Sunday, January 26, 2014

I got off on the wrong foot

Credit to Larry for the pun.

Momma's table is still in the garage, but I did clear a space on the 'L' of my desk for my sewing machine and, taking a deep breath, I prepared to do battle again.

As I mentioned before, I decided to go back to basics, got a pieces of plain cotton fabric, actually a sheet we bought and didn't like - probably a topic for another blog entry - how fussy we are about our bed sheets. Anyway, plain cotton.  I cut out a square so I had no issue with excess fabric in my way, I applied my iron on stabilizer and selected some of the built in letters on the machine. As threading the machine is quite a chore, I decided to go with the green already there. Color is the least of my problems right now.

Looks a bit like Aljeen to me.
So, I fiddled around till I had spelt out Aideen on the little screen, carefully inserted the hoop according to instructions in the manual, and pressed GO and go it did. It did seem to be doing something intelligent, at least the hoop was moving and the needle was not pounding up and down in the same spot as it had previously. However, while the end result was the best yet, and it did closely resemble my name, it more resembled how my name would have sounded had the speaker been extremely inebriated.

Hmm.. maybe I was still being too ambitious.  How about just an 'A', nothing more. I prepared another cut from the unpopular sheet and again applied the stabilizer. Still with the dull green, I select a nice 'A'. Off we went. Nearly better, maybe a little better, still decidedly drunk looking.

I decided it was time to do something sensible and search for a class where I could speed up this process. While googling for classes specific to my particular sewing machine I came across a number of tutorials on YouTube, and one web site that I immediately bookmarked.  Kamala Embroidery - a blog - and there was a video of a Brother SE400, doing almost an identical 'A' - as I watched in fascination, I saw where I was going wrong.  I had the wrong presser foot, the step by step instructions in the manual failed to mention which presser foot to use, and I just sailed ahead with the one fitted to the machine when it came out of its box.

I am not new to sewing machines, so I knew better, I searched through the accessories that came with my machine and found the presser foot Kamala was using in her video. This I considered to be the high note to finish up today's lesson.  Next week I will put the correct foot forward and hopefully get better results.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Momma's table

Momma's table sits out in the garage where it has been since we moved into this house, we being me, my husband and his mother, Momma being my mother in law's mother - there is an amazing woman.

The table is an old, oval, wicker table painted white. Naturally, as it belonged to Momma, it is very old and while still in very good condition, it is showing some signs of age.

Due mainly to the fact that it is wicker (Larry does not like wicker), and partly to the fact that the house is already very full of furniture from the merging of two homes, Larry wanted to donate it to Goodwill. Absolutely NOT.  Momma's table would stay.

Unfortunately, it has stayed in the garage.

Now, you may wonder what is happening with my embroidery these days. Yes, it has been some time since I paid it any attention. Partly the holiday season took up all my time, but today I was going to get back to the battle with my sewing machine. If you remember, I had decided that I would give up working with t-shirt fabric and go for something a little more forgiving. I now have some simple cotton fabric to start working on. My intention is, once I establish how to actually get the machine to cooperate with me on some simple fabric and pattern, maybe I can progress to more difficult stuff.

So, this afternoon I turned to my sewing table, ok, it was once a friends kitchen table. I bought it when I moved into my first apartment and had just a small mattress and nothing else. Eventually I acquired furniture and when I moved into my first house, the table became my printer/all purpose table.  Now it is generally used for our postal scales and any computer Larry happens to be working on, until I got the sewing machine and decided that would be a good location for it. And it was a good location.

A couple of weeks ago Larry bought a new computer, naturally it was set up on 'the table' while he worked on it - as most people know, there is a lot to be done to a computer before it is ready to use. Apply about 50 patches to the Operating System, clean off a bunch of unnecessary stuff, install required software and drivers. Point of the story is, when I turned to the table to start working on my sewing machine, it became clear to me that I needed to find a better, more permanent location.

