"" Writer's Wanderings

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mind Your Own Bee's Wax!

While off exploring the origins of idioms in our language, I came across one that not only was intriguing but in light of a Ladies' Picnic Luncheon we are planning at our church, it seemed to fit the theme of my week. "Mind your own bee's wax." Now I always thought that the bee's wax part of that idiom had to do with a funny way of saying business. Not so.

Back in the day. . .before all the breakthroughs in cosmetics and acne treatments, ladies would use a thin layer of bee's wax to cover over their skin problems. Of course once the bee's wax was applied and dried you had to be very careful that it didn't crack. If done right apparently, the wax was a great cover-up. Of course you always had those who would study another lady's face closely to see if she had used bee's wax to make her look so good. Being scrutinized so closely might elicit the phrase, "Mind your own bee's wax!"

The practice of using the bee's wax also led to some other phrases. You couldn't move your facial muscles too much or the bee's wax would crack. So, your expression would have to be very somber. Thus is could be said that she "didn't crack a smile."

A girl wearing bee's wax would have to distance herself from the fire in the fireplace. Get too close and the wax would melt and she would be in danger of "losing face."

Now doesn't that make you more thankful for today's makeup?

Monday, April 23, 2018

This Isn't My First Rodeo

This weekend I went to get my nails done. Almost anywhere you get your nails done the staff is Vietnamese. The nail salon I frequent is not any different. The nail tech I had this time was chattier than most are and he struck up a conversation. When I went to put my hand in the light box that sets the gel polish I did it correctly to which he remarked, "This isn't your first rodeo."

I laughed. It sounded strange coming from someone whose first language isn't English. I answered, "No. And I hope I don't fall off the horse."

Then ensued a conversation about the origin of "This isn't my first rodeo." I had no idea but did offer that the "Goodnight, don't let the bed bugs bite," probably came from cowboys whose sleeping bags would get bugs in them when they slept out on the range. Maybe the rodeo phrase did too?

Well, inquiring mind that I am, I got home and started searching the phrase. It had nothing to do with cowboys directly. The best I could find was that it originated with a movie, Mommie Dearest, staring Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford. The movie was based on a book written by her step-daughter that was a memoir and did not put Crawford in a good light. In the scene where Crawford is dismissed from the Pepsi board, Dunaway's line is "This ain't my first time at the rodeo." The remark is not in the book so really must be attributed to the writer or writers of the screenplay.

The movie was in 1981 but several years later, in 1990 a recording artist, Vern Gosdin wrote and recorded a song, This Ain't My First Rodeo. He claimed to have heard some construction workers say that and jotted the phrase down to make into a song.

Now the research got a little more interesting when I read that in some parts of the country instead of the rodeo reference, you might say, "I didn't just fall off the turnip truck." And if you were from the UK, you might say, "I didn't come down with the last shower" (or yesterday's shower).

Every language has its sayings and idioms. The idioms drove me crazy learning Spanish. Our Hispanic friends went into peals of laughter when I messed up the idiom for feeling chilly. I had literally said I was frozen solid or perhaps worse--they did laugh a long time.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Say Cheese!

[This was originally written in 2007. My how technology flies! Today my camera still fits in my pocket but it's because it's in my phone. A lot of the tips still apply though. So read--and smile at the memories of old technology.]

A few weeks ago we were with four of our grandkids to celebrate a birthday. For once I remembered my camera. It’s a little easier to do that now that my husband gave me one that is small enough to slip in my pocket. He tells everyone he bought a “camera that doesn’t make her look fat when she wears it.”

            I snapped away as usual and about a third of my pictures were keepers. It’s tough getting great shots with excited moving subjects. With Thanksgiving here and Christmas around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to look at a few photo tips.

·       Get down on their level. This is hard for some of us—especially the getting back up part, but faces look better than the tops of heads. What I love about a digital camera is that you can hold it away from you and still frame your picture on the display. That gives you a little more wiggle room for those shots closer to the ground.

·       Use a flash outside. It’s just a good practice. Last year as we were playing in the snow, the best shots of my grandkids were those that I took with the flash. The bright sun reflecting on the snow created shadows on their faces that the flash erased.

·       Get close at times. Fill the picture with your subject. One of the best shots I took at the birthday party was an accident. My granddaughter moved right up to the camera and her face filled the picture I took. But I have the greatest shot of beautiful brown eyes and a grin from one corner to the other.
·       Don’t always center everything. Just remember to lock focus first before you move the subject off center. It makes for a much more interesting shot provided they give you enough time to aim and click.

·       Kids love to pose. Let them come up with some ideas for organizing the picture. They’ll be more cooperative. When you are posing a group, don’t just line them up like a firing squad. Use different levels—steps, kneeling, some sitting.

