I’M JUST CURIOUS: Book report

by Debbie Walker

As you may be aware, children in Maine are soon heading back into classrooms across the state, and so am I. After the kid’s book I just read I believe I am possibly looking forward to the first days more than our children. This is my book report:

The book I read is The Exceptionally Extraordinary Ordinary First Day of School by Albert Lorenz. The book has a story and it has “Facts.” I must admit that some “facts” in this book had me going over a few memories of my own. I remember seeing the big yellow bus coming down the road and my earlier excitement turned to FEAR! Guess what! According to this book the “fact” about the bus is: “School Bus – A terror filled nightmare on wheels. Where you sit depends on who you are. Life only gets worse from here on out.” (Well, isn’t that a lovely thought.) (All authored in fun, just saying!)

More Facts: “A Backpack – A place to store squished bananas, sandwich crusts and broken pencils.” (This reminds me of what we called a book bag and a lunch box and we actually carried a book or two.)

The book went on to some more “facts” as follows: Lips – the things on your face that you use to kiss your dog. Nose – The body part that yearns to have your finger in it. Tongue – the licking muscle. Facial Hair – what boys aspire to and girls dread. Teeth – Brush these twice a day or you will wind up like George Washington. He started losing teeth in his 20s and had dentures made from gold, ivory, lead, and animal teeth. (Not wood). Children – small but extremely intelligent humans. Delicious, too. Passing on – A nice way to say “pushing up daisies “or “kicked the bucket” or “eaten!”

I have to interrupt all these interesting facts from this book to direct this one to anyone who uses “hair gel” – Check out the ingredients on your bottle. Noble women in medieval England used bird droppings and lizard fat. On purpose!

Can’t you just imagine what a lovely book this is?! I can hear the kids now with all their comments “Oh, gross!, or oh, nasty!” all the while pushing for more “facts.”

Some of their critter definitions are:

Frogs – jumping amphibians that eat flies. And that have legs you can eat. Parrots – tropical birds that can learn to talk and are a pirate’s best friend. Flies – there are more than 300,000 kinds. Female houseflies lay 500 to 600 eggs in their lifetime of 30 days. Fish – the only pet your parents might let you have. They don’t bark, yowl or spit up hair balls. Cat – a furry creature that poops in a box.

Okay, so let’s not kill the messenger. I just thought I would pass on thoughts as were noticed by the author Albert Lorenz as he researched his book. Not to worry, as a college instructor told me: Childhood phases don’t usually last long; she just couldn’t promise the next one would be any better!

As usual, I am just curious what education this school year will bring (my education!). Find me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com for questions and comments. Thank you for taking the time to read!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Yummy pickle juice

by Debbie Walker

Do you have any idea how many uses there are for pickle juice? I didn’t have a clue. I am passing on more information from my Farmer’s Almanac Newsletter from 7/4/18 (https://farmersalmanac.com/uses-for-pickle-juice-28005). If you enjoy this stuff you really should join if you haven’t already, obviously I am a fan!!

I was surprised to find out pickle juice makes a natural sports drink – you can swig it or make popsicles. I was not real surprised to read the pickle juice is also an excellent way to season your potato salad, just add to your taste.

Other recipe helpers might be to add the pickle juice to flavor your boiled eggs; put juice in the water of your steamer for veggies; boost the flavor in corned beef and cabbage (add a splash to tenderize the meat). Then you could use pickle juice in place of the vinegar to make marinades and salad dressings. You could also use pickle juice and olive oil for a salad dressing, etc, etc.

You may also see the value of it in tomato juice, V8 juice or in your Bloody Mary. One thing I am finding more and more is to make ice cubes out of such and add it that way… Oh and if you are suffering from a hangover you just swig some to hydrate and restore your electrolyte level.

