by Debbie Walker

Do you have a sewing machine? (If so, I know you deal with tension!) When did you start sewing? Who taught you? If I mention the word “tension”, does it cause you to grin? How about patterns? Do you know how to read a pattern?

I grew up thinking everyone knows how to sew. Hand sewing or with the use of a sewing machine, including sewing on buttons, all could bring about tension,

Problems with “tension” can cause you to have physical body “tension” (stress). I know I am being a bit confusing with the use of the word tension. The tension on a sewing machine is designed to control how smoothly the machine stitches and the length of those stitches. Just recently I got out my machine, hoping that I could just give it a few drops of oil and be on my way. Well, it was not agreeable, the stitches wouldn’t have even come close to holding anything together. Now I put the little job away until I had more time to mess with the tension.

A couple weeks later I got the machine out again. Now I had enough free time to take my time. Would you believe the test subject got just about perfect stitches? No problem with either my body or machine “tension”!

I learned quite a bit about sewing long before I took Home Economics in my freshman year of high school. Before that class I was self taught by watching my great-grandmother sewing her patchwork aprons (She had one on when she was making a new one and she sewed the old one to the new one!) And I watched mom doing mending with just needle and thread.

I had a pair of pants that I loved, the zipper died, and I was heartbroken. Mom added to that pain by refusing to replace the zipper. I was a bit stubborn and decided I would put in the zipper while mom was at work. It was the first time I ever used her sewing machine without supervision. Through trial and error that day I managed to get the zipper in before mom got home from work. Mom never put in another zipper; those were jobs for me.

My home economics teacher left a lot to be desired. If my only experience with sewing was with her, I probably never would have attempted sewing again. However, I had enough positive influences around me that I still enjoy sewing, even dealing with the machine tension!

Sewing is fast becoming another lost art, much like tatting (making lace by looping and knotting a single strand of thread), also canning (seat weaving, it’s a craft using the cane from the inner skin of a rattan palm. Its woven to make the seat of a chair).

I couldn’t believe it but it happened where ever I was working. Once word got out that I sewed I always had buttons to sew on, jackets needed zippers, and dresses needed hemmed. It has already happened here in the campground. I really don’t mind, it doesn’t take much of my time.

Sewing today brought up a lot of memories. As crazy as things have been this week in the world around us. I didn’t want to become depressed. So my sewing today put me on the right track. The only “tension” I was willing to deal with today was with my machine.

I am just curious if you have hobbies to relieve your “tensions”. How about contacting me at DebbieWalker@townline.org and sharing with me? Have a wonderful week and thank you for your time to read!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: A few ideas and uses

by Debbie Walker

Good afternoon. Any snow yet? I have to ask, you know. I am on a race tonight to get this done before Tabby (cat) comes in. When she comes in at night, or whenever she comes in, she expects to be the center of attention. Laying across my keyboard tends to assure her of the attention possibilities.

I have to ask. Have you ever heard of aluminum foil balls in the dryer? The instructions say to wad up some foil into two small balls and pop in the dryer instead of dryer sheets. I plan to try this one. I’ll let you know.

In the November FIRST magazine the question was asked, “What do you do if you can’t sleep?” The responses published were: 1. Turn your digital clock away from you to help stop the anxiety of calculating your wake-up time. 2. “Get out of bed and journal or doodle. Lying there creates negative association between bed and sleep, worsening insomnia.”

When I was in real estate I stumbled across this suggestion: As your days are busy start a list of things you want to remember for the next day. Cross off the items on your list as the day goes by. At the end of the day go over your list and make changes as appropriate. When you go to bed that night you don’t have to be worried about forgetting to do anything the next day. It’s all written down and you can relax. You won’t forget anything. This worked well for me, so much so I still do it.

Do you know how to tell if your mascara is old? It is important to know because of possible eye infections. Too much air in the chamber makes for breeding ground for bacteria. When you pull the wand out, listen for popping sound. If you don’t hear it, trash it.

Have you gotten out your winter coat yet? Any problem with the zipper? How well is it working? I found rubbing liquid soap back and forth over the zipper. Then work the zipper up and down. You should see a difference. It worked well for me.

