Writing My Life

Now and Then

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Thanks for the Memories, as I Can’t Find Mine!

More than once I’ve commented upon my absent-minded behaviors. Thank heavens I have kind friends and family members who help me keep track of myself. Among those is a clever colleague who just left our school district’s curriculum office.

For sometime, Luann watched me leave the office and return for my purse and again for my phone or for my glasses or my laptop.  Once I couldn’t leave because my keys had totally disappeared, NEVER to be found. Another instance, I had to enlist the help of our young custodian to rifle through his large trash can to find my cell phone. And a few times returned home to retrieve my work laptop that I forgot!

One day about a year or so ago, I was packing up to head home and Luann walked to my desk.

Reminder 1“See this little check-list posted here,” she said. “I did that as a reminder to gather your critical necessities BEFORE walking out the door.” Even though I had not noticed the flashy reminder during the day, I was delighted!

“That’s perfect!” I said.

“Oh, but that’s not all,” she answered. Then she led me past the 5 cubicles that lined the aisle to her desk. “Here is a second checklist just in case you forget to refer to the first one!” Reminder 2

Thank you, Dear Luann. You don’t know how many times these little checklists have saved me trips and time.  I especially appreciate the last two items on the lists: “smile” and “mind”. I will ALWAYS smile whenever I look at these as they will remind me of you! Many hugs to you, my friend.

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the eating corner (and what I wrote today)

I have many favorite people in this world, and Ms. Ann E. Cannon is one. She is a new friend as I met her face to face only two years ago. I don’t know Ann well enough to jog with her (like I would), but we’ve worked together so I can drop her name AND call upon her for writing advice. So I did. While eating at the Mazza Cafe, Ms. Ann shared this advice:

  • Establishing the setting and the problem is still a good way to start a story.
  • Chapters don’t HAVE to include “action” scenes to build suspense.

A Favorite Photo of a Favorite Person

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… END of the retro-techno-bully story …

A few days ago I posted a little chapter from my adolescent years about “techno-bullying” back in 1960.  Recently AND coincidentally, while searching for some pictures for my mom, I stumbled across my old Alameda Junior High School memory book from the 1962-1963 school year. I received the book at the end of ninth grade, and like a wannabe year book, it is filled with classmates’ salutations and signatures.

As often is the case, most messages are only about 3 or 4 lines long, but I did find a few notes that filled half to whole pages. One of those was from the girl I called Sandra in the aforementioned post. This is what it said:


It’s been a long time now since I first met you. It’s been a long enjoyable time! You made my years at school lots of fun. I’m glad you’ll be going to the same high school so that we can finish school together. It’s been lots of fun this year and I’ve watched you change from that tall scrawny kid to a very pretty young lady! Seriously!! Well, good luck always, and don’t ever forget me – ok?

Loads of luck and Love! 

I was more than surprised to find such a message because I had associated that girl with her unkind act for so many years that I didn’t remember we had managed to get past that difficult incident. While kids tend to write gushy things in memory or year books, I feel that her words were sincere. She had grown up.

Why is it that we seem to always remember the bad things more vividly than the good? She and I didn’t end up finishing school together because my parents moved, and I attended a different high school. Because our town only had 2 high schools, I think I saw her a few times when Poky and Highland High played sports against each other. After reading her note, I picture those mini-reunions as happy ones.

It does, however, take a while for many adolescents to grow up. In the same memory book, I  found a note from one of the boys who liked to give me a bad time, and he started it with “Hi Butterball” – obviously, he also realized I wasn’t “tall and scrawny” any more. Surprisingly though,  he’s one of my Facebook friends! You just never know!


… purse envy ~ a tale of 2 stories …

Story #1 – Canal Street

The setting of our story.

Once upon a time Miss Carolyn was shopping the Canal Street scene in NEW YORK CITY with her friend, Miss Amy. As any NYC tourist knows, Canal Street is home to knock-off/fake bags. Miss Amy was dy.ing for a red purse, and sure enough, she found THE PERFECT RED PURSE! (Meaning it was to.die.4 CUTE!)