So, the first thing I thought of was Momma's table!  I have had my eye on it for a while, and this was the perfect use for it. I thought I would just need to wipe it clean and get it up the stairs, I know I can find a corner for it somewhere. Down I went to the garage and there it was - already in use! I don't think Momma would approve of this.  Luckily I have a small set of metal shelves that will easily replace Momma's table, and be much better suited to the garage.

Tomorrow I will enroll Larry's assistance and we will swap out the shelves for the wicker table.  I will find a corner upstairs for it, clean it off and I will be ready to get back to the battle of the embroidery machine.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I am ready for it to be summer

I know, 105 degrees F, what is wrong with that?  I will tell you what is wrong with it, AC - Air Conditioning. As it gets hotter in Texas, Texans turn 'up' the AC and indoors it gets colder. Who would have thought that there are human species that actually like to be cold - hello? Texans!

We (here in Texas) have had a particularly unpleasant winter. So far, and I do not want to tempt fate, we have not had one of those most amazing ice storms, but it has been cold and unpleasant for longer periods than I have become used to here. I am (finally) Texan enough to actually celebrate the rain, but cold, ice, snow - NO. I can't take that. It isn't just because it is so unpleasant, which it is. But Texans don't know how to drive in the rain, sleet, ice or snow. They all seem to operate on the premise that if they pretend it is not there, then it is not there. It is downright scary driving on even just wet roads with Texans, actually, it is scary driving on dry roads with most of them. But, wet or, heaven forbid, icy roads, count me out.  I learned how to drive on ice as soon as I started learning to drive in Ireland, apparently that lesson is skipped here in Texas. (Possibly because the pretend it is not there?)

So, as the forecast predicts below freezing (about to happen) with wind, sleet (already falling in Leander) and possibly snow - plus ice on overpasses in the early morning, I think.. I have got to NOT leave the house tomorrow.

Thankfully I have a job that I can do from home, in fact, mostly I can be more efficient and put in longer hours with less stress when I work from home.

Right now at 5.25 p.m. as the front approaches, our cars are already covered in ice, and it is falling steadily, that is correct, not hail, sleet that is really icy rain. I wouldn't be surprised to find that it is 65 degress F when I am ready to leave at 3.30 a.m. tomorrow morning, but I also would not be surprised to find it is 25 and covered in ice, or snow. But I do know that by the weekend it will probably be 70 again.  What a weird place.. but I love it! Next June I will be here 20 years. There is a reason I came here, and many reasons I stay. If you read my book, you would know what I am talking about.

Monday, January 20, 2014

My first royalty payment

I got my very first royalty payment today for my book.  Only because I don't expect anyone to buy it (yes, I need to change that attitude before the next book is published) I am so excited.

Considering my niece Nicola, and my nephew Jamie were both very active in pushing this book to publication (Nic) and touting it on FB (Jamie) it is fitting that my first royalty payment is in GBP .. except the P doesn't stand for POUND(s) .. it stands for PENCE.  Yes, the grand total of 26 GBPence.  Nonetheless, it is a very historic occasion for me.  I do have some EURO and some DOLLAR royalities outstanding for payment, but this is the first!

Payment made to:
Payment date:
Payment currency:
Payment amount:

26 whole pennies.  And, bear in mind, with the current rate of exchange that does come close to 50 cents US.

I guess I will have to start marketing this book soon, or maybe just get on with writing another one?

 It is on Come and get it here:.

Friday, January 17, 2014

What will your legacy be?

I had to write my mission statement as part of an exercise for a Franklin Covey Seminar - 7 Habits I believe it was.  That was a long time ago! So, naturally I don't remember exactly word for word what I wrote. But I do remember the meaning because it was real, and still is.

'To live life with honesty and courage, to never hurt anyone intentionally, so that when I am gone, my children will not mourn my passing but will celebrate my life'... something like that.

