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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Before I Retired...

By Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for full time housekeeper, secretary, chauffer
Before I retired, I never had time to watch a sun set.   I didn’t have time to finish filling out the children’s baby books. “That is a good rainy day project when I retire.”  Before I retired, years of photos were piled in boxes waiting to be identified and put into scrapbooks.

Before I retired, I didn’t have time for face to face conversations, only Facebook.  I didn’t have time to volunteer more than a couple of hours at the Treatment Center.  I didn’t have time to study nutrition and learn how to cook and eat healthy.  “I’ll start that when I retire and I’m attending AARP meetings.”

Before I retired, I didn’t have time to learn Mandarin Chinese, or learn how to hook a rug, or learn the tango.  I didn’t have time to read a newspaper all the way through.  I didn’t have time for the Book of the Month Club much less read the book of the month.  Before I retired, I didn’t have time for golf or fishing or painting or just sitting on the porch and drinking iced tea.

Now that I am retired, guess what?

 I still don’t. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Miss Manners and Graduation

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for Tassel Tossing Time

They say the mark of "old age", besides the appearance of many, many brown spots, is when you tell people you walked two miles to school in three feet of snow uphill…both ways…all year… until graduation.  I haven’t reached that point yet, but I do remember graduation as it used to be.

In the beginning, graduation was a solemn and revered event.  There were certain rules of decorum and fashion that had to be followed.  A young man had to wear dress pants under his graduation robe along with a white long sleeved shirt, tie, and shoes.  A young lady had to wear hose, heels, and a white dress under her robe.  They had to act like they were interested in the speaker.

Graduation announcements were sent out inviting people who could actually attend the commencement ceremony. Graduation gifts of clothing, pens, wallest, and luggage were proudly displayed on the dining room table for guests to view.  Formal thank you notes were written in long hand and put into matching envelopes, stamped and mailed within three weeks of graduation.

My, my, how the times have changed. I should have seen it coming.  There were signs, especially when I attended my husband's doctoral graduation exercise.  As each of the doctoral candidates crossed the stage and was draped with the hood of their school and given a diploma, various members of the audience would rise up (some even standing on the stadium seats) and would shout such things as:

"I'm quitting tomorrow!"

"No more Shake and Bake."

"Wahoo, no more coupon cutting!"

"Baloney to baloney."

"Let me eat cake."

At first I thought this was just unique to Texas A&M, but over the years, I started noticing changes in other schools.  Maybe it was because of the streakers of the 70's or lowering the drinking age to 18, but the last few years at the school where I taught, seniors had to pass through a robe check and finger-to-the-nose check before marching in to "Pomp and Circumstance."

Even this year a young man attempted to do a back flip off the stage after receiving his diploma at a university.  He didn't complete the flip, an Aggie would have, but fortunately he was wearing pants under his robe.  I'm not sure I could say that of an Aggie.

When I graduated, my English teacher gave us the history and meaning behind our graduation mortar boards.  I still have my graduation cap carefully preserved in tissue paper. I guess no one does that anymore because at a friend's junior college graduation some of the mortar boards were decked out with flashing lights, glitter, and rolling LED messages.  I'm thinking someone had a hard time with biology...and spelling.

Facebook and E-invites have replaced Hallmark for invitations and in many cases thank you notes are now a blurb on Facebook or a quick Twit.  I now get graduation invitations from three states away. I am glad to hear from my scattered friends and view it more as an announcement than an actual invitation.  Gifts are displayed, if at all, on an end table.  You don't need much room for gift cards.  Flip-flops will replace heels and as likely as not cell phones will be sandwiched in between the pages of the graduation program in their hands.

As I attend graduation ceremonies next week, I'll grin at the shouts coming from parents for I know their relief.  I’ll remember those students that I inwardly shouted for joy when they graduated knowing that they would not be in my class, again, next fall.  I'll laugh at the tops of the decorated mortar boards and hope this new graduating class can spell better than previous classes.  I’ll hope for no injuries in the event of gymnastic type celebrations and pray they are all wearing pants.  I’ll wonder how long the mortar board LED lights will continue to flash after being tossed in the closet or if the hat will even make it that far.

Graduation, for all the changes and continued traditions, is still a time to celebrate and to pause, a time for looking back and looking forward, endings and new beginnings…

…and for  walking two miles to school in three feet of snow uphill…both ways.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

E.T Can't Phone Home

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for smoke and a blanket.
Recently my handicapped son inadvertently agreed to have his phone carrier switched from AT&T to Tin Can and a String.  I have been trying to get it switched back for the past three days.
I wonder what the record is for being put on hold and/or talking to three nationalities? Right now I am at two hours, dealing with three different accents stretched from one hemisphere to the other.  While on hold, I got some good advice from my friends via the internet  for dealing with phone company employees lacking in communication skills.
Thanks to Don I started my converations with "My name is Jody Worsham. I am calling on behalf of my brain injured son. I am recording this conversation. Please state your name and position in Tin Can and String Communications."  With a couple of repetitions and a few supervisors later (plus about an hour of time) there is no longer a contract with Tin Can and String, no penalties, and we are free to reconnect with AT&T.

