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, it’s 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 meantime 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: Different uses for household items

by Debbie Walker

I have been collecting articles about using every day household items for different purposes. It is time to share my stash that’s getting rather large.

One thing I was surprised to see was about aluminum foil. If you put four layers of aluminum foil together you can use it to sharpen scissors. Just cut through the 4 layers several times. That will clean and hone (sharpen) the blades.

My mom called aluminum foil tin foil because she couldn’t pronounce aluminum. Historically, there was some tin foil that was used for cigarettes and some candy packaging. By the time household foil came out in 1947, most foil was made of aluminum, a lighter less expensive material. (There you go, useless information category.)

Cinnamon can be used to eliminate carpet odor: Mix one tablespoon of cinnamon and I cup of baking soda in a jar. Sprinkle mixture on carpets, let sit for five minutes then vacuum.

Paper clips can be used to hold up a pants zipper. Slip a paper clip in the little hole on the zipper, the other end of the clip goes over the button. You can also use a paper clip to pull up zipper that has lost its little pull tab.

I was surprised to discover this use for club soda. If your pet has a liquid mistake on carpet, saturate the area with club soda and let sit for five minutes before blotting with paper towels. The mineral will deodorize the spot to prevent repeat mistakes.

Would you like to make Jell-O special? Substitute club soda for the water. No need to heat. You can also use other carbonated drinks. I like to make the orange Jell-O with orange soda. If you use a cake mix, you just need one can of soda and the cake mix. It’s a neat trick.

I think this one is interesting: Use club soda and a milk of magnesia tablet. Dissolve a milk of magnesia tablet in one liter bottle of club soda and refrigerate overnight. Next day, stir well, then soak the clipping in the solution for an hour. The soda and magnesium combination will safely deactivate the acids in the paper to prevent yellowing. Lay on paper towel and let dry. Just to be on the safe side make sure you have an extra clipping; I have never tried this one.

I have shared this one before and I think it deserves repeating, it’s that time of year again. Frosted, frozen vehicle windshield and windows. Easy, no scrubbing. All I used was a spray bottle with 91 percent rubbing alcohol. Fill spray bottle with the alcohol and start with spraying windshield, then windows around the vehicle. At the end you will see you are cleared without scraping. You can leave the spray bottle in the car, it won’t freeze. Works like a charm.

This one is cute. Soothe a fussy cat. Soothe the nerves by rubbing 1 to 2 teaspoons of butter on her paws. The urge to lick off the butter with keep her calm.

I am just curious if you would like more of these because I have a lot more! Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org with comments or questions. Thanks for reading and have a great week.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Interesting thoughts

by Debbie Walker

Oops! I forgot this was supposed to have been in the column for last week, following the title of “Thee Onederful Werld ov Wirds” (from Moments for Grandparents). I forgot I was to send the next part of the article. Here it is as promised, just late:

“Being a grandparent hasn’t made it any easier when attempting to talk with our grandkids. We find that they are into information highways, Reeboks, CDs, roms, and rap. Many of the solid foundational words which we grew up with are long gone from today’s younger vocabulary. Just say some of the following words … they mean two different things to two different generations: square, gay, politically correct, grass, rock music, software, hardware, time-sharing, chip, and low-rider.

“Some things are still basic, foundational … such as love. It’s understood in any language when the actions are seen. Maybe a grandparent is the only person available to that young life who has the patience and time to make the effort to listen, to communicate. Perhaps you may be the only one who can instill life principles into young heads. It’s more like just talking… it’s communicating, it’s caring, it’s loving, it’s spending time, it’s listening creatively, it’s being available.”

ME AGAIN: I doubt anyone who saw the first article expected this turn of events. It is so important if you can be that person in a child’s life. With the words you read in my other column and the words the kids depend on now to communicate, is it any wonder discussions are difficult for both children and adults. Now add to that the fact all the one-line conversations of the texting are not building on any closeness.

One thing I have learned over the years is that it isn’t just children who go through phases, we all do. Can you recognize some of the phases you have been through in your lifetime? I swear I think I go through so many phases that I even do some of them at least twice.

One grandson started drawing when he was a little guy. We were camping a few times and I remember sitting at the picnic table with him; the other adults were busy doing adult things but I chose to sit there with him and ask him questions about what he was drawing or had drawn. Of course, some of it was pretty far from recognizable but then I started seeing the changes over the years. He drew a picture for me one day of MY motorcycle. Believe me, it had some true to form parts and some ‘special’ features. Example: my paper motorcycle could change from a street bike to a motorcycle I could drive through the woods and other features. And there continued to be discussions as he would show me the latest.

