Will I or Will I Not


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This interesting term comes from the Old English will I–nill I, meaning whether I want to or don’t want to. 

The meaning has changed with time, as words often do, and now tends to describe a random or haphazard way of doing things.  So, if  Junior is told to make his bed and clean his room, he’s probably going to go about it willy nilly. He doesn’t want to do it, so he will do the least possible in order to satisfy his unreasonably fussy mother.

Three of our grandkids are with us for a couple of days. They set up  a bunch of stuff in the living room yesterday that needs to be cleaned up  this morning, and the youngest is definitely doing it willy nilly.  He feels a bit overwhelmed, I think, at the size of the task. But then his big brother got involved, and now things are going swimmingly.  It’s amazing how a job can seem impossible until someone comes along and lends a hand.

So–in a little while, I’m going to work, whether I want to or not.  Willy nilly.


Vive la Difference!


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I’m not a neat freak.  There is no OCD in my DNA 🙂  I do, however, like things to be orderly and organized so I don’t have to search through messy cabinets, drawers, and files to find what I need.  I know where my stuff is.

My mom thought it was hilarious that I organized my herbs and spices alphabetically.  I don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t do it. My search time for any particular thing is .01 seconds.  My mom, on the other hand, had to do some digging.  She always knew right were she had put it, but things tended to go topsy turvy on her.  I like it the way I do it.  She liked it the way she did it. Vive la difference!

My clothes hang in color groups in my closet.  My drawers are organized –lingerie, socks, sweaters, tees–everything has a place and is usually IN its place.

I live, however, with a man who has ADD (seriously, he really does) and can’t stay organized to save his life. When he (frequently) can’t find something, I’ll think for a few minutes and ask him, for instance, “Did you check in the pocket of the shirt you wore yesterday?”  It’s like playing 20 questions–is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?  I can usually figure it out in a few minutes while he’s ransacking the whole house and finding dust bunnies, but not the item he needs. He always makes me think of the Family Circus cartoons in which Billy covers miles and miles  before he gets from the house to the school bus or whatever.


Terry’s gifts, however, far outweigh his tendency to follow Billy’s meandering paths.  There’s nothing he can’t fix.  If he doesn’t know how, he looks it up on You Tube.  It’s amazing what you can learn on You Tube!  Especially since Terry is not particularly fond of the computer,  it surprises me that he has become quite expert at finding what he needs. And, as is typical of people with ADD, he can focus intently on whatever he’s doing, to the point of my needing a pair of cymbals to clash over his head to bring him back to earth. When he’s on a project, he can go all day without eating and never realize how many hours have gone by. He’s a detail person and a perfectionist when he has a project.  It will be done right, no question about it.

He loves to work. My idea of relaxing involves music, books, tea, and chocolate.  His idea of relaxing involves  taking apart  the blender or whatever isn’t working and fixing it.

The only place I tend to allow to become messy is all that surrounds my chair in the living room.  Books, handwork, remotes, coffee cups, my own projects–yes, it’s often quite a mess.

But I know right where everything is.







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Did either or both of your parents have THE LOOK?  You know there would be no more words if your behavior didn’t improve. You knew the next step would make it uncomfortable for you to sit. If you had any brains at all, you didn’t push that line.  It just wasn’t worth it.


I got that silent glare on more than a few occasions. Not from Mom. She tended to just look sad or disappointed unless she was truly furious, and then her whole face changed. But my dad?  Yeah, the face didn’t change so much; just his eyes–and the set of his jaw.

My husband can do the same things.  With just a look, the offending child would know that he was only seconds away from doom.  And my kids have told me, as has my husband, that my eyes go smoky when I’m angry. Huh.  Smoky eyes?  I’ve never really understood that, and of course I’m not usually angry when I’m looking in a mirror 🙂

I like the photo above. We need more of that–a stern father making it clear to his kid that the nonsense had better stop.  Too often, these days, it seems to me that it’s the kid who is telling the parent how it’s going to be.


I can’t even imagine looking at either of my parents like this little princess, obviously  mouthing off and not looking cute at all. None of my own kids tried that one on me, either. You deal with this kind of attitude before they’re two years old, and you won’t have to deal with it later.

