rememembering my long in the tooth whistling dentist

On Monday she’s having her favorite Vietnamese noodle salad with crisp Saigon spring rolls at her favorite Indochinese Bistro, and she takes her leftovers home to finish later. A microwave warmup turns those spring rolls into little pebbles hours later, and by nightfall the whole side of her face is beginning to ache. Something in the noodles–probably those rocks–made her teeth grow a mite on one side. She takes ibuprofen and tries not to think how expensive this munching malady may turn out to be if she doesn’t feel better tomorrow. Maybe all she needs is a good floss or a good shampoo. Something. Anything but a dentist. She spends a fitful night, getting up for another handful of ibuprofen around midnight and goes back to bed thinking about poor Dr. Burns who used to whistle classical tunes and ask about her travels while he worked on her teeth.

She knew from the beginning (2006)  Dr. Burns was well past his prime but she liked him anyway because he didn’t push expensive cosmetic procedures on her like the dentist in Las Vegas tried to. Did I mention she doesn’t have dental insurance? She bragged about him to her daughter, who conducted a study on cognitive aging years back. Rather than being impressed her daughter urges her to find a new dentist but she didn’t. She’s struggled with her bite for years, always a little long in the tooth, literally. She knew she might be facing tooth trauma someday, but it became mind over matter. Even when she picked up the local paper last July and happened to see her dentist’s obituary there. Not only is her one affordable link to dental health gone, but she learns her dentist was his 90s when he worked on her teeth a year and a half ago, not his late 70s as she’d believed. As he’d written his own obituary, quite a creative one as she remembered,  she realized that he must have known the last cleaning appointment she kept with him would be the last one. He never said a word, just whistled while he worked.

Maybe she had a sinus infection. Come to think of it her eye on that side had been paining her as well. She’s pretty sure hopes she didn’t have a tooth problem. She’s sure it’s just her sinuses again now that she thinks about it. She calls her  GP first thing Tuesday and gets a mid-afternoon appointment. The doctor takes a look in her ears, down her throat and makes her say Ahhhhhhh.  Can’t see anything going on in there. When was the last time you saw your dentist? The dentist died she answers. He was 92. She gives you the name of hers and tells you he’s really nice and gentle, and you really ought to have that checked out first. And he’s only about 60, by her calculation at least 30 working years left. She wouldn’t have to find a new dentist for a long time to come.

At home that afternoon Hubby makes that call she can’t make herself and viola, she has an early Thursday morning appointment. In the meantime, she washes down her third dinner (or fourth, she can’t remember) of mashed potatoes followed by water and ibuprofen. The early morning dental appointment with the new dentist led to an early afternoon one with an endodontist for a possible root canal! All the time she kept struggling to remember what she’d read recently about the Four Immutable Laws of the Spirit: Whoever is present (in your life) are the right people, Whenever it begins is the right time, Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened, and When it’s over, it’s over!

In a nutshell, that’s  how the whole week goes by until she found herself–quite unexpectedly–in a situation similar to this one later that afternoon for more than two hours.That was as long as the endodontist could hold up, wiping the sweat from his brow and telling her how tired he was getting. He also said hers was the hardest root canal he’d ever done, and he’d been in the profession quite a few years. There are three major roots in a series of canals and he could only find two. He’d have to close up and finish it up in a few days. He and his assistant both mentioned how they’d never had such a hard time before. She told them both how special it was to be at the top of somebody’s list. Made her feel so special even though the pain for the six days made her worry she would lose that tooth, No. 14, and still wind up in the poor house.