Above all else, I do not want to be mourned. I do not want to cause pain to any human being, most of all, not to those I love. I want them to have a party to celebrate the amazing life that I have been fortunate enough to have. To wonder at the myriad opportunities that have come my way and I have been lucky enough to be able to grasp and enjoy.

I do realize that this sound horribly maudlin and for that I do apologize, but when someone you work with, someone you are used to seeing and interacting with on a daily basis leaves this life way too soon, it makes you stop and think. And, of course, when my father in law died after 2 years in a home for the bewildered, with the inevitable in front of us, we did stop and do more than think, we prepared.

We have our wills drawn, our legal, financial and medical power of attorney, and living wills all in place. Next week we will be signing up and paying in advance for our cremations. How difficult it is to get that done without all the extras!  Graves, graveside carry on, flowers - just not my style. I am not religious though I am spiritual, and I have the utmost respect for the religious beliefs of others, with the one caveat - please do not wave it in my face, or try to force it down my gullet.

I have a book called 'Before It's Too Late'.  And before it is too late, I plan to complete it.  This book details every piece of information about what we own, what we have prepared, what we want, where everything is.

If I had my way, my ashes would be strewn across the floor of the The Alamo.  But as that is more than likely totally impossible - if it were, we would soon be knee deep in ashes - and at the end of the day, or as it will be, life, it really doesn't matter. To quote my father when he was facing his imminent death 'what do I care?  I will be dead'.  I would have no issue with my body being thrown into the woods - you know? where they do research on how long it takes a body to decompose etc; After all, it would be something useful. I would like to think that my organs could all be reused, but I am guessing they are already too old to be of any use.

My father in law was cremated, but he did have a grave and a graveside ceremony, with a few beautiful songs that my mother in law selected for him. And a reading of a poem that he had selected  himself many years before as something that should be read at his funeral. It was the classic graveside poem written by Mary Elizabeth Frye, Do not stand at my grave and weep:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

One of the songs Mildred chose was Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton singing 'When I Get Where I'm Going' and another was 'The Dance' by Garth Brooks.  Both of these songs work for me too - of course I do share a love of country music with both Odell and Mildred.

So, at my life's celebration party, by all means play both of Mildred's choices. But I want the first and last song to be played to be 'Just Breathe' by Willie and Lukas Nelson.  On YouTube here

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I wrote a book.. by accident

I didn't set out to write a book.   It is on here.

When I was a child, during a period in my life when my parents had a very tumultuous relationship, every time there was a major 'incident' - to an 8 - 10 year old introverted child, that was equivalent to WWII.  I immediately sat down and wrote a blow-by-blow account of the entire event.  I did it because I was so stressed I felt that I would explode if I didn't find some sort of escape valve, and writing it down was exactly that.

How I wish I had those written records now.  I know that my mother saved them in a folder - probably marked 'Dick'  not just because he was one, but that was his name.

She probably hoped that one day they would prove some sort of safeguard to her sanity, but that was back in the days when broken marriages were blamed entirely on the female of the species, and my written accounts may well still be sitting in a folder in some archive.  But to me they were cathartic.  Ok, I admit it, I have a fascination with words:

tumultuous (tjuːˈmʌltjʊəs)
1. uproarious, riotous, or turbulent: a tumultuous welcome.
2. greatly agitated, confused, or disturbed: a tumultuous dream.
3. making a loud or unruly disturbance: tumultuous insurgents.
tuˈmultuously adv tuˈmultuousness n

cathartic (kəˈθɑːtɪk)
1. purgative
2. (Medicine) effecting catharsis
3. (Medicine) a purgative drug or agent

Anyway, I only just realized that this was a habit that I had long ago formed.  Because when I came to the US I abandoned my therapy, and my most amazing therapist Dick.. strange that, same name as my father, and even more strange, a name I always loved.  Anyway, I digress - when I got here (Texas) I started writing as a way to purge (catharticise?) my past and release myself from the shackles of my past.

shackles (ˈʃӕklznoun plural
a pair of iron rings joined by a chain that are put on a prisoner's wrists, ankles etc, to limit movement. His captors put shackles on him.
ˈshackle verb
to put shackles on.

and the more I wrote, the better I felt.  Eventually I had about 50,000 words, in a series of disjointed essays. Every time I revisited them I reread and enjoyed them as though I had never read them before, let alone written them.  But the words were very important to me, so I tested them on a few people and the reaction I got was favorable, however, naturally enough these were people who knew me well and also knew the situations I wrote about.