What do you do about your cat and plants? Cats dislike citrus. Soak a cotton ball in lemon juice and rub around the rim of the planter. It should keep Kitty away.

Do you have trouble organizing your linens? Put the pieces together with a dryer sheet into a paper bag and label, then put in closet. You will know which ones they are, and all the pieces will be together. I put mine inside one of the pillowcases. It saves time and aggravation.

I have made wind chimes in the past and I use fishing line to hang the items. After reading a short hack today I will be using dental floss next. The wax will protect the cord and isn’t as stiff as fishing line. The dental floss isn’t as stiff as fishing line, but it is strong enough to hold the items I hang.

Ever have a leaky faucet and the noise is driving you crazy? Try this: Tie a long piece of dental floss around the end of the faucet and place the other end into the drain. The leaking water will travel down the cord and into the drain. Peace at last.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: My unusual plants

Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula)

by Debbie Walker

I do not have a green thumb. My interest is mostly in the more unusual plants, at least I think they are unusual. This time I am trying to keep a Venus Fly Trap alive.

Did you ever try to grow one? My daughter, Deana, and I tried a hundred years ago (well, not quite). I read that they can grow to be 20 years old. I don’t believe ours died of old age; I think we would have realized all this if she had made it very long. Now, I might add that I have an idea why she wouldn’t have lasted very long

When I was researching the Venus Fly Trap last night, I wanted to know how to feed this poor little character. The first thing I saw was “Do not feed them hamburger meat.” I think that means I committed murder with the first one. That’s the only thing I remember feeding it. So far among all my friends it is believed you can feed them hamburger.

Also, any water you use should be distilled or rainwater. Oops. How many keep distilled water around or even rainwater? No one I have talked to so far, in fact no one else had ever had the want-to. Yesterday I went into the local pet store to purchase dehydrated blood worms. Yes, that was certainly a new kind of shopping for me!

What made me think of that was a few years ago Ken and I had an unusual request from our neighbor. He had young boys that wanted geckos for Christmas. Oh yes, we did, we said okay after hearing that they didn’t have any reason to come out of the box they lived in. Oh, and then he told us he was going to go get the crickets we would need to feed them. Feed them! Feed them, something alive and wiggly! Luckily, we were able to get through that time keeping the geckos alive and even a few crickets!

We moved after the Christmas the boys wanted two little yorkie pups. Two weeks we babyset them and I mean infant-set. Not much sleeping for those two weeks. They wanted to be fed or just held. We did learn our lesson though. We knew better than to ever be foolish enough to think we ever wanted a puppy of our own. Fortunately, we moved before the next Christmas. I was told the boys wanted a rooster and hens. They wanted to be able to sell eggs for spending money.

I believe a few weeks ago I might have told you about the crazy gift for my grandkids this year. Every year I have to do something “unusual” for them. This year with the help of my neighbor, Glen, I will be giving them a gift of loofa sponges that we grew. Odd plant? I think so. Most people think they are ocean grown sponges, but they aren’t. At one point in the growing process, you can eat them about like cucumbers, so they say. It didn’t appeal to me. I have been taking pictures along the way and will be giving them each a book of the growing and some information about the loofa. I even have one for them to uncover the real sponge.

I just wonder if you have some stories you’d like to share. I’ll be waiting. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org with questions, comments, or stories. Have a wonderful week, Thank you for reading!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: A few hints

by Debbie Walker

Tonight, I am going to share some suggestions for the home mostly but there may just be some general information, too. Of course, I will have to tell you what my baby great-granddaughter has been up to recently as this morning.

At 18 months old, Addison Grace can now tell you, her name. She is building quite a vocabulary. Maybe it’s part of the aging process but I swear I think that child is growing faster and is very smart. Addi doesn’t have to go to daycare or a sitter and her mother and she do some amazing communicating. It is fascinating for me to watch the process.

