How to Lie and Spy

Lutheran Lady secretsI wish I were a better liar.

Dallas Cowboy Fan will ask, checking the fridge for a late night snack. “Hey who ate the last of the ice cream?”

“Uh… the cat?” It’s the first thing that comes to mind since I blame the cat for everything.

I’ve often thought that I need to work on my lying skills. I suppose that “lying’ is a sad thing ,but it would be handy to have a quick comeback for the neighbor who’s always asking how much I paid for something.

I’ve come across some research about women spies during the Civil War, and wondered how they pulled off their lies.

Already, I’ve learned a lot from Belle Boyd, a seventeen-year-old Southern belle who

Belle Boyd (wiki)

Belle Boyd (wiki)

stumbled into her espionage career when Union soldiers tromped into her West Virginia home. The men insulted her mama, so she pulled out a gun, shot, and killed one the bluebellies. Then she charmed the soldiers who were keeping sentry over her, was exonerated, and ended up marrying the captain of the  unit. This put her in the perfect position to hide in closets and listen to her hubby’s conversations with  fellow officers.

The young, sneaky vixen wrote down their loose-lipped war secrets, pressed the paper into a hollowed-out watch, and sent her maid scurrying past enemy lines to the Confederates.

(NOTE TO SELF: This is what it takes to be a good liar: an accomplice and an ordinary item with a secret hidey-hole in it.)

Then there was Rose O’Neal Greenhow who ran a boarding house in the nation’s capital. She made connections with presidents, generals, and military officers, and then passed whatever information she gleaned to pro-Confederate members of Congress.

It was Allen Pinkerton, head of the Secret Service,  who finally caught her and her 26-symbol cypher for encoding messages. Even confined to her house, she allegedly continued to send messages using  the position of her blinds or the number of candles in her window.

(NOTE TO SELF: Work out a code system.  BLAH!!! Already this is starting to sound like too much work. I can’t even keep track of sticky notes.)

She was arrested and released several times, finally running the blockade and escaping to London where she wrote her spy memoirs which sold like hotcakes among the Brits.

(NOTE TO SELF: Stop writing books about Lutheran Ladies. Become a Lutheran spy, then write a book about being a spy.)

A few years later when she sneaked back into the U.S., her boat was chased by a Union gunboat. It capsized and she drowned at Cape Fear. She might’ve survived, but she’d sewn the royalties from her books ($2,000 worth of gold) into her undergarments. Down she went.

(NOTE TO SELF: Do not use underpants to hide secret loot.!!!! )

So in honor of “change”, I’m learning a new skill. I’m practicing lying, cyphering, and hiding stuff, by using several secret hidey holes to stash my important treasures: chocolate, mad-money,and postage stamps [because everybody raids my stamps when they want to mail something]. Unfortunately, I’ve run into a few glitches.

I forget which place I’ve stashed what. I write myself notes, but then misplace the notes among the million pieces of paper on my desk.

At this point,  I’m not sure if I”m simply hiding stuff from myself, or if Dallas Cowboy Fan has actually found my stash and is lying about it.

It was easier when I just blamed the cat.

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How Not to Give Criticism

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I’ll get to the point, just wait a minute.

Okay…no matter how old I get…I still keep learning something. Whether I want to or not.

I needed to hand out criticism to a committee member. What I would like to use is the kick-butt approach:It goes like this: ” For the love of St. Pete, we’re talking about the book fundraiser, Lulu. After the meeting is over, we can talk about  your achy knee and  strange-mole problem and all the books you’ve used to diagnosis yourself..”

I’ve used this kick-butt technique a couple of times. I felt kind of skunky afterward..  But no one was insulted enough to volunteer to take over chairing the meeting, which would’ve been a nice side benefit to offset the skunky feeling..

So I switched to the ol’ interrupt-and-refocus technique.

“LuLu what in blithereens does your topic have to do with what we’re talking about— which at the moment, is the BOOK FUNDRAISER?”

Again I feel skunky for such a shut-up-and-get-with-the-topic approach. But that quickly goes away because LuLu can relate anything to the latest topic. She simply says (quite officiously) “Well, just wait…I’m getting to that.”

Five minutes and four doctor visits later, she finally reports that she has books that didn’t help at all and she’s going to put them in the book-fundraiser…if we ever get one planned.