I wanted to get reactions from people who didn't know me, or at least, not so well. My son read some of it and was (he said) enthralled - and I do believe him, because I taught him to be honest. But he was one of the 'knew me well' group. My mother in law - a very blunt and honest woman, read it and said I should publish it. So I put my disjointed written purgative in a blog. I got more feed back, my niece Nicola, we haven't met or spoken in decades, read it and took the time to privately email me with very gratifying feedback. My cousin Pat, who has a starring role in one of the chapters, actually bought the book and emailed me that she was reading and enjoying it.

Finally my husband, who I am fairly sure never read any of what I wrote, but who supports me in everything I do, convinced me to publish it - and now that Amazon has where anyone can publish anything, I bit the bullet. I tried to make it more of a journal than disjointed events, and I really don't think I succeeded, but I hope it worked.

Once published, I purchased 10 copies of my book and gave copies of it as gifts to my children, my mother in law, and to my closest friends.

I cannot describe how I felt when one of my good friends told me how she has become totally enthralled while reading my book.  She said that she was immediately 'drawn into the story' and that everything she read 'drew pictures in her mind' so that she could see what I was writing about.

If I never write another word (which I seriously doubt) that response is something I will treasure forever. Now, I need to write a real book, and I need to figure out how to market my writing.

Monday, January 13, 2014


I have always heard it said that women are better at multitasking than men. And I certainly remember when my children were babies and toddlers, constantly having to juggle two or more things at the same time. Holding the baby with bottle balanced in his mouth, in one arm, while talking on the phone tucked under my chin and stirring the pot of stew on the stove. It wasn't that I was good at it, I had to do it. Ok, I didn't have to do it, I could have left the baby screaming in his crib, the phone ringing off the hook and the stew burning on the stove, while I sat and filed my nails. I could have, but I didn't because my nerves would not have been able to stand it.

Perhaps that is the difference. Men are better at ignoring, or blocking out what they don't want to pay attention to. Women are not so good at that. At least, I am not.

For years now, I have worked in an environment that requires me to juggle at best, two separate projects, today I was working on three simultaneously. According to my best friend Google:

at the same time.

Of course I wasn't doing that, but what I was doing was switching frequently from one to the other, and it was exhausting. I had to keep reminding myself which environment / issue I was dealing with, where I was at in the testing and what my next step should be. I always thought I was good at multitasking, and that it was a gift. So I did some research and decided I am not doing that any more. No wonder I am shattered at the end of the day.  

Here is some of what I turned up in just a few minutes of searching (what did we do before the internet?)

Links to research reports:

To summarize:

  • For students, an increase in multitasking predicted poorer academic results.
  • Multitaskers took longer to complete tasks and produced more errors.
  • People had more difficulty retaining new information while multitasking.
  • When tasks involved making selections or producing actions, even very simple tasks performed concurrently were impaired.
  • Multitaskers lost a significant amount of time switching back and forth between tasks, reducing  their productivity up to 40%.
  • Habitual multitaskers were less effective than non-multitaskers even when doing one task at any given time because their ability to focus was impaired.
And finally - I believe - multitaskers are far more stressed at the end of the day!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Will I ever speak Kentucky?

You would think that after almost 20 years in the US I would have figured out accents - but not only am still struggling with the language barrier I have not got the hang of some of the accents. Yes, there is a language barrier .. see my previous post.

