No more vacations for the Calverts

The Calverts took a vacation, once. They do not want another.
Bobby and Paula Calvert left southern Arkansas and went to upstate New York with their special needs daughter Kelly to visit their married daughter and her children. The two weeks lasted five days. Then Kelly became ill, dehydrated and nearly died before she reached the hospital where she stayed for 15 days.
Kelly had a bed. Her parents searched in vain for visitor comforts: No chairs, bathrooms or vending machines.
Looking back Paula says, “I have to believe, it all happened because there were to be two people in the hospital room that needed me.”
First, Paula watched a nurse begin placing a back brace up-side-down on a child after her back surgery. From years of observing others during Kelly’s many trips to Shriners Hospital in Shreveport, La. Paula had to speak.
“I can’t let you do this. You are putting it on upside down.’”
The nurse did not see the difference and started to continue.
“You need to get the person who made it to come up here,” Paula insisted. She figured to herself, “if I am wrong, no harm, but if I am right, we had avoided harm.”
She was right. The child went home wearing the brace correctly.
A couple days before Kelly left, another girl entered with severe appendicitis. One of eight children, all born at home, it was the first hospitalization for the family. The child’s appendix was about to rupture. The intern came with all the papers the mother needed to sign. The mother read the possible side effects to anaesthesia, “She can die?! I am not going to sign that.”
The intern slapped the papers down on the night stand, “Whenever you get ready, I’ll be back” and he walked out.
“I had had seen Kelly through 47 operations. I had to do something. I prayed, ‘Okay, God, I’ll do this,’” Paula said.
Paula went to the mother, “I know how you are feeling. My daughter has had 47 surgeries. Sometimes we just have to know all the bad that could happen. But mostly what happens is good and is necessary. It’s like going down a stairs. There is always the possibility something could happen. Usually it doesn’t, and we know we are going to go up and down the stairs.”
“Chances are everything will go perfect in the operation. The one thing we know is that if the appendix ruptures, she will die. Or they can take out the appendix with a slight possibility of danger of danger from anesthesia.”
“I think I talked with her for 30 minutes. Finally, the mother said, “so if it was your child, you would sign, … oh stupid question,” the mother stopped.
“I would have signed it an hour ago,” Paula assured her.
The mother signed. Paula took the paperwork to the intern and slapped it on the counter in front of him, “Your patient is ready for surgery.”
Later she took the intern aside and explained how he should have handled the situation.
Looking back, Paul says, “I believe Kelly had to go through all that for those two girls.”
“Most people would say, ‘It is not my business. They would have chosen to not get involved. I can’t not get involved, no matter what they think of me. No one else came to talk with the mother. If I had not been willing to get involved, she would have died.”
Even with that perspective of the time, Paula still says, “We don’t volunteer for vacations.”

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Kelly’s story

Kelly made her appearance with seven birth defects all related to spina bifida and quickly left for Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Within five weeks, she had nine surgeries
At times the infant fussed and cried. Not from the surgeries. No, she wanted her bassinet near the nurse’s station. “She loves to watch us talk on the phone,” the nurse told her mother.
“By the time she was 3, she had had 20 surgeries and Shriner’s Hospital in Shreveport, La. became Kelly’s second home. “She just loved that place,” her mother reported. She made friends with everyone. She found humor in everything. The staff even asked to keep her an extra day or two to keep up another child’s spirits. She would pray with children before their surgery, saying, ‘Thank you Jesus, you are going to make them well. Thank you they are going to breathe in a bag.’ And proceeded to list the whole process. By the time she finished, the child was ready for surgery. Everybody would sleep better that night for her having prayed,” her mother said.
“That was when she was three, four, five years old. She had a great faith. She had much to be thankful for. She made a profession of faith at eight and was baptized in the baptistery while in her wheelchair.”
At five, she had surgery to enable her to wear reciprocal walking braces. Following surgery, she arrived at her special education classroom in her wheelchair and wearing a body cast from chest to ankles.
Kelly never wore the braces. A young classmate, not understanding the danger, tipped her wheelchair. Kelly landed on the ground, damaging her ankles irreparably.
She developed an infection that put her in the isolation ward next to the nurse’s station at Shriner’s. Only able to see the nurse, she again cued into the nurse’s activities. Each morning Kelly reported to the doctor the details of the night: which child was up, who had called and who needed extra medicine. The doctor dubbed Kelly, ‘Barbara Walters’ because she gave such a complete breakdown of the news of the night in correct chronological order.
“The doctor loved to be entertained by his hospital newscaster,” her mother recalled.
Loved at the hospital, bullied at school.
“Students repeatedly emptied classroom pencil sharpeners into her backpack with her books and supplies. She would come home with her face, hands and clothes blackened. It took us hours to clean her books. We had to replace the backpack and supplies and completely scrub down her wheelchair. She never knew who did it and did not want us to pursue it. I was hurt to the core and angry that no friends or teachers tried to find out why she was covered in black, but Kelly chose to be forgiving,” her mom said.
She persisted, finished high school with a basic diploma and tried a couple classes at the Community College before staying at home with the assistance of home health aides. They helped her, she helped them by teaching them long division so they could get a GED and a better job. She filled her days calling people to wish them a happy birthday or just to talk.
At 35, she had her 50th surgery to deal with routine repairs. Her heart arrested three times in the operating room and a couple times after that. At her funeral, many recalled her reaching out to them and her refusal from the first to allow her circumstances or people to discourage her. She touched many lives. An excellent eulogy for a wheel chair bound child from the special education classroom.

