsessive and can’t wait to see the finished product).

We built our house to accommodate eight people, not quilting, so my quilt frame has been in several places.  I tried the living room but Dr. Hubby kept running into it at night and company had a hard time talking over an 8x10 foot frame in the middle of the room.  I moved to the play room but that is where Dr. Hubby watches his westerns.  I have seen “The Rifleman’s” son go through puberty six times.  The only room left was the dining room, which is only used twice a year because, well, the cooking thing.  I put the frame in the dining room.  After several quilts and many years later, I noticed that those size ** plus pants that had moved to the far end of my closet, were creeping back to the "this fits" section.  It couldn't be food,  I still couldn't cook,  It had to be inactivity.  No matter how fast I stitched I was only moving my arms,  I was still sitting.  I was not about to quit quilting.  And that is when I discovered the Quilters Diet.

It is all about location.  I am already in the dining room…quilt/food… full…, but here is the secret.  My dining room has three entrances, one leads to the hall, one to the living room and one to the kitchen.  My quilt frame takes up 90% of the floor space.  To get from one side of the frame to another, I have to go out the entry way and back through the living room entrance or out the kitchen entrance and circle around back through the living room.  Plus, to get around the frame corners, I have to suck up those stomach muscles.  Depending on the size of the quilt and the amount of quilting, and how many times I have to go back for thread, scissors, thimble etc. I can lose 3 lbs. to the quilt.  

Weight Watchers, Nutri-System, Jenny Craig, beware!  The “Quilters Diet” combines form, function, fun, a finished product and lost poundage…ok and a dining room with three entrances and a little quilting obsessive compulsion.   But hey, if it works...why not?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

They Say They Come in Threes, Part III

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for appliance graveyard

I feel this has been the summer for electrical deaths.  I don't mean the "struck by lightning" kind but those caused by...well...old circuits.  First it was the washing machine and we all know how that went.  I'm still hauling water from the sink to the washer just so there will be enough water to slosh around.

Then there was the dishwasher, which was installed two days ago by the way.  I'm still trying to figure it out.  It is super quiet so you never hear it running.  After four weeks of having the kids wash dishes, some of the forks have food permanently welded between the tines.  The machine can clean it. But there is a problem.  It seems Mr. Kilowatt has successfully lobbied for a minimum two hour wash cycle.  To get the forks clean, I would have to use the sani-wash cycle which is nine hours.  I could buy new forks for what it would take to pay for the electricity.  After watching the blurr of the electric meter spinning out of control, Dr. Hubby suggested we go back to paper plates and cups.  The little Maytag man was right. Our dishwasher is quiet...and sneaky...and expensive.

And bad news comes in threes.  I think I told you our dyer was showing signs of depression what with the old washer and dishwasher gone.  I am happy to say the dryer is still tumbling along.  I think
it may be in cahoots with the dishwasher though because it is taking three times as long to dry a load of clothes.

The third in our trilogy of electronic failures is my computer. Maybe it was time. When I bought my computer, Windows 7 was brand new. And once I learned Windows 7 ( which took like a year). I saw no reason to upgrade. The Geek from the Geek Squad was amazed I had had it this long. He offered to transfer all my data...for a fee of course.

"Why?" I asked.

 "Don't you want all your data on your new computer?  Pictures? Bank records? Bill

"No, don't have any of that on my computer."

"So what do you use your computer for?" he asked. "Write blog stories but I have written copies of those...on a manilla a drawer...inside a metal file cabinet. And I look up math vocabulary so I can figure out what the eleven-year old is trying to do in 5th grade math...but his teacher asked me not to help him anymore."

 "So basically you just want a word processor that connects to the Internet."

 "Yes, unless you have a typewriter in the back room."

"What's a typewriter?"

A salesman, who obviously has a grandmother he adores, came to the aid of my sweating shaking Geek and said "I'll take it from here."  He led me down an aisle of shiny new computers.