When I was a child, there was an 'American Accent' and it might have been from the deep south up to Northern Canada - all of the continent of North America, to my ears was an 'American Accent'.  It really did all sound the same to me.

Since moving here in 1994, I very slowly started to hear the regional differences in accent, at the same time as realizing to my horror that I didn't speak the same language, at least not the same language as the 'English' spoken in Central Texas.

One of my earlier examples was 12 years ago, towards the end of October. I was sitting at my desk trying to look busy, when the director of development, a man from East Texas who I knew fairly well, having worked with him at a previous company, came out of his office and ask me if I knew where to get 'dry ass'.  I was speechless. Many thoughts crossed my mind.  Why did he think I would know where to dry his ass? Why ask me? Why was his ass wet? And most important, what the hell do I answer? Luckily he expanded. Apparently his wife was looking for dry ice to complete a hallow 'een costume.  Phew!  Thank goodness I said nothing.

Well, that was 12 years ago, I had only been here 7 years.. 7 years? surely I would have learned the language in that time.  Apparently 19 years later I still have a problem.  I wonder if it is something to do with the fact that I am tone deaf?  I have heard that the more musically inclined you are, the easier language is for you.  And I know I am NOT musically inclined.  Oh, I love music, but I couldn't sing to save my life.

I have known my mother in law for over 12 years, and we have lived in the same house for the last 3 years. Surely I should be well able to interpret her Kentucky English and understand her without a problem.  NO. I can't.  We were discussing the very cold winter and she said that she feared the intense cold would have killed the wall flowers.  While I was puzzling over what wall flowers, and I couldn't recall every having seen a wall flower in Texas, certainly not in our yard, my husband was telling her (he has a Texas accent which I am getting much better at interpreting) that wild flowers need a freeze.

Texas Wild Flowers
Wall Flowers

Another occasion illustrates my total lack of expertize in Kentucky'ism.  We had a crew of stone masons working on a stone patio and paths in our back yard.  It was the middle of the summer - and in case you don't know, the middle of the summer in Central Texas means over 100 degrees F.  My mother in law was gazing out the window, watching the men working I thought.  She very casually asked me if I had a glass of water.  I thought 'oh goodness, one of the men has collapsed from the heat'.  But then I thought, no, she is a very cool, sensible woman, but even she would have a sense of urgency in her voice in that instance.  So I said 'a glass of water?' .. somewhat impatiently she said 'yes, a glass of water!  there is a fly here I want to kill it!'.  I believe she thought I was at least a bit slow, possibly an imbecile. 'OH!  I said, a fly swatter! No, unfortunately we lost it in the move' and I found her an old magazine to use.

Fly Swatter
Glass of Water

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What is this about?

When I was planning my move to the US, I had the luxury of having no preconceived ideas about location.  I had never been here before and knew no one living here.  If you read my book (see link on the right) you will know that I chose Texas based on a number of criteria, one of which was the weather.  

I was so tired of cold, wet, grey days almost all year 'round that I wanted to live somewhere hot and hotter, dry and sunny. My research led me to believe I would find what I wanted in Texas. Yes, I knew there would be some cool days, even a few cold days in mid winter, but I also knew that these would be few and far between. The first few years after I arrived I was very happy to discover this expectation was (mostly) satisfied.  There was one four-day ice storm the second winter I was in Austin. But it was such a rare and unexpected event that the entire city closed down for those 4 days.

But this winter has been awful, yes we need the rain and I have finally become Texan enough that I am always now happy to see it, of course it doesn't happen very often and not nearly often enough for the well being of the State. However, look at this! 

No, I am not returning to Ireland any time soon, well not for more than my usual visit to see family. But this weather is not what I bargained for, except of course, no bargaining was involved, just guesswork and luck.

