Category Archives: Life Stories

“He’s Not For You”

“He’s Not For You” 

ford-logo
As seen online via photobucket.

By Barbara Dexter

I decided it was time to replace the “F.O.R.D.” as it is costing a lot of money to keep in working order. It seemed that once my decision was made my “F.O.R.D.” let me down again. I decided it was for the last time. I drove to a Subaru dealer that had a manual shift Forester in stock. I drove a few cars that day and then went home to think about it.  I applied for a loan with my credit union and when I received the approval shortly thereafter I called the salesman to let him know I wanted the manual shift Subaru Forester.

I didn’t quite have possession of the Subaru when I received a call at work from my younger sister, G.  I knew the call was important since for one my younger sister does not call and does not keep in contact with me and two she called during working hours. I found out my mother had been rushed to the hospital after what they suspect was a heart attack. Yes it is the dead of winter, January to be exact, when I rented a car to drive to Maine or as I like to call it the “frozen north”. By the time I arrived in Northern Maine, my mother had been released from the hospital. I was told she had a hole in her heart. My younger sister was at my mother’s place sitting at the kitchen table with her and talking. I asked what the plan was and if there was a special diet or something that she should be on at this point. My mother lost it and said she doesn’t know anything, in fact the doctor’s office doesn’t tell her anything and that she needs to wait for a letter. I decided it was not good to raise her blood pressure and decided to let it go.

G. went home a day or two after my arrival. It was at this time that my mother told me of her appointment in Bangor to get an oil change and new ignition harness on her car.  I told her I didn’t think she shod be driving, at least until she felt better. It was like her world had ended. She said she felt well enough to drive. Mind you driving distances in Maine are not short. That is probably why they coined the phrase “you can’t get there from here” to describe the area. I said I would go with her to her car appointment because I didn’t want to make her more upset and I didn’t want her to be driving alone. I figured if I was able to keep her from hitting another car or a person, I had done my duty by her. So we loaded Casey, my dog, in the car and took off for Bangor, we checked in and proceeded to the waiting area. A nice man asked to pet my dog and I said sure, because Casey is friendly and enjoys attention. I made small talk about my dog to the man. Then all of a sudden my mother leans over and states in a loud voice “he is not for you”. I see the man cordially back away and look bewilderingly at my mother. I look at my mother and tell her “that was not nice”. She states “I can say anything I want”. Well that put me in my place.  I felt a wise comment coming on and let it go. I said to my mother, “if I was going to pick up a man where was I going to take him your place?”

Well we returned home without any further events. When we arrived back we noticed a phone message on my mother’s answering machine. She plays the message, it was from her doctor’s office calling to check in on her and schedule an appointment. My mother says she is not going to call them back. I tell her the doctor’s office is obligated to check on her since she was just released from the hospital and she should call them back. Well she does call them back and decided to give them a piece of her mind. She states that they are “just a money making scheme and will not make an appointment with them.” I do believe I finally understand why they do not call her. She tells them off. My older sister, H., arrived a short time later. I told her about the doctor’s office message and what mom said over the phone to them. She said she finally understood what was going on and that she only gets little bits and pieces from mom. H. and I agree to share our little bits and pieces and hope to get the full story to decide how best to care for our mother.

A couple of days later, I return to New Jersey. I pick up my new car. I am enjoying the four wheel drive, but to be honest I haven’t driven a stick shift in at least fifteen years. I’m wondering what I was thinking. Yes I remember now, when the brakes failed on the F.O.R.D. I decided that at least if I owned a manual transmission vehicle I could downshift and be in more control. I gradually gained the control I was searching for as I gained more ease and confidence with the stick shift.

 

“I Saw Bigfoot, I did, I did see Bigfoot”

storminthetrees
The approaching storm seen through the trees.
bigfoot
Bigfoot!

I Saw Bigfoot, I did, I did see Bigfoot. by Barbara Dexter

It started out as an ordinary Sunday.  I assembled the clothing I would wear to church services.  I began my cleansing ritual and got dressed. On the way to church I stopped for a large coffee and a plain, sliced, and toasted multigrain bagel. It was my usual stop the “D’n D” near the zoo. There were children of eight to ten years old as far as the eye could see. The small parking lot was busy, but I found a spot so I didn’t think anything about it. I certainly didn’t think there would be any issues when I returned to my car. Well in typical Jersey fashion, a black Mercedes had parked illegally blocking both the egress to the additional parking around the back of the mini mall and partially blocking me in. It took me about eight tries to finally realize, the only way out was to back the wrong direction out of the space and into a handicap space to turn around so I wouldn’t be backing into oncoming traffic on the main road. I was finally free and clear. It was just another day in Jersey.