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Money can not buy forever after

      Good-bye to “Bridezilla”, “Yes to the Dress” and “Wedding planners”. Lay aside the pamphlets on destination weddings, forget the pricey wedding invitations and leave Vera Wang at the shop. Engaged couples consider “A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration.” The 2014 paper by Emory University economics professors Andrew Francis and Hugo Malone, reports their study of 3,000 first time marriages, the amount each couple spent on their wedding and the longevity of their marriage.
        Their findings defy years of advertising that the perfect wedding, with no cost spared, lasts happily ever after. “Quite the opposite,” the professors said, “The more spent on a wedding, the less likely the couple were to remain married.”
        The delusion begins with the promise that “a diamond is forever. Those who paid more than $2,000 for an engagement ring were 1.3 times more likely to divorce than those who spent $500 to $2,000.
        Many chant, “It’s my day” as reason enough for making the average wedding cost $30,000. Yet the  Emory University study found that spending more than $20,000 on the wedding increases the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples whose weddings cost between $5,000 and $10,000.
        Why?
Perhaps because a modest expenditure lays the groundwork for beginning life together with a realistic financial view of the world for the young couple. After all, spending beyond their income drives many couples to divorce. If the couple pays for their own wedding, celebrating within their means ensures they do not enter marriage with a burdensome credit card debt.
        Sometimes the whole affair needs a practical mind. One father told his engaged daughter, “I will pay for an elaborate catered reception and wedding or I will pay for a down payment on your first home.” The couple looked at their future finances, took the house, had a simpler reception and began their marriage with a boost toward a strong financial future.
        Such pragmatism runs contrary to everything the wedding industry promises, “Spend a lot, make it a day to remember for the bride and groom. Don’t skimp. They deserve it. Show her how much you love her, guys. Weigh down her hand with a big diamond.”
        The commitment in the months preceding the expensive wedding too often focuses on making one day “the best” and focuses primarily on the bride while the couple’s relationship moves to the background. It becomes a day to flaunt. For instance, consider the cost of the nationally recognized epitome in a wedding dress: A Vera Wang designer gown. Consumer Report asked 143 men and women to price five gowns with similar designs. Only two priced all of the gowns correctly; 41 percent correctly labeled the $10,000 Vera Wang and 42 percent failed to identify the $500 gown.
        The Emory study found one more twist in the facts and figures of the wedding day. Those with more friends and family at the wedding, tended to stay married. So, cut back on the amount spent to feed and entertain, instead recognize the important role each person played in making the day and the marriage. So say good-bye to the costly, fairy tale event, and hello, to a less financially and emotionally stressed bride and groom and their families.
        It’s time for a reality show about family and friends who join together to lovingly cook, clean and decorate as they welcome another couple into the realms of married life. Each person investing time for the day communicates their prayer for the two to stay married. Which is the whole point of the wedding ceremony: a lifetime of commitment no matter what the cost. 

