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Rainy Sunday (no special qualities least not good ones...)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A note on yesterday's blog:

Another thing I absolutely cannot do - and rarely admit to, because for others it's so easy they just don't understand how I can *not* do it - is tell which burner will light from looking at the diagrams on the range top. emoticon Somehow I seem to envision the diagrams as being printed on the top of a pizza box lid, so that when opened, the diagram in the upper left of the open lid would refer to the lower (or front) left quadrant when closed (imagine if the cheese stuck to the lid, where the cheese came from on the pie and then where it would be on the lid when you open the box. emoticon Complicated, isn't it? And wrong to boot. Yet as nearly as I can tell, that's how I do it. I can't seem to grasp that the lid, rather than opened away from me, is simply slid up from horizontal to vertical.

I'll leave to your imagination the disastrous meals, the scorched pans, the melted coffee carafes, emoticon the still-frozen side dishes and the times I was damned lucky I didn't burn the house down.

Two years ago, when we remodeled the kitchen, I purposely chose my stove with this problem in mind. The ceramic top is lovely, the warming drawer is nice, the self clean/steam clean is nice, all the little possibilities are probably nice (I don't use most of them because I...just don't) but the selling feature, for me, was the extra warming burner (controlled by a push-button, not a knob) in the back row. This means that each of the four control knobs has a diagram over it that has *three* circles in the top row and only *two* circles in the bottom row. I can tell left from right without difficulty, and now I can properly differentiate back from front! TRIUMPH! emoticon

As far as I can tell, I'm the only adult I know for whom this is a genuine problem. Others may chuckle and say, "Oh, yeah, I do that, too" but they don't really. They've never stood in front of the stove, pushing with the combined force of three good eastern universities, and still not been able to turn the right knob. Left/right, clockwise/counterclockwise, and lefty-loosey righty-tighty all seem to be correctly installed.

I also have a disastrous effect on toasters and doorknobs. Doorknobs which have let one in and out without difficulty for years - centuries, even - will come off in my hand (and the teensy screw invariably rolls under the radiator.) emoticonI have a huge collection of replacement doorknobs, screws, the metal piece that goes through the center, the bit that you put in the gouge in the door, all of it. When the inevitable happens, I'm always ready. Almost always, anyway. One of my interior doors still opens by means of a stout piece of string looped through where the doorknob should be.

In my world there is no such thing as an old toaster. At least not a functional old toaster, unless you count the metal rack that you put over the gas flame on the stove. That one can't help but work (unless you fail to remove the toast before it is aflame, but that's not the toaster's problem, that's yours.) I buy a toaster, take it home, plug it in, tentatively put in a slice or two of bread, and then, moments later, up pops delicious warm toast! emoticon

This happens a few times, sure. Maybe even a week or two. Then slowly, slowly, my presence seems to corrupt the integrity of the new appliance. It may now only toast on one side of the bread, or perhaps no longer allow itself to be regulated by the Light-Dark Selector. It may periodically make perfect toast, then chuck it behind the counter, so you have to remove the cabinetry to retrieve it. Or it may decide to make the perfect toast, then refuse to give it to you, emoticonwatching you with its little orange glowy eyes while you frantically stab at the cancel button, watching your toast slowly incinerate. Needless to say, I eat a lot of plain bread and understand why my mother always made toast under the broiler.

My late husband had the same effect on vehicle gas gauges, but I'll save that tale for another rainy Sunday. Have a good rest-of-weekend, all. I may be back later with another Special Quality or two...we'll see how the day goes.

There's a cat snoring here somewhere. Perhaps I'll find it and force it to snuggle with me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2BMYOWN 5/21/2011 6:35PM

    It's just your ******electric****** personality, Scooter! LOL Could you be one of those few enlightened souls whose vibrational level is so high that it interferes with the electrical currents? Now the door have NOOO clue! LMAO And that is fascinating about the stove knob diagrams...I don't believe I've ever known anyone who had a problem like that, but seems to me you've arrived at an ingenious way to circumvent it, so that's pretty awesome, I think. I need to drop by and read your blogs more often, these are great!