I have come to expect traffic and parking issues.  There are parking wars even at the church garage. Apparently the neighboring church’s parishioners take it upon themselves to park and even block in other cars in their continuing quest for free parking. We have now gone to a hang tag system, in hopes of identifying our own and singling out the continual string of violators.

Of course once you clear the parking lot and enter the chapel, the people are friendly and welcome you.  The music and service have been focusing upon the need to persevere with prayer both in frequency and duration.

The after service fellowship welcomed me to a nice hot coffee, a hearty bagel, and warm conversation. I was invited and decided to join in for an afternoon hike in West Milford at one of the parks near the New Jersey and New York state border. There was a lovely frozen lake complete with ice fishermen and cross country skiers. We ladies decided to walk the land route and leave the frozen lake to the men. Walking in the snow felt as if we were walking on beach sand, since the snow was so deep and packed down in places.  We quickly determined it was best to keep on the snowmobile trail since the heft of the vehicle packed down the snow. After the first couple of sinking experiences, packed snow was definitely the way to go.  Snow shoes were only a passing thought as we trudged onward.

It was then that Bigfoot emerged. Is it really human or is an ape? I think I see Bigfoot. I did, I did see Bigfoot. He was a large individual approximately seven feet tall and clothed in various shades of brown. There he was bending over with a fish in his hands. I was suitably impressed by his massiveness and how quick and nimble his hands were with the fish.  Next I saw the fishing trap get set and marker go up.

He had a lawn chair out in the middle of the lake. I saw him actually sit in it. I wondered out loud, just how he fit in the lawn chair. My friend, S., said “Barb what are you talking about”? I pointed and said “look there, no there do you see him, it is Bigfoot”? She laughed and said “the fisherman, that’s Bigfoot”? “Well of course it is”, I said, don’t you see the massive build and the varying shades of brown that make him look like he is covered in fur”? She laughed. I took photos. I swore the photos looked good when I took them. Then when I got home I looked again and you could barely make out the form of Bigfoot. It was like he had some influence over my camera. I did get a couple of good photos of his massive footprints.  I had the feeling I was stuck in the twilight zone, not sure if this was real or not.

“Lemon Scented”

lemon_7_detox
as seen online from lemon_7_detox

Lemon scented always lemon scented…. a short rant by Barbara Dexter

I will never forget the smell of the lemon joy dishwashing liquid that my mother insisted was the best to clean both the dishes and the kitchen floor (well upon occasion). I say that it is “lemon, lemon, lemon always lemon.” How I will never forget the constant toiling over the never ending sink full of dishes my siblings, well never myself, would generate.  Laundry- yes lemon scented laundry detergent. Bathroom cleaner-yes lemon scented. As I write this I now understand why my younger sister would purposefully break dishes instead of washing them or maybe hide them behind the washing machine. Think lavender-not lemon- a scent that both relaxes, calms and may actually make doing chores enjoyable.

To his day I have not been able to break my mother of the lemon joy habit. She doesn’t  like the scent. I do believe she thinks nothing else can clean as well.

As I anticipate my trip home for the Thanksgiving holiday-I anticipate entering the lemon scented world. Could this mean that she is content with that continuous scent? I don’t know, I just want to open window.

“A Brief History of My Time”

“A brief history of my time”   by Barbara Dexter

I leave the secured lab area to visit the hall restroom. I enter my usual choice for a stall. The one second away from the wall. I like this one because no one hardly uses it and there is never a line for it. Upon review of my dialog Lucy asked “How do you know it isn’t hardly used?” “Do you have a meter?” I don’t like the other ones that are closer to the paper towels by the exit as they have large cracks where the other women can see in. On this particular day I put the liner down in the correct position over the seat and do “my business.” As I clean my bottom the toilet seat breaks underneath me and pinches the back of my thigh. I’m freaking out. I don’t want anyone to see me leaving the stall in this condition. I know the office lady (alias mission support specialist) is off in Brazil for two weeks to care for her mother. Needless to say I know she cannot call maintenance. I sheepishly go to my team leader and tell her. She suggests that I need to get ahold of maintenance and if I didn’t want to walk around and find one of workers I need to go and see the lab director (L.D.). I take a brief walk to ascertain if the maintenance men were close by and then I “put my tail between my legs” and go visit the L.D. I tell her you will never believe what just happened and inform her of the broken toilet seat and say I didn’t want to leave it like that. After a brief laugh she said she would take care of it and say that there was a broken toilet in the second stall from the wall.