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Curb to cash, treasure or trash

One man never worries about hauling his junk anywhere other than to the curb. A passing driver always stops and picks up his tossed item. The day he dragged a storage compartment to the curb, both a van and a car pulled over.
The van driver walked to the door and knocked, “is it alright if I take that storage unit?”
“Sure. I know that when I put something on the curb, someone will pick it up within 15 minutes.”
The compartment storage unit sold a few days later on a Facebook yard sale site for $25. One man’s junk provided extra funds for a young family where the mother wants to stay home with her children. It was not her first curb to cash profit. Previously a lightly used, electric, lift lounge chair caught her eye. She checked to be sure the owner no longer wanted it.
“Oh honey, you just take that thing,” they assured her. She took it,wiped it down, noted that it looked nearly new and sold it for $300 on a Facebook yard sale site a couple days later. “So many people were interested in it, I probably could have gotten more,” she mused afterward. “It’s God’s way of stretching our budget.”
She had discovered thrifting. Thrifting simply means going to garage sales and re-sale shops (or the curb) and picking up items to flip for a profit via Facebook, Craigslist, newspaper want ads or Ebay. Selling locally requires her to take the item and meet the buyer in a public place. Posting items to sell on Ebay connects her to buyers around the world and greater profits. It also means keeping a supply of boxes, tape and packing material. As the auction for a framed, vintage needlework piece neared an end, she spied a box outside of a shop, leaning against the dumpster.
“I did not want to get the box from the dumpster, but God said, ‘It is there for you.’ It was still there later. I turned around and loaded it into the car, hoping no one noticed me on that busy street.”
The box fit the framed piece perfectly. “God provided what I needed. I just had to be willing to get it,” she said.
The learning curve for how to sell on Ebay can be steep. To help, thrifters post tips on Youtube and Facebook pages dedicated to thrifting.
One new seller posted a link to her sale of combined Lego, Mega Bloks and other blocks asking why it had not sold on Ebay. Brutally honest answers followed.
“Don’t combine Legos and Mega Bloks and others together.”
“No one buys Mega Blocks.”
“Your title is too long and has too many odd characters in it.”
“Eww! The picture shows Legos on the floor. Dog hair, cat hair, dirt could be mixed with the blocks. Put a sheet down first.”
“The font size is too small for a phone.”
“Take a separate photo of any mini-figures.”
Just reading the answers would help less bold, new sellers.
Besides asking for help, thrifters inspire each other with stories of items that cost pennies and sold for mega bucks. Those are the bonus sales. For most, like for the young mother just wanting to be home with her babies, buying at the thrift stores and selling for a profit online covers a few bills, buys some groceries and pays for extras such as dance or swim lessons. After all, $10 here and $30 there makes a big difference in a tight budget, even if sometimes it means pulling the treasure out of another person’s trash.

Joan Hershberger can be reached at joanh@eldoradonews.com

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Mean momma and the facts of math

Eli has one Mean Momma. He had barely escaped the torture of school last spring when Mean Momma announced, “You will be doing math work every day this summer. You need to know your math facts.”
Forget about Common Core for Math. This kid needed automatic responses of basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts with no more finger counting. He would learn the math facts, all of them.
Eli thought she had declared a three month course of torture to ruin his idyllic days of summer.
He grumbled and complained.
“You will do these every day. You will memorize the multiplication tables,” his mom insisted.
He protested. She persisted.
He screamed, “I can not do this.”
She insisted he could, and he would.
Mean Momma assured Eli that if he refused to get the worksheets done each day in a timely manner, he would continue with the worksheets even after school began. “Prove to me that you don’t need anymore practice.” She also promise that if he could beat her designated time to do the math drills he would receive a long coveted Lego set.
For multiplication, she began with the tables for one, zero, two and five.
A week later Eli called his grandmother to proudly rattle off those once impossible multiplication tables without once screaming, “I can’t!”
Summer vacation also involved a couple weeks of Daily Vacation Bible School. He had to go every day. Then he had to return home and do his math sheets before he could go out and play.
He joined a swim team. He had to get up early, go to swim practice and give up a couple days for swim meets ­ and practice math while he waited his turn.
Every day before he could play with his electronic toys or watch television, he practiced math. Free afternoons came only after he made his way through a grueling regimen of the math facts.
As the summer of torture wore on, he assured his Mean Momma of one thing, “I am not going to school the first week. I have already done everything they do in school the first week.”
The summer ended with a week long car trip. The first day, Mean Momma handed Eli a new set of math sheets. Longer, harder stuff that included a math sheet with facts he had not practiced before.
He screamed. He cried. He dawdled. He complained. It was a long morning in the car. Mean Momma ignored him. He did the math and he beat the clock.
Summer ended. He was up at 5 a.m. the first day of school working on assembling that coveted, hard earned Lego set. School began and yes, Eli went the first day of the first week. His mom captured his first day report on Facebook, “Eli was BEAMING when he told me that he was the first one done with math today ‘that’s the first time it’s ever happened,’ he said.”
A hard fought parental victory. She tortured that child the entire summer with math facts and flash cards. No long, leisurely days of play at her house. She knew his weak math skills needed three months of summer home schooling focusing on one topic.
A summer of protests and screams of agony that he could not possibly do this and “Why should he?” Yet, in spite of himself, because he had a Mean Momma who insisted, Eli he proved he could.
This year, he says,”Math is going to be my best subject.” It will be ‑ or next summer he will hear again from Mean Momma about the facts of Math.