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    I'm right there with you on the stove burners... lighting the stove is a four-step process: I light the wrong one, check the little diagram, stare a moment or two, THEN light the right one. Luckily they're gas flames so there is no missing it when it's on!

(dyslexia stovosa?)

My new toast trick: to get stuck toast out of my 60 year old toaster, I no longer unplug the toaster before jabbing my fork in after my English muffin (ala 1968 GE educational film strips) but rather I now use a plastic fork! No more crawling in behind the cupboard to unplug and then again to re-plug the toaster!!!

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SLIMMERKIWI 5/16/2011 4:48AM

    Like BETHGILLIGAN, I was thinking a form of dyslexia, too - but I found it quite amusing non-the-less - LOL!


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HIPPICHICK1 5/15/2011 10:24PM

    Sounds like you have gremlins!
Thanks for the chuckles!!

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BETHGILLIGAN 5/15/2011 7:16PM

    Well, you're right--I have never heard of this problem before! Interesting--again, perhaps some sort of dyslexia. Negative impact on small appliances? I have no idea what that is about!! Interesting!

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SUZYMOBILE 5/15/2011 12:14PM

    I know right where my snoring cat is--in front of me, sharing space on the kitchen island, underneath his gooseneck sunlamp.

This was another delight to read, though I do sympathize with your apparently lifelong battle with inanimate objects. LOL!

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Special Qualities 10 and 11

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My sense of direction outside is excellent. You could air lift me into the woods, point me in a direction, and I would emerge hours later right where you wanted me. This works equally well, or nearly so, in cities of any size and in cars, whether or not I'm driving. I have no explanation for this, other than the fact that, as a child, I was "encouraged" to play outside from dawn until dusk, and it was always assumed I'd find my way home when I got hungry enough. But that was true for almost every kid of my generation, some of whom now couldn't navigate their ways out of broom closets.

Sadly, this does not extend to indoor areas. I have to have special rules for parking at malls: I always park at the Macy's, outside the linens department. It doesn't matter whether I need anything at Macy's, or even anything at "this end of the mall"; I simply know where my car is, because of The Parking Rule, and I can follow the signs to the correct door. Once I'm outside again, I'm good to go, even when I take my daughter's Taurus which blends in with every other gold mid-size sedan in the parking lot. I can spot it immediately.

Indoors, even in places I know well, like my doctors' or dentist's office, I come out the door of my room and peer worriedly up and down the corridors until some kind soul steers me to the desk. At the bookstore, I walk out into the mall and turn....left. Why? I dunno. Right works equally well, which is to say, not at all. I have no explanation for this conundrum.

Which brings me to my next special quality: I am good with words. I suspect this is at least partially because I read voraciously as a child, and partially because I was an only child and was spoken to largely by grown-ups, in grown-up speech. I loved to eavesdrop on said grown-ups, being completely fascinated by this advanced life form, and developed an excellent vocabulary quite early on.

I spell extremely well, too, or did until I hit about fifty, and now, to my horror, automatically spelling things correctly is slipping away. This isn't helped by SpelChek or by my cell phone, which insists that it knows which word I meant to type in on the the teensy keyboard and so substitutes a word of its own choosing, resulting in the transmission of texts consisting of complete gibberish. But we can talk about that another day. When I was a child, I lasted so long in the regional spelling bee that I eventually threw the contest: to David Ochs, on the word "writhe", off of which I intentionally left the final "e". I didn't want to go to Washington DC anyway (and David didn't last long. So there.)

Given all that delicious accuracy with words, I cannot understand why I can't unscramble them. I'm excellent at Cryptograms and crosswords - heck, I even do them in ink until about Friday - but my ability to unscramble words was unveiled dramatically when my younger daughter was in third grade. She had to unscramble words for homework, asked me for help, and I couldn't help her. I had to get her sister to help us both. It was....pathetic.

