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.

What Should Be in a Church Restroom?

All the lambs have needs

All the lambs have needs

You’d think church restrooms would be a no brainer. I mean all you need is a plumbed porcelain seat and a sink. And both of them should function properly.

But honestly, I’ve been visiting a number of churches of different denominations lately (what with Holy Week, meetings, and presentations), and let me tell you… I think Lutherans could beef up their bathrooms a bit and be in the running for “The Best Place to Hide Out if You Want to Avoid ‘Sharing of the Peace.’”

For those of you who don’t know about “Sharing of the Peace” it’s a custom in which a person turns to the person next to them, extends their hand and says, “Peace be with you.” It occurs after the sermon and blessing, and then congregants are encouraged to share the peace with one another.

That’s when all chaos breaks out for Lutherans. For years we’ve been taught to sit quietly in our pews, chairs, or whatever sitting device is being used. No waving of the hands, or shouting random “Amens”, and sermons are rarely interactive.

But things have changed. At first, folks were reticent, but they’d been sitting a while, listening to a sermon and speaking the liturgical script, so they were ready to stretch their legs a bit and whisper a shy, “God bless you to their neighbor.” But now…like many changes…we start wearing it like we thought of it. At the mention of “Share the peace,” folks jump out of their seats, grab hands and start pumping them, adding a blessing. Borders are crossed. People who have sat in one section of the church all their lives take a tour through other sections. The choir makes a break from their music stands.

If it’s cold and flu season, we’ve been instructed not to share our germs, but many “Peace-givers” cheat by bumping fists and even rubbing elbows. My Lutheran ancestors would be wide-eyed with shock.

As you can imagine, there are some who don’t care for the practice, but they’ve found it’s a great time to make a bathroom exit.  (After all, sometimes the sermons are long, and we’ve just had 2 cups of strong, Lutheran coffee).

You thought I’d forgotten about the topic, hadn’t you?

For Your Restroom Beautification Pleasure…here’s your checklist…

  • Good smelling soap (Well, of course, this is a committee smell-test project)
  • Hand Lotion (Not the stuff that didn’t sell at the church rummage sale)
  • Hygiene products for our soft parts
  • A plunger (Nothing’s more embarrassing than trying to find someone to tell about the toilet that’s overflowing).
  • A box of tissues (Make that two boxes. The restroom is a favorite crying spot.)
  • A step stool for our “little soon-to-be-women”
  • A couple of tasteful wall decorations. (One holy and one non-liturgical to appeal to both members and visitors.)
  • And for St. Peter’s sake, put the trash can next to the door!! We use the same paper towel to dry our hands AND grab the door handle. Don’t make us heave the towel across the bathroom as we exit.

I recently had the chance to use the Award-winning “Best Bathroom” in Vancouver, British Columbia. (I’m not kidding…there was a contest.)

I submitted these pictures to our church property committee, hoping they’d make structural changes in our old restrooms.

A two-seater in the same stall. Because women like to go to the bathroom at the same time.

A two-seater in the same stall. Because women like to go to the bathroom at the same time.

The door is appropriately marked

The door is appropriately marked

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re still laughing.

Any more bathroom recommendations?

Fancy-Toilet.1

Advertisements appear in the mirror. Who needs a newsletter? Just go to the restroom and check the mirror.

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?

Before You Die: Regrets of the Dying

LutheranLadies.comAn interesting list appeared while I was doing research for the next Lutheran Ladies Circle novel. It comes from a palliative nurse, Bronnie Ware, as she worked with folks who were catching the bus to the next world.

It was a LIST OF REGRETS OF THE DYING

That makes sense.  Death doesn’t wait until we’ve watered the plants, put the mail on vacation-hold, and paid all the bills. It comes, when it’s time. And it’s not necessarily synced with our personal schedule.

Some Regrets of the Dying…

*)” I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
This was one of the top regrets, and easy to see why.  We worry about what others will think of us and then we make decisions based on fear of their judgement.   Later….we ask ourselves, “Why did I do that?” or promise, “I’ll be smarter next time.”  And sometimes we are…if we don’t run out of time.

*)” I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
Most  folks don’t say, “I wish I would’ve done more laundry and washed more dishes.” However, constant work would NOT have been my ol’ German grandpa ‘s regret. He was a hard-driving man. Every moment (besides sleeping and eating) had to be spent productively.   He said it kept away his fear of being hungry. I suppose, not every person has the same regrets. Granddad was certainly an exception to this one. At a very old age, he  toppled to a stop  while pitching hay  onto a wagon.  His heart thumped to a halt a few moments afterward and I bet his last thought was,” I wish I could’ve finished getting the hay in.”