When his grandfather and I separated I was afraid there would be no more need for me in his life. However, I was thrilled when he had his mother call me to come to his art show at high school; just as I was requested to go to his high school graduation and then his VoTech welding graduation. I think those little talks were the start of my being included in his life now. It’s wonderful to be included by a teen.

I am just curious if you realize you have made a difference to a child. Let me know your thoughts. I am at DebbieWalker@townline.org. I’ll be waiting. Thank you for reading in your busy days. Have a great week.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Save a little money

by Debbie Walker

I don’t know where this quote came from, however, I am using it here, “With prices of most necessities rising, I’m glad there’s a way to save tons of money in such a simple, healthy manner.” I haven’t tried most of these, but I will put notes on things I have tried. I hope you enjoy reading the possibilities and trying a few.

Car wax: After your car has been waxed there is still a little wax left over, even on the wax pad. Here are a couple of ideas for leftovers:

Do you have bird feeders on a pole? Rub that pole with the wax pad. Slippery going for the little devils.

Rub some wax on dog’s tags to prevent rust. Or do you have a sticky drawer, a little wax will fix that.

Rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol, for all the work it can do, is a very inexpensive purchase.

Got an ink mark on your leather pocketbook? Dip a cotton swab in alcohol, rub it back and forth ‘til mark is gone. Then dry with hair dryer.

Get rid of musty clothes odors. Fill spray bottle with equal parts alcohol and water, mist garment.

Equal parts 90 percent rubbing alcohol and water. Spray on your iced over car windows and windshield. This works. I would do my windshield first, walk around the car doing windows, get back to driver’s door and windshield was free of ice!

Unclog spray paint nozzle – Aggravating!

Turn can upside down, dip nozzle in a small bowl of alcohol. Wait one minute and rinse under hot water.

Lemon Juice: Lift tarnish off your holiday silverware. 1 tsp. baking soda, 4 tsp. lemon juice, makes a paste. Rub on, rinse off.

Keep cats from bothering plants. Soak a cotton ball in lemon juice and rub it around the rim of planter. Cats dislike citrus scent.

Clumpy rice. If you cook it and get sticky rice add a few drops of lemon juice to boiling water.

Stiff paint brushes. 3 parts lemon juice, 1-part water to boil. Soak brushes for 15 minutes.

Keep ants out. Saturate a few cotton balls with juice and place where ants and other bugs appear. Odor disrupts scent trails.

Petroleum Jelly: Kitty got a hair ball problem? Use your finger and dab it on the cat’s nose. She licks it off. It helps her digestive system.

Candlesticks often get covered with candle wax attached, before lighting rub on jelly. Cooled wax comes right off.

Milk: Take large, difficult pills with milk. Coats and slides easier.

Dry damaged hair. Spray bottle to spritz whole milk onto hair. Wait 30 minutes then shampoo and condition as usual.

Dog smells. Give him a bath, add 1 cup milk to water before putting him in. Massage and then rinse as usual. Smell is much better.

Mouth burn. Ease pain quickly, swish a bit of cold milk around in mouth.

Charcoal: Eliminate static from a radio. Place a piece of charcoal on top of it. It attracts the waves you don’t want to hear. It is supposed to make it static free. I have to try this!

I am just curious about that charcoal business. Contact me with comments or questions at DebbieWalker@townline.org. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Life’s experiences

by Debbie Walker

I know all this will sound “Polly-Anna” (it means to be excessively or blindly optimistic). What the heck, we can all use some positives right now. Do you remember the little saying about, “If life throws you lemons, make lemonade?” What a simple saying but how important.

I know, in the middle of a crisis, if someone told me to make “lemonade” I’d probably want to hurt them! However, when the crisis is over, I’ve found what you do with it is of utmost importance.

Seems like there are two files for these to go in. We have the “poor me” file or the “How can I use this” file. After a little practicing it’s amazing.

Like when I had to fly to Maine when Dad was sick that year. It was really an emotional trip. Everyone thought he was going to die. Up against death, going in debt for $500 doesn’t matter very much. You just do what you feel you must do, beg, borrow, but hopefully not steal.

Two weeks of such emotional upheaval is quite tiring. Leaving your comfort zone of home and having to deal with unfamiliar circumstances is quite a trip. The stress, the worry, then the emergency was gone, everything was going to be okay. A lot of life changes for mom and dad, but at least it was going to be okay.