I so envy people that play Scrabble. Such a classic game, and it looks like great fun. Everyone sitting 'round the table by the fire, drinking port, drawing little tiles and plotting ingenious ways to use Qs and Zs in particular places. Sadly, though, I won't be joining them. I'll be out in the den watching the hockey game.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2BMYOWN 5/21/2011 6:40PM

    FINALLY!!!!! Special characteristics I can identify with!!!!!! OMG....this is so cool! LOL I'm the same, outside, and the same, inside....only for some reason, as I get older, I am developing an amazing ability to get disoriented in SQUARE that takes a particular kinda dumb, I think. I'm actually a bit worried about that...... I threw a spelling bee, too, as a kid, for the very same reason. And now and again, I'll have to write some dumb four letter word.....and have to THINK about it......****siiiiigh**** This is just too cool, I gotta keep reading......LOL

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NORASPAT 5/14/2011 9:10PM

    SCOOTER that was such a good read. i will admit we do have qualities good and bad in common. I too can get around towns quite well most of the time especially thanks to GPS and a compass in the car console.
I also need a GPS to get out of or in to for that matter medical facilities. I open the door and want to turn the wrong way always.
I never know my left from right I have to think about right hand by moving finger and thumb together. I actually became paranoid over this since I chose to be a diagnostic Radiographer and we had to display left or right on the films. I would check it way too many times doing it. I never had a mess up I checked it enough times to make sure it was correct.
I enjoyed reading about another person like myself, Thanks that makes us both quite normal I am sure HUGS Pat in Augusta Maine. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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BETHGILLIGAN 5/14/2011 8:34PM

    It is not visual discrimination skill but it is a discrete skill--maybe a form of dyslexia?? Lots of years of special ed and now I can't remember this simple concept. UGH!!!

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BETHGILLIGAN 5/14/2011 7:50PM

    Oh, I love this blog!! I would be the child stuck in the broom closet. Doesn't matter--indoors or outdoors, I have no sense of direction!!! Spelling has always been one of my strongpoints but I must admit I've gotten very lazy with spell check available. Unscrambling words is a very discrete ability; like visual discrimination. Many people have difficulty with this. Good thing you are rarely asked to do this in job interviews! LOL

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HIPPICHICK1 5/14/2011 7:09PM

    Another thing you can add to your list is that you are a good writer. Hmmmm...not just good, but good enough to try your hand at doing it for money.
Your writing is entertaining and enjoyable to read. You share with us so much of yourself and it's very heartfelt. We can relate to you and I love your sense of humour!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SLIMMERKIWI 5/14/2011 6:05PM

    I really enjoyed reading this. I generally have a pretty good vocab. and am usually very good at spelling, BUT give me a crossword puzzle and I am totally hopeless. ASK me the same question verbally and with no crossword in sight, I can generally answer most of the questions.

Directions? I am TOTALLY hopeless. I know the sun is east/west and north (southern hemisphere) but apart from that ......... zip. I remember when Ii used to go to a particular department store in the city, I could only find the (very obvious) lifts because I knew they were on an outside wall. I would follow that wall until I found the lifts. To find my car and had to WRITE directions from where I was to where I was going, and then follow it in reverse going back. As I said TOTALLY HOPELESS :-)


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SUZYMOBILE 5/14/2011 5:26PM

    This was a delicious blog to read! Very well written, as it should be, given your facility with words.

Oh, and FYI, the Spark nutrition tracker suggests a respelling as "chocolate crime pie" when you search for "chocolate creme pie." Rather judgmental of it, I thought.

About your sense of direction, you seem to be guided by the stars, which isn't a bad thing at all!

Loved it!

Comment edited on: 5/14/2011 5:29:17 PM

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Blog entry #2 for today, Special Quality 9

Friday, May 13, 2011

Remember Columbo? Peter Falk in a trench coat, solving murders? There was one episode I remember specifically: the murderer had a habit of taking his diamond pinky ring and notching his scotch bottle, saying, "This much, and no more", and when the level dropped to the notch, he'd stop drinking for the day.

I don't do that (although perhaps I should), but I am developing a sense of "This much, and no more" emotionally.

My husband was on Hospice care briefly, and six months later, they still send me things once in a while (*wonderful* people about whom I cannot say enough good things.) I recently received one of their booklets and read through the section on Facing the Emotions of Grief. It was interesting, and I moved on to the next section, entitled Life Without the Person. I got about four sentences into it, and realized I was becoming overwhelmed - it's a very subtle but distinct slip towards The Dark Place. I immediately tossed the little booklet aside, saying, "This much, and no more."

