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Monday, January 31, 2011

Stress Test

By Jody Worsham,

All rights reserved for Goodyear Jeans

There is a lot of stress in raising a five year old and a nine year old when you are looking seventy in the face, but I thought I was handling it pretty well, at least until recent times.

Just before Christmas my husband won a $250 gift card in a drawing. I should have been the winner since I inadvertently dropped his entry into the hopper instead of mine. I quickly confiscated the gift card and just as quickly lost it.

A week or so after Christmas I finally wore out the band to the dinner ring he gave me thirty years ago. After snagging the broken band on a towel I thought it best if I removed the ring before I lost it. The ring had only left my finger once before when I had the stones tightened. Remembering the lost gift card, I decided to put the ring in the safe…I think. Later when I went to retrieve the ring and take it to the jewelers, I couldn't find it.

The children asked why I was crying. I told them I lost my ring. The next day the nine-year-old told all her friends I had lost it. They told her not to worry; their mothers "lost it" all the time. They wrote me a sweet note saying they were sorry I was losing it.

I put the ring and gift card incidents aside and focused on more immediate things. Updating the children's passports. The five-year-old no longer looks like his eighteen-month-old passport picture which subjected us to lengthy questioning by the Customs people last summer after our cruise.

First I got on line to see what was needed. As usual, nothing referred to renewing passports for minors. I grabbed a pair of jeans, laid on the bed so I could zip them up and headed for the courthouse.

I have not set foot in a courthouse since we adopted the children four years ago. Had I known the security guard was going to rummage through my purse, I would have a) gathered up all my loose change b) taken the extra pair of underwear out and left them in the car c) put the 1,000 Wal-Mart receipts in an envelope and d) renewed my "Support your Local Sheriff" membership.

"Where do you need to go?" she asked with her hand resting on her gun holster.

"To the passport renewal desk," I answered with my hand resting on my heart.

"Second counter on your left." As I gathered my things back in my purse and headed for the second counter on my left, I noticed she was following me. I kept thinking, "This woman is not one of "Charlie's Angels". This woman could handle Alcatraz." I was so paranoid I stopped at the first counter as I heard her footsteps thundering behind me. "Ma'am, the next counter." "Oh, thank you and I scurried on with the footsteps still following…and gaining. "Ma'am" and she got right behind me and said quietly in her low powerful voice "I don't mean to embarrass you but you've split the back out of your jeans." "Thank you," I muttered pulling off my jacket and tying it around my waist.

I explained to the clerk, who was snickering, that I needed renewal passport forms for the children. "Just take these, fill them out and put them in the mail." I hurried past the security guard and headed for home.

I looked at the forms then called the National Passport Information hot line for more information. These were the wrong forms. Back to the courthouse, well after changing jeans. This time I left my purse in the car but I forgot to change from my very distinctive Disney World zip up hoodie. Yes, the same security guard was there and yes I know she was scrutinizing my backside as I once again made it to the second counter. "Oh," said the district clerk when I told her she had given me the wrong forms. "Then you will need this".

With correct forms in hand I returned home to fill them out. First instruction: You must have two of the following A) valid driver's license. Nope. Five and nine year olds cannot drive. B) voter registration. Nope, can't vote only watch campaign commercials. C) Student ID Nope, kindergarten and fourth grade do not issue ID's. E) Valid work card. Nope, setting the table and making your bed does not require a work card." Back to the phone. The National Passport Information 1-800 number is now on my speed dial and they know me by name. "No, none of those are required; however, all four of you must appear before the district clerk with old passports and with the required funds," he said.

With children and hubby in tow, it was back to the courthouse. Just in case the same security guard was there, I changed shirts. To be on the safe side, I took the large briefcase containing social security cards, court ordered adoption papers, shot records, report cards, birth certificates, baby pictures, pulled baby teeth, Christmas card with family photo, little league trophies, newspaper clippings about the recent fishing tournament they won, DVD of last year's ballet recital, and their handprints I had received for Mother's Day I years past. I also carried our framed marriage license, hubby's old draft card, my teaching certificate, and our tax records for the past 50 years. The security guard had fun going through all that.

I walked confidently to the second counter having committed the location to memory, and wearing a different shirt, different jeans, and with my little red wagon full of documentation to prove I am who I am and they are who they say they are. We paid the fees and now must wait for our passports.

Oh, the stress…and to think I have to do this all over again in five years…but next time I'll start out wearing bigger jeans… made by Goodyear.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fish Tales

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for frozen bait.