Miss Carolyn

BUT remember, she was with Miss Carolyn who is the queen of bargain shopping. She likes to bargain, and she’s good at it; consequently, she tutored her friend about how to get a good price on the great purse.

  1. Take time to shop other vendors to see what they are charging for similar merchandise.
  2. Decide how much you REALLY want that purse.
  3. Once you know the average “going” price, add in the “desirability quotient” to determine the HIGHEST price you will pay.
  4. Be prepared to walk away from the red purse if the vendor WILL NOT meet YOUR pre-determined price limit.
  5. Return to the original vendor and offer a much lower price than what you are WILLING to pay.
  6. Barter until you pay what you want OR walk away!

Miss Amy

Got that? Well, Miss Carolyn AND Miss Amy followed those steps, and Miss Amy purchased her GORGEOUS dream bag for $35. (Whether or not that was a bargain, I don’t know because I’ve NEVER shopped Canal Street, AND I am terrible at bartering. I have S.U.C.K.E.R. written all over me. BUT I LOVE the purse and would have paid more for it, I’m sure!)

Now, Miss Carolyn loved the purse, too, and found a slightly smaller version in dark plum. Hmmm! But she didn’t want to be a CopyCat, and so she suffered purse envy in silence.

Upon their return to Utah, Miss Carolyn’s Mama admired the red purse, and then turned to her daughter and asked, “Why didn’t YOU buy one?” Miss C. confessed that she wanted to but thought it would be tacky to own one so similar to her friend’s.

The ENVIED Purse!

Miss Amy couldn’t believe it as she is NOT the type that has to own one-of-a-kind creations. NO WAY! And so, the faithful friend searched for someone who was visiting New York City – a “drafted” personal shopper of sorts, and asked HIM to hit Canal Street in search of the famous purple purse.

The kind purse-runner found the handbag, purchased it for $30, and surrendered it to Miss Amy to give to Miss Carolyn! And EVERYONE – the friends, the purses, and the runner lived HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

Except Renae, and THAT’S story #2!

Story #2 – The Department Store

An Older Woman

Once upon a time there was an older woman who thought that she had outgrown youthful vices like coveting, envy, jealousy. That kind of thing.

But then she met up with THE purse.

Happy for the owner of said bag, she exclaimed, praised, and admired the dark plum creation. The woman was even more delighted over the amazing accessory when she heard the legend behind the purple pocketbook – the purchase place, the bargaining, AND the gift. She not only wanted a purse; she wanted the experience.

And so the woman headed for … Kohl’s. Yes, Kohl’s. She searched the shelves, priced a red Vera Lang, a purple Relic, and a silver Chaps – NOT the  BIG brands, but not knock-offs. All were ON SALE for 40% off the original prices. She was thrilled, but MAYBE she could drive down the price even more!

Finally, the woman spotted the Elle Delano Satchel in golden olive – there was only one. How badly did she want it? The original price was $65; much too expensive. The discounted price, however, was $39.00. Not bad. BUT she had … A COUPON!

Confidently, she marched to the checkout line and plopped her purchase onto the counter, and the sales associate started to ring up the $39 price, but she whipped out the 15% off coupon before the transaction was completed. Now she deducted 55% to equal $29.25.

While the department store excursion was a “knock-off” experience when compared to shopping on Canal Street, and the purchase wasn’t as jazzy as the New York City find, the golden olive satchel with ruched details and tumbled faux leather did tame the green-eyed monster and laid the purse envy to rest.

… and they ALL lived happily ever after – again!

The End




… totally retro Valentines …

Yesterday I wandered into Roberts Craft Store to buy ModPodge – a crafter’s necessity dating back to the 70s but still needed for a variety of creative ideas. My purpose for purchasing was to glue my 500-piece puzzle together so I can frame it  and hang it. Because the product was tucked w-a-a-y back in a corner, I had to wend my way through aisles of Valentine paraphernalia before finding the glue. Seeing all the designs of love quotations, hearts, and flowers to commemorate February 14th ALMOST put me in the Valentine mood.