Maybe I'll pick it up again tomorrow and read more, maybe it'll be a month, or maybe I'll no longer have any particular reaction, and then I can skip reading it and recycle the paper. That's not the point. The point is that I have come to recognize my boundaries (and they aren't limitations, they're boundaries), to discern that fine line between brave and stupid, between painful growth and purposeful self-torture. It seems like it should be easy to recognize and act accordingly, but for me, that line has always been blurry.

I've learned how to say, "I don't wish to discuss that just now" without feeling like I need to justify it. I can toss away a booklet or change the channel or break into someone's long speech about How Awful Things Must Be For You (and some people live to give those speeches - we all know a few) with a polite subject change. I don't leave the room to cry any more - I've learned how to change directions before leaving the room becomes necessary.

With my daughters (particularly the poor child who is emotionally shaped like me), we've all learned to work with one another. One minute we're happily reminiscing about something, and the next minute someone breaks in with something akin to, "Sooo, how about them Yankees?" and we respect it for what it is. One of us has hit the notch on our bottle.

I'm particularly proud, if that's the right word, of this Quality, because it was late coming and hard won.

And there's a little ruby-throated hummingbird - the first one I've seen this spring - outside, feeding from the flowering quince. My reward for climbing down off my Wise Guy stump and trying to give you something of substance.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2BMYOWN 5/21/2011 6:44PM

    Lots to be said for boundaries....that's a hard lesson for all of us, I think. I'm glad the Hospice is so caring, they are definitely a wonderful service with wonderful people, have dealt with them all to often thru the years. Kudos for all of the self-enlightenment you are developing....and for posting about it so others can also learn.

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STARLASUE 5/19/2011 7:56AM

    Soemhow, I missed that you were doing these, so I am reading them backwards. Super. I do remember that Columbo too! I love this quality that you have identified.

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HIPPICHICK1 5/14/2011 11:56AM

    Great blog!!
So proud of you!

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BETHGILLIGAN 5/14/2011 8:29AM

    I love this blog! How insightful of you. It really made me stop and think about my boundaries and how often I don't honor them. You are amazing! Thank you for making me look at myself today. You've given me much to think about! I am glad you are my Spark friend!!

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APPLEPIEAPPLE 5/14/2011 4:37AM

    After I lost my husband 10 years ago, It was a very hard time for me. But being an optimist I did not want to wallow in sorrow because "it is not me". I still have some moments but moving out of grief for me at least was what I needed to do to still be me. Enough said. I really enjoy hummingbirds! I had them in my grandma's flower garden and would watch them as a child. I have tried to incourage them in my garden but still have not been able to get them regularly.

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SLIMMERKIWI 5/13/2011 10:47PM

    That "boundaries" thing is a very important acknowledgement when it comes to our emotional health and wellbeing. I'm really glad that you can recognize WHEN to use it and also that you DO use it :-)

I would love to see a hummingbird but we don't have them in NZ. I wonder if your one go a headache, because most birds only fly forward! I could just imagine it's little foot rubbing it's head - LOL! Actually, that reminds me of years ago when my now deceased mother-in-law told me that her budgie had a cold. I got the giggles because I had a sudden image of it sitting on it's perch in the corner of the cage, holding a little hanky in it's foot, and sneezing it's head off :-D


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NORASPAT 5/13/2011 5:32PM

    Scooter we had a hummingbird crash in to the picture window. It was a big bang for a thing so small but I could not find him on the ground so he must have survived the blow. It does seem too cold for them to be back in Maine.

I definitely agree with knowing boundaries. I used to suffer through those challenging conversations and now i do as you do, I simply say i do not wish to discuss this any further. It usually does the trick for me too. It took time to realise that is the clincher that stops the runaway conversation. Thanks Pat in Maine. emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 5/13/2011 5:33:54 PM

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SUZYMOBILE 5/13/2011 4:25PM

    Wow again. You've reached a deep level of self-knowledge, seems to me. Over time, I imagine your boundaries will move a notch or two, but for now, you can sense where they are, which is amazing. And, even better, you can do something about it, without spiraling into uncontrolled emotional territory.