Today I was thumbing through my First magazine, November issue, I found some things I found interesting. One page titled “life smarts” had some common sense help I decided to share with you. A lady suggested using vinegar for cleaning. Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar into a gallon of water for wiping down bathroom surfaces. They even suggested using a drop or two of essential oil to the inside of the toilet paper tube, each time used it will throw out a little bit of scent. (You can also stuff the toilet paper tube with a dryer sheet for scent.)

There was a paragraph about dryer sheets. They can be used to clean wood furniture and floors. You can also attach a dryer sheet to a broom with a rubber band.

Some time ago I read about birds’ needs for the winter and water is one of them. You cover the bottom of your bird bath with a black plastic bag, pour in some water, and then add 2 or3 tennis balls. The wind will blow the balls around to keep ice from forming.

Butter uses:

Calm a cat with butter. You put it on his/her feet. Licking it off will keep Kitty distracted when upset or nervous. Also, the butter will help out with hair balls.

Ring stuck on? Rub the butter on your finger around the ring. It will slide off easily.

Crafting, using white glue. The bottle of glue falls over and it leaks on table without notice and hardens. To remove pour a bit of vinegar on a cloth. Rub over the spot. It will dissolve.

Itchy scalp: Mix 1/2 cup of mashed pumpkin and 2 tablespoon of brown sugar together and rub onto damp scalp for 2 minutes, then rinse. (I kind of wonder what happens if you have white hair or very blonde. Do you wind up with orange hair?)

To pot new plants, use 1/2 non-clumping kitty litter and half potting soil. The kitty litter will hold some of the moisture and releases when needed.

If you don’t have static guard, you can use hair spray. Spray your clothing on the inside. I have done this one and it does work. I would check some where it won’t be visible. Better safe than sorry.

Got a sticky spot where a sales ticket was, hairspray to the rescue! Just spray the ticket, leave for 10 minutes and lift.

I am just curious if you know any new tricks you’d like to share with me. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.com. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Sharing thoughts

by Debbie Walker

This week I came across something I am curious about. I read a page in a local advertising paper. It was written under something called “Gus’s Animal Gossips” and “Citrus Animal Services”. They were writing about something called “Community Cat”. We have several in this campground and they are well cared for. One of them adopted me upon my moving in.

According to this article a community cat is any cat that lives outdoors and who does not have a “home with an owner”. Some are a little leery of us. Tabby, my adopted cat, was one of those. However, I am happy to say she has become quite the love bug.

The “Community Cat Diversion” use humane methods of trapping, neuter, vaccinate, and return to where they were picked up originally. They are returned to the community cat population. It reduces community related nuisances and cuts way back on the number of litters each year. That’s no where near all the ways it helps.

The cats aren’t so likely to be involved in a cat fight, vocalizing and urinating behaviors. Community cats serve as an organic pest control solution.

All this talk about Community Cat and I just realized there is no mention of the practice in the winter months because here it isn’t quite the issue you would have up there.

Tabby splits up her nights between my neighbor, Glen and myself. Tonight it looks like I have been chosen. Cold winter nights she now knows she will be taken in by one of us.

I do want to mention one thing about your Maine winter. I am sure you are in the process of preparing for your cold winter. Please remember your pets will be experiencing it along with you. Pay special attention to our animals needs as well.

Just for fun I am sharing something I read on my computer:

Golden Rules for Living

1. If you open it, close it.
2. If you turn it on, turn it off.
3. If you unlock it, lock it up.
4. If you break it, admit it.
5. If you can’t fix it, call in someone who can.
6. If you borrow it, return it.
7. If you value it, take care of it.
8. If you make a mess, clean it up.
9. If you move it, put it back.
10. If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it.
11. If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone.
12. If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions. (Don’t ask questions, that’s like telling me not to breathe!

BONUS point.:

If you lift the toilet seat, put it down!

Holidays are upon us again. We are hoping you will be happy and healthy throughout. As you promise yourself every year, make your holidays as relaxed and stress proof as you can.

I’m just curious what plans you have made this year. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org. Have a wonderful happy and healthy week. Thanks for reading!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Do you ever wonder?

by Debbie Walker

Do you ever wonder? Tonight, I am wondering. I am wondering, is there ever going to be an end to these ridiculous phone calls or junk mail? I know I am not alone. So why are we bombarded with such junk?