I maybe need to carry some around with me in a bottle. It also mentioned taking a swig to relieve muscle cramps and restless leg problems. Take a swig of the juice for a cure for hiccups or as a heartburn remedy. How about using it for a cough medicine, you got it, you just need a swig. Seems it helps with just a swig for losing your voice or for sore throat. Now for constipation it takes a whole glass of THE juice. Hey, whatever works! Another one I never heard of is to quench appetites, so if you are in my house and see all these dry pickles in the jars you will know what happened. It wasn’t from all the cooking I (don’t) do it was from my using a “new sports drink!”

Fourth of July is long since over, just think of all those jars of juice you dumped down the sink and the new uses you have for them! That’s okay, there are more cookouts to come and of course you can’t forget Memorial Day cookouts.

I would like to take this space to thank all of you with your notes of kindness in the month of July when Mom died. We decided we really can’t be sad because she passed so quickly, no lingering on for her. We are all grateful for that.

I’m just curious if you have ever tried any of these remedies and recipes. Contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com and of course Thank You for reading.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Reunited…after all these years!

by Debbie Walker

A while ago I had the chance to visit with a cousin I had not seen in probably 30 years. It was such an amazing visit. There were no uncomfortable silences. We fell right into the same comfort zone we had all those years ago but possibly a bit more mature.

Lorna and I went through grade school together. She reminded me of the time our teacher, Doris Cookson, took us home with her for an overnight. We were treated like princesses that night and we enjoyed reliving the memory together.

We did some high school together until my family moved and instead of five minutes away from each other we were 15 minutes apart. Neither of us had driver’s licenses at that point.

Lorna and Basil got married and I was a bridesmaid. A bit after that I got married and moved away and we lost touch, so that was about 1970. Yes, that was a lot of years ago, like about 48 years ago actually. We may have seen each other for a few minutes at a time over the years, both of us on the run doing something that couldn’t be held off.

Her daughters have grown up without my meeting them; she saw my daughter and grandkids at mom’s Celebration Party on the 14th. Her husband died and I divorced mine. Lorna lost her sister and I lost a brother. She lost her parents and I have now lost mine. She stayed in Burnham and I wound up in Florida for 30-plus years. Life has a way of going on.

Even when I came back to Burnham it still took us some time to get reunited and reunited we are. We take every chance we get to visit. Lately we have been able to visit on Saturday mornings, have tea and we enjoy every visit.

It is one thing when you are related but the neat thing is when you really “like” each other, even as adults.

My reason for writing this in a column, aside from honoring Lorna and our wonderful reunited friendship, is to pass on to you what we have learned.

Possibly we all have someone we were close to at one time in our lives and then for whatever reason that relationship fell by the wayside. Life can certainly get in the way as it did with us. I am not saying each one would flow as smoothly as ours has but you don’t know if you don’t try.

If you have family or friends you have lost touch with over the years, think about reuniting. It may prove to be a very touching experience. Don’t wait for that proverbial family reunion at a funeral; it may be the wrong person dying. That would be so wrong.

I am just curious if you will try reuniting. It starts with a “hello.” Contact me with questions and comments at dwdaffy@yahoo.com . I love hearing from you! Don’t forget we are online too; we even have archives for past columns and such. Thanks for reading!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Summer drinks: kind of old ones

by Debbie Walker

Have you ever heard of Switchel or Shrubs? I never had. I know what a switch is and a shrub but they were nothing like what you will be reading. Mom’s friend Debbie knew what I was talking about. It may be because Debbie is celebrating 92 years now! I love asking her questions but that is another story!

I was reading my e-mail newsletter from Farmer’s Almanac. I got to the section about “Old Fashioned Lemonade Recipe” and that led to the “Switchel” drink mix. Later I found the “Shrubs” recipe on Kitchen.com and it was posted by Emily Han.

“Switchel” has been around from the 1700s into the 1900s. Early American colonies recipe might have come from the Caribbean before it got here. This vinegar and ginger drink was known as “Haymaker’s Punch” in the early 1900s and used for the field workers.

It is supposed to be better for us than any soft drink or sports drink. It is said to be high in potassium if molasses is used. It is supposed to replace electrolytes. But do me a favor and don’t trust me, check it out before you try the recipe that follows:

Switchel

Basic Recipe: 1 Cup water, 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 4 teaspoons ground ginger or 1 teaspoon fresh grated (sifted) ginger. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to a day. Pour over ice or mix with soda water.