Fast forward to 12:30 central standard time and my call to AT&T. First I talk to Chris and explain the situation. He  transfers me to Roxanne who says I must give her my son's social security number which I refuse to do since they already had it from the previous twelve years my son had a phone with AT&T. She then tells me I must pay $100 if I do not supply the social security number. I tell her I wish to speak to their Legal Depart, (thanks Rose for that phrase).   Roxie tells me they don't have one. Ha!  I ask to speak to her supervisor. She puts me on hold (about twenty minutes). She comes back and says there will be no $100 fee and I don't have to give her his social security number. She then tells me the earliest they can activate his phone is eight days from now. I explain that we are traveling, I must be able to call my son to remind him to take medications, drink water, and for him to dial 911 in an emergency. She puts me on hold. No music, no weather report, no indication I have not been disconnected.

Fearing my phone is about to go dead, I try to switch phones and drop it. I call AT&T back. I talk to the same machine, I think. I punch numbers. I talk to Sira Lanka who never heard of Christie or Roxie but transfers me to Navarro. I explain the entire situation again.  I have it down to about 10 concise sentences by now. He can't find my address even though I am sitting at my desk with four AT&T phone bills in front of me for two landlines, three cell phones, and a hot spot sent to the exact address I am giving him. I am put on hold. He is back. I am put on hold. He is back. He finds my address. He has the last four numbers of  my son's social security card.
No I will not give him the rest of the number. It is already in the system from the past twelve years son has had the phone. There is no reason At&T needs a social security number. He puts me on hold. He is back. Never mind, he has the number.

"If he doesn't need the same phone number, the connection can be reinstated in less than eight days."

"Fine." I get the new number.

"The connection can be made in seven days." 

"Unacceptable. It must be done tomorrow. Connect me to your supervisor."

"Hold, please...."
wait wait wait.

"We can make the connection in three days.

"Unacceptable. Connect me to another supervisor."

"Hold, please."

"Hay whoa. How you are ?"

"Frustrated." I repeat concise sentences 1-10, with emphasis and careful enunciation on paragraph two from above, leaving town, need to access son at all times, 911 etc.

"I tok wi dee-patcher. Call you back."

Two hours and thirty-one minutes later the phone rings. A recording  asks "Do you have time for a survey as to how AT&T is doing based on your recent interaction?

I put "it"on hold.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Seeing Spots Before Your Eyes

by Jody Worsham
All rights reserved for 101 Dalmatians 

I was supposed to meet some of the ladies in my church tonight for supper but after glancing in the mirror, I realized I was a walking,talking, appetite suppressant. I shall explain.

When you hit that 70th birthday, and for some it starts even before, your body parts hold a convention.  All the parts that had been functioning nicely and fairly independently of each other for all these decades suddenly feel the need to support each other.  So now when your head hurts, your knees join in.  When you have a touch of heartburn, your intestinal track backs up the heartburn.

As a teenager that golden tan I worked so hard on, now breaks apart into spots of brown in decade number seven which leads me to my current state. I had noticed a tiny brown spot on my facethis morning when I had climbed on top of the bathroom counter to get close enough to the mirror so I could see to put on my make-up.  See how the eyes are joining forces with my skin?  Eyes and skin then sent an urgent message to my brain which was "UGLY!  DERMATOLOGIST!! NOW!"  I immediately called and made an appointment with my dermatologist.

With age I have gained a measure of coping skills when it comes to sitting in a doctors' office. I now bring some kind of meaningful work to fill the time while I am waiting, you know like folding laundry, soap carving, candle making, tanning hydes.  I have noticed I don't have to wait as long. Rather quickly, I was called to the examination room.

I knew I was in trouble when the doctor came in singing the score from "Frozen" wielding her liquid nitrogen gun.  Before I could throw up the deer hyde as a defense, she zapped the tiny brown spot under my eye, the four brown spots on my left cheek, the six on the right cheek, and for no apparent reason other than she was in the middle of "Let It Go", seventeen brown places on both my arms. I'm just glad I was wearing long pants and a high necked shirt and the song did not have any more verses.

By the time I got home I was feeling like a dog shot with rock salt. A glance in the mirror confirmed that I looked like a dog...a Dalmatian.

Even I didn't want any supper after that.  Sorry ladies, another time.