I will acknowledge that parenting can be a real trial, but being persistent, consistent and in charge, tempered with a lot of love, pays off in huge dividends. I’m always startled when a parent says something like, “Well, I don’t know–I’ll have to check with my kids and see if they have a problem with our being away that night.”

What?  REALLY?  You have to ask your kids’ permission to go out without them? Make sure they don’t mind? Yikes.

Someone said, long ago, that  American children have the most obedient parents in the world. I sure hope that’s not true.  I don’t remember who said it, or if they had any authority to say it. Whatever the case, that person clearly saw a shift in power from the parents to the children. Sad.



Variety is the Spice of Life!


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I love the wonderful variety of ethnic foods that has become available to us here in America over the last 20 years or so. Spicy is fine with me, as long as my head doesn’t melt. I’ve enjoyed Thai, Indian, true Mexican–not the Americanized version–and Japanese. So much wonderful flavor, aroma, and visual enjoyment.

Terry?  Not so much.  And I’m feeling deprived these days, because he’s doing all the cooking.  He likes plain chicken, plain vegetables, plain potatoes or rice. Plain fish, plain beef.  “I just like the flavor of the food.  I don’t need all that junk you like to put on it!”

Alas!  And how can I complain, when he is so willing to take over for me while my creaky old back is keeping me down and out.

When we were in California in April, we went to a Thai restaurant.  First time ever for us, and I honestly couldn’t get enough of the unique flavors. I had a sandwich, can’t remember the name of it, that tickled my taste buds into delerium.  It looked a lot like this:

And here’s a Vietnamese version:


Vietnamese Viet Banh Mi Steak Sandwich Sandwiches

Then there is a dish from India that my son-in-law, who grew up in Kenya, has introduced to us. Chicken Tikka Masala.  Oh my. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

Image result

When my son Dan went to Thailand, he learned to make a non-spicy dish that even Terry likes. Pad Thai can be made with just about any meat, fish, or poultry.  This one features shrimp, and again, my mouth waters with the memory of all the different herbs used in this dish:

Image result

Not that there isn’t a lot of wonderful American food.  Nothing beats our annual Thanksgiving dinner, and who doesn’t love fried chicken, apple pie, or pot roast?  All delightful and flavorful when correctly prepared. But I have to admit, I’ve loved expanding my horizons to enjoy the ethnic cuisines of countries I’ll probably never see.

Image result for pot roast with potatoes and carrots



The Perkasie Carousel


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There is a carousel in a little town near our own little town, in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.

We last visited  the carousel at Christmas time, when unlimited free rides are offered. Also, you can meet Santa, buy some wonderful Pennsylvania foods, and just enjoy the community.  Our grandkids rode several times.  You have to go to the end of the line each time you dismount, but apparently they felt it was worth the wait.

A nearby restaurant, The Perk, offers the Carousel Burger.  I hear it’s pretty tasty.

You can call (215) 257-5460 for information.  There’s also a schedule of times it will be open  right here: 


Terror in the Music Hall


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Many years ago, still in my 20’s, I went with a school group  to hear a symphony. It was in Philadelphia, but I can’t remember the name of the building.  Our pastor and his wife were there, along with Terry and a couple of other friends, all acting as chaperones.

I was just fine until we reached the nosebleed section where our seats were located.  I have a terrible fear of heights, and if I’d realized where we would be sitting, I may have chosen to stay home!

I did all right, though, on the climb up the steps to our seats. It wasn’t until I turned around to sit down that I  saw that our seats were almost straight up from the floor of the auditorium, a very long way down. I sat quickly, focused on the stage, and managed to get through the performance with a modicum of enjoyment.  In the back of my mind, though, I was thinking, “How am I ever going to get down?”

This is a picture of the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center.

See what I mean?  Makes me dizzy just to look at the picture!

I’m sure it was a wonderful performance, and I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

It was time to go. Terry had already left to get the bus and bring it around  from the designated parking area.  I was on my own, sweaty hands, spinning head, and furiously pumping heart all in action. I couldn’t move. Really.

Pastor Harris was standing behind me. He waited a few heartbeats, and then he came around and looked at me. I can’t imagine that he didn’t see the terror in my face.  In fact, I KNOW he saw it, because he turned his back to me, told me to put my hands on his shoulders, and said he would take me down. “Don’t look at the bottom, Linda.  Just watch the steps.  I’ll take you down, and you’ll be fine.”

