Daily Prompt: Mistake

via Daily Prompt: Mistake

When I was in high school, we had to use slide rules, because mainstream calculators hadn’t been invented yet.   First, you had to know how to use the thing, but the worst part was trying to read the answer.  Back in those days, failure to read your slide rule correctly for the answer counted as a mistake.  I dreaded those science classes because of that damn slide rule, because inevitably, I would lose points on my tests for mistakenly reading the answer.

Back in those days in the early 70s, people did not coddle you for your mistakes.  You got points off your test, you were disciplined for your mistakes.  No one was concerned about your self esteem. You made a mistake and you paid for it in one way or another.  Now, young people are not held accountable for their mistakes.  They are not disciplined, but rather asked to explain what they learned from making their mistakes and encouraged to do better next time.  In fact, I’m not sure the “m-word” is used anymore.  Now, you have an error in your judgement, but never a mistake.  You are not held accountable for your mistakes.

I see this today in our college athletes.  They are in possession of a gun without a license, they are caught smoking dope, they took money that is prohibited, they make mistakes.  But college sports being what they are, these players are not held accountable for their mistakes.  They still play in the games, they are defended by their coaches, they are required to do extra community services.  But they don’t usually pay for their mistakes. Some will go on to play professional sports where they will make even more mistakes, sometimes very serious mistakes and when they are made to pay reparations or spend time in jail, they will whine about how unfair it is.  Why?  Because they were never held accountable for their early mistakes.  They never lost points for the mistake on a test that required you to read your slide rule correctly or fail to interpret the answer on the device of today.

While I was struggling to read my slide rule, I didn’t know there would come a day when there would not be mistakes, only “learning experiences”.








Daily Prompt: Witness

via Daily Prompt: Witness

When I hear the word “witness” I immediately think of two things – one is being witness to a crime, and the other to stand up in church and declare the difference God has made in your life. But when I apply it to myself, I realize I am a witness every day of my life.

I witness the relationships and actions among my three dogs.  How Parker will try to get everyone else’s food, how Tallulah seems to be slowing down, and how happy Lady is to have a home.  It’s a privilege to be a witness to the creatures I share my home with.

I get to witness the small acts of kindness between humans – happening much more than the news would have me believe.  The way people always smile and say “Hi” to each other.  The way that people hold the door for each other and how they rush to help each other.  In other places I’ve lived, no one noticed, but here in my little corner of the South I see it every day.  I get to witness how the woman that does my nails, goes weekly to the assisted living facility to do the nails of the residents there.  She doesn’t have to do this, but she does it from the love in her heart.  And I get to witness my art teacher, taking on the challenge of teaching art to children and adults who have physical and mental handicaps.  I get to witness these women and perhaps, because of their example become a better person myself.

And I get to witness the bad.  The harsh name calling  between former friends because they are of different political beliefs.  The terrible things that people say to one another while hiding behind the anonymity of the internet.  I am witness to the world on the evening news, that makes it a point to bring destruction and death into my home every evening.

The witnessing I do will not change the world, but it will change me.


Longing for a Time.

I haven’t been writing much lately.  I’m in one of those times when things are swirling around me and I am swirling with it.  Time is going  much too fast.  We no longer have time to think.

When I finally slowed down the other day, I realized I was missing the past.  It started with reading an article about the television show “Bewitched”.  I was about 10 when it came on and I loved it.  Who wouldn’t like to be a beautiful witch who could make things happen with the wiggle of her nose?  But, it wasn’t just the show, but a feeling of a simpler time. A time when it seemed things were less complicated.  Of course, that may be just through my child’s eye.  But I know for sure that people were not as crazed as they are now, multitasking and on the electronic leash.  Fathers came home for dinner after work.  You ate at the table with your parents, and they corrected your manners.  The family didn’t each retreat in their own world, but would be around each other at night, even if it was just to watch TV.