So maybe if you are working in the field and someone brings you a strange drink, maybe it will be this one. If not it might be ….

Shrubs

Basic Recipe: 1 Cup Elderberries (or raspberries or stone fruit), 1 Cup apple cider vinegar (red wine vinegar tastes sweetest, champagne vinegar tastes grape-y), Soda to serve.

Wash and dry berries, put in pint size jar, lightly crush with fork or masher. Add vinegar and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, occasionally shake or stirring. Give mixture a good shake- strain using fine mess strainer or cheesecloth. Discard solids. Measure liquid. For every cup of liquid use 1 cup of sugar. Combine liquid and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-low heat. Stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool, bottle and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, (possibly much longer).

Serve with sparkling water, Start 1 part shrub to 6 parts sparkling water and adjust to taste. The syrup may also be mixed with water or used in cocktails.

Please let me know if any of this is familiar to you. I had never heard of it but I am fairly confident that I will have to try these. We will say my need to try this is for “a history” experience. However I don’t feel the need to go out to the hayfields. I’ll skip that part.

I’m just curious what I will hear from you. Contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com and don’t forget we are on line and have archives, too. Thanks for reading!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Clever uses for household items

The humble bobby pin.

by Debbie Walker

Bobby pins! I remember them. They were at one time used to make pin-curls and French Twist hairdos. These days I occasionally use them to hold a wig in place. Uses for them now:

Bobby pins

Toothpaste tube – slide a bobby pin over the tube from the bottom, squeeze and pull it up the nozzle to get every last drop (or cut the tube and scrape it out).

Clothespins – use bobby pins to clip lingerie and swimwear you want to air dry.

Broken zipper – insert bobby pin through the eye of the slider and pull.

Mark tape – clip a bobby pin over the loose end of duct or packing tape, no more struggles to find the end (or just roll tape over on itself)

Rubber bands (we called them elastics, too) I always have a supply on hand especially since I read some of these tips.

Mark your page – Being an avid reader I have used rubber bands as my bookmarks. You can also use them to mark that last page you read, drop the book or a neat freak feel the need to close an open book if you have to leave it for a snack break. No problem your rubber band is there!

Hangers – blouses notoriously slide off hangers. Maddening! Wrap a rubber band around each end of the hanger. TaDa, they stay in place. Love this one!

Car visor – Wrap several rubber bands over your visor. They can hold tickets, cash, printed directions, even a pair of sun glasses.

Messy paint cans – Wrap a rubber band around the height of a can so it is stretched tight across the center of the opening. After you insert your brush slide it against the band, excess paint will fall back into the can, not the rim of the can, less mess.

Eraser – no eraser? Wrap a rubber band around the end of your pencil; erase away graphite off the pencil lead. (I tried it, works! (I would try this with the kids in class this fall but I can imagine the other uses they would find for it!)

Shaving Cream: It’s not just for shaving anymore!

Sunburn – too much sun, looking for a little relief, try menthol shaving cream (Dollar Tree $1.)

Swim goggles – to fog proof goggles, spray on generous amount of shaving cream on the inside of lenses, let sit for a minute, wipe clean with soft cloth.

Grandkids need a bath? Make it fun! Put some shave cream in several bowls; add a few drops of food coloring. You will be the grandparent who rocks the world!

With all the traveling going on now I thought I would pass a couple of these tips on:

Pot holder = a Do-it-Yourself curling iron cover to safely pack the hot tool in a travel bag.

Empty pill bottles = travel sewing kit. Drop a threaded needle, safety pins, and/or buttons inside the bottle for emergency repairs.

I am just curious how many of these ideas help you out or if you have ideas to pass on. I am always open to new ideas. So for questions or comments, find me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading and don’t forget The Town Line is online, complete with archives of columns!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: How I love to read those magazines

by Debbie Walker

Magazines. I love them! In my world some are for reading, like “Reminisce” (I even had a little Christmas story in one issue), “Good Old Days” and “Reader’s Digest.” There are more but I can’t think of them right now.