The week wasn’t entirely horrible. She’s had enough drama in her life so as to have learned how to take life’s lemons and make as sweet a lemonade as possible from them. She decides to use not feeling up to par as an excuse to do as little as possible the rest of the week and the next. No blogging. Just enough cleaning so as to make a path to her favorite easy chair and the television remote. No gym. As little cooking as possible. When mama can’t eat, it’s hard for mama to be enthusiastic about cooking. Only soft stuff to eat. No ice cream. Alas! Cold made her mouth ache. Hubby pitched in and either got his own dinner together or scraped up dried foodbits from the dirty kitchen counters after the leftovers were all gone. Once he was desperate enough to look up a recipe on line for Migas (a Tex Mex scrambled egg dish with salsa and tortillas) like he’d eaten years ago in Albuquerque or Austin. When he found a meatless that looked like the one he remembered, he made some for both of them for dinner one night. It was soft so that all sge had to do was roll it over and around her tongue a few times and swallow. It was delicious and easy, an unbeatable combination. If she decides to make it herself some time, she’ll find it here.

As somebody once said, it ain’t over until it’s over. She’ll be visiting her new dentist, Dr. Dickson, who is nice–but doesn’t whistle while he works–in a week or two to have the crown fixed now that the endodontist, who was nice enough to  file down those long teeth that were making it painful for her to chew, had drilled the heck out of the crown. It’ll all have to be done over again when the crown gets fixed. And she still doesn’t have dental insurance. In the meantime, she tries not to think too far into the weeks ahead now that she can eat again. Dr. Burns, god rest his soul, won’t be soon forgotten. In fact she thinks of him every time she flosses her teeth.

reuminating on feminism and old habits

Earlier this week a friend sent me these basic rules for clotheslines–bringing up memories of a past life–that I’ll bet many of you remember as well. Judging from the tacked on comments and additions, this apparently made the email rounds many times over. I tried a web search in order to find the original so I might provide a source, and it was pretty near impossible. It’s too good not to pass along, and somehow I doubt whoever started it won’t mind too much. I added my own thoughts in parentheses at the end of the lines. Younger readers, or those who grew up in the city apartments, or those whose family was rich enough to hire your laundry done, it’ll be a good chance to glimpse the “good ol’ days.”

THE BASIC RULES FOR CLOTHESLINES:

1. You had to hang the socks by the toes. NOT the top. (They were always hung in pairs to conserve clothespins.)
2. You hung pants (trousers) by the BOTTOM/cuffs. NOT the waistbands. (Years later, Mama bought these “stretcher” frames she placed inside each leg, so that creasing down the leg centers–made by the stretchers–meant she didn’t have to iron them.)
3. You had to WASH the clothesline(s) before hanging any clothes–walk the entire length of each line with a damp cloth wrapped around the lines so you didn’t get smudge marks on the damp items. (That was MY job. There was a long wooden pole with a cut in the top that was used to prop and push the lines up. That way longer items like sheets and pants couldn’t brush the ground and get dirty.)
4. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hang “whites” with “whites,” and hang them first. (The “whites” had to be WHITE. That’s how Mama judged the level of housewifely skills of every woman in the countryside, always quick to point out how “dingy” so-and-so’s “whites” were getting.)
5. You NEVER hung a shirt by the shoulders – always by the tail! What would the neighbors think? (Besides, you didn’t want little stretch bumps–caused by the weight–sticking up on the shoulders.)
6. Wash day on a Monday! NEVER hang clothes on the weekend, or on Sunday, for Heaven’s sake! (Iron on Tuesdays, and so on.)
7. Hang the sheets and towels on the OUTSIDE lines so you could hide your “unmentionables” in the middle. (Nobody else needed to know or observe as big hers were or how tiny mine were.)
8. It didn’t matter if it was sub-zero weather… clothes would “freeze-dry.” (Starch had an effect, too. Sometimes a Sunday shirt was so stiff with boiled starch, you could almost hold the sleeve and it would walk into the house by your side!)
9. ALWAYS gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes! Pins left on the lines were “tacky”! (Plus they would last a lot longer too! We had an assortment of three kinds, all wooden, one with a little spring that made a better grip , and the others, both–one rounded and one flat–a little plainer & cheaper, plus they made great clothespin dolls if you could filch a few.)

(Photos: Wikipedia)   

AND some of you may remember the dhobi-ghats in my post about the Dhobi Ghats in Mumbai where they don’t even use pins (!), and they hang the clothes according to color too.