Two weeks passed, life continued but then the reality of having borrowed the money and how in the world was I going to pay it back. I guess the reality of what really took place was over and I was exhausted.

It was an expensive trip money wise and emotional. So, the choice is to be upset with lemons, yet another blow to my already financial disaster or to realize what an education I got from that investment. It was an education that I learned a great deal immediately, however I believe I will be remembering and learning more in the years to come.

I learned a lot about myself, my values, human nature, culture, medical facilities and care givers, the process and the list goes on and on. That is how I make my “lemonade”, otherwise it’s just a waste of lemons!

That’s enough of serious, how about some fun!

Our friend Ed sends out “funnies” to some of us each day. The following was in Wednesday’s collection:

I still can’t believe people’s survival instinct told them to grab toilet paper.

I’m going to stay up on New Year’s Eve this year. Not to see the New Year in, but to make sure this one leaves!

They said a mask and gloves were enough to go to the grocery store. They lied. Everybody else had clothes on!

Keep in mind, even during a pandemic, no matter how much chocolate you eat, your earrings will still fit!

The dumbest thing I’ve ever purchased was a 2020 planner!

If I had only known in March it would be my last time in a restaurant, I would have ordered desert.

When does Season 2 of 2020 start? I do not like Season 1.

The buttons on my jeans have started social distancing from each other.

I never thought the comment, “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a six-foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are.

I’m just curious if you are ready for some laughs without politics being involved that is! Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org with questions and comments. I’ll be waiting. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Some silly thoughts

by Debbie Walker

I have been reading again (or still)! Hope you don’t mind. The first one is titled Thee Onderful Werld ov Wirds. The best I can do for the name of the author is it came from a little book titled Moments for Grandparents, from Robert Strand. I hope it makes you smile. (Figure out the title yet)

I take it you already know of tough and bough and cough and dough. Others may stumble, but not you, on hiccough, thorough, lough and through.

Beware of heard, a dreadful word. That looks like beard and sounds like bird.

And dead … it is said like bed, not bead. For goodness sake, don’t call it deed.

Watch out for meat and great and threat: they rhyme with suite and straight and debt.

A moth is not a moth in mother, nor both in bother, broth in brother.

And here is not a match for there, nor dear and fear and pear and bear.

And then there’s dose and rose and lose… just look them up… and goose and choose, and cork and work, and card and ward, and font and front, and word and sword, and do and go, then thwart and cart. Come, come I’ve hardly made a start.

There’s also click and clique, and grove and glove, and hope and soap, and move and love: there’s sane and seine, and soup and soul, there’s lean and lien, and fowl and bowl.

How about pear and pair and pare? There is also fear and fair and fare.

A dreadful language? Man alive… I’d mastered it when I was five.

THAT IS THE FIRST HALF, the second half has a little different spin on it. I will put that in for the following week.

The second read is a poem I found; I have no idea how many years ago now, but I can tell you the paper I copied it down on is now quite yellowed. Read it and try to still think of me with kindness!


Winter, Don’t descend on me;
I am not ready yet.
The mittens, boots, and woolen socks
Are placed where I forget.
The sleds are piled behind the bikes,
The runners red with rust.
The shovel’s somewhere in the garage
Buried deep in dust.
Winter, don’t descend on me,
Your cold and blowing snow
Keeps whipping through my muddled mind —
Where did the summer go?

I am just curious where your thoughts wander as winter approaches. Let me know at DebbieWalker@townline.org. I’ll be waiting! Have a great week! Thanks again for reading!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: A little bit of history

Tater Tots appeared in 1953

by Debbie Walker

My friend, Ms. Barbara, gave me her copy of the latest edition of her AARP magazine. In it was an article by Ruth Reichl, The Changing American Table.

The article was interesting and she brought a few questions for the reader. She wrote about Vice President Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev having “kitchen debates” in 1959. VP Nixon said, “What we want is to make life easier for our housewives”. (That’s a strange word. I can’t say I was ever married to a house!)

Changes were happening for our kitchens before 1959. Ms. Reichl wrote an article that kept my interest. One point was in the push to speed up growth of garden produce as well as ‘feed animals, to go bigger and better.’ She wonders if that would be why we have lost some of the flavors and about the nutritional value of these foods.

I have taken for granted the products created over the years before I was born and after. I never realized there is a history to go with each generation of products, including food. Simplifying is to say there was the generation of TV dinners. Even that was taking too much time in the kitchen, so they progressed. Next “instants” became the things to prepare, such as instant potatoes, freeze dried instant coffee, Pop Tarts, Tang and Carnation Instant Breakfast. Then came frozen bread dough, frozen pie crusts, Green Giant peas and Cool Whip.

