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.

photo-1444005233317-7fb24f0da789

How Not to Give Criticism

photo-1442458370899-ae20e367c5d8

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?

Things that Comfort

Because I’m a writer, I keep a list of:

Things That Comfort

That way, I can siimply throw a few comforting elements into a scene and the reader will relax along with a character, and I can bring them down from big drama in the previous scene or set them up for a big scare in the next scene.  A literary trick. Warmth from a fireplace, a sunny day, the cat lying on the heating vent.  Aaaah, We all feel relaxed and soothed.

Recently our digital version of our Oregon newspaper pointed out “the least creepy thing on the internet, lately”. So I hurried over there see if it qualified for my comfort list.

Google Sheep Views

Carmel, North Wales. Photo by Howard Hughes

Carmel, North Wales. Photo by Howard Hughes

Google Sheep View is a blog in which folks post pastoral pics of sheep. Yep.

One photo isn’t much of a relaxer, but scroll through the site of woolie after woolie and you’ll feel your blood pressure start to drop. Maybe you can even imagine yourself someplace where no one wants anything from you.

You wanna know the truth?

I met a bunch of sheep on my trek across England last year. Day after day after day. Right through their pastures. Baaaaaaaaing each morning at the whisper of dawn. Right next to my pack whenever I set it down.

Here’s the truth about these gals. Not only are they wool machines. They are crapping machines.In a defecation contest between a goose and a sheep, my money would be on the woolie. I doubt if there is a square foot of the Yorkshire dales that isn’t peppered with sheep doo (unless it’s indoors.).

This won’t bother you if you’re in a car. If you’re walking fifteen miles, then you’ve spent the last 14.9 miles looking for a place to sit down and  eat. Honest to mud, a few times we sat ourselves in somebody’s  gated front yard.

These animals chew grass at one end and spit pellets out the other end. AT THE SAME TIME.!!!  CONSTANTLY!!!

Most of the sheep are spray-painted, like you see here, because all the farmers run their animals together on the moors. And the great sheep round-up is something to behold.  Not comforting to the sheep.

There’s lots of yipping and howling (that’s the humans who are riding 3-wheelers). The dogs (3-4 of them) are quiet and running the fringes of the herd.  Thousands of sheep baaaaaaing in every note within human range.

There’re sorted by colored spots (which represent different farmers). They’re sheared, doctored, and then back to the fields they go….

Naked and happy to create more sheep pellets.

And maybe that’s the comforting part. Maybe that’s the lesson here: No matter how much hair you lose—life goes on. Keep doing the things you like: eating and crapping.

(But sheep still didn’t make my comfort list). (Creepy list coming in October)

Cuppa Fancy-Pants Dishes

High Tea by Lucas AlexanderWe had a fundraiser. A High Tea at church. I love and hate these shindigs.

First the love: 

The rule for being a hostess for a table is simple: NOTHING HAS TO MATCH. So the women who “mother” a table drag out every bit of their fancy garage-sale-finds, heirlooms, and grandma-gave-it-to-me linens.

It’s charming. It’s lovely. It’s so much work. And It makes me as nervous as a fingerless-short-armed tyrannosaurus to pass around their delicate plates which are often as translucent as paper. That’s probably how the tradition of cutting off the bread crusts got started… so the added crust-weight of a pile of cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches (who thought of this combo?) wouldn’t make a heritage plate shear into eleven pieces when it’s lifted.

The amazingly architected cups (with bone-thin saucers) hold 4.3 oz of liquid which is about two good sips. If we were drinking like we were sitting at a Starbucks, the “Table Mother” would need arms like an octopus to constantly refill cups, but according to the Tenant of Tea rules (which were secretly handed down from southern woman to southern woman, allowing a sort of snobbish superiority over uncoached Yankees, whose participation in the Boston Tea party created a sort of unlimited right to tea supping),  well tea rules dictate that a woman eats BEFORE she goes to a party. Thus she will only sip 2.4 oz of tea and nibble a quarter of a tiny scone with clotted cream.

Fortunately, this is Oregon, and the need to survive a frontier of logs, beavers, and 8 months of rain has left us with a culture that allows the delicate plates to be piled high with savories and at least 2 pots of tea grace the table: caffeinated and unleaded.

And then comes the guilt

I keep telling myself I should invest in some tea service doo-daas and help out with the serving. But I don’t possess a Martha Stewart gene. Honest to Pete, I’m too lazy. The only fancy plates I have are boxed in attic. They’re the type every Lutheran church possesses and doesn’t use anymore because we church ladies have saved soup labels and box tops and bought new sturdy stuff that fits in the dishwasher better.

So I buy tickets to the tea. I love going and nibbling at the dainties (because, of course, I’ve eaten beforehand). The admission is worth it when I think about myself handwashing/drying every saucer and cup, and then wrapping it and putting it away.

And lemon curd. I love lemon curd. So I’m glad someone organizes a tea, but now that Downtown Abbey is off the air, perhaps life will change and the work of the afternoon teas will go away?

Or perhaps not?  Because what else can be done with all those fragile dishes? Perhaps some things won’t change?