"I like this blue one.  Blue is my favorite color," I said encouragingly.

"This black one is s better fit for you plus it will coordinate with your washer and match your dishwasher."

Ah  ha!  He must have read my blog.  A fan!


Next time , making the hyper jump from Windows 7 to Windows 8


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sam-Song, Second Verse or What is Old is New Again

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for retro-new appliances

Maybe it is because I have lost two major appliances (count them two) in the last two months but I have begun to pay more attention to commercials on television, especially appliance commercials.

My favorite, and the one that makes me laugh the most, is the new Sam-Sung washer.  There is a young (I wonder why they never use granny types?) female (always) who seems to have effortlessly mastered the electronic control panel at the top of the machine and has her wash vibrating along.  Hubby comes in with a filthy rag/jeans/blanket type thing.  “No problem.  I’ll just open this little door and add it to the wash,” she says confidently.  “What, “questions the hubby?  You can add items once the machine has already started?”  “Yes, it is the new Sam Sung addition.”

Now folks, especially those of you under the age of forty, this is not something new.  My kids have added things to the wash for years and their daddy has the pink dyed underwear to prove it.  This is not something new.  You just lift the lid to the old washing machine and throw it in.  In the past I have added that just found dirty sock to the rinse cycle once the wash cycle has already finished.  In fact, I have added that hand washed delicate nightie to the spin cycle at the last minute.  Ok, you have to trick the machine and push down the little do-hickey thing where the lid attaches but you can do it.

But even before my washing machine, adding clothes to the wash was not something new.  As long as there was room in the wash pot, my grandmother would let you toss clothes in at the last minute.  She just threw another log under the pot and punched a few minutes longer with her laundry stick.

I guess the engineers at Same-Song never did laundry at their Granny’s.  Or maybe they were desperate to make their machine “different” from the others on the market.  Or maybe they didn’t know how to write the bi-ornery code with computer gig-a-bites to disengage the electronic code for LIFT LID. 

Same song, second verse.

By the way my dryer is taking twice as long to dry clothes these days; depression I imagine.  My grandson offered to get me a new solar dryer he saw advertised on PBS.  For $19.99 plus shipping and handling you get 25 feet of hemp rope, and 44 wooden spring loaded clamps.  Poles sold separately.

Same song, third verse. 



Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Secrete Life and Death of Appliances

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for the movie

 What is it about appliances that when one dies, the others join in?  Do they have some kind of electromagnetic suicide pack that they all agree to in the factory?  Are they mechanically joined at the plug at birth so that when one goes, the other follows?  Is there a master engineer/financial mass controller that manipulates each appliance so that just as income marginally exceeds the outgo, another appliance bites the dust?

Whatever the cause, our dishwasher has joined our washing machine in that great dump yard in the sky; (well, except our appliances never make it to the dump ground, spare parts you know, unless you consider our barn a dump…which I do.)

So it was off to the big box store with hubby and two kids in tow to replace “Blacky”.  Yes, we have integrated appliances.  “Black out!  Black out!” I yelled as we entered the store.  Everyone looked at the still burning ceiling fixtures. “I mean my black dishwasher is out.  I need a replacement NOW.”  Fortunately one of my former students was working in the appliance department that day and was an authority on cross-brain functions of retired teachers and was fluent in Worsham.  “Refrigerator, 
dryer, or dishwasher?” she asked.  “Dishwasher,” I replied, relieved. She led us to two long rows of dishwashers.

You would think after recently purchasing a new washing machine that I would be prepared for the unlimited combinations and the lack of simplicity.  Not so.  It was as if all appliances had been prepared according to E=MC 2, Mrs. Einstein’s theory, every appliance equals Many Controls not 2.  There was quick wash, sani-wash, short wash, long wash, delayed wash, energy wash, rinse only, sense wash, wash and hold, hold and wash, rinse and wash, hot dry, cool dry, energy saving dry, blow dry. There were dishwashers with controls on the door, controls hidden in the top of the door, controls with knobs, buttons, even touch pads.  The only think simple was color choice:  stainless, black, or white. 