The next day I decide to use the facility located within the secured lab area as the one in the hall area was being cleaned. I go to my usual stall farthest away from the door. As I finish doing “my business” and attempt to stand up my left foot slides out from under me, due to a water leak. I think it is a good thing I have been exercising and have built up my thigh muscles as I am able to catch myself by using my balance and strength my right leg. Ok so it’s two days in a row that I need to visit the L.D. regarding rest room issues. Once again I put my “tail between my legs” and see the L.D. and once again there is laughter. Then she says “Just what are you doing in there?” I assure her that it is only natural functions and she said she would take care of it. I am mortified but decide to laugh at myself and move on.

“Be My Valentine”

val4

“Be My Valentine” funnies by Barbara Dexter

First thing in the morning the Monday before Valentine’s Day the holiday discussion started. Lucy said to the guys “you know the price of flowers goes up as Valentine’s Day approaches. You may be better to get them a couple of days early. You know Valentine’s Day is Friday. You could pay $100.00 or more, if you wait too late, for a simple bouquet of roses.” Then Archer replied “I tried the potted plant thing, you know because they are cheaper, but she wasn’t happy. I figured it wouldn’t die that way and she would have flowers longer than a week or two.” Lennard commented “not to worry, just buy some plastic flowers, they never die and you can give the same thing every year.” Lucy commented “somehow I don’t think that will go over well ” and we all laughed.

Lucy then said “you know all the restaurants will be booked up, you better reserve early.” GQ said to Archer “if you don’t hurry up and make your reservations, you will not eat.” What Lucy replied “there is always a fast food place.”

Then Lennard’s joke got me. What is the difference between a man’s and a woman’s wedding ring? The man’s ring will just melt when you expose it to fire. The woman’s ring will glow hot and if you look on the inside it will read “one ring to find them and one ring to rule them.” of course I said, “I need this ring.”

“Ode to the MacIntosh Apple”

apple-mcintosh-fruit-bill
Photo as seen online via thetreefarm.com

“Ode to the McIntosh Apple” reminiscing by Barbara Dexter

A couple of years ago when I embarked upon the vegan diet due to health concerns there was one memory from my childhood that was ever present in my mind. This shall be my “Ode to the McIntosh Apple.”

The McIntosh apple may be described as a round, red apple with an aromatic fragrance that is complimented by its sweetness with a hint of a tart.

Yes, growing up in a rural area has certain perks. For one we used to visit the local apple orchard regularly when the apples were in season. There always seemed to be a bag of juicy red McIntosh apples to snack upon after school or anytime for that matter. What was that I remember saying too often? “Mom, I’m hungry!” The reply was simply, “Have an apple”. I always wanted something else and would ask if anything else was available? The reply I received was “that is what you are getting like it or leave it”.

Then came the following day at school when the whole school knew I ate a McIntosh apple. Yes, I would break wind. No, it wasn’t a delicate, sweet and aromatic fart. It was a full blown curl your nose type. I remember the teasing “there goes Gastor” or simply “hey  Gastor”. I gradually got over the teasing. I then learned to use the flatulence to my advantage. I seemed to develop better control and could hold the gas until just the right moment when it would surprise and shock replacement teachers or new students. I also learned the advantage of flatulence in a crowded movie theatre. Just let one go and the crowd would miraculously thin. There was one point when I toyed with the idea of controlled flatulence to play a melody. I was thinking perhaps Jingle Bells or Silent Night.

Yes, age and responsibility did catch up with me. Now I can think of the time, laugh and remember control is possible. The vegan diet will not defeat me through flatulence. I can use the sulfurous gases to my advantage. Yes, for sure nothing evokes fall better than the aromatic fragrance of a McIntosh Apple.