Some magazines I buy like “Woman’s World” and “First” for reading and cutting up. I give some of the cut ups to friends when it is a subject I know they are interested in. Sometimes the magazine articles give me ideas to add to my writing.

There are some cooking magazines that I find in thrift stores and I save them for my granddaughter. She seems to be the cook in our family. It sure isn’t me! Those recipes always require odd spices and such; too many steps to complete for me to be interested.

There are wonderful magazines like “Farmer’s Almanac” and the other almanacs. I thought forever that they were only weather and gardening information so I never even looked at one. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the terrific articles they print. I have used them as great resource materials!

Kid’s magazines have even given me ideas to write about for these columns.

I have a great time going through “Flea Market,” “Cottage Decorating,” “You Can Make It,” “Better Homes and Gardens” and “Good Housekeeping.” These magazines I really cut up, I pull out pages that have some part that I would like to remake to my own ideas.

Catalogs I pull apart for clothing ideas. I like to copy ideas for jewelry, too. I saw a bracelet made out of old watches that I loved but not $150 worth of love. It gave me a great idea to make my own. I even added a working watch to it. I bought some watches at thrift stores and made my own bracelet/watch for under $20. It was fun and SO satisfying.

My Dad used to have a trash and treasures shop and he was forever bringing home odd things. Once when I was up from Florida visiting, Dad had brought home some old magazines I really enjoyed. They were ‘50s and maybe some early ‘60s “Ladies Home Journal” and “Good Housekeeping.” I would love to have them now. I found them to be hysterical that night. I don’t know what happened to them but I would love to be able to sit with them again! If you know where there are any, please let me know. I promise I won’t cut or tear anything. I would make copies of the things of interest to me. You can call me at 948-4231. I will tell Ken that I am hoping for some phone calls so he won’t give you his ‘grumpy’ voice!

To finish this tonight I found a few more T-shirt sayings I wanted to add to last week’s list of ‘greats’!

When I get tired of shopping I sit down and try on shoes.

Some days my life is just a tent away from a circus.

I call my fashion style “Clothes that still fit”!

I’m just curious what you like to read. Contact me with any questions or comments at dwdaffy@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget, we are on line, we even have archives.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: New T-shirt sayings

by Debbie Walker

Okay, so I spent too much time looking at catalogs! I see these T-shirts and I like some of the sayings, I rip out the page and maybe more than one! I eventually have enough collected to share with you. I hope they entice you to smile like I am.

Not my circus, not my Monkeys

Can we just admit we may have taken this “anyone can grow up to be President” thing just a bit too far?

Wait! I do not snore! I dream I am a motorcycle!

You are about to EXCEED the limits of my medication.

I’m going to stop asking “How dumb can you get?” People seem to be taking it as a challenge!

If I am ever on life support, Unplug me. Then plug me back in. See if it works!

Being an adult is like folding a fitted sheet!

I’m not even a hot mess… I’M JUST A MESS!

Sorry I’m late…. I didn’t want to come.

Marriage: When dating goes too far!

You know that little thing inside your head that keeps you from saying things you shouldn’t? Yeah, I don’t have one of those.

Elect a clown, expect a circus!

DON’T grow up, It’s a trap!!

Sometimes I meet people and feel bad for their dog.

Telling a woman to calm down works about as well as baptizing a cat!

Life is too short to waste time matching socks.

Sawdust is Man glitter!

Being cremated is my last hope for a smoking hot body.

I’m more confused than a chameleon in a bag of Skittles!

I have neither the time nor the crayons to explain this to you.

I meant to BEHAVE but there were too many other OPTIONS.

In my defense, I was left unsupervised.

You couldn’t handle me even if I came with instructions!

You can’t scare me, I have a daughter!

When women get to a certain age they start accumulating cats, this is known as ‘many paws’

I didn’t trip I do random gravity checks (me lately!)