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The bane and blessing of insurance

Insurance exists as a bane to any budget, an unwanted expense, the cost denigrated in multiple conversations … until misfortune happens.
At 9, I barely understood the severity of the accident that sent my brother to the hospital for most of the summer. My only clue about the costs came when I overheard little understood conversations of adults discussing insurance and bills.
In my 20′s, health insurance came as a company benefit from my husband’s job – a fee extracted before he received his check. By state law, we had to write a check for our car insurance and the mortgage provider insisted on house insurance to cover their costs in case the laws of nature turned against us.
So insurance remained in the background of my worries until the day our son landed in the ICU after a car hit him. The paperwork and bills followed him home Thanks to insurance, our barely floating, family financial ship sailed on unscathed.
As a healthy person on a tight budget, I assumed I would never have enough medical bills to meet even a minimal deductible. Still, I grudgingly bit the bullet, looked at more than six decades of health, and chose a plan with the lowest premium and highest deductible.
I never came close to meeting the deductible. Medical crises happened to others, including my family who filed claims for the astronomical cost of pediatric heart surgery, a traumatic brain injury, ambulance runs and weeks of hospitalization for a chronic illness.
None of those bills came to my mailbox. So, I really did not consider the financial impact of a medical crisis until four months ago when I missed a step, fell, split my left tibia and broke my left wrist. Until I broke those bones, I simply echoed everyone else in grumbling about the cost of a policy I knew I would never use. Until I fell, I had no clue just how expensive medical care could be for me personally.
The meter began ticking the minute the ambulance arrived to take me to the hospital. It ticked a little faster in the emergency room as the x-ray technician positioned me on the metal bed in the darkened room to photograph my bones. The dollar signs multiplied rapidly as I had first one, then another surgery and two hospitalizations followed with hours each week of physical therapy.
The cloud of comfort from pain killers had barely cleared when the statements from providers and insurance company began filling our mailbox. The first 24 hours alone exceeded my deductible.
Last week, hesitantly beginning to use both legs with a walker after four months of recovery, I tallied all the medical statements to discover that the insurance company had paid out more than 20 times the amount I had paid for my deductible.
I put down the tallies both astonished and grateful. Astonished at the high cost of modern medical care for what is essentially a non-life threatening event. Grateful for the insurance company’s fulfilling their promise. It literally has saved our retirement. Without the insurance, all of my retirement funds would have disappeared that first month and the next three months would have greatly depleted my husband’s savings. Meanwhile the meter continues to tick.
Yes, insurance is expensive.
Medical care is more expensive.
I feel fortunate to be able to have had both …. and I hope I never again have to realize how much having even the lowest premium and highest deductible for medical coverage saved us so much money.

