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?

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?

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)