Sooo, how about them ruby-throated hummingbirds?

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What Makes Me Special - 8

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sorry, guys. I've been simultaneously sick and busy - never a good combo - so I'm a couple days behind. I intend to spend today and the weekend catching up on things, including What Makes Me Special. This morning's entry has to do with my being somewhat under the weather.

My maternal grandmother was an RN in Philadelphia, just after World War One. Nurses in those days - and still, for all I know - carried a good deal of their nursing paraphernalia on their persons at all times, and a good many of these objects have worked their way down to me. Some I can't identify (and probably don't want to - there's a kit with some really scary looking stuff), but one that I have always been attached to is the thermometer.

Almost everyone under a certain age - I have no idea what that age might be, but I'm guessing thirtyish - thinks of a thermometer like this:

You place it under your tongue and a few seconds later it beeps and tells you your temperature.

Before things got so veryvery small, though, human thermometers had a tube of mercury inside, just like the thermometers on the side of the house or the ones inserted into the boiling pot of whatever. They worked like this:

And now we (finally) get back to our story. My grandmother had a mercury tube oral thermometer that screws into a little aluminum case and attached to her uniform with a primitive type of safety pin. :

I keep this in my bedside drawer. It never needs batteries. It can be washed safely, so no need to worry about destroying it with water or needing to buy those nasty little shields. I shake it down (a quick wrist flex that shoves all the mercury to the cold end of the tube), I put it under my tongue, I set the timer on my cell phone (hey, I'm not a total Luddite) for two minutes, and at the end of the waiting period I read my temperature.

This little thermometer has been accurately recording people's temperatures for almost a hundred years, and I see no reason to replace it with something more complex and less reliable. I'm not sure that using this and things like it actually makes me special, but it makes me feel special. Besides, it reminds me of Grammy, and when I don't feel well, that's a nice thing.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2BMYOWN 5/21/2011 6:50PM one! LOL Wouldn't trade it for all the tea in China...or anywhere else. The battery never runs down and don't have to worry about declining ears not being able to hear that minuscule little beep.....just gotta worry about the aging eyes being able to see where the mercury is.

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APPLEPIEAPPLE 5/14/2011 4:40AM

    Wonderful story! Really enjoyed it.

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PENNYAN45 5/13/2011 6:23PM

    The old type of thermometer is all I own.
But I will have to get a modern one soon - for my 3-yr-old grandson.
His parents (both medical people) use a thermometer that is casually rubbed against his forehead.
That's what we used to do with our hands - feel the forehead- and we could usually detect a temperature. I actually got to the point where I could guess the number with a certain amount of accuracy.

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NORASPAT 5/13/2011 5:24PM

    We too had thoseand i actually still have 3 mercury thermometers given to me when the kids were born and one when i went to the hospital everyone took their thermometers home with them. After all you had paid for them right?
We did break one of the kids thermometers and yes we all plyed with the mercury balls that were inside. Ignorance is not bliss, but even in my chemistry classes in school we played with mertcury. I think itis so cool you have your grandmothers nursing equipment. Pat in Maine. emoticon emoticon

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SUZYMOBILE 5/13/2011 12:29PM

    I love this and would also love to see what other paraphernalia a WWI nurse might have kept.

Interesting that many youngsters on Spark WILL need a full explanation like the one you provided. Kind of like how a typewriter worked.

Boy, and you knew you were really sick when it hurt to even snap your wrist to shake down the thermometer. I hope that isn't the case with you and that you feel better soon!

Comment edited on: 5/13/2011 12:30:07 PM

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JANEDOE12345 5/13/2011 10:42AM

    That is the only kind of thermometer I use or trust. Mine is not as fancy as yours but it works like that and it feels like a step toward better health when you are shaking it down. Just snapping your wrist makes feel like you will recover soon.
Hope you feel better soon.

PS Once my kids decided to see how thermometers work by holding one up to the kerosene heater. This was before I knew how bad mercury is, so they chased the little silver balls around for awhile on the wood floor and then I vacuumed it all up. Mercury poisoning, anyone?

