Sometimes my mother threatened us with pine floats for supper, her fancified name for toothpicks and water. Occasionally she announced the evening meal would be potluck. Translation of that entrée: leftovers culled from the collection of random plastic containers occupying the far corners of the refrigerator.
I face a similar situation this week. At least some of my observations, quotes, and thoughts scribbled on sticky notes for eventual article inclusion must be used or discarded. Here are a few of my leftovers:
1) Amazingly, one simple change to life’s routine can lead to welcome but seemingly disproportionate joy. I am in the hat-knitting phase of the year, daily turning out a little cap for Christmas donation. As absentminded as I am, a row counter is absolutely necessary so that the beanies coming off my knitting loom are of consistent length. Almost unknowingly, I can knit a hat too short to cover chilly ears or long enough to wrap several times around a youthful neck. Thus, I count on a counter for, well, counting my rows.
My trusty, old row counter had finally seen better days. Although the white numbers painted next to the holes on the blue metal base were still legible, I was spending more time keeping the tiny plastic peg securely positioned in the gadget than I was knitting.
Joy of joys! I need only press the top of my brand-new counter, which then automatically advances to reveal the new row number in a little window. Low tech, to be sure. But this small solution to a relatively minor problem is a noteworthy victory – especially in 2020. In my excitement, I even knitted two whole hats that first day!
2) Speaking of hats, I heard a nostalgia-inducing comment the other day on a rerun of The Andy Griffith Show, my current shelter when I just cannot bear another news report on anything political. I believe it was Barney Fife who mentioned making party hats out of the funny papers.
At home, we always called the comics the “funny papers,” that multi-colored cartoon section folded in with the Sunday edition of the Springfield News-Sun. I also read “Blondie,” “Etta Kett,” and “Peanuts” in the UDC but cannot remember what we called those comics. The offhand reference from Mayberry had me longing for those long-ago days when we chuckled at the humor depicted in the “funny papers.”
3) Yesterday I saw a commercial for the Vapo Patch, to be applied to one’s chest when congestion interferes with breathing. As a child annually plagued with bouts of asthmatic bronchitis, I would have reveled in such a product. As it was, I endured my mother’s effective but unwieldy treatment: a layer of Vicks rubbed on my chest and covered by a clean, cloth diaper to which she applied a hot iron. Yes, she ironed my chest. And now there is the ease of a simple patch…
4) And I love the new commercial in which two giggly little girls are sitting on opposite sides of a plate covered with sections of a Hershey bar. A voice instructs the taller of the pair to take a piece of chocolate from the plate. They both help themselves when the voice asks which one likes vegetables more. When the voice says the one who likes sharing the best should take the next piece, one girl reaches for the chocolate – and immediately hands it to her friend. So sweet, so innocent…
5) Who remembers the viral sensation several years ago when a blue-and-black dress appeared to some people to be a gold-and-white dress? News anchors and talk show hosts spent an inordinate amount of time debating the “issue.”
I recently ran across a similar photo of an athletic shoe, which some people saw as teal-and-gray, others as pink-and-white. “Experts” explained that the phenomenon indicated whether the viewer was left-brained or right-brained or that the difference in optical appearance related to illumination perceptions. Who knows: the pictures were probably Photo-shopped anyway.
For what it’s worth: I saw teal-and-gray, while my brother-in-law saw pink-and-white. Together we looked at the same photo at the same time and perceived absolutely opposite colors. I still cannot not fathom that we saw the same picture so differently.
The experience has become something of a metaphor for me. In this day and age when we know we are right and the other guy is wrong about any number of issues, I realize just how integral perception is. Enlightening but frightening…
6) My brother posted a slice of truth on Facebook the other day. I paraphrase: we could frighten today’s young people by placing them in a room with a rotary phone, an analog watch, and a television with no remote – along with instructions written in cursive. My room of fear, on the other hand, would contain a 5G smartphone, any digital device, and demands that I stream something on my TV – with only a teenager to explain it all. I am already scared; when I switch TV stations, my new remote-controlled fan changes speed!
Dear readers, I hope you have enjoyed this very limited potluck. So many leftovers, so little newspaper space…
Leftover #7, hot off the press: Kurt Busch, for whom my nephew serves as lead engineer, on Sunday night advanced to the Round of Eight in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with his victory at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway! Hurray!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.