While reflecting upon Cupid’s favorite day, I first thought, “Valentines Day has not grown into the crazy holiday that Halloween has.” But then I started remembering my childhood and what a big deal it was to me. Because it was of utmost importance, I’m sure it was stressful for my working mom. (I need to ask her about that.)

First of all, school children HAD to decorate boxes into which our friends could deposit Valentines. Sometimes my teachers held contests for the best, cutest, most creative, etc. designs, and that added to the pressure of creating an amazing crêpe papier receptacle. I’ve been a long-time klutz, so cutting, wrapping, and gluing turned into a hurricane of scraps, cuts, stains, and goop. (Do any of you remember how red crêpe papier could turn hands and faces crimson if it got wet? And I kind of liked the taste of it, too. I know that’s weird. And then I loved to spread Elmer’s Glue all over the palms of my hands and then peel it off like a layer of skin.  But I also liked school paste because that tasted good, too – until someone told me it was made of dead horses’ hoofs.) At any rate, I’m pretty sure Mom sent me to bed before the task was completed, but in the morning, I found the finished box waiting for me, and it looked BEAUTIFUL! (In talking with my mom and sister the other day, I concluded that Mom didn’t finish the project, and the Valentine box I woke up to was the same one I worked on the night before.) 

Created from a Valentine "kit"

Next came the Valentine-making and addressing. I don’t remember making many “from scratch” except the cards I created at school for my parents, but we could buy card kits that required some assembly such as gluing on paper lace and little pictures. I gave away all the ones I made, but this one survived because my sister Connie created it and presented it to me. It was also one of the few that opened up to a verse printed on the inside. You can see her young signature there, too. I’m guessing that’s about all she could print, so there aren’t any additional messages about what a wonderful big sister I was! (Notice, however,  that she did pick a picture of an “I Love You” heart for the cover even though the published message is generic enough that it could have been sent to a near stranger!)

If we didn’t MAKE our cards, it still took HOURS to address them, and this is why: we had to perfectly match the card to the person. In first and second grade, I still worried about giving a boy I DIDN’T like a Valentine that might imply that I did – as in girlfriend/boyfriend kind of “like.” On the other hand,  I picked a “mushy” card to give to the boy I chased around the playground at recess.

For example, this one says, “HEY SUGAR!” Now THAT’S romantic. How could the love of my 6-year-old life NOT know that I was crazy about him. (A boy named Eric actually gave me this one back in 1955. I wonder if he realized he was sending me a subliminal message that told me he wanted to marry me as soon as we turned 7.  Probably not.)

This was also a time when teachers only ENCOURAGED their students to bring  a card for every child in the class. I’m pretty certain Mom made sure I did, but I clearly remember checking through each card and comparing it with the class list to find out who was snubbing me. When I figured it out, sometimes I didn’t care but most of the time it did hurt. (Connie thinks we always received cards from every student present that day, but she remembers noticing that some friends found candy hearts or suckers in envelopes while others were NOT given that extra measure of “love.”)

I always picked out “girly” Valentines for my girlfriends, but there were NO Disney Princesses to wow Diane and Leah, Trudy or Randy. The best we could find were main characters from nursery rhymes – Little Bo Peep was the obvious favorite in 1955.

Our cards also depicted young girls doing what young girls were supposed to do in the early ’50s:  SWEEP, BAKE, , and BLUSH! (I’m positive the blusher was my favorite as it included a slot for a lollypop!)

As for the boys, we could always send them a popular 50’s Valentine with a politically INcorrect message such as this one. (Grandma and Grandpa H.  actually gave this to me! At least, they didn’t cave in to the stereo-typical nursery rhyme heroines or domestic princesses!)

Of course, for every little American Indian, there was a cowboy OR girl: Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Annie Oakley, Hop-Along Cassidy, the Lone Ranger, and Gene Autrey – to name a few of our Saturday matinee heroes.

I’m not sure why Mom or I saved these gems, but I enjoyed rumaging through them tonight; recalling old friends, feeling sad that I COULDN’T remember some, noting grandparents’ signatures written neatly across the backs, and warming up with the memories and marveling at how times have changed.  In fact, these little momentos have done more to put me in a “Cupid” mood than any TV commercial or store display. I better start working on my list.