And I was.  Shaking, but fine.

I wonder if he remembers. He’s in his eighties now, and a lot more important things have happened during all of those years. I, however, will not forget the kindness and understanding he showed me that day.


Driving Home


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It was so foggy, Reba though she could eat it by the spoonful. She hated driving in this stuff. The light from her low beams just turned everything yellow, and gave her very little help in seeing the road. She paid close attention to headlights coming her way. Everything seemed distorted by the fog, and she didn’t like the idea of a head-on collision with some idiot who was driving too fast in this soup.

Image result for driving in heavy fog

She knew this road so well. She used it every day going to work and then back home. For years, she had driven the curves and hills until she felt as if it all belonged to her. She’d driven it in the miserable icy winters that gave her “black ice.”  There would be no warning because she couldn’t see the ice. It could turn you around and point you the wrong way in a split second.

She’d driven it in snow, rain, even hail every now and then. She was tired of it. Tired of working, tired of driving, just tired.  She was 75, but she couldn’t see any hope of being able to quit her job. Bill’s slow, painful death had drained their resources, so if she wanted to eat, she had to work.

She hated going home to a dark, empty house. She didn’t even have a dog any more, because she was seldom home and felt that a dog needs its people.

Reba relaxed her grip on the steering wheel just a bit, realizing that her hands were aching.  “Just relax, Reba,”  she thought. “Only two more miles and you’ll be home. You can do this.  You’ve done it for years and years, and tonight is no different than all the rest.”

At that moment, she saw the yellowed headlights of the huge vehicle heading toward her. She couldn’t tell if it was a truck, a maintenance vehicle or some such thing. Too big to be a minivan. Maybe one of those Humvee things.

Then, her heart quickening, she realized that it was indeed coming straight toward her! Not in the opposite lane, but in her own lane. She laid on her horn like a crazy woman, giving blast after blast, but the vehicle never wavered, never slowed. It was almost as if it knew exactly where she was.

She tried moving to the shoulder of her lane, but quickly realized that there was no usable shoulder. The slope of the hill along the side of the road was steep. Dangerous.

Use the other lane?  She didn’t see headlights, and thought she’d be okay. But when she steered to her left, the oncoming vehicle matched her. Thinking the driver realized he was in the wrong lane, she steered right–and so did the other driver.

Now she was shaking all over.  What was this?  Some demented person looking to create an accident?  Who would do that?

As the other vehicle came closer and closer, Reba understood that it was going to plow into her, no matter what.  It’s amazing all the thoughts that flood one’s mind the moment before a catastrophe strikes; a moment before she realized she didn’t truly want to die just yet.

Not yet.



The Versatile Toothbrush


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A toothbrush is an amazingly versatile tool.  Terry has several in his many tool boxes. They come in handy for all sorts of jobs that have nothing to do with teeth. Here’s just one of dozens of internet articles on the uses for your old toothbrushes:


It even has pictures to show you exactly what to do  🙂

See those toothbrushes in this guy’s tool kit?  Yup.  That’s probably Terry.


One of my sons, who shall remain nameless, must have been paying close attention to his daddy talking about using a toothbrush to clean up something disgusting.  I walked in on him one day, industriously scrubbing at the bottom of his shoes  with MY toothbrush!  Using the water in the toilet.  I guess I should be thankful he didn’t immerse the shoes.

So what did people use before someone invented the toothbrush?  A quick search tells me that often, they just scrubbed a cloth across their teeth.  Other implement included a twig used as a brush, or sometimes plants and twigs were chewed for flavor and a fresh, minty breath   🙂

Things like salt, chalk, and baking soda have been used to clean the teeth.

People also used forms of toothpaste that they made out of ingredients you probably wouldn’t want to put in your mouth.

Sometimes a powder was made of the ashes of ox hooves and burned eggshells. The ancient Greeks and Romans used materials such as crushed oyster shells and bones.

Now, aren’t you glad you live in the present and not in the good old days?



Not Up to Snuff


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To be substandard is to be below the acceptable state.  A rotten tomato is substandard.  So is a rotten politician, but I won’t go there today.  What intrigues me is a saying I’ve heard for years:  “It’s just not up to snuff.”

Really?  Snuff?  I know what that is, but the connection  eludes me, so off I go to word etymology and the origin of such phrases.