We have a saying in Texas, 'if you don't like the weather just wait because it will change' - whoever says that clearly never visited Ireland where we do have the same saying, but it is fact. In Texas we are pretty much guaranteed to have ~HOT~ weather from June through September, day after day, with perhaps (if we are lucky) an occasional shower of rain, the rain is hot by Irish standards also.

In Ireland we can have rain, fog, sun, cold, warm, deluge, clouds, wind, sun, cold, hot, dry - and that all in the space of a few hours. Dublin is on the east coast, we are surrounded, at least to the south and southwest by what we fondly refer to as mountains, they are in fact beautiful rolling hills.

We have a saying 'if you can see the mountains it is going to rain, if you can't see them it is raining'. What makes the difference to me is that home heating in the US is much cheaper and more efficient, than in Ireland.  Almost no one in Ireland can afford to run their heating 24 hours, even on a thermostat, in fact the same goes for hot water.  The cost would be prohibitive.

Now, we have to take into account global warming. Why is it that normal, presumably reasonably intelligent human beings can't grasp what is happening to our climate, to our planet - what mankind is doing to our planet, and what we are sowing, that our children and grandchildren will have to reap and live and/ or die with? Otherwise intelligent people think that global warming is disproved because it has suddenly got extremly cold (not warm) throughout the United States, or because we have a major hurricane event, or no hurricane events at all in one season. In fact you don't have to be terribly smart to understand that if the earth - the globe- is warming, the first thing to happen is melting of the icecap - hey presto otherwise warm waters become seriously chilled by the melting ice.  And I know I learned in school that the oceans have a major influence on our weather.

Ireland is very far north, Dublin City is at a latitude of just over 53 degrees North, but the climate is relatively mild compared to other countries on the same latitude due to the warm Gulf Stream flowing down the Atlantic Coast to the West, and an abundance of hills and mountains around the coastline, affording shelter to the island.  With the melting of the polar icecap I fear that this will change, as the melting of that ice cap allows massive amounts of fresh water to flow into the ocean, at best changing the flow of the currents in the Atlantic and thereby redirecting the Gulf Stream. Some believe the melting icecap will actually cool the warm Gulf Steam sufficiently to eliminate its protective cloak around our tiny island, sending mean temperatures plummeting.

Mankind appears to be determined to destroy the earth, apparently the only motivation for this is pure greed. How illogical is that? Let's make lots of money and ignore the damage we are doing, but the day will come when no amount of money is going to solve the problems caused by this greed, nor will it protect anyone, rich or poor, against the effects of global warming.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Penny Saved

.. is a penny earned. I used to hear that a lot when I was growing up.

My husband's father took this to a whole new level. I doubt he ever paid the display price for anything, including medical bills which he managed to negotiate down by more than half the original charge. My husband is no different having learned from the master.

I have watched and waited while he haggled over furniture, appliances, cars, phones, travel, hotel and many other expenses most people would just pay for without thinking.

This time, I think he surpassed his father's record.

My father in law passed away after spending two years in an Alzheimer's home. In the years prior to going into the home he consistently refused to discuss anything to do with death. He wouldn't tell us his preferences, totally refused to consider prearranging anything and always repeated that someone else could take care of it when he was dead. My very sensible mother in law didn't wait that long. As soon as it became obvious that he could no longer make any decisions, and it was also apparent that his days were numbered, she arranged the details not just for him, but for herself. She paid for cremation and made all the arrangements possible prior to death that she could. She also bought a plot in the local cemetery and I found it amusing that she selected plot number 211, because she would have no problem remembering it as her birthday was 02/11.

When my father in law passed away, we discovered the true value of her foresight in making prior arrangements. In our case, his death was no surprise and yet the stress and grief was still hard to deal with. I can't imagine having to make all those arrangement in a case where someone dies unexpectedly. Therefore, my husband and I were determined that we would do the same and save our children - and of course very likely, one or other of us - from as much of the awful machinery of death as we possibly could.