Each year our City Parks and Recreation Department hosts a tournament at a small lake across from Wal-Mart. Every January they stock the lack with 800 trout and a few days later host a tournament for children one to sixteen. It is the biggest little fishing tournament of the year as far as Dr. Hubby is concerned.

The temperature is always in the twenties here at this time of the year and Saturday was no exception, 22 degrees. The trout thrive in cold weather. I shiver in cold weather. Two years ago our three-year-old won the tournament having caught the most fish. He also won a couple of rods in the drawing they hold at the end of the tournament. This year Dr. Hubby was out for a repeat win.

Saturday morning is the one morning I do not have to set the alarm. You would think I would be able to sleep late. Not so. Five mornings I set the alarm then spend thirty minutes trying to awaken, dress, and feed breakfast to two sleepy heads and get them off to school. On the sixth morning the five-year-old's internal clock says PLAY TIME and he is up and running around by 7a.m. and thus me also.

On THE DAY of the fishing tournament, all three children (one of them being seventy years old) were up, chattering, layering on the thermal underwear, grabbing woolen hats, fishing poles, bait, rubber boots, and were out the door for breakfast at McDonald's by 8a.m. The tournament started at 9a.m.

At 11:30 I dropped by after my daily Wal-Mart run to see how they were doing. It was just across the street, remember? Dr. Hubby was having trouble keeping the five-year-old focused on reeling in the fish. The nine-year-old had abandoned ship and gone up to the registration tent to help them gut the trout and fry the trout that had been caught so far. She said she liked fried trout. Later she said she was going to help mix up the apple cider and serve it. I left little Miss Paula Deane and the wandering fishermen and headed back home.

I returned with camera in hand at 2p.m. in time for the awards. The five-year-old had managed to stay focused long enough to catch the largest trout and the most trout for his age group. He received a new rod and reel, an expensive tackle case, and a fifty dollar gift card. If anyone came late for the awards and missed his presentation, he proceeded to walk around with his rod and reel and tackle case over his shoulder so everyone could get a good look at his "winnings." Little Miss Paula Deane stopped serving long enough to catch the largest trout and the most trout for her age group. She also came home with a pink rod and reel that lights up when you turn the handle and a pink fishing tackle box which she immediately began converting to a spice and cooking utensil carrier.

After we got home, the kids dumped their loot and headed for the swings. Dr. Hubby was looking for just the right place to display the new rods and hang the tackle cases. "Two out of three years. He's won two out of three years and even she won this year. Good year!" He was still grinning from ear to ear when he fell asleep in his recliner.

The next morning all three "kids" were sniffling and snorting but still smiling from their successful six hour cold water fishing tournament. My job was to retrieve the Sunday paper. After much looking and ahhing and oooing over the newspaper article and picture, I was allowed to cut out and frame the article and alert the rest of the northern hemisphere. By this afternoon Dr. Hubby had the five-year-old casting his new rod and reel in preparation for next year's tournament. Little Miss Paula Deene baked brownies and a cake.

If you happen to stop by the little lake across from Wal-Mart next year, give us a holler. Dr. Hubby will be the old gray haired man in five layers of clothing with the five-year-old who will be running up and down the dam chasing the geese and pulling in fish. The nine-year-old will be serving up fried trout and hot apple cider before hauling in her catch.

I will be missing having wisely decided once again to remain home where it is warm until award time. Oh, and preparing this year's Fish Tale.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Run, Jane, Run! Sweat! Sweat! Sweat!

By Jody Worsham, Jan. 2011

All rights reserved for pink spandex

I recently wrote some gym rules for my friend Jim who is going to his new gym. In fairness, I think I should include some rules for my friend Jane.

First, Jane, do not sign a contract for the gym for more than one month unless you think guilt will be a good motivator. You know, the way you are when you go to an All You Can Eat Buffet. You figured you paid for it so you should eat everything in sight, hence the need for a gym.

Second, while spandex is not Jim's friend, it could be yours provided the garment is constructed in the same way as Michelin tires; steel radials. Anything less than steel can cause a major spandex blow-out, especially if you try lifting weights. Not pretty.

Third, like Jim, you need to avoid vegetables before a workout, but you also need to add dairy to that list. Nothing says bloating like milk and cheese at your age. You definitely don't want You-Know-Who asking when you're due!

Fourth, no matter how hard the exercises, how heavy the weights, do not make any sounds while you are working out. Plaster those collagen, botoxed lips shut; otherwise you will sound like a hippopotamus in mating mode…or a really bad porno-for-fat-people movie.

Fifth, carry a bottle of Fiji water around with you. Yes, I know it is $6 a bottle. Just buy one for the bottle and keep filling it from the tap at home. You will look informed and nobody will know the difference.