So finally I used the OREO technique. (A suggestion for improvement is sandwiched between a couple of compliments)

“Lulu, wow that sounds like you’ve really done a lot of thorough research into in-grown toenail problems. How about you  hold those thoughts until we finish talking about the fundraiser,then we can hear your amazing information after the meeting.”

Mother Mary, Joseph, and all the baby donkeys!!!! It worked. WhooHoo. (and no skunky feeling)

There’s only one catch. I have to hang around after the meeting and listen to the FULL info dump on toenails.

I learned more than I ever wanted to know. But I figure someday it’ll be me, blathering on about the ridges in my fingernails or accidental  farts or how I don’t sleep well during a full moon.

Someday I may be lonely and the only way I know how to relieve my desperate ache is to join committees so I can be with people and hijack  conversations so I can talk about myself.

I hope they know the OREO Technique.

By Ismael Nieto

By Ismael Nieto

Have you ever dealt with a conversation hijacker?

How to Get Women Working

Lutheran Ladies Circle: Thanks for Leaving…Book 3 has launched.

I know I should talk about it, but hold on for just a moment,  I really want to discuss the woman in this picture. Taken in 1942 It’s called “Girl in a Bubble.”( Photographer, Alfred Palmer, War Information Office )
It was going to be the cover of Thanks for Leaving, but it ran into a few snaggles.

Beta/Focus/and Critique groups said, “We like it. What the heck is she doing?”

WE’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY.

This WWII photo was a carefully crafted propaganda shot to encourage women to leave their approved place (the home), and go to the factories.
Note:
• the carefully displayed wedding ring. (Message: Men, let your wives work).
• the lipstick and manicured nails. (A woman could work and not lose any of her daintiness. As a matter of fact, many factories had charm classes).
• Stylish head covering and colorful uniform. (Many women objected to covering their curls.)
By 1945, 6 million women had entered the workforce for the first time to build planes, bombs, ships and ammo. Which is phenomenal when you consider most women had never even worn slacks. For better or worse, it changed women’s roles forever.
Sixty-eight years ago, everyone would’ve known this woman was working on the nose cone of a B17.
Today, most viewers  thought she was working on a spaceship.

I think that’s a blessing.

Many words like: blackout, plane spotter, loose lips, meatless Tuesdays, and rationing aren’t part of our daily conversation anymore.

Book Three

Book Three

And women continue to work, to support, and to grow in wisdom because of all those gals ( our foremothers) “did what they had to do.”

But that’s another story—a funny and touching one—with a different cover.

You can read about it at Lutheran Ladies Circle/Books.

Did women working or serving in WWII change your family’s story?

The Lutheran Ladies: Out of the Church and Into the Front Yard

You know these women. You work with these women.

The Lutheran Ladies’ journeys continue. Now they’re out of the church and setting up shop in the front yard. They aren’t afraid to tell you:

  • Your shirt doesn’t go with your pants.
  • Your casserole needs more seasoning
  • You’re dating the wrong man.

Join them as they travel….

ThroughKnothole_CVR_SmashwordsThrough the Knothole
(in the Lutheran Ladies’ Series)
Book 2

Length: 60,000 words

Kay McCabe is about to lose her house. As a single mom, it’s taken her years to create a safe, cozy home. But when two old Lutheran women need a place to stay, she’s pretty sure she’s about to lose even more.

When Kay’s job falls off an economic cliff, her knee-jerk solutions of renting rooms to the Lutherans and working in a bar, plug up life even more. Now she’s stuck in a new job she hates. Exhausted, she comes home to a couple of comical old church women who barely restrain their opinions, especially about her romantic interest. It’s like living with her mother again—actually two mothers.

She’s lost her privacy. Lost her humor. Lost her faith in others. And God isn’t answering his email.

Now Kay must decide: to try to get life back to normal—or squeeze through a knothole toward the new and unknown.

AVAILABLE NOW IN PAPER AND E-BOOK
Paper ($8.49) or Electronic($3.99):

Get Your Favorite Version Here:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
SmashwordsApple…it takes longer to get to the sales shelf on Apple. Sorry.  Email me here, and I’ll notify you when Apple has Through the Knothole ready.

Laugh, Enjoy. And Tell Others…because you know someone just like these women.