·       Give them the camera for a few shots. If it’s digital, what’s the harm as long as they are respectful of holding it properly? Both of my four-year-old granddaughters got some unusual angles from their perspective as they snapped pictures of their parents.

·       Begin a photo tradition. Perhaps there is one place you can pose your grandchild each year that will show his growth. I have a precious picture of four of my grandkids (age 7 months to four years old) sitting together on a sofa all dressed in Ohio State Buckeye gear. This year we have a similar picture and they are a little bigger. Next year there will be more grandkids to add to the picture and eventually we will see those little feet touch the floor.

·       If it’s worth one shot it’s worth six. That’s a statement my photography professor made at the beginning of the course I took. And that was when we were still developing pictures the old fashioned way! Now with digital images, what doesn’t work can be erased in a moment. So snap away! You’ll have more shots to choose from.

Taking my own advice, at the birthday party I got carried away snapping and snapping picture after picture. Finally, my granddaughter stood up and put her hands on her hips looked me in the eye and said, “Grandma, you didn’t let me say ‘cheese’!”

Finally, find a great way to store and display your digital pictures. There are lots of online scrapbooks where you can store pictures for family and friends to see. Or put one of those digital picture frames on your Christmas wish list. We have one that allows our kids to send us pictures via e-mail to store. There’s always the old fashioned way: printing them out and putting them in a picture album. Whatever you choose, don’t just put them away. A picture is worth a thousand memories.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Read It Again Grandma!

[Since I wrote this article, the reading levels of my grandkids have risen. We've shared the Harry Potter series, Hunger Games, and a few other popular reads appropriate to their ages.]

“Then our mother came in
And she said to us two,
‘Did you have any fun?
Tell me. What did you do?’

“And Sally and I did not know
What to say.
Should we tell her
The things that went on there that day?

“Should we tell her about it?
Now, what SHOULD we do?
What would you do
If your mother asked you?”

                    (The Cat In The Hat, Dr. Seuss)

            I love Dr. Seuss books. I loved reading them to my children. I love reading them to my grandchildren. The Cat In The Hat is fun because it opens the door to the imagination. Just what would you tell your mother if you’d had a day like that? I’ve received all sorts of answers from a shrug of the shoulders and a giggle to “Oh, I would tell her everything.” I think the tell-all answer was so that the cat could get the blame for everything.

            Reading to grandchildren is a privilege to be treasured. First of all it is a great opportunity for bonding between child and grandparent. There is nothing more pleasing to both than to snuggle up together with a pile of books and explore the adventures of the characters as you turn each new page. Books are fun. Books take you to places you could only imagine. Books teach you about the things around you. Books connect you with the world of imagination. And you can experience it all together with your grandchild from the comfort of your easy chair.

            Early habits of reading to children from infancy on are helpful in language development. The extended vocabulary of my four year old grandson can be accredited to my daughter-in-law’s devotion to reading to her children. He continually amazes people with his use of language well beyond his years. All of that is reinforced when he visits Grandma’s book collection and we read the favorites his father read when he was little and delve into the new ones I add to stimulate his curiosity.

            According to the National Center for Family Literacy (www.famlit.org), reading is “brain food.” It develops listening skills when you ask questions about what you’ve read. What color was the apple? How did Peter find his way home? Running your finger over the words trains a child’s eye to travel left to right over a page (in Western cultures) and thereby prepares him to read on his own. When stories are repeated it helps children “predict outcomes, draw on prior knowledge, and recognize sequences” as well as build memory skills.  Reading can also encourage analytical thinking.

            Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “daily reading routines are important for a child’s early literacy development.”

            But how do we keep that interest in books growing as our grandchildren get older? The answer is simple. Read with them.

            As children progress through the elementary grades and higher, they are required to expand their reading material. As grandparents, we can help by keeping in touch with what they are reading, reading it for ourselves, and then discussing it with our grandkids. If we’ve already established a relationship in the early years that lets the child know that we care about reading, we lend credibility to the importance of books and their influence on our lives. And, let’s face it, some books that are required reading in school are real “stinkers”—books that are difficult or just don’t hold interest for some who have to read them. What encouragement it could be for a child to know that a grandparent is reading the “stinker” too and will be talking about the book with them. It could be just what is needed to prompt him to finish a book he’s not thrilled about but is required to read for class.

            While I hear now, “Read it again, Grandma!” I also look forward to discussing more serious subjects than why Curious George always gets into trouble. Perhaps we’ll discuss the flamboyant lifestyle of the Great Gatsby or the incredible survival story of Ernest Shackleton as he explored the Antarctic. Or, perhaps my grandchildren will even introduce me to new reading adventures I have yet to discover. Whatever direction our reading takes it will make a grand book club.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Planting Miracles

[Oh how I wish this spring was as nice as the spring was when I wrote this. But it's still a good time to consider "planting miracles."]