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All lives matter

The Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter campaigns emphasize the respect, dignity and worth of individuals, that none should shrug off their deaths as unimportant. To the universal “All lives matter” we need to all … “including the unborn.”
Such words come easily, tossed about to prove a point and too quickly are then lost in the duress of daily life. There are no such slogans for two Vietnamese. They don’t talk, they simply live a daily example of respect and dignity for the smallest of humans. These two, Tong Phuoc Phuc and Pham Thi Cuong, have demonstrated this truth for years. Day in and day out, both have carefully and respectfully buried the tiny bodies of unwanted children who were aborted or abandoned after being born. They also have provided homes for babies who survived their mother’s rejection.
The difficult birth of his own child initiated Tong Phuoc Phuc’s journey. Waiting for hours during his wife’s labor, Phuc watched other women come into the hospital pregnant and leave without a child. Slowly he realized ‘why’. It impacted him beyond words. Phuc had to do something. He determined he would provide a burial for each infant rather than allow their little bodies to be trashed.
Phuc did not see these children as garbage. He wanted them to at least have the dignity of a burial. This building contractor did not just talk about the fact that the lives of the unborn matter, he bought property on the side of a mountain and prepared a very neat, highly organized cemetery. He received permission to receive the bodies. Over the past 15 years Phuc has buried over 10,000 aborted children. Each has their own burial plot and marker in graves that Phuc decorates with flowers. An Associated Press video shows him placing one flower in the holder of each the tiny, carefully graves marked with the date of death.
As the cemetery grew, people began talking about it and his respect and honor for the dignity the unborn. The story of his concern brought women to his door asking if he would take their child, when it was born. Phuc and his family agreed and have provided a home for over 100 children. Some mothers have later returned and reunited with their child. That is Phuc’s ultimate goal: reunion of child and mother; so the children are not available for adoption. As his mission became known, others have contributed to provide the funds and workers needed to sustain the children’s home and the cemetery.
Cuong began burying babies after she discovered a moving, breathing, abandoned newborn in a bag of trash. The child was covered with flies. Despite her efforts, the child died, but it began her constant search for other thrown away children. According to Vietnam News, since that first child, Cuong has found many thrown away babies, some alive, some dead. She buries the dead and finds homes for the children who survive.
She finds the babies in trash bags left on the sidewalk. Sometimes animals have found them first. “It gives me the chills,” she said. “But then I thought about their really short life of being abandoned, not even having a place to rest when they died, I still tried to bring them home.”
Not all agree with her mission. Some say this poor woman should focus on taking care of herself. Others call her an ‘angel’ and at least one person has joined her in the search for abandoned children.
Cuong’s story is similar to a Chinese woman, Lou Xiaoying who recycles trash for a living. The Daily Mail reported Xiaoying has found and rescued 30 infants in dumpsters and cared for them as her own. “I realized if we had strength enough to collect garbage, how could we not recycle something as important as human lives. These children need love and care,” she said. “They are all precious human lives. I do not understand how people can leave such a vulnerable baby on the streets.”
That’s what it should mean, when we say Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter – including the unborn. Three Asians know this truth without all the hype. It should also be true in our country for both the party that wants to “Make America great again” and the party that “fights for everyone.”
Let both parties prove their slogans by working to show that even the Smallest of Lives Matter. When we begin caring for even the most vulnerable, when we recognize their right to life, then we all can fully realize we are created equal and enjoy our life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Essential Exercise for the broken