Do you have fancy-pants dishes? Do you use them?

Good-by Phone. Hello Change

Vintage Elgin Men's Wrist Watch, Sterling Silver Case, 7 Jewels Circa 1918

Do you know about the Time Lady?

“Who?” a group of young people at my discussion table asked.

“Used to be…watches had springs and they had to be wound up. Sometimes they ran fast. But usually, they ticked the seconds off slowly. If you asked a group of people what their watch showed, (of course, most people wore a watch—even kids). everyone would have a different time by a few minutes. This meant that before any important caper like blowing up the world or heisting artwork from a museum, crooks had to “sync” their watches.  But first…..somebody in the group had to call the Time Lady.

Actually, back in the 60s everybody called the Time Lady. Usually it was a free service provided by a bank or the electric company. The electronic pleasant-voiced woman would say something like…
https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisgold/6998063888/in/photolist-bEoUzW-nNDQ4N-a2derf-kPtyqt-atHcjy-gBjBLC-58VhsE-nqkTon-qvR6ht-aGwfC4-hqjzdP-6gpCvj-8xDRuT-mULqL6-55YBjW-7PBEN-7ck9RA-4SDjU3-abR5z5-5kuDUs-a9r2W8-8hBN7K-4tCww7-5EHsVx-4aZZVF-bpywGq-dpdnMa-aaoGmV-qNdN43-gBh5T9-7c4ZeM-5vo6ju-dyfX6r-8DXCH9-i7wKLF-aarCz1-6hftMB-6i7qAL-bCDodD-2TbxJY-ev5z2R-aaoQui-i7wRwj-65iQ9N-j5R14-kPB3fb-7k9Yi2-fEg7Xz-57pb1e-9tZMiJ

“The time is … four thirty-three. The temperature is sixty-three degrees.”

Sometimes lonely people called the Time Lady over and over just to hear a  voice talking to them.

“You’ve got to be kidding!” The young folks shook their heads, appalled at such a hit or miss method to organize schools, trains, and dinnertime. “Well that explains a lot,” one of the young men said. “Now, can you tell me why this weird little barbell is on my icons? What’s that supposed to represent?” Because it sure doesn’t look like a phone.

iPhone: The Home Screen, the Tantalizing Empty Row, and the Four Major Applications

Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen. Change is coming faster.

Photos: watch-Joe Haupt, woman -Chris Golderg; phone-Pleter Ouwerkerk

How To Speak Hair to Your Hairdresser

I’ve not talked with anyone else about this….

Here's my selfie.

Here’s my selfie.

but do you happen to notice the back of heads when you sit at a play or in church?

Hopefully, whatever is happening soon takes my mind off others around me.
And, I know…I know…liturgy is the work of the people. It’s as though the pastor is the director, we are the actors and God is the audience. Once a week isn’t too much to give a little thanks.

But last week…there I was…noticing the head in front of me, and the haircut I wanted to wear.

I had to resist the urge to pull out my camera phone and take a picture. It’s been made very apparent that, “I don’t speak “hair.”

In case you don’t either…here are some handy-dandy “helps” to make sure you don’t come out of the salon, wearing a headful of something that you couldn’t  wear to a late-night convenience store.

HOW To Speak HAIR to your Hairdresser

  • BRING PICTURES.

    Front. Back. Side. Whatever you can get…which means I’m stopping ladies in grocery store aisles and asking, “Can I take a picture of the back of your hair?” I usually don’t ask for the front lest they think I’m a “Creeper.” Several times, I’ve taken pictures by using the zoom on my camera of haircuts that I’ve seen at concerts and plays.

“Really?” my stylist said with a cocked eyebrow, looking at my blurred photos?  “You want something that resembles an aviator’s helmet?”

Well at least it isn’t a photo from a magazine. She broke me from bringing those to her. I thought Meryl Streep had an awesome “do” in The Devil Wears Prada.  When I brought that photo, I earned TWO arched eyebrows.

“You do understand it’ll take about 5 days to achieve this look?”

“No…” I said meekly.

“Well, it’ll take about 4 consecutive visits to lift all the color out of your hair, then one or maybe two visits to put it back in and work the style.

“Just cut it like usual.” I shrugged.

And that’s when I learned—from every stylist in the salon—what it takes to make hair look like it does in a photo shoot. Lights, chemicals, cosmetics, clothing specialists, 4-5 days of work … “And it’s probably a wig,” one of them added.

Okay, okay. So now, I only bring in pictures of real people in bad lighting.

  •  DON’T SAY, “I WANT TO BE BLONDE

    Look at hair samples. Then grip your seat as your stylist tells you that because of the color of your hair, your color-job won’t turn out like that. (Or…it’ll take about 5 days to…etc. etc.)

When the stylist says, “It’s going to turn out more like…this,” and she points to a sample shank of hair in another color family, trust him/her. Don’t hope he/she is wrong and your locks will morph into a Julia Roberts sheen if you use a little “anti-frizz” oil and Big Sexy Root pump.