The phone calls are so we can be entertained with their recorded chatter, must not be important enough to them to put a real person on the line. SO, its not important enough to me to listen to them. I also want to mention a tip that Eric gave us in one of his columns this year. Be wary, some of those calls that would make you think they are people are also recorded. Their responses are timed to make you think they are listening. You can pick those out by saying, ” Excuse me, are you a real person?” Guess what, they will keep talking over your question. I hang up.

It doesn’t stop the calls to just hang up and I am not a big believer in the “Do not call list”. I block numbers whenever possible. Since a lot of these calls are computer generated, they call from multiple numbers and I just keep on blocking. It’s all a big pain in the neck (or lower)!

There are so many companies doing this. On the list are health insurance companies, political surveys, extended warrantee companies, etc. Very often if it doesn’t show a name or name of company on my screen, I am not likely to answer the call.

My own insurance company calls me way too many times and I have now blocked them! Leave me alone. No, I don’t want to do your survey and you wouldn’t want me to at this point. No, I don’t need one of your nurses to come to my home for a checkup, check to see if my medications are right for me. It was my doctor who prescribed this medication and I feel like “too many cooks ….”. If I have any questions, I will contact my doctor or my pharmacist with my questions.

The extended warrantee companies have become a joke. I have even seen cartoons that included it. But they keep on keeping on. Give us a break! They are companies trying to sell you insurance. A lot of people are still not understanding. Some people would actually buy this if they didn’t understand. My theory is ‘when in doubt, don’t’, but for some having some woman on the line telling you ‘this is the last attempt to contact you before it will no longer be available to you’. I can see a few people intimidated enough to do as told.

Okay, enough of that mess. I am wondering what some of your family traditions are for the holidays. I would love it if you would let me know what some of them are.

In the mean time I am just curious what you do with those ridiculous calls. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org. Have a wonderful week and thank you for reading. I’ll be waiting to hear from you!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Books: don’t look for a clean copy

by Debbie Walker

Sometimes I never know where or when one curiosity just moves right into another one. A couple of weeks ago I was writing about people being encouraged to speak out about their interesting experiences in life. I commented that so many people were brought up to “not toot their own horn” or “brag”.

My hope is that those who read this one won’t feel embarrassed to “Toot their own horns.” Sharing is great.

Then I remembered this little quote that follows: Life is not a journey to the grave with the intentions of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used-up totally worn out and loudly proclaiming “Wow, what a ride!” Okay now granted it was meant to be about people (my kind of people) however, what good is a book that has been printed and 40 years later still looks like new? Ya, ya, I know first editions, $$$. Still a waste!

If I pick up a used book and its pages are dog-eared or there are high light marks here and there, I’m not going to put it back looking for a cleaner copy. See this is where that curiosity thing of mine shows up.

The highlighted sentences or paragraphs make me wonder what kind of questions of life that may have answered for someone or did what was written give them the question to ask and what was it.

Dog-eared pages make me wonder what was it about this page that the person thought they might want to go back to or possibly they wanted to share that page with a friend or maybe they just got called away from their reading and just marked their spot!

Now that I think about it I have books at home that I have collected about my gazillion interests that aren’t dog-eared or highlighted yet. I absolutely love being a person of many interests but sometimes I get behind.

Anyway, dog-ear those pages, highlight things of interest, and leave behind a sign of your enthusiasm for what you and the author shared. (Except for in library books, they get really touchy about that sort of thing).

Do you have children you adore who live away from you, and you want to have a close relationship with, start buying two of the same book. You mail one to the child (they love receiving mail) and you keep one. You have so many ways for you and the child to enjoy the book and each other.

Of course, you can just read to the child. Depending on their level the child can tell you a story from looking at the pictures. You both can draw a picture of your favorite part of the story and show each other on a video chat on the phone.

Okay, enough of that. I did read something the other day that I want to share with as many people as I can so, please feel free to share this also. Shyanne sent this out to her friends in Facebook. The gist of it was not to use towels, blankets, etc., with the idea of keeping your critters warm. Use straw for their outside bedding. It keeps them dryer.