If I woke up in the morning and nothing hurt I would think I was Dead!

The 12-Step Chocoholics Program, Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate!

I should be given an award for keeping my mouth shut when there’s so much that needs said!

Crazy? I prefer the term Hilariously Unstable.

Onion rings are vegetable donuts.

I am NOT just an Aunt. I am a loving, beautiful, awesome bundle of wonderful.

Line dancing was started by women waiting to use the bathroom.

I’m still hot; It just comes in flashed now.

I hope this gave you some smiles. I always enjoy reading them. I like the ones like “Crazy, I prefer Hilariously Unstable!” That is me! My niece tells me I am a wonderful aunt but of course she is a wonderful niece!

I’m just curious what T-shirt line gave you a laugh. Contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com with your questions or comments. I enjoy them. Okay, onto my next project for the day! Thanks for reading.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: My mother’s like this….

by Debbie Walker

We will get to the “Mother” part of this story but first we’ll do the background.

Most of you know I am part of the Foster Grandparent Program and I volunteer in a first and second grade class. I think I have mentioned before how much I enjoy the kids and the teacher. Today I had an amazing experience.

I walked in the classroom to find a gift bag on my table. I opened up the card to find a note from the mother and a note from her child, one of our students.

The mother spoke of her child and that she knew her child enjoyed spending time with me. I believe the sentence that really got to me was she said he always has a smile on his face when he talks about me. She thanked me for all I do. His note was thanking me for being there in his class.

Tears were building up in the corners of my eyes as I finished reading. It got worse when I opened the gifts. There were two gifts in that bag. One was a beautiful little fairy sitting and holding a gem in her hand. The other gift was a fairy cottage that even lights up. They are beautiful. Then I really had to work at holding back the tears. I was hoping the kids would all go outside without seeing me break down in tears!

My main reason for telling this story is because, without their names for privacy, I would like to honor both mother and child with this writing.

Maybe I shared with you about how I read these kids a couple of the fairy stories I’ve written. My stories do not have illustrations yet. I told them to close their eyes and use their imagination to “see” the story. That’s a lot to ask of kids in this age bracket. They did wonderful! Their teacher looked in on us because the kids were all so quiet. After the story they asked to have time to draw the things they “saw.”

The pictures they drew were so cute! One of them, this boy, drew a picture of the house, a sun and the tree of “Apple Tree Notch,” home of the Bailey family fairies from my series. He gave his drawing to me and said, “Will you draw in the fairies and their friends.” So we finished it and he took the original home to show Mom.

The thing that truly inspired me to write this is the thoughtfulness and understanding of this Mom. It was months ago that we did the activity and yet Mom had not forgotten.

Mom understood that her son has a “connection” over something to me. “Connection” is a term they learned this year to connect them to different aspects of a story. To me this Mom is amazing and will help her son travel miles over the educational highways of his life. With Mothers like this there is hope for all of our futures.

I’m just curious the “trip” this boy will have with the obvious understanding of his Mom. I love questions and comments!! Contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com. Thanks for reading!! Don’t forget we are also on line.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Mosquitoes and black flies – OH MY!

by Debbie Walker

We live in Maine. We know we are going to have to deal with snow, ice and inconvenient road construction. I believe the most difficult of Maine life is the Black Flies and the Mosquitoes and “Oh My” is saying it lightly!

I tend to believe critters are each here for a purpose. So….. of course, I had to do some reading. This is what I found out about these critters

It is the female black flies we are upset with. The males feed on nectar. The females feed on mammals including us.

We know that mosquitoes need standing water to prosper, however, the black flies prefer running water. How do you folks who fish the streams stand it?! We know that from April to July the little nuisances make gardening, boating, camping and any other outdoor activity a nightmare. The one good thing is they don’t follow us into the house or tent, etc. Mosquitoes want us wherever we are!

There is even a song written by Wade Homsworth titled The Black Fly Song. I found the song on YouTube. It was written about Canada but I believe it applies to us as well. It tells about the Black Flies “picking our bones clean”.