10. If you were efficient, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.  (AND you made sure the items were taut and not dragging in the center.)
11. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed. (They smelled wonderful!)
12. IRONED???!! Well, that’s a whole OTHER subject!

I was thinking on this as I caught up on my own laundry this week, using my automatic machines that not only does my washing but the drying as well. It took me only part of my day and in between I had time to snack and read and sit in the swing. How different life is for women to do their own wash these days.  I’m reminded of a poem by my favorite contemporary poet, Marge Piercey, brought to my attention by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac PBS. Her poem,  The Good Old Days At Home Sweet Home, goes a long way in expressing the sentiment behind her feminist views. In it she speaks of a vivid scene as she was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s just as I did (she’s a few years my elder). In the final four lines of a poem that simply and eloquently describes her mother’s life of drudgery, she writes:

It could have been any day, as she did again and again
What time and dust obliterated at once.
Until stroke broke her open, I think it was Tuesday,
When she ironed my father’s shorts.

I have the same bittersweet memories of laundry days gone by, years and years of example from the lives of my own mothers and grandmothers. Suddenly this morning as I was ironing the towel that likes to hang out at my kitchen stove., yes you read that right, I like my towels to hang neatly, and unfortunately I’d left mine in the dryer too long and it wrinkled so badly, it wouldn’t hang right. So I got out the iron and ironed it so it would lay straight because it has a message I hold dear. Did someone say IRONIC? Don’t mind what I do, just listen to what I say with the things I use:

when I’m an old woman I shall wear purple

So much has been going on I hardly know where to start. Last Friday the hubby disappeared–he does that a lot since it must be a great challenge to live with an older woman (he’s exactly 10 months younger, you see).    I was in the office because there had been a telephone call a few moments before that I expected Hubby would answer, as I was sure he knew I was busy catching up on my ironing in the bedroom. But he didn’t. After four rings, the answering service picks up. I wondered why he hadn’t answered–so I went looking for him, deciding first to check to see if the missed call had been important or if there was a message. The doorbell rang. I waited a moment for Hubby to appear because I was still in my pajamas even though it was nearing 11:00. Then it rang again, this time more urgently.

What to do? First I called out to Hubby. No answer. Where was that man this time? I can see the front stoop from my office window, so I glanced out and saw the back of a young man’s head, but I could tell from the voices there was at least one other person with him. My first thought was missionaries. Or Jehovah’s witness.  Now I have nothing against either group, but I was so behind on seasonal switching out chores I truly didn’t have time to chat. The doorbell chimed again, then the banging began. I started to the bedroom to find a robe, but when I saw the heavy winter fuzzy hanging there, I thought it would look sillier than the white tee-shirt with blue fish (yes, the very one I was forced to wear in Edinburgh in September when the heat wave hit) and the blue plaid pajama bottoms I had on.

I was so rattled, maybe startled is a better word, as I opened the door and saw the black haired young man was Ben, my NY daughter’s Significant Other, and two women. Time seemed to stop! What in heaven’s name was Ben doing here? It was when shouts of “Happy Birthday” or “Surprise” or something like that it hit me! The next day I would be having a significant birthday–the big seven and O! Hubby has always said that’s an important birthday in India, but he usually had such trouble keeping secrets and he gets so excited that I always know something’s afoot. I’d already figured out that he and the daughter who lives down the street were possibly planning something bigger than the usual dinner and cake she usually prepared. I even told him please don’t throw a surprise party or making a big deal out of it. Particularly this one! His answer was Don’t worry. You know we aren’t party people! Suddenly Hubby appears out of nowhere, and chores and everything else were forgotten. For this birthday and Mother’s Day, the whole family would be here; they’d all been planning it for months! It was the first time I ever remember being totally taken by surprise in almost my whole life.