As usual, I’m just curious if you can get lost in a book too? And here’s hoping all our kids learn to love to read!

Please contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org. I love to hear from you.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Some advice on customer service

by Debbie Walker

Customer service is another one of those business items that owners and operators should force themselves to take notice of. I know right now they are just concerned to get more staff. That is witnessed by the many “hiring” signs in front of their businesses.

Hiring is going slow so now is the best time to tune up who you do have. If you are shorthanded, you probably have unhappy customers and employees. I believe that because I have heard it from friends. Because business has been so far behind and it is tough to take care of the numbers you are dealing with, an attitude adjustment of all would be great timing.:

One thing I know is the basics of customer service are quite uncomplicated. Most everyone wants to be acknowledged. It’s really very easy. You simply have eye contact with the customer and either tell them you will be right with them, or you signal them with your index finger held up, most people understand that as “just a minute”. I can’t tell you how much grief that can save in customer service by just giving that little attention.

Twice in the past week I have stood at a service counter for several minutes each. Clerks were on the phone and assisting other people. One was “chatting” with a co-worker. “Chatting” when a customer is being ignored is a big no-no. The clerks all ignored the fact that I was standing there. That little bit of eye contact and a smile acknowledging that I was there would have made a big difference in how I was feeling.

Oh yeah, and customer service is anyone who is being paid for their services rather by the hour, by commission or maybe by the treatment. It includes clerks in a store or even doctors. It’s all customer service. It’s because of these people waiting that you even have a position.

It’s a shame all offices and stores don’t do some training on customer service. What little bit it would cost them; they wouldn’t even notice, however, their customers/clients would notice.

One evening in a grocery store a little old lady in line just ahead of me asked the clerk to read her something on a label. That extremely rude clerk started ranting off to that woman about how she wasn’t hired to baby-sit people or read to them. I read it to her myself. As she left the cashier started running her mouth about “these old people”. With every word out of her mouth I was seeing a darker shade of red. I know she wanted my agreement, however, what she got was, “I hope if you make it to her age all you find for assistance is someone like yourself.” After I finished checking out I had a chat with the store manager. That just wasn’t a winning fit.

Having worked on front line registers and a variety of other customer service positions I know there are people who will try your patience. Stores and offices would be wise to do some of this training. If the company doesn’t offer it, train yourself, there are books. It will help you live longer.

We’re all in a hurry these days. Sometimes we forget we are not the only ones in this hurry-up life. It would be nice if we could all slow down a bit and be more compassionate towards others.

It’s just a thought but if you take good care of the customers you do have, you will get them and more. Smile. Laugh with your customers, A little common sense and courtesy can go a long way.

I’m just curious if you will find more patience this week. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org with any comments or ideas. Thanks for reading, Have a great week.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Dart’s escape

by Debbie Walker

Apple Tree Notch is the home of the Bailey fairy family and many of their friends. Mom and Papa Bailey had noticed that as their fairy children grew older their home became busier.

Their children could in a matter of seconds turn their quiet little home under the apple tree into a very busy, crazy home. Can you just imagine Momma Bailey trying to clean her home when three little children came flying through the door? Some times they were running, sometimes flying, flitting and scurrying between Momma and Papa trying to tell them about their adventures that day.

Well, this day was no different. All three of the Bailey children came rushing through the door and following closely behind was their friend, Dart. He was a very excited young dragon fly. They all began flying and flitting around between the parents and of course Dart was “darting” around, that was how he had gotten his name.

Papa finally stood up from his chair and said, “Everyone stop, there are too many talking at the same time, Momma and I just can’t understand. Dart it sounds as if you are the one with the adventure, so you may tell us. Daisy, Fern and Twig settle down while Momma and I listen”.

It was hard for the excited three to settle down. They were excited remembering how Daisy had escaped the big house behind Apple Tree Notch. The child, Tristin had almost put Daisy in a vase of water as a present to her parents. The escape had been a close call and now this!