There are two meaning for this rather funny word. The original snuff has a hidden origin, and during the 14th century is referred to the burnt part of a candlewick.  Used as a verb, then, to snuff a candle was to extinguish the flame.

Image result for snuff a candle


Then there is the powdered tobacco that was inhaled through the nostrils, beginning later, in the 1680’s. A rather nasty habit, in my opinion, but then we have plenty of our own nasty habits–like spitting tobacco juice from a chaw.  Blech.

Image result for Elegant man inhaling snuff

The meaning of snuff, then, was to draw up through the nose.  The word soon became a noun, and snuff was carried in elegant and often quite expensive and elaborate snuff boxes.

The verb form has also come to be applied to having a head cold, or, as we would say, a case of the sniffles–a word derived from snuffle, which isn’t used as often these days.

Interestingly, snuffing tobacco is likely to have come from the Dutch word snuiftabak, whose meaning is pretty obvious.  Because the habit of snuffing tobacco was  popular in Europe for a very long time, it became quite refined as better-quality varieties were created.  So being up to snuff  was to be of excellent quality rather than just satisfactory or usual.  Bad snuff was substandard, to be sure.

In my browsing of this word, I also read an unsubstantiated idea that, since the sense of smell is the first to go when a person is dying, that poor soul was said to be “not up to snuff.”

I think that’s a stretch.  My sense of smell started dying several years ago, and I don’t think I’m quite ready to turn up my toes just yet.

Turn up my toes.  There’s another interesting little phrase. . . .


Top Secret



We all have them, those hidden places in the heart, or in the mind.  Our own secret fantasies of being the most popular kid in school, the homecoming queen, the Valentine Princess. For the guys, who doesn’t want to be the star quarterback, the hottest guy in school, the one who always has the prettiest girl on his arm?

These are relatively harmless dreams, mostly unfulfilled but it’s nice to dream, right?

I had a fantasy about being able to sit down at the piano and be a famous concert pianist.  Or maybe a #1 bestseller novelist. And of course, I wanted to be married and have  the ideal Father-Knows-Best kind of family 🙂

I still have some hidden secrets, things that even Terry doesn’t know.  And I’m not telling anyone what they are–no, not even you!

Are you as surprised as I have been at how easy it is to spill private things into blog posts?  I mean, I’ve never told you anything that would embarrass my family or make you–or me–blush; I have, however, shared some  things over the four years I’ve been doing this that I don’t usually discuss. Is it the anonymity we find behind our computer screens?  I don’t know.

Did you ever have a crush that you kept hidden?  Like, for an entire school year?  And every time your crush said “Hi!”  you thought, “Oh, maybe this is it! Maybe now he/she will notice me.”  And every day, you make up scenes  of accidentally bumping into your crush, spilling your books all over, just like they do in the romance movies.  Your crush may always be friendly, but the day you see that person walking off with someone else and you know all hope is gone, you just want to go somewhere and cry and eat chocolate.

These secrets are normal and harmless, most of the time. Sometimes, though, the hidden things reveal themselves in horror and tragedy. I’m thinking of Columbine, and many other situations in which the shooters have felt they were bullied, ignored, disliked.  I don’t believe there is ever an excuse to terrorize a school full of children, or to take lives because you’re hurt and angry.  There have been plenty of times in the course of my life when I’ve been bullied, teased beyond endurance, misunderstood, misquoted, misrepresented.  I had terrible acne starting when I was only 10, and I believed for a long time that the only thing other people saw was my collection of zits.  Good grief, I even had a big old volcano erupt on my chin on my wedding day!  But notice–it was my wedding day 🙂  I have certainly lived happily ever after, for the most part. And still, there are secrets, hidden thoughts, desires, dreams.

I recently turned 70, and I’m here to tell you that age may change the direction of your hidden secrets, but you’ll still have them. Wisdom is knowing when not to share them. Lots of people tell me things in my counseling office that they say they’ve never told anyone else, ever.  I’m glad they feel safe with me, and I promise you I’ve never revealed any of those secrets, ever.

So relax, if you’re worried about your hidden dreams.  You’re normal. No, really! Everyone has them. Not everyone achieves all of their dreams, but most of us get to realize one or two over the course of our lives. It’s enough.