Comment edited on: 5/13/2011 10:43:35 AM

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BETHGILLIGAN 5/13/2011 10:00AM

    OMG!!! I do remember the good old thermometer that always worked!!!!! I would love to find one of those again! Good memories for me, too!

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Special - Day 7

Saturday, May 07, 2011

I am a very good driver and I can drive anything, literally from bicycles to bulldozers. (I can't back up a trailer to save my life, I've discovered, especially when there are people waiting for me to do so - hey, I'm working on it.)

It's always been interesting to me, though, that if a passenger asks me a particularly difficult question - not, "What's for lunch?" but more like, "What do you think Aunt Michelle's real reasons were for doing X?" - I automatically slow down. In fact, the more thought required by the question, the more slowly I go. I always try to justify this by saying that people *should* slow down when their attention isn't 100% on their driving, but the sad truth is that I'm just a lousy multitasker.

Once, when I was leading some friends in another car, I got to thinking about something I'd heard on the radio and without realizing it, yes, started going more and more slowly. My cell phone rang, and since I was on the Thruway (long, straight, not much traffic where we were), I picked it up and heard my daughter shout, "Mum! You're thinking again, aren't you? You're going 45! Stop *thinking!*"

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

2BMYOWN 5/13/2011 7:36AM

    I haven't commented a lot but wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blogs! They always get me to thinking.....I've come to the decision that you have me beat hands down in most everything! LOL Multitasking DOES bite, tho.....didn't it used to be easier, or was that just my imagination? In my case, it has become one of those 'is it menopause or is it Alzheimers' cases.....repeatedly. I have discovered that I'm no longer able to track two conversations at once....if I am on the phone, and someone nearby says something to me, I have to catch either one or the other, but I can't catch both. Geez, it's a good thing I didn't have that problem when my kids were little!

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REDSHOES2011 5/7/2011 11:43PM

You will have to practise multiple-chores more lol.. So your daughter doesn't give you raspberries about thinking lol..

Comment edited on: 5/7/2011 11:44:16 PM

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SLIMMERKIWI 5/7/2011 10:12PM

    I finally caught up with your blogs - WHAT A HOOT!

Still - it is a compliment - a lot of offspring seem to think that parents DON'T think :-)

Kris xx

PS - I loved the comment about the marijuana one too:-)

Comment edited on: 5/7/2011 10:14:52 PM

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NORASPAT 5/7/2011 9:18PM

    I know someone else like that. It is the reason I and my DH do not talk very much when he is driving. We have finally come up with the solution on the highways it is called CRUISE CONTROL. Some days i wish i had it built in to my body so I can just keep going at the same speed for hours. Too bad its only installed in cars, Hugs.

We are in Plattsburgh WOO HOO Pat in Maine. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JANEDOE12345 5/7/2011 1:11PM

    Not much trailer-driving in my world so I bet you are much better at it than I could ever think of being. Not sure I would try and kudos to you for the ability. Now that thinking thing, I can do that and often do.

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EMRANA 5/7/2011 11:40AM

  emoticon !

Now there's a talent I don't share. I can't even drive a minivan or SUV because it feels so HUGE!

I am also laughing at HIPPICHICK's reply... emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 5/7/2011 11:29AM

    That is sooo cute! An old BF of mine once got stopped on the freeway for driving too slow but in his case it wasn't thinking that made him slow down...or maybe it was! The cop also charged him with possession of marijuana. There was a roach on his dashboard.

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SUZYMOBILE 5/7/2011 9:08AM

    That's so funny! "Mum, you're thinking again, aren't you?" LOL! Back up a trailer??? I couldn't even DRIVE a trailer! You're amazing.

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BETHGILLIGAN 5/7/2011 8:09AM

    I envy your ability to drive anything! I'm a very insecure driver and only like to drive my own familiar car. However, I had to laugh that your daughter is telling you to stop thinking!!! LOL

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CAT609 5/7/2011 7:42AM

    Don't feel bad, my husband does the same thing! I think it is better to be safe than sorry. emoticon

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