As I walked down aisle one trying to make a logical decision, the eleven-year-old became bored.  Being the creative child he is, he found a way to entertain himself and the crowd that had gathered.  As I turned down aisle two, between the GE dishwasher and the Whirlpool was an empty cavity where a dishwasher had been.  My eleven-year-old had folded himself into the cavity and was doing his impression of the Maytag Guy, happily gathering into his arms the McDonald’s cups, straws, and McFlurry spoons the teenager was feeding him.  Time to place an order.

Used to you could go to a hardware store, pick out an appliance and it would be loaded onto your truck right then. Today everything has to be ordered from the distribution center, then back ordered.  “It will take four weeks to get the black model or eight days for the stainless steel model.”  After 53 years of marriage, all my kitchen appliances finally match. I can’t start over.  “Order the black model,” I said.

We arrived home with an empty truck bed to a kitchen sink full of dishes.  “What do we do now?” Generation X children asked. “We wash and dry,” I said.   “By hand?” came their astonished question.  “Yes, by hand.  Very versatile, hands, they’re not just for video games and I-phones anymore.”

The children joyfully took to the task.  Ok, I upped their allowance.  I knew we had to wash fast or even money would not keep the teenager motivated. I washed, the eleven-year-old rinsed, the teenager dried.  I grabbed stacks of dishes and tried to keep the conversation going.  After 10 minutes of continuous washing, the teenager was becoming cranky, so was I.  “When are we going to be through?”  “Well, if you wouldn’t get a clean glass every time you wanted a drink there wouldn’t be so many dishes.”  “I’ve dried this same glass five times.”  “No, we do have some glasses that match, it is not the same glass;” then I reached for a stack of dishes to her left.”  “Mama,” this from the Maytag audition-ee “ you are washing the clean dishes over and over.”  It was true.  We were.  I had failed to be very specific to the teenager.  I had said “dry”, but failed to add “and put away” so as she dried and stacked, I moved the stack and washed…again. Dishwashers aren’t the only thing that wears  with age.  We laughed…a lot.

Washing dishes together has not been all bad.   We take turns washing, drying, putting away. We talk. We listen. We got smarter (paper plates, plastic cups).  Work goes faster.  When the new dishwasher arrives, dishes will be quickly loaded, a button pushed, and we will retreat back to video games, I-phones, and TVs. 

I will miss that time we had at the sink.
 I will not miss the dried pasta in the pans, the soapy taste of unrinsed coffee cups, the mystery substance between the fork tines.  Maybe I should have gone with the stainless.  It could have been here in eight days.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Are You Smarter than a Washing Machine?

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for agitation

Whitey had served us well, longer than most of her kind; but I knew the end was near.  She no longer could do her job.  There were tell-tale signs of wear, grinding noises when she turned around, failure to complete the job, leaks.  I didn’t think I could ever find a replacement for Whitey.  She was simple, easy to operate, and could handle her loads large or small, but when the sales flyer arrived in the mail, I knew it was time to let her go.

On the second page, there staring me right in the credit card, was Whitey II, same number of knobs, top loading, white, and an agitator, smaller but then the first  Whitey was really ahead of her time.  Dr. Hubby brought in the dolly, disconnected Whitey and hauled her to the barn while I raced off to the big box store.  I guess he thought it would be too painful for me to watch or he was just anxious to have some clean underwear.

I arrived breathless at the store, credit card in one hand, sale flyer in the other.  “I need a Whitey.  Where is the Whitey?”  The salesman glanced at a box of Kleenex, the mega stack of toilet paper next to the register, then pointed to the restroom.  “The white washing machine with the three knobs,” I said pointing to the picture in the flyer and speaking very slowly and distinctly in case he was hard of hearing or had just arrived in America.  He led the way to a row of washing machines but I noticed he kept the row of machines between himself and me.