Perhaps it is because of the unusual good spring weather we’ve had. Or maybe it is the anticipation of spreading a truckload of mulch in the yard and beginning the planting of annuals. Whatever the reason, I remembered a sweet little book I have that sits on my shelf of “keepers” upstairs. It’s called We Planted Miracles Today, Lord, A Mother’s Meditations and Prayers. It is a Hallmark gift book written by Barbara Burrow. Every time I think about planting marigolds, I think about the title poem:

We planted flowers today, Lord.
My youngest kept calling them “miracles”
instead of marigolds.
We laughed and had
a wonderful time together
planting your “miracles.”

The little book is copyrighted 1973 so it would have been given to me or I bought it (there’s no inscription) back when my children were babies or toddlers. Now my grandchildren are old enough to be planting “miracles.”

Marigolds are probably the easiest flower to grow from seed and offer an opportunity for us to teach so many lessons of God’s love and care to the youngest up to the oldest of our grandchildren. The next time you visit with your grandkids, have a pot or an old margarine container on hand, a little potting soil, and a package of marigolds. Spend some time with your grandchildren filling the container and planting the seeds. Add a little water and if the seeds need to travel, put the lid on with instructions to take it off so the sun can shine on the little plants when they sprout.

Lessons to be learned? The youngest can grasp the idea of God’s creative power, the miracle of a plant growing from seed. The oldest can learn that hardened hearts (seeds) can still produce fruit when watered with the word and allowed to bask in the Son’s light. There are plenty of scriptures and parables in the Old and New Testament that use gardening as a means of teaching life lessons. Use a concordance or go to Bible Gateway.com and do a keyword search for “seed.”

Why not try planting a few miracles in the hearts of your grandchildren this spring?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Being Pinkalicious

[This is a grandparenting article written back in 2010. Many of my grands are into or entering the teen years. The principle still applies. It just gets a little harder to keep up with all the technology. On the other hand, any time I have a tech problem there are plenty of "experts" to help Grandma out.]

Each week my daughter-in-law, Leah, sends us an email full of pictures from the kids’ adventures for the week. A couple weeks ago, there was a picture of three-year-old Annalise who had dressed herself in a pink shirt, pink pants, and pink socks and announced, “I’m pinkalicious!” I thought she was just being clever with a phrase until it was explained to me that Pinkalicious is a character in a book who ate pink cupcakes and turned pink. Of course. Should have known.

Then my other daughter-in-law, Lori, mentioned that there was also a Goldilicious (turns out to be a golden unicorn) and Purplicious (Pinkalicious gets a case of the blues). The list of books and stories goes on and now there is also a Pinkalicious musical written by the sister authors, Victoria and Elizabeth Kann. Oh yes, and did I mention the all the accessories you can purchase?

Just when I think I’ve been able to be smart and keep up with all the current kid stuff, I begin to realize how futile it is—especially when I also have to keep an eye on what happens with trends in Japan. My third daughter-in-law, Aya, has educated me a bit on Anpanman (a popular Japanese cartoon character) and of course, Hello Kitty which originated there. When it comes to popular trends, those three grands span a whole ocean.

How to keep up with it all? I wish I had an answer especially for those of you who might have grands with a wider range in age. Perhaps it all goes back to good communication. Sitting down with your grands and talking about what gets them excited, what they are reading, watching on TV or the movies, or what kind of pretend play they engage in. There is no greater entertainment than listening to a grandchild talk about their view of life.

Then be a good listener and when the time is right, you can also share a little about what you did as a child. Imagine how many children have no idea what a typewriter is or that milk used to come in a bottle and be delivered by a milkman (although I hear this is coming back)? Or that your parents walked five miles to school uphill both ways? Storytelling needs to be revived. It’s the best way to pass down the family history. Just don’t give them the whole story in one conversation.

What I’m saying is, take advantage of opportunities to learn about their world and then share some of yours. When we were growing up, we heard a lot of fuss about the generation gap. It was blamed for a lot of misunderstandings. We don’t hear as much about it today but is that because it’s narrowed or widened? I would guess it’s widened. Technology and life have just moved too fast. In my lifetime television has gone from black and white consoles to flat-screened high-definition color and now it’s moving on to 3D!

Whether you need to be a little “pinkalicious” or watch TV with 3D glasses on, take time to explore your grand’s world but bring along a good dose of that wisdom, maturity, and patience that you’ve picked up along this life’s journey. Your grands will love you for it.

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