 

“Lindberger Cheese”

 

lindberger cheese stink scale (2)
Photo taken at the Melt Shop in NYC

“Lindberger Cheese” by Barbara Dexter

Well it was supermarket day.  On this particular trip my mother, my older sister and my younger sister accompanied me for the brief walk to the mom and pop market down the street. The first stop after the obligatory gallon of milk grab was the deli counter.  Here we were met by the friendly butcher. There was no teenager behind the counter to wait on customers. Here there place was to stock selves or if you were lucky run the cash register.  Well the local butcher was stout and had a “beer belly”. His butcher dress whites were always stretched a bit thin about the mid-section. There was always fresh blood from his most recent workings marking the exact place where the counter met his middle. This never seemed to bother anyone. It was just accepted.

Well on this particular day my mother was distracted by my younger sister, G., when the butcher asked what she would like. She pointed to the familiar chunk of deli cheese that we always got. American cheese, yes truly American the artificial coloring, vegetable oils, and non-dairy ingredients and all. He asked if she was sure she wanted that particular cheese. She said yes she was sure and reaffirmed that was what she wanted.  Well he diligently sliced the cheese, and I could not wait to get home and have a nice big cheese sandwich on white bread with mayonnaise. I could feel my mouth salivate. We apparently received a little over a pound of cheese, all nicely wrapped in the white deli paper, the tab taped closed, and the price marked with a wax pencil on the outside.

We made our way to the bread aisle. Of course we had to get some oranges as it was winter and we needed our vitamin C to increase to help fight off the snuffles. G. had to get some “Lucy Charms” and the rest of us made due with corn flakes.  Finally the bread aisle is in sight. Where is it, where is it…there it is the “Wonder Bread”. It is the whitest bread available. It was so soft, that it was a challenge not to squish it on the way home. I’m not sure why we always purchased “Wonder Bread”. I had thought it was the taste, but now I am no longer positive.

We are off to the register.  There is only one person in head of us. Not too bad for the average supermarket line, except this was the mom and pop market. The cashier needed to talk to everyone and chat about the local gossip. It was a great place to find out who was doing what to whom.  We learned that our neighbor had a car for sale. It was thought to be in good condition but much too expensive. No there was the price check. It happened again, every time we were in line at the register, something was amiss with the person’s order ahead of us. It was time to scream the confusion over the microphone so the whole store could hear. Yes, this was the system, and surprisingly, it worked and did not cause any confusion.  Everyone just accepted it as business as usual.  We made it through the check out without any further delay.

We were all anxious to have a cheese sandwich.  We walked at a fast pace in anticipation. When we arrived at home a short time later, H., my older sister, and I set some napkins and snack plates out. My mother went in to the kitchen and made up the sandwiches.  When mine appeared in front of me, my mouth immediately went dry. What was the source of that foul stench?  This was the most shockingly odorous thing I had ever encountered.  I asked for a cheese sandwich from the cheese we just picked up at the market. I was told that is the cheese and now that we have it we have to eat it. My mother came over to me and yelled, eat your sandwich it is “Lindberger Cheese” (actually it is spelled Limburger, but that isn’t what she said).  Well the young geek mind in me decided to experiment with items to try and get something to make this sandwich possibly acceptable enough so I could tolerate eating it.  I began by stuffing pretzel sticks inside the layer of bread. I arranged them in a layer from left to right in such a way as they resembled lines crossing out the cheese. I replaced the bread layer. One bite and no I couldn’t do it. Next to attempt to alter the taste of my sandwich were the pickles. Do I choose dill or bread and butter pickles, I wondered. I chose bread and butter pickles. I actually like them better. I think it is because of all the sugar they are brined in. I layered the slices so they would form green spots in a perfectly uniform manner both on top of the pretzel layer and under the cheese layer.  Of course G. and H. ate theirs with only a little whining and no creativity.  I was on a mission to save my sandwich from the vile cheese. I attempted another bite.  My mother was just about to yell at me when she saw that I was actually attempting to eat the food I was playing with.  I chewed, I quickly swallowed that mess. Then who magically appears, my brother, Andy, I offer him my sandwich.  He “inhales” it and thanks me for the lovely snack.  I was never so happy to see him and have him eat my food, than I was at that moment.  My mother came out and saw that my sandwich was finished and said well finally. I left her no explanation as to how it was eaten.  I snuck in, grabbed an orange and proceeded to the other room where I could eat it in peace. I later said a special thank you to my brother. He did not understand. He did not notice anything different about the sandwich as he always ate so fast that I his taste buds didn’t have time to interact with the food.