Of course everyone came bearing gifts–themselves for the festivities (dinner out at our favorite Indian restaurant that evening and dinner with favorite cake at daughter’s house onn Saturday), books, a new linen blouse, and lime green sandals with such pizazz I’ve hardly taken them off my feet since. I am one hot mama–or grandmama–as the case may be! I’m planning to post a picture of my feet in the new shoes just as soon as I can get to the store and buy some nail polish and paint my toenails! Crimson or Cerise. Or how about Hot pink?

As for birthdays, I think 70 is a good time to start getting funky. You probably remember the book and cards from the 70s, so you know the drill. When I’m an old woman I shall wear purple! I’ve even begun to plan a new color scheme for the big room of our house that we plan to have repainted next year. One purple accent wall–with a natural gray or light charcoal walls all around with white wooden trim! (Let’s see if I still have the gut nerve next year when the time comes!) I got the idea from the new Community Center (gym, library, cafe) that opened in our township just a few weeks ago. Just in case it’s clear what that artwork is made of, here’s a close-up:

As for birthdays, especially the really really big ones, I think 70 is a good time to start counting backwards. Next year I’m going to be 69. Again. And I’m really looking forward to 21!

granddaughter’s first book

THE POOP MISTAKE – a book in progress

by Vimmy (age 6 years old)

[final version to be] illustrated completely by Mom

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

ONE DAY A FAMLIY GOT A DOG.

HIS NAME WAS KLAY.

HE WAS PLAYFUL–EXITED AND HAPPY.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

THEN THEY ATE DINNER

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

THEN THEY TOOK A WALK. KLAY DID NOT NO HOW TO WALK ON A LESH,

SO HE PULLED AND PULLED AND HE PULLED.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

THE NEXT DAY THEY TOOK KLAY ON A WALK

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

AND WHEN THEY GOT TO THIER GRANDMA AND GRAMPA’S HOUS . . .

AFTER 20 MINITS HE POOPED ON THE RUG IN THER HOUS.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

AND EVERYONE WENT

NO!  NO!  NO!  NO!  NO!  NO!  NO!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

AND MOM SHUT HIM OUTSIDE WITH ME AND GRANDMA

[WHILE] MOM AND GRAMPA CLENED UP.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

AND WHEN WE WERE COMING HOME

HE WAS BARKING AT APACHEY.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

WE LOVE KLAY

BUT HE HAS A LOT TO LERN.

THE END

Notes from the editor:  Vimmy’s book was produced just as originally written. I didn’t have the opportunity to ask Klay (or Clay) how he preferred to spell his name, but Vimmy chose a K so I did it her way. She always like that. Exited means Klay was acting with “high energy.” Lesh is that thing attached to a dog’s collar, and Apachey (probably Apache) is an Airedale Terrior who lives in the neighborhood. I hope you enjoyed this “rough” draft  of Vimmy’s very first picture book as much as I’ve enjoyed posting it.

short-term memory serves well . . . in some cases

A few weeks ago as I was reading what I thought to be a new book I’d picked up at the library, I kept thinking Wait a minute! I’ve read this book already. But it was so funny, I just kept on reading. When I finally closed the book the last time, after nearly 600 pages, I still wasn’t sure that I hadn’t already read it, but that hadn’t kept me from enjoying it, perhaps just as much or more than I had before–IF there was a before. So I decided since I’m unable to garner the time to write the post I had in mind for tomorrow, I’d re-run one that I first published here November 9 of 2009. I shared it at a meeting today with a new writing group I’ve joined as a sample of the kind of things I like to write and it got some laughs, and reminded me how good it feels to laugh out loud sometimes. I think we could all agree that too many things are going on in the U.S. and worldwide that make it difficult to find the funny side of life, even in the interest of keeping your sanity. I leave it to better bloggers than I to write about those serious things. I’m always on a quest for the funny side of life I feel is almost as important. This is a true story. I prefer to present it as a story written in second person because the people you’ll read about here couldn’t possibly be anybody I know! And if I’m lucky, like me, maybe you’ll be old enough not to remember half of what you may have read here in 2009.

* * * * * * * *

For weeks she’d wanted to see the new Michael Moore movie, CAPITALISM. So that morning over breakfast, when she saw the calendar presented nothing more pressing or interesting to do, she suggested that maybe today would be a good day to go to a matinee and see it at last.