Sent from my iPad

Monday, May 5, 2014

"Honey, I Shrunk the Battle"

By Jody Worsham

All rights and re-enactment reserved:  Texicans 68  Mexicans 34

I have a niece who is big into Civil War re-enactments.   She has trunks and trunks of reproduction costumes, dishes, silverware, tents and antiques of the period.  So this is the kind of scale I had in mind when I took the children to the San Jacinto Battle Re-enactment.  I’m thinking re-enactment on a Texas scale.

We arrived at the battle ground at 11:30 (see previous blog)  We walked through both the Mexican camp and the Texican camp.  The “re-enactors” as they were called were very knowledgeable about the battle.  There were only about twenty tents but I thought that was ok.  The other Mexican soldiers were probably on the other side of the rise.  In the Texican camp there were men and women melting lead for bullets, a demonstration of starting a fire with steel and flint, a yoke of long horned steers used to pull a wagon.  

The embankments were lined with hundreds of people waiting for the battle.  The children squeezed in toward the front and I stood toward the back of the crowd.  The bright orange vested pyro-techs were still setting charges on the battlefield so that took away the element of surprise but I am sure they were just following OSHA guidelines.  Sam and Santa didn’t have to bother with safety regulations 178 years ago.

At 3:00 the announcer began thanking the sponsors and I got my first hint that this was not going to be a Texas size battle.  He talked of a “mini” re-enactment of a “portion” of the battle.  Now the actual battle only took 18 minutes so are we now going to see… what ten minutes?  Half a battle?

At 3:05 two horsemen on either side of the 600 yard long battlefield rode by yelling “Run for your lives.  Santa Anna is coming!”  Then there was a long pause.  I later realized that this was to give the horsemen time to ride back so they could play the settlers “fleeing for their lives.”

At 3:15 the settlers, all 15 of them, the yoke of long horned steers, and the same horsemen traversed the length of the battlefield and back as they fled for their lives.  That took a while. Longhorn steers only move fast in a stampede and when they are not pulling a wagon.

At 3:30 the announcer explained that Santa Anna tried to draw the Texicans out in the open by firing their one cannon at them.  The Texicans returned fire with two cannons called the Twin Sisters given to them by the people of Cincinnati, Ohio.  I don’t know why Tennessee didn’t send them the Dolly Parton’s but they didn’t. 

The pyro-tech chargers went off.  For the next ten minutes each side pulled their cannons closer to each other.  More charges went off catching the grass on fire.  Then the battle had to be halted while the orange vested pyro-tech guys ran onto the battlefield with fire extinguishers to put out the fires.  The crowd applauded and yelled. It was the most exciting thing that had happened up to that point.

3:35 Now it was time for the Calvary.  I was expecting to see fifty or sixty people on horseback, swords flashing, horses charging, but I had forgotten this was a “mini” re-enactment of a “portion” of the battle.  Instead four Mexican soldiers rode out to do battle with six Texicans.  Wooden swords were clacking, horses were slowly turning in circles until everybody turned and rode back to camp. 

3:40  More narration while everybody got ready for the final skirmish.  The Texicans lined up on one end of the battlefield waiting for Sam Houston’s signal.  Santa Anna had sent his men back to take a nap.  The Twin Sisters were fired; the men fired their guns.  Then in true re-enactment, the men paused for like ten minutes to reload their guns.  They would have been better protected if they had just thrown the bullets at the enemy.

Finally at 3:45, Sam Houston was shot in the leg, the Mexican army surrendered, all 34 of them to all 68 Texicans.  According to history, Sam Houston was considerably outnumbered by Santa Anna’s men but I guess today nobody wanted to wear the hot woolen long sleeved Mexican uniforms.

At 3:50 the announcer said “That concludes our re-enactment.”  And a small child just down from me called out “Thank goodness” followed by a lot of adult “Amens.”

An eighteen minute battle took 55 minutes to re-create.

On the way home I tried to put a happy spin on the day.

“Well, I said today was going to be an adventure so what did you like the most?” I asked.

“The most fun was when I got to pet the horse,” said the nine-year-old.

“I liked it when we were lost and you were talking through your teeth to the On Star guy for the fourth time,” came from the twelve-year-old.

“You didn’t like the battle or the exhibits or going to the top of the monument?”  I was grasping at straws here.

“Well the fire was pretty cool,” said my youngest.

“You mean watching the man use flint and steel instead of matches to start his campfire?”  Hope springs eternal.

“No, when the grass caught on fire and they had to stop the battle to put it out.”

Next time I will just rent the movie “Gone to Texas.”  It’s cheaper, I don’t need On Star to tell me where the TV is, and I can hit pause when Dr. Hubby sets the woods on fire and we wait for the fire department.