“No, this is not the one.  This one has six knobs, sensing, wash type, lock, weight, fabric type, detergent HD, non-HD, rinse.  I want three knobs.” 

He backed away from the washer he was standing in front of. 

“No, this one has the three knobs but (I raised the lid) it doesn’t have an agitator.”

“How long has it been since you bought a washing machine?” he asked.

I was glad he could speak and in English so I gave him the long service history of Whitey, including all the times I had dyed fabric for plays in her, and the times I had to bleach Dr. Hubby’s pink underwear because had forgotten to rinse out the tub after a red curtain dye job.

“Ma’am (he was speaking loudly going into his Senior Citizen mode) they haven’t made a machine like that in years.”

“I know,” I said proudly, “she’s one of a kind.  I was looking for this particular model.”

“Here it is.”

I looked at the machine, three knobs, ok.  “Where is the water level knob?”

“There isn’t one.  It weighs the fabric. There is a computer that tells you how much water to use.”

“But I don’t want it to tell me how much water to use.  I know how much water to use.  I have been washing clothes for 65 years.  And where is the agitator?”

“Most models today do not have an agitator. “

“So what makes the clothes go swish swish?”  I looked around for one of those hidden cameras like they use on those TV shows like Practical Jokers or America’s Funniest Home Videos or maybe this guy had parked his alien space ship behind the counter?  Not waiting for an answer I continued.  “You mean to tell me that there is not a single washing machine in this store that has an agitator and three knobs?”

He walked to the far end of the row of machines, pointed to one, and stepped back.  “Agitator, three knobs.  This is the best I can do lady.”  He had gone from “Senior Citizen” mode to “Whack-o Old Lady” mode. 

I looked.  It did have an agitator, a small one, and it did have three knobs which I guess was as close as I was going to get Whitey, even though not one single knob said “Water Level”.

The next day Dr. Hubby had the Whitey imposter installed in the laundry room.  I noticed for the first time that my laundry detergent of many years now had a sticker that said “HD for all types of machines.”  “Humph, we’ll see” I thought.

Knob #1  Soil level:  light (ha, we live on red clay) medium, heavy

Knob #2  Wash Temperature:  Cold, cool darks (what the computer has eyes to see color?) cool lights, warm, hot

Knob #3  Multiple Guess:  Soak, deep wash, heavy duty, normal (ha!) casual (this machine can sense style?) delicates, rinse/spin, clean washer, drain/spin

After ten days, 89 loads, lifting the lid at every possible stage, and trying every conceivable combination of Knobs #1, #2, #3 to get enough water to cover the laundry, I took matters into my own hands.  I got two quart bottles, filled them with water and rocks, screwed on the lids tightly and tossed them in with every load of laundry.  The machine weighed the “clothes” and filled the wash tub with enough water to wash the clothes.

Yes. I am smarter than a washing machine.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for the Happy Dance!

I have experienced this euphoria on the eve of the most wonderful time of the year before,  but like hot dogs on the Fourth of July and turkey on Thanksgiving, it is an annual thing.
I passed through the school supply aisles at Wal-Mart this morning.  The scent of glue sticks, crayons, and pink rubber erasers filled the air creating a sense of euphoria and hope in this full time Medicare Mom.
Bins were brimming with yellow #2 pencils, brightly colored pencil sharpeners, and scissors of all kinds:  blunt, pointy, lefties, righties, plastic and metal.  Bottles of Elmer’s Glue in all sizes were stacked to the very edge of the shelves.  I was becoming light headed and giddy.
Ring binders were lined up and standing like sentinels awaiting assignments.  The end caps were being stacked head high with notebook paper:  wide rule, college rule, no rule.  Eight colors of folders with or without pockets, with or without brads, plastic or paper glistened like a long awaited rainbow offering hope after 40 days and 40 nights of no school.
I rounded the corner and actually swooned at the sight of cartons of kleenex tissue, paper towels, zip lock plastic bags, and bottles of hand sanitizers filling the aisles as they awaited their turn to be placed on the school supply shelves.
I bought two boxes of crayons and two pencil boxes; then plastic pocket folders in every color, scissors, notebook paper, glue sticks and bottles, a ruler just in case, and four spiral note books.  I got two lunch kits, two thermos bottles and 150 plastic sandwich bags. It was glorious!
As I rounded the corner heading for the check-out line, I burst into song “It’s the most wonderful time of the year. “ School bells are ringing and children are screaming and parents are grinning ear to ear!  It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
 I couldn’t help myself.  I was a racehorse with the finish line in sight, a marathon runner seeing the last mile marker, the exit ramp on the freeway with no cars in sight. I was about to be home free.   School starts in 16 days, 6 hours, 28 minutes, 12 seconds…11 seconds…10…   I will not think that it is only 90 days until Thanksgiving break when school is out for nine and a half days.  Like Scarlet,” I will think about that tomorrow.”  But for now…
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Friday, July 10, 2015