But when they arrived at the movie complex–chosen because it had stadium seating–the ticket seller said it was sold out. She glanced at the next showing, and sure enough that show was sold out too. So were the next two. It was barely past noon and no one else was in sight; they’d driven a full half hour to get here–they were several minutes early. Surely that could simply not be right! Were they even showing the movie there? Or was it a ploy to lure people in order sell tickets to one of the other movies?

It made her so angry she said no to her husband’s suggestion to see one of the other 20 or so movies on the schedule. Could they still make it to the one other theater in town where the movie was scheduled to start in half an hour? He said, sure they could make it. The first 10 or 15 minutes after showtime were always used for previews anyhow. Piece of cake. They’d just jump in the car in drive downtown and see it there.

So they did. The problem was, they were so far on the side of town they weren’t familiar with, and they weren’t sure of the theater’s address. While there was no question they could find the it, it might take time and they needed to find it FAST. It would be best to know exactly what street it was on. So she went to work fiddling with the GPS built into the car’s dashboard. The nice voice would tell them exactly where to turn and when. First she laboriously typed in the crossroads where they thought the theater was located. No luck. So then she tried typing in the name of the theater. Still no luck. She scowled every time her husband suggested she try some different. He always thought she was inept at figuring out electronic things. Grrrrrrrrrr!

No the problem lay in the system…at some point in the menu it would shift to another window and a quick decision had to be made about which option to press next and it kept leading her to dead ends anyway. So she tried again. And again. And again.

All the time she struggled, he keeps driving and his foot is pressing the pedal a little harder and he doesn’t even realize it. He’s getting frustrated because she’s beginning to cuss a little. Okay, a lot, calling the instrument panel a…well, just imagine you know, ’cause you surely do if you have a little imagination. He keeps telling her to watch her language, there’s no call for that, and suggesting things she’s tried already over and over again.

All that time she’s getting madder and madder because she knows the problem is not her, the problem is the GPS that won’t let her enter what she needs to enter, dumb machine. This thing is absolutely useless, she cries out in annoyance, at just about the same time she sees him glance in the rear view mirror and hears him say “Uh Oh!” Then she hears the siren and feels the car pulling over to the road’s right, hears a frantic motorcycle cop shout, over there, I’m right in the lane of traffic here! a sitting duck to get hit!” And he was, as they were on an Interstate highway with about five lanes of traffic and cars were whizzing by. Who could possibly know where they were supposed to pull over on an interstate highway when they’d never been pulled over on a multi-laned highway before?!

When they were all finally properly positioned, over to the left of the fassssssssst lanes that were separated from the traffic going the other way by the railings, the young cop–just doing his duty–leaned in and said I pulled you over because you were going 65 mph in a 50 mph zone. At least he didn’t holler as us, she thought.

She began to see dollar signs with wings on them flying out the car window while the two men talked. Her hubby didn’t bother arguing because he knew he was as guilty as they come. He had been driving way too fast all the while he was trying to tell his wife how to program the GPS on the dash, so neither of them noticed the speed change, and how could he help it if his foot kept getting heavier and heavier? After all was said and done the nice young cop only charged them with going five miles over the limit, which was only $105! It could have been much worse.

Now this was a couple who’ve been known to drive miles out of the way just to get something they need for a couple dollars less. They were so careful with their expenses and prided themselves on how inexpensively they’ve managed to live from month to month since their retirement. They even managed to afford some nice travel and new shoes now and then, and they’d never had to go without a meal because they were so frugal. Damned movie anyhow. Because of Michael Moore they were going to have to fork over $105 just like that.

Afterward, they swallowed hard and fought their way back into traffic from the fast lane side and when they got through bickering and trying to fix the blame and she said that he had no one but himself to blame because he was driving and that meant he was the one that had to pay attention to the road signs. She was tired being blamed for everything, so there. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. After a little more back and forth insulting, they finally cooled down a little, decided to laugh about it, it was only money after all, nobody had been hurt. So there they sat, mostly in silence, while they tried to decide what to do next. Maybe they should just go back home and watch television. That would be such a letdown, though, wouldn’t it?