Dart began to explain. I was just flying around with some friends. We were playing a game of chase. One of my friends made a quick swoop past the open door of the house. “I missed him and flew right into the house. I saw the people there but they didn’t see me, so I hid behind the curtain.”

“A short time after the house got quiet, I thought everyone had left. So I started trying to wing my way out from behind the curtains. Sometimes I still can’t control my wings as well as I would like to.”

“I heard the mother of the house say to herself, “what is that noise I hear?” I knew she was looking for me. That made my wings flap even harder against the window.” “The woman moved the curtain out of the way, and she caught me in her hand. I was so scared, but I got out and flew, only to land behind another curtain and I knew she was still after me. Papa, Momma, I was so scared. I was afraid my wings would get torn or something worse.”

“The lady was still after me. I couldn’t help flapping my wings and again she found me. You won’t believe what the woman did. She grabbed me and I thought that was it for me. The woman spoke to me. She said, “little dragon fly if you will slow down just a second I will help you out.” The next thing I knew I was on her open hand, and she let me fly out the door! That’s when I almost hit Twig as I was flying away. That woman let me go, just like that and I’m not hurt at all!”

Momma and Papa saw the sparkle of light from the Sprite, the guardian of all the local children. They saw him fly out the door, so they knew everything was alright.

Momma had been fixing dinner while Dart was telling his story. She said “Well Dart with all that flying you must be tired and hungry.” The whole family giggled as they looked at Dart. He had lit on a cushion and fallen fast asleep.

No harm was done. They ate dinner as Dart slept dreaming of his release by the woman. Apple Tree Notch is certainly full of adventures, but for now things were quiet.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy a little kid’s stuff.

Debbie Walker of Lecanto, FL. Contact me DebbieWalker@townline.org with any questions or comments.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Hints for a better life

by Debbie Walker

There is so much nastiness and cruelty in the world today that whenever I see something promoting a more pleasant life, I want to use it. The writing I saw this week didn’t have a title or an author just hints to a better life.

1. Compliment three people every day. (I do enjoy complimenting people. I like seeing the look of surprise on their face and I know I added at least a couple of smiles for them. One smile when I complimented them and one, they will experience as they compliment another.)

2. Watch a sunrise at least once a year. (This one I don’t do so well at. I am better at sunsets.)

3. Be the first to say, “Hello”. (I have found people enjoy it when I greet them with a smile and “Good Morning”. The whole thing kind of catches folks off guard!)

4. Live beneath your means. (I do struggle with this one.)

5. Treat everyone like you want to be treated. (Some days this is a little easier said than done. But if we all continued to try wouldn’t this be so much more pleasant way to live.)

6. Never give up on anybody, miracles do happen. Another idea I discovered a long time ago is, “As Long as There is Breath There is Hope.”

7. Forget the Joneses. (If you don’t know who the Joneses are, ask someone older). Concentrate on you. Make your wishes simple, you don’t have to participate in the rat race.

8. Never deprive of someone of hope. It may be all they have.

9. Pray not for things, but for wisdom and courage

10.. Be tough-minded but tender hearted.

11. Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

12. Keep your promise. Don’t make a promise if there is the slightest doubt.

13. Learn to show cheerfulness, even when you don’t feel like it. We always referred to “fake it till you make it.”

14. Remember that overnight success usually takes 15 years.

15. Leave everything better than you found it.

16. Remember that winners do what losers don’t want to do.

17. When you arrive at your job in the morning, let the first thing you say brighten everyone’s day.

18. Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.

19. Watch a movie chosen by a new friend. It may not be a movie you would have chosen but, you may learn a lot with an open mind.

20. Stranger is just a friend you hadn’t met yet. That is what my grandfather always said.

Fall Bird Questions: from Farmer’s Almanac 2022:

1 No, birds do not become dependent on your feeders.

2 No, feeding birds in the fall will not stop them from migrating. Somewhere I read that red pepper flakes sprinkled in bird seed will keep the birds happy but really mess with the squirrel happiness.

3 Birds need water year-round.

4 Only 40 percent of birds are migrating birds.

I am just curious if you will find any of this helpful. Hope so. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org. with questions or comments. Thanks for reading and have a great week.