For a person who despises exercise, I sure do spend a lot of time doing it these days. Leg lifts, quad sets, wrist twists and turns, weight lifting, leg squeezes, stretching exercises and lounges. Thirty of each and repeat three times a day.
I know I need to do the exercises if I ever expect to leave the wheelchair and walker behind. But, still, I protest, for at least 20 minutes every single time before I get started. An hour and a half later, after I finish all the exercises, I collapse into a huge sigh of relief and just sit, recuperating for another 15 or 20 minutes of astonished gasping “Phew! I did it.”
Multiple those couple hours times three, add in a healing nap once or twice a day, fixing meals and the days just fly by.
And, people used to ask me what I would do when I retired.
I used to have a job, now I have a gym routine that consumes hours of every day of the week. All this because I missed one step, fell forward onto the landing, split my left leg’s tibia and broke my left wrist all in less time than it took to write all that. I am in my third month of recuperation and anticipate at least as many months ahead of me.
Yes, that long sigh you just heard came from me. I do that a lot of that these days … sighing. I look at the list of exercises and sigh. I argue with myself about the importance of doing them early in the morning, in the afternoon and before I go to bed. I lose the fight every time and I sigh at my defeat.
I keep my leg weight and exercise bands on the headboard bookshelf so I can stay in bed and exercise. In the dawn of the day I pretend I am just like my husband who sleeps soundly while I do leg lifts and tighten the muscles around my knee 100 times.
Yes, I said 100. And then I sigh, strap on an ankle weight and begin leg lifts and knee bending.
Later, I sigh while my husband bends my leg until it pulls uncomfortably (translation: it hurts). I live with the sigh of resignation that I must do all this to walk freely again.
Exercising began at my dear daughter’s house. She admonished me to not just lay there, but to keep moving. To keep her happy, I waved my right arm and leg around whenever she put in her daily exercise video. Those movements sufficed those first couple weeks as I internally cautioned everyone, “No quick movements. Be careful. I am breakable.”
Physical therapists don’t care about all that. They emphasize, they expect, they demand movement. I came home from the last hospital stay with a half hour routine of wheelchair exercises to do once a day. I thought I did pretty good working my way through them until I graduated from rehab therapy to recuperative therapy.
With a warm smile on their faces and determination to get me back up on my feet, the physical therapists add new exercises regularly during my three weekly visits. I began with a half a dozen exercises. The next time a couple more were added with the admonition to repeat each 30 times during three sessions a day.
All that exercise cuts into my book reading time. I must have books. I discovered audio books on YouTube. Now I ‘read’ and exercise at the same time.
Even my last physical therapy session added yet another couple techniques to use to restore my former freedom of movements. Okay, so it will only take five minutes to do each one. Those little pieces of my time: five minutes here and there are like breaking a Hershey bar into the little squares to eat one tiny bit of chocolate at a time. By the end of the day when all the chocolate pieces are gone, I still have eaten a whole candy bar.
With the bits and pieces of exercises to do through the day, I tally up more than five hours of gym at home and I still must not let the left foot touch the ground and carry the body.
The leg, the knee and the ankle exercise a lot. The foot waits high and dry for the doctor’s approval. Meanwhile the left wrist has escaped cast, brace and that initial stiffness to once again contribute to the daily activities including leg strengthening exercises. It will soon graduate from therapy with a cap, gown and a diploma admonishing it to remember be more careful in the future, I am breakable and I really do not want to do all this again, ever.

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Sacred fabric shears

Quilters make and share quilts. They share patterns, tips and techniques.
Quilters never share their best pair of fabric scissors with anyone reaching to use cloth cutting shears for any purpose other than cutting cloth. Every seamstress knows that using fabric shears to cut anything else could ruin them for cutting fabric. That protectiveness generated much discussion recently on a quilting Facebook thread.
The topic began with one question, “Is anyone else protective of their fabric scissors? I caught my husband using my best scissors to open a light fixture. I threatened to use his fancy screw driver to open a paint can. He immediately dropped the scissors and used a different tool.”
The responses came quickly.
“No, not at all, why?” (Teeth grinding).
“I caught my hubby cutting fiber glass with mine.”
“On no, don’t touch my fabric scissors, my husband knows better after I threatened him!”
“My wife hides her favorite scissors because I said to her that I used them to cut a can.”
“Once I had my husband use my $400 hair cutting scissors on paper. We will just say that never happened again – a power tool went missing.”
“Mine were labeled ‘fabric only’ and I would catch my son stripping electrical wire with them. Ugh!”
“I made my hubby go to the fabric store and buy me a new pair to replace the pair he ruined. He was appalled at the price and never used mine again.”
“I told my husband and kids that if they messed with my fabric scissors, I would break their fingers! They knew I wouldn’t, but Mom got her message across!”
“My husband is my scissor guardian angel. He gets very mad if anyone tries to use them for anything else. He has bought several pairs for me, though, so he knows the value of them first hand.”
“My husband knows not to touch my sewing stuff, he doesn’t go in my sewing room looking for things like that. My father-in-law on the other hand used my mother-in-law’s rotary cutter to cut the carpet. The blade was not the same after that and she had to buy a new one.”
Education sometimes guards against misuse. The techniques (and success) varies.
“My daughters learned from birth do not touch mom’s orange handle scissors. As an adult, my daughter was working on gift baskets at work. Someone included orange handled scissors, she said ‘those scissors are only for fabric.’ They kind of ignored her. Then someone else said ‘orange handled scissors are for fabric.’”
“Ask for scissors as a birthday or Christmas gift. Those who purchase them give them the value they deserve. Mine also have a label that says: ‘Touch these and die.’”
“I have a pair of Fiskars that I bought over 30 years ago and my husband and son know they’ve signed their death warrant if they even THINK of using them! After all these years and miles and miles of fabric, they’re still sharp as ever!…(the scissors, not the husband or son).”
Some quilters take measures to protect their shears.
“I have separate tools for paper and cooking from my sewing tools.”
“Padlock.”
“Mine are marked with thick black sharpie. ‘Fabric Only!’”
“We keep three pairs of shears in the kitchen for anyone to use. They are sharp enough to distract from my tools.”
“We just have a rule: Plastic handled scissors can be borrowed. Metal handled scissors are mine ONLY.”
“I hide my good scissors. I have a caddy with other scissors that anyone can use. Hubby and son are not allowed in my sewing studio for any reason whatsoever. Well, unless it is to repair something, even then they are supervised.”
Remember that the next time you see a quilt lovingly made by someone – the same person who sharply, severely admonished (even threatened) anyone and everyone to not touch the scissors used to make it.