Then my friend Dre, who is going is going to cooking school, posted a picture of a beautiful table setting he did for his class. There were white table cloths and  linen napkins made into little Bishop Caps.  And that got me thinking about how much I used to enjoy eating out.  When you got a little dressed up for the occasion and you used your correct table manners and people actually talked to each other.  There wasn’t din, because the restaurant was decorated with noise absorbing materials.  You didn’t have to scream at each other to be heard over the din of a TV, piped in music and the sound of plates crashing landing on the table. You had conversation, not texting.  Recently, on a trip to Louisville, Kentucky, we ate at one of  these throw back restaurants, the P.Graham Café where the Hot Brown Sandwich originated.  Even for a café, it was beautifully decorated.  White tablecloths and fresh flowers and a properly set table.  (of course, we opted for the Hot Brown Sandwich and yes, it was delicious in case you are wondering).  I remember being a young wife in the 70s, and setting my table every night with cloth napkins and candles, and cared that my table looked nice.  Mind you, the food might not have been great, but the table looked wonderful.

And then there is the shopping experience (you knew there would be shopping)  Back when I first got out of school, I worked for department store..  It actually had departments where sales people worked  and knew their merchandise.  They were nice and even helpful.  If you asked if they had a something in your size, they didn’t snarl at you. If you were in the dressing room, they were there to bring you another size or even something else you might like.  And there were free alterations.   In the shoe department, there were sales people who sat down, measured your feet and then brought out boxes from which they withdrew shoes and actually placed them on your feet.  There were no stacks of boxes where you were expected to dig through yourself to see if they had your size, no sales people flinging boxes at you as they move on to the next customer.  It was relaxing (although you have worried if you might have a hole in the toe of your pantyhose, for those who remember pantyhose).

I know that people say that it a sign of getting old when you look back  and talk about how much better the past was.  But now is so filled with bad news and incivility, instant answers to everything, and instant analysis by “experts” (who are these people?)  Although we have Google to give us all the information we might ever need,  there was something to be said about stumbling  on something fascinating while cruising the card catalog at the library.  There were problems then too – Nixon, and Watergate and the war in Viet Nam, but we had Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley and Chet Huntley, who reported the news on fact, and didn’t make themselves and their opinions part of the story.  Walter Cronkite once said that he was afraid he showed too much emotion when he took his glasses off, while reporting on the moon walk.  They expected that we were intelligent enough to put it in context and analyze it ourselves and form our own opinions.

I would never give up equality for women, for the right of a woman to choose, and a woman’s right to pursue any career she was drawn to (when I was in High School, the only choices open to women  were secretary, teacher, nurse, librarian or homemaker.)   I’m as attached to my smart phone as anyone else (and it is great for winning arguments); but I am not so attached that I don’t long for conversation that isn’t a text.  But if we could recapture  some civility and graciousness, I think it would be an improvement.

Until next time, Elsie

What is in a name?

My name is Elsie.  I’ll spell it for you – E L S I E.  5 simple letters.  So why is it that so many people get it wrong?  I spell it for them all the time, only to have them still call me ELISE, and misspell it – Elyse, Elsi, L.C., Elise… you get the idea.  I always try to be subtle in my corrections – “um, it’s is actually Elsie, not Elise”, and they will apologize and then mispronounce it again.  Who are the “they” – just about everyone – Doctors, their nurses, people in retail stores (usually when I am cashing out and they have my credit card right in their hand with my name spelled out correctly), and most of the people that meet me.  I say it correctly, and they repeat it incorrectly.  Even Starbucks can’t get it right.

My last drivers license had my name misspelled due to a slip of fingers on the part of the  DMV.   So when I renewed my license, I politely asked if they could correct it.  Oh no, now that it is spelled incorrectly, they can’t make the correction unless I bring in my birth certificate.  Which of course, perpetuates that myth that my name is Elise, because everyone knows that the name on your driver’s license is correct. And it creates problems for me if someone wants to see both my driver’s license  and my credit card at the same time, because they aren’t the same.  Of course, my credit cards are correct, because I make sure I spell my name correctly and the card comes out with the name that I provide.  But it has led to a lot of  frustrating conversations that I didn’t want to have, with people that I don’t feel like explaining it to.