No! she said emphatically. We can’t go home without doing something to distract us and take the bad taste out of our mouths. In he end, they looked at the clock and decided to go on and see the movie just like they’d planned, only downtown at the other theater. It was a cinch, he said, because the movies wasted so much time on previews anyhow so it wouldn’t matter if they were late. And after that she remembered the Yellow Pages under her seat where she could quickly look up the address in the black pages, so it was decided. Who needed electronic gadgets when they had a printed book of addresses under the seat?

They parked in the garage and rushed to the theater all out of breath. He plunked the plastic down and announced two for Capitalism please. The clerk swiped the card and handed him the receipt to sign. He was scribbling fast when she–just in case–thought it a good idea to ask has the movie started yet?

The clerk checked the schedule and looked at her watch and said Yes, it’s seven minutes in.

 Into the movie? she said.
 
 You mean into the previews, right? he said.
 
 No, the movie, the clerk repeated.
 
Seven minutes! More like eight now, she thought. “I don’t want to miss the first seven minutes,” she said. Sometimes the opening minutes are crucial to the whole film. So the clerk refunded their money, and the two of them walked dejectedly back to the car. At least they were able to get the parking ticket validated, they reasoned, so they wouldn’t have to pay for parking.
 
 Back in the car, the question arose for the second or third time that day, what to do now? Go home? It still seemed like a defeat go home, especially now that they felt insult had been added to injury. Give up, admit defeat–that they weren’t meant because of who knew what conspiracy by that first theater–to see a much anticipated movie on this day? There had to be something they could do to make them feel better–get control of their lives again.
Just as they were nearing the shopping strip where the Indian store was, she suggested they stop off to see if they could find some pre-made bhatura bread and frozen unsweetened coconut so they could go home and throw themselves into making a good Indian meal. Maybe some choli with the bhatura bread and some delicious coconut chutney. That would make both of them feel better.
 
There was no bhatura to be had. Maybe next week. Ugh! How many things can go wrong in one day!  Then she saw the fresh okra in the box on the table that held new shipments. It had been pretty much impossible to find fresh okra the whole summer. Not only did they have fresh okra there, it was fairly good okra–the tips still crisp, and the pods mostly small and tender. Fried okra always made her feel good. So she bought a whole lot of it along with the coconut they wanted.
They drove home and she cooked okra for dinner while he went online and paid the department of transportation $105 so he could get it out of his mind once and for all. Afterward, they agreed never to speak of it again. First one, and then the other, would begin to giggle like children who get caught licking the spoon in the candy pot when Mama’s not looking.
 
To this day they still haven’t seen the movie. Now they figure when they do see it, and they still hope to, they will always also associate it with a $105 speeding fine attached to it, thus it will always have the distinction of being the most expensive movie they’ve ever seen. And therein lies the dig. They figure if they wait long enough it’ll come out on DVD and be available at the RedBox rental kiosk where they can pick it up for overnight for just $1, then it’ll only have cost them $106.

is it my hearing or am i being geezerly?

I’m sure that if you’re over 50, you understand what I mean when I complain about the changing speech patterns in today’s pop culture. Where are all the teachers like Miss Lamb, my music teacher in elementary school, who still teach the importance of enunciating so that people don’t misunderstand what you’re trying to say?

Like, the song in the Citi Bank commercial where the young man and woman flit about town with their Citi Bank card buying up stuff for a weekend adventure? A little romance is thrown in to grab attention by mentioning buying diamonds or something, and then the song voice-over begins. By that time the young woman has begun climbing up this impossible looking crook-nose rock formation with the young man somewhere below. (It’s an arch in the famous Arches National park in Moab, UT by the way.) Was it something about somebody mashing potatoes? Around Thanksgiving, I thought maybe she was out climbing while the cook was stuck at home cooking and telling somebody to mash the potatoes. But what did mashing potatoes have to do with climbing?