*) “Why didn’t I stay in touch with my friends?”
We let go of friends for so many easy reasons.  Our interests don’t run in the same circles anymore. Our politics don’t match. Our personalities don’t match.  We get busy. Soon friends (and sometimes relatives) are relegated to the Once-A-Year Christmas card.   And then the end nears, and the ghosts of those old forgotten relationships haunt the heart.

*) “I wish I’d let myself be happier.”
Hindsight  is twenty/twenty they say.  How many times have worries curled around my feet like a slinking black cat, tripping me—only to end up never happening and thus wasting uncounted hours of cursing the cat?

When standing at the end and looking back…

  • It’s easier to see the line-up of catastrophes that never appeared
  • Or how life seemed to work out, even when problems fell.
  • And then there are even more regrets for wasting that time and encouraging early-appearing  white hairs.

My research was to gain insight into a outspoken character, Aunt Ula, who takes off on a wild trip, gathering  the pieces of her past. But as I read the list, I found myself making new rules for my own life.

REGRET  can be a strong motivation for CHANGE.

There’s a joke that goes: How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: We don’t know.  We don’t like change.

Perhaps it’s the same for Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Baptists and others. But hope still beckons. Sunrises, kindnesses…even the cute but irritating cat are reminders not to allow the past to dictate NOW.  We remember that we live in a state of forgiven grace—warts and all. We make adjustments and move forward.

Because even in the last twilight of life, we’re all still moving forward.

Twilight near dresdenNote:  OKAY, Okay. I received you emails. I turned the comments back on. It’s just that I know I can’t always get back to reply to every comment. But some of you emailed me. Your admonitions made me snort root beer out my nose at the predicament I put all of you in by tethering your talk-back . I’m sorry. Please don’t take offense if I don’t reply to every comment.

Oh…never mind. You can be as offended as you want. I’m changing so I can avoid Regret #1 above.  “Stop worrying what other people will think.”
AND…..Regret #3:  Losing touch with friends.

Let ‘er rip. Tater chips. Comment to your heart’s content. I’ve missed you.

AND….please, please come back and check the progress bar at the top, right-hand side. I’m sequestered at the keyboard this month knocking out the initial draft of Book 3 in 30 days. (National Write A Novel Month). I could use your support or a swift kick in the patoot every now and then. Thanks.

(List source: The Top Five Regrets of Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed,  Photos: clock-Marsmet546  , man-Shanoor Habib, cat-Doug88888, Sunset-Wikipedia )

Dishwasher Wars

Unwashed dishes in a sink; an authentic situation.

Load according to whose side you’re on

If you volunteered for clean-up at the church Fall Festival, then you
need to choose a side in the dishwasher wars about:

 WHAT NOT TO PUT IN THE DISHWASHER

It’s the church women who ignore the list of No-Nos on the
wall over the machine. Years of dipping their hands in hot water and grease-eating
sulfates have hardened their kitchen-warrior attitudes.

 Vera says:  “If a dish won’t stand up to a good scalding, then it hasn’t earned a spot at a potluck dinner.”

 That’s not meant to be harsh. It was actually the men who put up the list. They frequently try to explain how the washer works….

WALT: “Now, look here. Most dishes can’t stand the heat.  This machine gets so hot, you could wrap salmon filets in foil, run ‘em through a couple of cycles, and they’d be cooked. Completely cooked!”

 VERA: “Oh good grief. That sounds like something you’d do.
You must have stock in the detergent company if you want us to hand wash
everything.”

 The men’s list of “Taboo Items” include:

  • Wooden Stuff
  • Plastic stuff
  • Fancy stuff/Crystal/chinaware

 There’s more, but The Ladies have
crossed them off the list (even though they ignore the list).

  •  *Cast iron skillets
  • *Insulated travel mugs
  • *Teflon

 VERA: “What kind of an idiot would put a cast iron skillet in a dishwasher? It’d turn it into a rusty doorstop. Not even you would do that, Walt.”

 WALT: “Nope. I never wash any of my cookware.”

 VERA: “I have no doubt.”

 So the kitchen debate continues with each event. It makes for interesting clean up.

 In the spirit of controversy some joker has added a few “Allowed” items on the list.

OKAY TO WASH ON TOP
RACK

  • *Toothbrushes
  • *Baseball hats

 The Ladies haven’t marked off these items. Vera says…
“JUST PUT ANYTHING BUT A PRICELESS ANTIQUE IN THE DISHWASHER AND FORGET ABOUT IT.”

 After all, the dishwasher was invented by a woman who got tired of the servants chipping her fine china.

A hand crank dishwasher.

 Josephine Cochrane is said to

An electric dishwasher. Both were in use in 1917

have exclaimed, “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine,
I’ll do it myself!”

 In 1886 she created a
motorized washer. Her company is now part of Kitchen Aid.

 I don’t know if Ms. Cochrane was Lutheran, but I bet if she were here…

she’d ignore “The Not Allowed List” too.