I was named for my paternal grandmother – Elsie T. Lawrence Shubert. No doubt in her childhood, Elsie’s abounded.  That was not the case when I was a child. And it was against the wishes of my mother, but it seems that my father had already told his mother that I would be named for her, and we know how that goes.  In my classes, there were multiple Debbies, Lindas, and Pattys.   My name made me a target, because at that time Borden’s Dairy had a cow for a mascot.. named Elsie… so I became “Elsie the cow” in the way that only kids can be cruel.  I hated it.  Later, when I hit high school, I wished that my name was something more exotic, like Elza (the lioness), but no, I was Elsie and the teachers called me Elise too.  As I became an adult, I liked it better because in my career, I became on of those singular name people, since there just aren’t a lot of Elsie’s hanging about, and especially not under the age of 80 or so.

Sometimes I think I should just legally change my name to Elise and be done with it.  Much easier than constantly correcting people, knowing that they will just mess up again.  I do answer to both names and in recent years, I sometimes don’t bother to correct them.  It’s really their problem, not mine.  I know who I am.  But then I will call somewhere to make an appointment and I’m back to “E-L-S-I-E”, knowing that by the time I get there, it will be Elise.  Hope dies slowly.

Until next time, Elsie, “E-L-S-I-E”

Coupons, Reward Points, Cash Back, oh MY!

I’m going broke saving money.  I shop quite a bit at Chicos.  Apparently I am on their hot list, because I get tons of coupons from them – $25 off of $100; $50 off of $150.  I no more use one and I get three more.  This is in addition to the fact that there is always some sort of discount going on – buy one, get half off the second, 40% off pants this week, 35% off tops next week. Accessories 50% off.  All designed to encourage me to  buy things that I don’t need, because the deal is too good to pass up.

Nordstrom and Talbots go a different way.  They give “reward points” on purchases and when I have spent $500, I get a discount.  I don’t shop too often at Nordstrom anymore, since they declined to build one in Alabama.I still get a catalog sometimes, but it appears that I am no longer in their targeted demographic.  Teenagers and beautiful young woman are shown, and their lives look a whole lot more interesting than mine.  If I wore some of the urban chic, people here would think it “weird” and others – torn jeans and shredded hem shirts – well, let just say there must be a lot of hidden Nordstrom buyers here.  For all I know, Nordstrom is buying these clothes here, marking them up and selling them as fashion to unsuspecting urbanites.

Then there is the cash back.  Costco gives me cash back once a year – some tiny percentage of the amount that I spend. It is usually enough to cover one conservative shopping trip.  Of course the rewards  check can only be spent at Costco.     Citi Bank gives me cash back once a year too.  Thanks to their relationship with Costco, the cash back can only be used at Costco too, but if I insist on cash, they will mail me another check in a few months.   Now that my MasterCard has been “upgraded” to Visa, I get cash back there too.  It can only be applied to my bill.  So in the end, they get all the money back.  But when I am able to apply that $4 to my bill, I feel like I am getting something.

The thing is, they long ago figured out that people want a deal.  $25 if I spend $100, but the truth is, I  didn’t need a $100 worth of stuff.  I  really only needed what  I went in to buy that was priced at $89, and nothing costs $11 to make up the rest.  So the next thing, is that I am going to end up spending another $69 to save $25.

I was just reading that Amazon is slowly discontinuing the illusion that you are getting a great deal – not out of the goodness of their hearts, but because of the threat of legal action.  For example, an expresso machine that they claimed was priced at $800 by the manufacturer, and were selling for $500.  Except you could buy it from the manufacturer for $500 too.  So the deal you thought you were getting, you really weren’t.

One thing I notice is that men don’t get sent coupons or get offered rewards cards.  I guess this is because men (as they claim) only go into stores to get something they need.  And if it happens to be on sale, that is great.  But they will buy it nonetheless. I guess the real lure for men is the gift card – and then get many, because what the heck else do you buy men – they already have everything they want or need.  But based on personal observation, men will always find something else that they “might could use” when they have a gift card.