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Cell phone in court

Cell phones. Can’t live without them, can’t live with them. They keep us in touch far from home or the office. They interrupt conversations and meetings. Even silenced, fingers twitch to take just a peek for messages or to see who might have called.
The urge dictates so strongly that pastors admonish folks, “please, turn off your cell phones.” The tables turned at a wedding. The ceremony began with the preacher, groom and groomsmen filing in and nervously waiting for the processional of the bride and her attendants.
An insistent buzz broke the momentary silence in the expectant room.
Attendants, musicians and guests looked around for the guilty party. Red-faced, the preacher reached in his pocket, pulled out his cell phone and turned it off as the audience quietly laughed.
“We all have been reminded, let’s continue,” he said as he pocketed his now silenced phone.
If church is a solemn place prohibiting cell phones, the courtroom multiplies the mandate many times over. Cell phones may not be seen or heard. Judges do not like to have a cell phone tweet, buzz, chirp or even be seen during their proceedings. Frequent visitors and regular court attendants know any violation could result in the phone being confiscated until the end of the day’s session of court.
Court begins with the bailiff or judge reminding everyone in the courtroom to silence all cell phones. Still, the lawyer just walking through the courtroom to talk with his client, automatically reached into his pocket when his phone vibrated. He raised it to his ear. A scowling county officer zeroed in on that phone, quickly crossed the room and held out his hand. The lawyer grimaced, smiled ruefully and handed over his phone, hoping he might get it back when court finished that day.
Seeing that once sufficed to warn any new to the court. Another day, following the bailiff’s command to turn off all cell phones, folks reached into purses and pockets and double checked. One hand slipped and hit a command button that overrode the silent mode. “I’m sorry, I can not find Internet access,” the phone mechanically complained from the dark pocket. Though muffled, it still broke the courtroom silence.
Fumbling quickly, the owner scrambled to stifle the phone. The bailiff looked. He knew this offender. He grinned, and approached the offending phone and owner. Beside the owner another frequent visitor quickly rummaged around in a bag and pulled out a large package of gum. “Here give this to him,” the visitor shoved the block of gum into the offender’s hands.
Disbelief, confusion and relief overwhelmed the offender. The gum went from owner to offender to bailiff. The talkative cell phone stayed in the pocket. The bailiff took the gum, looked at it, grinned and tucked the gum into his shirt pocket.
The judge proceeded with the first hearing. Twenty minute later, during one of the court’s many lulls in activities, the bailiff, with his back to the judge, looked over at the offender and the visitor.
He grinned broadly, elaborately reached into his pocket, pulled out the gum, deliberately took out a piece, unwrapped it and popped it into his mouth. He raised his eyebrows, smiled and began chewing, obviously relishing the phone substitute.
The guilty spectators shook their heads and chuckled silently.
A couple weeks later, the cell phone offender saw the other spectator and held out a new package of gum, “To repay you for the gum.”
“What? Oh, the phone. Thanks.” The gum went into the bag and the conspirators settled down to watch another day of court. This time with both cell phones turned off and tucked safely out of sight.

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