Last week I solved the mystery by googling Citi Bank tv commercials. It’s a New York musician who goes by the name of L.P. (for Laura Pergolizzi) singing Into the Wild and it is a catchy tune. The beginning lyrics that sound like mashing potatoes is really “Somebody Left The Gate Open,” and according to this website Girl on the Rocks was designed to inspire women intrigued by the sport, but intimidated by its male dominance and stereotype as “extreme;” to instruct women on technique, strength, and mental agility from a woman’s perspective; to empower women to climb harder and with more courage. Okay, I forgive Citi Bank, but couldn’t there be subtitles? So people won’t think their ears are clogged with wax?

Just for the record, I began a draft of this post a couple of days back. This morning I noticed that other, more prominent people have taken notice of the Girl on the Rocks ad. You might enjoy Jeanne Moos amusing report (click here) from this morning on CNN. You may have to endure a short commercial from esurance before the report, but it’s worth the wait. It’s gratifying to know I’m not the only one with problems hearing.

While we’re on the subject of commercials, have you seen the Nelson Mandela public service announcement airing in various incarnations over the years? I have the utmost respect for Mr. Mandela and what he stands for, but after numerous times straining to understand the message I still didn’t know what he was saying other than something about color and tolerance. Yesterday, thanks again to Google, I learned that what he is saying is this: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” It’s a very important message but I doubt everybody who sees it understands it. Again, aren’t subtitles in order? Even in the Survivor series, subtitles are often used for speech patterns that may be difficult for some to decipher. I don’t take it personally that so often it’s that of southerners.

Last but not least, Hubby and I and our inquiring minds want to know this. Those video diaries Jamie Curtiss refer to in the Activia commercials! What are they? I shudder considering the possibilities. Some things are just better left unsung.

more kilt stories that’ll never go away

Well, it was gratifying to see that kilts are still in fashion in Scotland. You can even buy one in souvenir shops like this one somewhere along Prince Street in Edinburgh. I tried to talk Hubby into getting one. It would have gone so well with the “Don’t Mess With Texas” Tee Shirt he was wearing! He refused. I guess he just wasn’t in the buying mood.

The kilt jokes probably get very old to tour guides all over the UK, but that didn’t keep ours from entertaining us with several during our early morning tour of the city. I’m sure it’s well known that every Scotsman worth his salt wears his kilt with nothing worn beneath, and the classic answer to the question being there’s nothing “worn” at all beneath the kilt, Madame. Everything is in perfect working order!

Here’s a poem about A SCOTSMAN, by that famous poet Anonymous that he recited for us:

Well, a Scotsman clad in kilt left a bar one evening fair, and
And one could tell as he walked that he’d drunk more than his share.
He fumbled around ’til he could no longer keep his feet,
And stumbled off into the grass to sleep beside the street.

About that time two young and lovely girls just happend by,
One says to the other with a twinkle in her eye:
“See yon sleeping Scotsman, so strong and handsome built?
I wonder if it’s true what they don’t wear beneath the kilt!”

They crept up on that sleeping Scotsman quiet as could be;
Lifted up his kilt about an inch so they could see.
And there, behold, for them to view beneath his Scottish skirt,
Was nothin’ more than God had graced him with upon his birth.

They marvelled for a moment, then one said: “We must be gone.
Let’s leave a present for our friend before we move along.”
As a gift they left a blue silk ribbon tied into a bow,
Around the bonnie star the Scotsman’s kilt did lift and show.

Now the Scotsman woke to nature’s call, and stumbled towards the trees.
Behind the bush he lifts his kilt, and gawks at what he sees.
And in a startled voice he says, to what’s before his eyes,
“Oh, lad I don’t know where ye been, but I see ye won first prize!”

Now that the kilt jokes have been dispatched, we can go on to more serious things in my next post about Scotland. Actually, there is a strong protocol involved in wearing kilts. I’ll talk more about that along with sharing more candid kilt pictures.