"Shut Up and Dance!"

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for Arthur Murray lessons


Being senior parents of a fourteen-year-old and a ten-year old, the timing is off for some types of activities, skydiving, playing catch for more than five minutes, snow skiing, or staying up past eight o’clock.  Our social gatherings seldom included children unless grandchildren happen to be visiting our friends at the time.  So when we were invited to a wedding, we took advantage of it, especially when we were promised other children would be there.  It occurred to me that our children had never been to a wedding of any kind.  Time to expand their world.

This was to be a Catholic wedding.  I had never attended a Catholic wedding myself,  but I had friends who had so I knew it was going to be much longer than the usual twenty minute Protestant “I Love You Truly”, repeat after me, “I now pronounce you man and wife”  ceremony.  I tried to prepare everyone.

The ten-year-old was cool with the length until I told him he could not take his I-pod, DS Nintendo, or I-phone.  I promised him there would be lots of standing and kneeling so he wouldn’t be just sitting the whole time.  The kneeling part made Dr. Hubby wince.  After explaining that Miss Me jeans would not be appropriate for a formal wedding even if they were covered with bling, I promised to take the fourteen-year-old shopping for a dress.  Unfortunately I used the word “appropriate” before the word “dress” which immediately triggered an episode of eye rolling.

The day of the wedding arrived and we made it through the ceremony with a minimum of wiggling, wincing, and watch checking (on the part of Dr. Hubby); then it was off to the reception and party time.  The food was delicious and the band was great.  With the children’s plates loaded with groom’s cake, wedding cake, chocolate covered strawberries, chicken, cheese squares, and an ample supply of punch, we were free to dance.  The DJ had asked for all couples to come to the dance floor.  The slow music began and after a minute the DJ. said:

“Now it is time for all unmarried couples to leave the floor.”  That cleared out all the bridesmaids and groomsmen.

“If you have been married less than three hours, please leave the floor.”  That got the bride and groom off the dance floor.

“If you have been married less than ten years, you may leave the floor.”  That took out four or five couples.   The music continued.  Dr. Hubby stepped on my toe.

“Couples married less than twenty-five years, may sit down.”  How long is this song? I wondered.

“Married less than thirty years, time to sit down.”  That sent the bride’s parents to their table.  That trumpet player sounded a little winded.

“If you have been married forty years or less, I know you will be glad to leave the floor. There are only four couples left.  The drummer dropped his sticks.   Dr. Hubby stepped on my other toe.

“If you have made it to forty-five years or less of marriage, you may sit down.”  That took out everybody but that elderly couple and us.  I think I am getting a leg cramp.

“If you have been married fifty years or less, God bless you and sit down.”  The elderly couple sat down leaving us alone on the floor,

 From the time I was sixteen, I had dreamed of this moment…  American Bandstand and the Spotlight Dance! 

Dr. Hubby held me close and whispered “I’ve got to sit down.”

I whispered back “Shut up and Dance!”