If you get the AARP magazine, I would have to recommend the article. It’ll give you something to read and ponder if you are staying close to home these days.

The following is a list of products and the years they came on the market.

1934: Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.

1953: Tater Tots: they are crispy recycling of French fry leftovers.

1956: Electric can opener: It had its own cookbook, Can Opener Cookbook.

1958: Jiffy Pop: I remember it being fun to watch it as it ballooned.

1959: Tang: Adopted by NASA

1964: Electric knife: Seems like it was more of a knife for dad.

1964: Pop Tarts: You will love knowing they were developed from research on making a moist dog food patty.

1965: Shake ‘N Bake: “And I helped”.

1965: SpaghettiOs: I had no idea they are that old.

1966: Cool Whip: My mother loved anything resembling whipped cream.

1971: Hamburger Helper: Magic powder could stretch a pound of hamburger.

1971: Crock Pot: A.M. pop in cheap meat to P.M. Enjoy dinner.

1972: Celestial Seasonings: Four hippies began the herbal tea boom.

1976: California Cooler: premixed sangria.

1981: Lean Cuisine: frozen entrees sold out the first year.

1989: Electric Juicer: Now fruits and vegetables could be drunk.

2006: Avocado Toast: gained fame in a New York City café.

2010: Instant Pot: Multicooker.

2011: Meal Kits: Hello Fresh and others take away having to make decisions for dinner.

Anyway, I found the article interesting and I hope you get to read it. My column is a condensed version of an article that gives you plenty to think about.

I’m just curious what you would be interested in reading. Contact me at DebbieWalker@townline.org.

Thanks for reading and have a great week!

I’M JUST CURIOUS: 10 steps to self-care

by Debbie Walker

Hi! Okay I have to tell you right from the start that the basic steps were also on-line. I did add some of my “senior” wisdom. (Anyone who knows me will see humor in that comment.)

1. If it feels wrong, don’t do it.

When my grandkids were growing up, we tried to teach them about their Intuition. We resorted to “Is this something you would want to tell (Great) Grammie what you did (or said)? They adored her and never wanted to disappoint Grammie.

2. Say exactly what you mean.

Don’t assume someone understands what you intend. Don’t give them a half answer or half question. Be clear. Too often we are busy and give a condensed version, not everyone will see things as clearly as you.

3. Don’t be a people pleaser.

If someone asks you a question be as honest as you can be. Don’t give them the answer you think they want but don’t be hateful either. Often, I will tell someone that I don’t feel qualified to answer the question. It’s okay to just say, “I would not be comfortable answering that”. And in the real world you have to pick and choose your answers according to the situation.

4. Trust your instincts.

I believe this is pretty the same idea as #1, still have to refer back to instinct/intuition. How many times have you said, “I should have gone with my gut feeling”. Do I have to say more?

5. Never speak badly about yourself.

When you speak badly about yourself, it slowly but surely teaches you to think negatively about yourself. You may use your opinion of you as an excuse to not try something new. Also, who hears your negative comments? My Mom used to call herself “stupid.” One day I told her she had to not do that when doing things for the grandkids. They will someday think the same about themselves and use it for an excuse not to try something new. That would be sad.

6. Never give up on your dreams.

Keep some kind of a dream in front of you. You will be healthier having something to look forward to. They don’t have to be big dreams. It doesn’t have to be big dreams. Try new things and meet new people. You may never know what experiences are coming your way. Keep your Dreams.

7. Don’t be afraid to say NO.

To me this one is very much like #3. You have a right to say “No” sometimes. If you over-extend yourself by always saying “yes” when you have a good reason to say “no”, you may become resentful.

8. Don’t be afraid to say yes.

I think we have covered this earlier.

9. Be kind to yourself.

If you treat yourself as you would treat a friend, that’s a good head start.

10. Let go of what you cannot control.

I am just curious of how well we treat ourselves. If you don’t take care of you there won’t be anything left to care for someone else with.

Any questions or comments find me at DebbieWalker@townline.org . Thanks for reading and enjoy your week!

I’M JUST CURIOUS – Survival: reason to celebrate

by Debbie Walker

This move into the camper has held a few surprises for me. Recently, I was going through some boxes I must have packed a couple years ago and forgot. In going through this one box I found some of dad’s things. I found a piece that someone must have shared with dad but I can’t find it on the internet (keeping in mind I am not an expert) and I have no reason to believe he wrote this. I enjoyed reading it and hope you do too:

For All Those Born Before 1945

We are survivors! Consider the changes we have witnessed:

We were born before television, penicillin, polio shots, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees, and the PILL.