One is looking for normal
One is a charming nutcase
One is Manager-in-Training-for-the-Universe

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

Secret Back rooms and Church Keys

The Brothers kept the secret to good brews under lock and key

Book research takes me to little-seen backrooms. That’s how I recently came to be in the dark cooler (which was formerly a bank vault) of our lovely local restaurant.

I was learning how to tap a keg.

My protagonist needs to know these things. Being good Lutherans, we take full advantage of our German ancestry. We like beer. I’m not talking about ditch-crawling drunk or as obnoxious as a fanatic at a tailgate party. Just a smooth brew

to go with brats and kraut.

And you, my treasured friends, will learn the secret to correctly launch your beer.

  1. Formerly, you needed a church key. So called because of its resemblance to…well…the old ornate keys monks carried to the brewery in the cellar.
  2. The shape changed because canned beer was invented. You had to punch two sharp holes in a can to get your beer out.
  3. Now days, twist caps and pop tops are universal among brewing companies, thus making the “church key” go the way of the typewriter and VCRs. (Save them, they’ll be worth something someday…to your great, great grandkids who won’t know what they are.)
  4. Unscrew the cap and pour into a tilted glass to control the head (unless it’s a stout—which requires a 2 step pour, and is too much work for me.)

Smiley

KeyPhoto by OrangeSmell; Video: Michelle Allves

How To Stop A JawFlapper

My Roman Catholic friend jokes that:

“…when church is over—people burn rubber getting out of the parking lot.”

Lutherans would do this too if we didn’t talk so slowly. By the time we’ve mulled what we

I like mice like the ones at: All Saints Allesley. Each pew is carved by Robert Thompson of Kilburn North Yorkshire and has a little mouse carved on it somewhere.

truly wanted to say through 15 filters—so it’s not offensive, flamboyant, or overly pigheaded—it’s lunchtime and we’re ready to get in our cars and forget about it until the next time we meet.

Except for me….

My family says it takes a good 20 minutes for me to get from the pew to the car because I talk to everybody—even the church mice. Well…I’ve got stories to collect and another book to write…but if you truly want to escape…then….

How To End a Conversation

For the love of silence, Kris. Give it a rest.!

Here are some tips for ending a conversation with me or someone like me who’s flapping their jaws.

 STRATEGY 1: Make a positive ending comment.  This is the UNIVERSAL signal for wrapping up.

  • DOs:    “I’m glad we talked.”
  •             “You’ve given me some things to think about.”
  •             “I enjoyed our conversation.”
  • DON’Ts: “Kris…isn’t that your husband…driving out of the parking lot?

 STRATEGY 2: Review and Plan.  Again, this is another signal indicating you’ve heard the person and the conversation has come to a close.

  • DO:    “Thanks for letting me know the details. (The review of the conversation).  “I’ll get back to you and let you know.” (The plan.)
  • DON’T:  “Kris!!! My eyes are rolling in the sockets with all these details. (The Review). Just e-mail me (so I can delete it as soon as I get it.)” (The Plan)

STRATEGY 3:  The Excuse AND Reason.

You’re allegedly ending the conversation NOT because the other person is making your brain  go to sleep and you want to run away, pulling at your ears and screaming, but because you have something else that MUST be done.

The excuse and reason must be used together...as you see in this bad example.

  • POOR EXAMPLE:  ”Hi…can’t talk. Gotta go.”

This response doesn’t work as my kiddos will attest. Without an excuse, it makes the other person feel unimportant. (And adding a wave, while walking away doesn’t make it any better…are you kids listening?)

  • BETTER EXAMPLE: “Sorry, Kris. Gotta go. I’m late for a meeting.”

HINT:  If you’re using the Excuse Strategy, at least make your reasons believable.

  • “I’ve got to wash the chickens.”
  •  “Clean out the fridge before the milk expires.”  or
  • “I’m late for a meeting that we didn’t invite you to.”

Are not acceptable excuses. Put on your thinking cap or another mouth filter.

So…there you have it!!

BONUS TIP:

Of course, the best time to escape is when there’s a lull in the conversation; but if you’re visiting with someone like me, who can talk as I breathe both in and out, you’ll have to interrupt. I know …I know….you hate to do it.  But believe me, it’s quite helpful. I appreciate it every time I’m interrupted with:

“Sorry, Barb. I’ve got to let you go.  Your husband is driving out of the parking lot.” Smiley

PhotoCredits
amadabslater, :Mollypop, Thirdculturejb