Sixth, wear make-up to the gym, but make sure it is water-proof, smear-proof, sweat-proof, and drip proof. If you really are planning on sweating, pardon me perspiring, I suggest a long sleeve top so you can tape bars of soap (preferably Irish Spring) under your arm pits. Not only will you smell better, but when you work up lather, you know it's time to take a break.

Seventh, X marks the spot. Most gyms now have those heart fibrilater boxes on the wall in case of heart attacks. The instructions say to place the electrodes on women just below the breast. Unless you want them super charging your belly button, I suggest you make a big X on your spandex top where your breasts used to be.

Eighth relates to mirrors. Avoid them. If one look in the mirror at home sent you to the gym, imagine that sight reflected back and forth off multiple mirrors. You don't want to go into cardiac arrest the first day, especially if you haven't yet marked the spot.

If the gym experience doesn't work out, you can sell your cars and vacuum cleaners, fire the maid, carry out your own garbage, hang clothes on the solar dryer (clothes line) and literally run errands yourself. Results are the same, just no spandex.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gym Rules for Jim

By Jody Worsham, Jan. 2011

All rights reserved for publishing "Emily Post Goes to the Gym!"

A writer friend of mine penned some etiquette rules for those who are following through on New Year's Resolution #5 "Get into Shape". However, I feel he has missed some very basic rules that I wish to add for my friend Jim at the gym.

First, Jim, I know you are on this health kick with your gym membership and healthier eating styles but just let me give you a word of caution. DO NOT eat the broccoli and cauliflower salad three hours before you go to the gym, especially at your age. Impeding explosions of that magnitude could rattle the windows in nearby stores and would certainly evacuate the premises in record time.

Along those same lines, if you are beefing up with protein lay off the beans on gym day or at least take your Beano or there will be no gym left.

Secondly, do not go to the gym on the same day you are eating your last high fructose, fried junk food, taco-double-cheese-burger, banana split with a triple vanilla shake before forsaking all that for healthier foods. Trying to do a sit up with all that in your stomach is a no no!

Third, see your doctor before undertaking anything strenuous like opening a glass paneled door. Ambulance sirens and paramedics entering a gym about the time other people are arriving is a big turn off. Try to schedule your heart attacks before or after you leave the gym.

Fourth, what you wear to the gym, Jim, is very important. Spandex is not your friend, I don't care how cute the salesgirl was at Academy, do not buy spandex. If you are tempted, remember the hot air balloon festival you saw last summer and visualize yourself as the human version of the Kodak Hot Air Balloon.

Fifth, should you ever get to the point that you actually break a sweat, bring several towels, wear one on your head, one around your neck, two around your ankles, and two around your elbows. That way, when you pass out, you have some additional padding when you hit the floor and you won't leave a big puddle.

Sixth, avoid looking in the mirrors, especially at your age with your body. Not a pretty sight. Remember, objects in the mirror may appear larger… and usually are…and could cause undue stress on your heart.

Seventh, wear ear buds while playing your i-pod or mp3 player. Have your children program it with encouraging music but tell them to avoid "Eye of the Tiger", "Chariots of Fire", or the theme from Bonanza. You could get caught up in the music and exceed your limit. Start with some quiet elevator music.

Eighth, do no take pictures of your grandchildren with you to the gym because a) there are no pockets in your sweat suit and b) digging around in your suit then pulling out pictures of your grandchildren to share is just weird.

Ninth, and this is the most important, label all your clothing with your name and next of kin. Better yet, have it printed on your sweat shirt so that it is easily accessible to anyone who finds a sweaty, towel wrapped, overweight old man flopped over the exercise bike. Be considerate!

Follow these simple nine rules, Jim and I'm sure you will be considered the most polite person ever to visit the gym…at least once.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Noah and the RV

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved to fund Fire the Weather Widget!

Since the kids were out of school today, we took advantage of the long weekend and went to Shreveport with our RV right after the kindergarten Olympic basketball game on Saturday. According to the Weather Widget, it was to be warm and sunny for the weekend. IT RAINED NON-STOP FOR 2 DAYS. I don't think the kids have ever watched so much TV or played so many video games.

At one point they asked if they couldn't please do something else. I gave them some tin foil I had removed from the windows so I could see how close the rising water was to our RV. They began making boats out of tin foil followed by 30 minutes of rule interpretation before the Tin Foil Regatta began. I was enjoying all this until I heard the five-year-old ask where the motor would go. Water? Electricity? Motor? Fortunately the nine-year-old said motors weren't allowed.