I’ll bet woodsman didn’t have to worry about walking into the woods I’ll bet the black flies were more than willing to gang up and carry them in!

In reading various things on the internet I learned (and remember) the only state that doesn’t have black flies is Florida. Don’t get all carried away about how lucky they are in Florida because they have their curses too. They have the dreadful no see ums. You might not see them but you will certainly feel them and their after effects for days. They have fire ants. Horrible little suckers! They have Love Bugs; they don’t bite but will plaster your entire windshield if you do much traveling in May or September. Oh, and they will pit the paint on your vehicle!

Okay enough of that.

Mosquitoes: I probably can’t tell you much about those little suckers! There are several songs about them. Mosquito Song says “Swallow and chew, Eat you alive, All of us food that hasn’t died.” Truthful little song, I am surprised we didn’t learn it as kids!

Body odors entice the critters to you. Sweat, perfume, scents and the higher the body temperature the more likely the critters will find you.

Their only purpose, as I read, is to make more mosquitoes!

My friend, Otis, from Florida, when I was complaining about them, said “What are you complaining about, don’t you people saddle and ride your mosquitoes?” Oh yeah, he is a funny man!!

I read that camping is nature’s way of feeding mosquitoes. I haven’t been camping yet but I have fed a few anyway. But I will tell you that I got Ken to experiment for me. I gave him a couple of dryer sheets and said wear these and see if it works to ward off the bugs. According to Ken they seem to work. I haven’t tried them yet.

I am just curious but not about those critters and I don’t care what their purpose is anymore. I don’t want to deal with them! Contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com with questions or comments and thank you for reading!

I’M JUST CURIOUS – Muckraking: to be explained

by Debbie Walker

I believe IT has started. The IT is dirty politics for an upcoming election of one sort or another. I can’t even pay attention to what the election is for; I was just immediately put off by the nasty comments. I couldn’t even tell you what the comment was about. I have started a check list of the office and then the candidate and give “credit” where credit is due. If they all do it I guess there will be no one left.

There is history involved in the dirty politics, all levels I would guess. It didn’t start with Hilary and Trump, even though that continues to be a mess. I don’t have patience for any of it.

I do wish my history buff Dad was still alive. I would love to pick his brain on the subject. He’s not so I am relying on my attitude, a friend and The Farmer’s Almanac Special Edition, 2017 (https://www.farmersalmanac.com/crazy-president-elections-25625)

The article in The Farmer’s Almanac had to do with histories of presidential election: “Hair Splitting, Mud Slinging and Duels, Oh My.” I found an interesting word that I had to look up: “Mudraking.” I found it to be: “the action of searching out and publicizing scandalous information about famous people in an underhanded way.”

Mudracking. How do you feel about it? The link to the article is provided for you to possibly get your latest history lesson. The article talks about presidential elections that are one level. My recent upset was about a much lower level (just a term of definition) of the election system, but I liked the term muckraking.

I am sure you have the idea now. I don’t know about you but I am tired of it all. I find it a waste of my time. I am not likely to look at it as any kind of reliable information.

Candidates must pay for their commercial time. They use this time to talk trash? As a voter, I would rather hear what they think they can offer us as “responsible and credible” candidates. “They propose, support and create laws or policies that govern the land and by extension, it’s people” (Wikipedia).

I have been told that I am quite naive. I tend to look at things simply. I have never been a “game player” and I am too old to start now. I would like to hear the candidates’ own thoughts on what they can do for us and I doubt that I am alone on that one. The muckraking may be part of an excitement that some people enjoy. I’m not one of them, are you? This article was simply wrapped around my attitude, opinion and belief, and in no way represents this newspaper.

“When he took the job labeled responsible, he thought he had gotten the breaks; he wasn’t aware that it meant he’d be responsible for all mistakes,” by George O. Ludcke.

As always I am just curious how you feel about the whole process. Comments are welcome at dwdaffy@yahoo.com . Have a great week and thank you for reading.