At my elbow this moment, I have 3 coupons for savings at 3 different stores I like to shop.  Of course, it is all for Fall merchandise that I will not be able to wear for months – companies don’t seem to care that it is still 95 degrees and I won’t be able to wear warmer stuff for another two and a half months.  But, if I don’t buy it now, it won’t be there when I need it.  I just bought a cashmere sweater and leggings, a pair of shoes and a new purse at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. These will no doubt, earn me more Fashion rewards coupons…

Until next time, Elsie.








Final Thoughts on the death of a Beloved Dog

By now, all of my friends know the details of my dog Browning’s death.  I am so grateful for my friends, as I repeated the details, partly in shock and partly to try to make sense of what happened, for taking the time to listen..  I didn’t talk much about what a privilege it was to be with him those last few minutes of his life. It was a very peaceful transition with his physical body, probably because his spirit had already left.

For the past few days, I have been pondering what lessons Browning taught me.  This is a dog who some days drove me insane and some days danced with me and gave me doggy kisses.  Such make up a lifetime.  So here are Browning’s lessons:

  1. Make sure you are seen – give them your most enchanting look, get up on your feet so they can truly appreciate your magnificence.  Let them admire you, talk to you, pet your head.  After all, they may be hiding some delicious treat that they will feel compelled to share.
  2. When something smells good in the kitchen, hang out there.  Good things come out of the kitchen, and you never know when something might hit the floor.
  3. Never turn down a trip anywhere.  You never know when there may be a stop at a drive thu or a cookie from Starbucks or a bagel from Panera.  Don’t let them forget the cream cheese.  And remind them that Starbucks has free puppachinos.
  4. Claim your seat in the car and let everyone know that it is your seat.  A few deep growls will make your point.
  5. If you get bored, find the newspaper and toss it all over the yard.  They will always notice when you do this, and when they come out, mad as hell at you, there will be a measure of the excitement you crave.  Dance around them as they pick it up – or better yet, get a bark and growl going with sections of the paper when they go to pick it up.
  6. When you see a cat in your path, go up and give it a nudge with your nose.  Cats do not like this and will try to swat your nose, but you can always jump back and laugh at them.  Cats have no sense of humor.
  7. When you want something, and no one is paying attention, be as annoying as you possibly can.  Whine, bark, jump up and down until you get it.
  8. Don’t ride in cargo vans.  There is no good place to sit and it might be a mighty long trip.
  9. While it might seem a good idea when you are young, don’t give in to the temptation of eating slippers, shoes, hearing aids and eyeglasses.  This will immediately result in a trip to the vet and you do not want to go there.
  10. Speaking of vets, when you have to go, make sure they understand that this isn’t your idea.  Resist going into one of those little rooms, where they stick things up your butt and jab you with needles.  Most of all, keep your eye on the exit and if you can, your paw on the door handle.
  11. Be skeptical of all new endeavors and proceed with caution.
  12. Listen to the weather forecasts and go into the bathroom with a tub if “severe” anything is mentioned.  In bad weather, it is every dog for himself, and having claimed your spot, any other dogs will have to work around you.
  13. You are entitled to your share of the bed, no matter what your humans say.  They will find a way to accommodate you, if you refuse to move.  When dealing with other dogs, always claim the most comfortable bed being offered.
  14. Be a part of any endeavor in your home.  Follow service people around and get in the way as much as possible.  Let them know you are on it.
  15. Take a swim, especially if you are getting in the car soon.
  16. As you get older, and you will get older, be less dependent on your looks and more dependent on your charm.
  17. Under no circumstances, do not do tricks without a treat in sight.
  18. And finally, be friendly  -the world really is made up of friends you just haven’t met yet.

And these are the final words from Browning. Browningawaitingdinner

There is a GoFundMe account for Browning’s Memorial Fund.  All proceeds will go the Lake Martin Humane Shelter, so other dogs and cats might find loving homes too.  I plan to present the check on October 5th, which would have been Browning’s 14th birthday.