They put water in the bath tub and had a competition to see whose boat could hold the most coins before sinking. I was promised by the nine-year-old that she would return my $2 in change, which never happened. She claimed coin sinking victory but I think she cheated. She gave him quarters and she took the dimes. After two coins, his boat sank but hers was still afloat after four dimes.

I would like to think that they were learning something about water displacement and weight with this experiment but I think the nine-year-old just learned how to bilk me out of my change, cheat the five-year- old, and claim Tin Foil Regatta Championship for herself.

With these skills, I fear she may be headed for a career in politics.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Slap, Thwap, Slap, Thwap…Round Ball

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved to purchase a Frito Pie

I have done the soccer thing and the t-ball thing but none of those prepared me for Little Dribblers. No, that does not refer to the toddlers in the church nursery or the Senior Citizen Soup Supper. I'm talking about pint sized basketball. Competitive pint sized basketball. Small school competitive pint sized basketball.

If you have ever seen the movie "The Hoosiers", add about a hundred people to the town, chop the players down to about 42 inches in height, put them in elementary school, throw in a few girls on the kindergarten team and you have Little Dribbler Basketball. Since my five-year-old had never seen a basketball game, I thought it wise to take him to one before his game the next day.

It has been about fifty years since I attended a high school basketball game so I expected some changes, and there were a few. There was no longer a key hole painted on the gym floor where you lined up for free throws. They didn't have a jump ball after a tie ball. The uniforms were baggy and down to their knees and there were no Frito Pies at the concession stand. But everything else was as I had remembered.

The parking lot, when we arrived, was packed. This was the first home game. Everybody was there. I had forgotten the level of hometown support there is in a small school. When we finally got to the gym, a retired teacher friend of mine was there selling tickets, supporting the team, chatting with all the kids and the kids of the kids she had taught.

When we entered the gym I heard that familiar slap thwap slap thwap, screach, screach. Someone was dribbling the ball down the court. No artificial, manmade floor can compare to the sound of a basketball hitting that super polished hardwood floor or basketball shoes screeching across it. It is the sound of the game. As I scanned the crowded stands for a place to sit, I noticed every age was represented there from babies all the way up to great-grandparents. It wasn't just the parents of the kids who were playing that I saw. The community had come to see their team play. The other half of the stands were full of the visiting team's fans, again a great mixture of ages. What was that line in "Hoosiers"? Last one out of town, turn out the lights!

At half time the nine-year-old asked "Is there a restaurant here?" "Sort of", I said, "it's called a concession stand". "Do they have pizza?" the five-year-old wanted to know. "They have basketball food" and with that I was off to the concession stand. The high school students were bustling around taking money and shouting orders back to the parents who were piling chips with gooey cheese and jalapenos for nachos, dipping corny dogs out of the fryer, flipping burgers, and fishing giant dill pickles out of gallon jars. The smells hadn't changed in fifty years.

My field trip to show the five-year-old a live high school game had taken me full circle to my high school basketball days. The only thing missing was the Frito Pie.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oooooooh, Sam! My, My!

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved because I am, somewhat.

Some people think I am addicted to Wally-Word but I live out in the country and it's too far to go home between ballet lessons, violin lessons, Girl Scouts, and basketball practice so I come to Wally-World. I find lots of last-minute per cent-off-while-supplies-last bargains because of that. Needless to say I have enough Christmas wrapping paper and decorations to last till 2025, also cat litter in case I ever get a cat.

I note changes at Wally-World the way some people note the seasonal changes by watching birds migrate south, or the falling leaves. It may be August, but I know fall is near because all the Halloween costumes are already on display right next to the Thanksgiving table cloths and straw cornucopias. By October the garden center is decked out in Christmas decorations and those foot massagers that only appear once a year.

Even though I have no idea the actual date of the game, I know it is nearly time for Super Bowl Sunday because the seasonal aisles right in the center of the store, closest to the registers that are never open, are jam packed with things other than marked down Christmas items. And this brings me to a point of contention I have with my store of choice regarding their aisle closest to the entrance door.

No matter which entrance I use, or which random row of nested carts I select, I will always find the car with the three good wheels and the one flat wheel. As I wobbled down the aisles next to the closed registers I noticed the marketing theme did not seem to center on Super Bowl Sunday but on physical fitness, perhaps due to the number one New Year's Resolution "Get into better shape". I noted the yoga fitness mats, the Gatorade, the vitamins, wheat germ, the protein bars, that five hour energy shot drink, and a rather large area devoted to Epson Salts. Then, at the very end of the aisle, there was a rather large display for an item that is usually discreetly placed on the lower shelf near the pharmacy counter.