We were born before credit cards, split atoms, laser beams and ballpoint pens, before pantyhose, dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric blankets, air conditioners, drip dry clothes … and before man walked on the moon.

We got married first and then lived together. How quaint can you be?

In our time, closets were for clothes, not for “coming out of,” Bunnies were small rabbits and were not Volkswagens. Designer jeans were scheming girls named Jean or Jeanne; and having a meaningful relationship meant getting along well with our cousins. We thought fast food was what you ate during Lent, our Outer Space was the back of the Riviera Theater.

We were born before house husbands’, gay rights, computer dating, duel careers and commuter marriages. We were before day-care centers, group therapy and nursing homes. We never heard of FM Radio, tape decks, electric typewriters, artificial hearts, word or food processors, and guys wearing earrings. For us, time sharing meant togetherness. . . not computers or condominiums; a “chip” meant a piece of wood; hardware meant hardware and software wasn’t even a word.

In 1940, “made in Japan” meant junk and the term “making out” referred to how you did on your exam. Pizzas, “McDonalds” and instant coffee were unheard of.

We hit the scene when there were 5 and 10 cent stores, where you bought things for five and 10 cents. Sanders or Wilsons sold ice cream cones for a nickel or a dime. For one nickel you could ride a streetcar, make a phone call, buy a Pepsi or enough stamps to mail one letter and two postcards. You could buy a Chevy Coupe for $600, but who could afford one? A pity too because gas was only $.11 a gallon.

In our day, cigarette smoking was fashionable, Grass was mowed, Coke was a cold drink and Pot was something you cooked in. Rock Music was Grandma’s lullaby and AIDS were helpers in the principal’s office.

We were certainly not before the difference between the sexes was discovered, but we were surely before the sex change; we made do with what we had. And we were the last generation that was so dumb as to think you needed a husband to have a baby! No wonder we were so confused and there is such a generation gap today! BUT WE SURVIVED! Good reason to CELEBRATE . . .

I’m just curious what you thought of all this. Contact me with questions or comments at DebbieWalker@townline.org. I am looking forward to them! Thanks for reading enjoy your week.

I’M JUST CURIOUS: Public service announcement (Unofficial)

American black bear. (photo by Michael Webber)

by Debbie Walker

Let me first explain this is certainly not official business. The words are all my own, the paper nor anyone connected had anything to say here. Just me.

This one has to do with the bear population of Maine. I am so not knowledgeable on this subject so you may want to check with your local game warden.

The reminder I want to bring up in this column is: I believe we are into the time of year when the bears are getting nervous about packing on enough eating to be able to survive their winter sleep. Are you remembering to be diligent about taking care of your bird seed and feeders, and anything else they consider their food such as your beehives?

Now for a little story: Imagine if you will, waking in the middle of the night to find a bear in your room. Never in your wildest imagination had you thought something like this could happen to you.

My friend held her scream in as long as she could. The scream she released alerted her little tough guy, Jack Russell dog, Petey, down the stairs just ahead of her husband and on the bear’s heels, sending the bear on his way. When she was able to talk, she explained the story of the bear. Being male, he thought she had a nightmare. He couldn’t imagine it could have really happened, but he would humor her by looking around. He remembered they left the door open a crack for the cat to be able to come and go. He went out the door to look for their little dog. In the entryway he discovered their bag of sunflower seeds destroyed. Ooops, guess maybe there was a bear. He got the dog, closed, and locked the door never to be left open again, cat or no cat.

Thanks to D and D and their experience and sharing it, maybe we can prevent someone else from having a similar situation. Thank you D and D and, of course, Petey!

Maybe another note of interest: As you are preparing for the winter you know will show up sooner or later, I would like to suggest if you have animals that stay outside, please make sure to make preparations for them as well. They have to depend on you, please don’t let them down. If you can’t take care of this for them, please find someone who can. I don’t know what agencies you have there who might be able to help you, ask around, someone will know if you have such available.

I heard a good one today. It comes under the Scam topic. Nana Dee got a phone call. It was a man looking for her son, Ray. He claimed Ray had called to see about a brace for his backache. Ray, a quadriplegic, died five years ago!

I’m just curious if you have any bear stories to share. Thanks for reading. DebbieWalker@townline.org for any questions or comments. Have a great week!