Again…trust me. I’ve learned the hard way. Now if I want a red streak in my hair to advertise the Church Blood Drive, I rub a hank of my hair with a red piece of chalk.

  • DO NOT LIE TO YOUR STYLIST.

Lutheran Lady secrets

Photo by Jehane

Perhaps you’re mature enough to remember Clairol’s advertising ploy…”Only her hair dresser knows for sure”?

Well…Confess all your hair sins! Your stylist MUST know what you’ve done to your hair.  Statements like, “ I haven’t used color on my hair in a year,” won’t fly.

“Are you sure? Because it looks like it has had color,” the stylist said.

“Oh…no.” I gave a solemn headshake. “I stopped that long ago.”

And then when she put her chemical mishmash on my hair, strange and unexpected greens appeared. I wasn’t being evasive on purpose…when it comes to hair… I forget.

“Breakage” occured in the follow-up days to fix the green sheen.

It turns out that the “color molecule” stays in the hair shaft long, long, long, after the “wash and wear” promise on the box has faded.  Actually, the only way to get rid of it is to grow it out and cut it off.

I’d like to say I’m mature and responsible hair owner. (Ha.Ha.Ha.)

I’d like to say … my stylist has whipped me into shape and taught me lessons about chemical pomades, nutrition, and even drinking more water. (Snort!)

What I’d really like is for my hair to look good without any effort. (I’m lazy like that, and if you’re one of those people who shampoo and run your fingers through your hair to let it air dry, and look stunning…well…I’m happy for you…about like I’m happy for the mother in my kid’s play group who used to say, “I never have to remind my child to do her homework. She just does it.” (BLaaaagh)

Photo by Stilfehler

So for now, I sit in church and notice the back of heads.

  • The mother who didn’t have time to do her own hair because she had children to herd.
  • Girls who have braided tresses without flyaways and loose ends sticking everywhere, and what tremendous patience SOMEONE had to have to accomplish that.
  • The lady who has a big hole in her hairdo because, like me, she never looks at the back of her head.

 And then there are the ladies with no hair.

And I remember why I’m there.

Talking to the Creator of the Universe about hair is different than talking to your stylist, isn’t it?

“Thanks for giving me a head,” is about all that’s needed and puts the rest into a perspective.

From that angle…we all look good.

A Burger for Church

Woman in ApronUsed to be, any mention of fast food caused nose wrinkles among Lutheran Ladies. We’re talking about women who were taught how to cook  as soon as they could waggle a spoon in a bowl without slopping the ingredients in a two foot radius.

Of course, they were wore aprons. (Old aprons for everyday use and nice frilly aprons for fancy-dress events)

Of course they learned from older women who threw handfuls of flour into bowls. When asked how many cups a recipe needed, the white-haired ladies would shrug and tell you “Until it looks right.”

These teaching-women didn’t know if the recipe was correct until they felt the dough, or tasted it, or watched it drip off a spoon (or bounced it on the counter—which Grandma liked to do when making noodles—I’m not sure why, but it was fun. Wa-hoo!)

So you can see why the mention of a fast food burger would make one of these ladies say: “I think we can do better than that.”

And then things changed…

Barbie_McDonaldsYou can blame it on:

  • More women working
  • Families loving hamburgers more than spinach
  • Being worn ragged by figuring out what to have for dinner, going to the store, prepping it, cooking it, serving it, listening to kids complain about it, and cleaning up the whole mess, hoping to fall on the couch by 8pm.
  • Doing the whole thing again the next day
  • And the next
  • Burgers were available AND cheap!!!

Note: (the original McDonalds was a burger shack in 1940 where two brothers cooked. It went corporate in 1955 with a franchised opening by Ray Kroc who later bought the McDonald brothers out).

Every bitty town had a burger place. And you were really a big city if you had a couple of burger joints AND one was a McDonalds.

BURGERS WERE TAKING OVER THE WORLD!!!hamburger

And then…Lord bless the Roman Catholics.

(Yes, I know this is a Lutheran Blog, but if it weren’t for our Catholic buddies, we’d be buried in burgers).

They obeyed Vatican II mandates and didn’t eat meat on Friday.

So McDonalds came out with a HULA BURGER for those worshipful Friday folks. It was

  • A slice of pineapple.Hula-type burger
  • A slice of cheese.
  • On a cold bun.

YummY!

 

Soon, everybody was going to the Catholic church for the Friday Fish Fry instead of the local burger barn. At McD’s the Hula burger was discontinued in less than a year’s time and morphed into Filet-O-Fish burger.

If you’re like me, after the holidays, the remains of burgers and fish patties are still hanging around (on hip, belly, and bottom).

So…it’s time to turn to the famous Lutheran specialty….

SALADS

Jello saladOkay. Okay, we’re most famous for gelatin salads…not green, healthy salads….but that’s still a diet plan, isn’t it?

  • Just leave out the marshmallows.
  • And add pineapple. (In honor of the deceased Hula Burger)
  • Stir “Until it looks right,”
  • And be sure to wear your pretty apron.

 

 

(photos: litlnemo,Thomas, The Bees Knees)