What were those doing here? At the front of the store? Among the build a better body items? Am I such a prude? Ok, that's a yes. Had corporate Wally-World marketing researchers been hit with too many ads for Viagra? Had the vice president in charge of End of the Aisle Display just become an avid member of Planned Parenthood? Or were the night time shelf-stockers playing a joke?

I didn't ask. I quickly left that aisle and headed for the check-out stand, the one that was open at the far end of the store. Once I got home I began to wonder. Did I really see what I thought I saw? Maybe it was an advertisement for condominiums and my eyesight was playing tricks on me. Maybe it was a display for key chains or hand warmers with the name of that UCLA football team emblazoned on the items. I had to be sure. Back to Wally-World with phone camera in hand.

Unfortunately, I was right the first time and now I looked like some kind of senior citizen pervert taking pictures of the not afore mentioned item. As I was leaving that aisle, I saw an employee in that very recognizable vest who was collecting cash drawers.

"Do you know what is on that aisle?' I asked.

"The one with all the health items on the clearance aisle?" she said.

They put them on clearance? "Yes." I gulped.

"Not surprising, got to get rid of them some way."

At least that's what I think she said. I was making a hasty exit as I contemplated the full ramifications of what I had heard, and before she could ask how many I wanted and burst out laughing.

Maybe I'll just hang out at the library from now on, in the cooking section.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Channeling Agatha

By Jody Worsham November 2010

All right reserved to pay for 1-800-Psyic phone bill


Clean G rated murder mysteries? Now that may seem like an oxymoron, a contradiction of some sort, but out there somewhere there has got to be more writers like Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Perry Mason, and John Gresham. I'd read Matlock if it were a book. I'm so desperate for a good clean story about stabbings, shootings, poisonings, or strangulations, I've started to watch "Murder, She Wrote" reruns.

I've seriously thought about dialing that California psychic hotline to see if there is another Agatha on the horizon. Surely there is a writer/mystic out there who is capable of channeling Agatha's creative spirit and give us a clean G rated murder mystery.

This all started when as a child I began reading the Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy boys. I don't remember any murders in their books, but there was always a puzzle, a mystery to solve. In the summertime, I would read a book a day. Television did not start broadcasting until one o'clock in the afternoon (I know, hard to believe) and if the book was very intriguing, I would read right up until the last page or I fell asleep, whichever came first.

I crave good mysteries with interesting characters, plausible plots, twists and turns without the R rated language, bedroom sex, or the depraved. I just want a good clean murder, not nightmares. Where are those writers?

JoAnn Fluke puts a neat spin on her mysteries, a who-dun-it with recipes thrown in along the way. The main character runs a cookie shop. Not the most challenging mysteries but then there is a wholesome love-triangle and the recipes are my kind of cooking. "Just pack the flour down in the measuring cup". The little cooking footnotes are also fun. "Don't have any chocolate chips, just chop up the leftover chocolate Halloween candy or grab a couple of Hershey bars, the more chocolate, the better." That's my kind of recipe.

I'd go back and re-read my favorite mysteries but even at my age, after a few pages, I remember who-dun-it, even if I can't remember the plot exactly. So I say "Rise up you decent G rated murder writers and give us a good mystery I can sink my rapier sharp bookmark into!"

Oh, Agatha, I do miss thee!


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year's Resolutions I can Keep

By Jody Worsham, Jan. 2011

All rights reserved for a new calendar

Everyone starts the New Year with a long list of resolutions. Most of these resolutions will be broken by next weekend. However, after reading about a zillion motivational books, I have come to a great discovery. Nothing breeds success like success; therefore, I have created a list of New Year's resolutions that I know I can keep. In fact, I am so confident that I can keep these that I am going to reward myself with a seven-day-after Christmas cruise starting December 31 and I am booking it today.

Here's my list.

  1. I resolve to buy something that will immediately go on sale the next day.
  2. I resolve to gain at least two pounds before Thanksgiving.
  3. I resolve to buy a gift card, then put it somewhere safe and forget where I put it.
  4. I resolve to try a new recipe and make no substitutions in ingredients at least once.
  5. I resolve to exercise one time.
  6. I resolve to wear something in May that the cleaners obviously shrunk in February.
  7. I resolve to buy the hottest new electronic game/printer/e-book/phone that will be outdated by the time I get it to the cash register.
  8. I resolve to assemble something myself and have extra parts left over when I'm finished.
  9. I resolve to find the on/off/record button on the new TV remote.
  10. I resolve to laugh out loud every day.

Happy New Year's Resolutions!