We procrastinated until finally the new year came along and the usual spring cleaning attitude drove us to get this item off our 'to do' list. The previously locally owned funeral home, where my mother in law had made her reservations, had since been sold to a large national chain and some searches online showed that they were among the more expensive choices in Central Texas so my husband called around. He found one place which seemed to be very reasonable and did offer insurance. That is, insurance that should they be bought or go out of business, our disposal would still be handled and our children wouldn't have to deal with the arrangements all over again. Armed with that quote, he then called the local funeral home and told them the price he had received and found acceptable, and said that he would be prepared to consider any offer they could make that might be close to this price and had comparable cover. To my amazement they said that they would certainly be able to do something for us and we made an appointment to talk with them in person.

When we arrived at the funeral home we were not impressed by the man who met with us. I really didn't like him at all, sleazy is the word that comes to mind. He told us that their price would be $2,800 per person, but as were were return business (that is the previous owner of that company had handled the arrangements for my father in law's cremation) - you can't really have return business for a cremation as that really is just a one time event in each life, right? - he would give us $1,000 off. That made his price almost twice the price of the offer we already had. We said ' no thanks, not good enough ' and he immediately said he also worked for the insurance company and could actually write the insurance policy for $995 and it would be good for the funeral home we had already spoken with. It took approximately 5 minutes, most of that was spent deflecting him from his normal sales pitch, we didn't want any words of comfort from him, or anyone else for our loved ones, we didn't want a service of any description.  My husband told him we were not interested, we would go with his competitior because he didn't have the decency to give us the lowest price up front.

Had my father in law known that he could haggle over the cost of his final arrangements, and get a good deal, I do believe he would not have been so reticent to discuss these details with us.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Food Sealer Clips

I doubt there is a kitchen in the western world that doesn't have more than one clip to reseal bags such as chips or cereal, in order to keep them from going stale before they are consumed.

We have a number of clips designed specifically, and while they are not terribly expensive, they do cost money. I have also used clothes pins and bulldog clips designed for holding bundles of paper together.

But here is something my husband came up with that works like a charm and costs absolutely nothing. I am sure most people refuse to take the free plastic hangers that come with clothes bought in most of the major stores, but next time you buy a skirt on a hanger like this, ask to keep the hanger and cut the clips off, the remains is recyclable and the clips are great for resealing bags.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Don't put that in your mouth never know where it has been.  I am sure that it was not just my mother who repeated these words frequently.  If it were coins we had in our mouth, which was often the case, she added 'some dirty old man might have had that'.  Why we put coins in our mouth in the first place slips my mind right now, but the vision our mother's words conjured up ensured that we spat them out in disgust.

It wasn't until years later, when reminiscing about our mother, my sister and I discussed our separate visions of that filthy old man with our pennies. Combining a dirty old man and you don't know where he put it in my mind conjured up a picture of the old homeless man we frequently passed on our way to school, ragged filthy clothes, old rope tied around his waist to keep his coat closed against the weather, face blacked by dirt and wood smoke, sticking pennies up his nose. Apparently back in those days, my spacial awareness had not developed to the still somewhat inadequate level it has now reached.

You see, an Irish penny, when I was a child, measured 1.215 inches in diameter. It would have been a feat worthy of notation in the Guinness Book of World Records if anyone could get something that size up their nose, and the question as to why a homeless old man would want to, never crossed my mind.

My sister, on the other hand, considered a much more private, and even more unpleasant, orifice into which the same homeless old man inserted the pennies she was very careful to no longer put in her mouth.  While he possibly could have had more success inserting pennies in her suggested location, again the question of why never crossed her mind.

Needless to say, whereever my mother thought he was putting the pennies didn't matter, and we never thought to ask her, but her dire warning worked, we never did put coins of any denomination into our mouth, and to this day I tend to carefully wash my hands after handling coins.

The 'new' Irish penny (post decimalization) would be much more suitable as it is considerably smaller than the old one and I suppose rolled up notes would be much more easily inserted into most orifices.