Those Answering Machines!

I read an interesting post recently: a blogger writing about her father, a Polish immigrant to the US in 1947. He never quite caught on to the business of answering machines. Read her story here.

I remember folks getting quite creative on their answering machine recordings. Years back I phoned a number — someone advertising something for sale, if I recall rightly — and they weren’t home. Instead I got this C&W verse sung by some fellow with a nasal twang, that went something like:
Hello, so nice of you to call. And how are you, your wife and the kids, your Mom and the dog? A couple more lines, then he launched into a different melody starting with, “Where oh, where, are we today…”

When my daughter got home I called back so she could listen to it, too — hoping no human answered the phone! I wonder how often those folks were told, “Er… Hello. Um…well, I actually didn’t call to talk to you. I…uh…just wanted my friend to hear your answering machine song.”

I was inspired to write a little ballad (set to the tune “Streets of Laredo”) telling the tale of a poor fellow and his answering machine. If you’d like to record it on your machine, feel free. 🙂

I just walked out to the store at the corner;
I thought I’d step out for a bit of fresh air.
Then don’t you know it, my phone started ringing,
and as you will know I just wasn’t all there.

The phone started ringing, my dog started barking,
and woke up my neighbor who sleeps half the day.
He phoned the police and they came in a hurry
and the pound keeper came to take Rover away.

I pleaded my cause and they gave me a warning,
“Get an answering machine or get rid of your hound!”
Well, I love old Rover — my best friend, I tell you!
So I bought this contraption— the best one in town.

Now when I’m outdoors or downtown on an errand
leave your messages here at the sound of the beep.
I’ll be calling you back soon if you leave your number,
but don’t call again. Let my poor neighbor sleep.


The Party Line

I’ve been inspired to write and post this humorous little poem this morning and today I also plan to Reblog a few other bloggers’ poems I’ve found enjoyable and/or inspiring.


Sounds of a Six-O-Phonecrank-telephone

Grandma cranks and cranks
the old wall phone,
rouses Central to connect her
with her sister Margaret,
eager to share the news:
her daughter-in-law just gave birth
upstairs — in double quick time —
to a healthy baby. Number nine.

Margaret’s phone rings,
two long one short. All down the road
telephones tinkle.
Housewives leave their work;
half a dozen hands grab.
Click. Click. Click. Click. Click. Click.
Half a dozen ears pressed to earphones,
listening on the party line.

“Another boy,” Grandma says —
and a whopper. Almost nine pounds!”
“That’s a good size,” says Margaret.
Half a dozen silent nods.
Good size. Good size. Good size.
Good size. Good size. Good size.

Before Margaret can ask
her neighbor Flo interrupts,
“What are they calling him?”
“Billy, after his Uncle Will.”
Half a dozen silent nods
and murmurs all along the line.
“Good choice,” says Margaret. “Won’t Will be pleased!”
Won’t he be pleased! Won’t he be pleased!
Won’t he be pleased! Won’t he be pleased!
Won’t he be pleased! Won’t he be pleased!

Right shortly six more calls
tinkle over the line as six tongues repeat,
“Another boy. Number nine. Good size.
Billy, after Uncle Will. Won’t he be pleased?”

“There’s talk of change,” says Belle
who lives two miles down. “But
how would you ever hear anything?”
Heads nod all down the line.
Anything? Anything? Anything?
Anything? Anything? Anything?
“We need our party line!”



The Smell of Murder at Midnight

Word Press Daily Prompt: Pungent

Account taken from my Journal, May 16, 2013

Have you perhaps driven through a town with a pulp and paper mill spewing out sulfurous fumes? Have you ever had a bag of onions go bad in a cupboard where you perchance forgot them for several months. You know the whiff you get when you open that bag and dispose of the stinking things? Have you had a gas leak in the house and smelled the odour they put in natural gas? Or sniffed some perfume gone rancid?

Now imagine all that rolled into one and think of sleeping through it. No way. We were wandering around outside at 1am, seeking some relief.

It’s not that we didn’t know there was a skunk hereabouts. Michelle actually saw one on our step and warned us. However, we never saw it again and, in a supreme act of wishful thinking, we assumed now that spring is here he would have ambled off into the woods beside us and we could all live in relative peace.

It appears said skunk, before he ambled off, started a hole at the edge of our trailer with thoughts of burrowing under – or maybe just hunting mice? However, this past week we caught no more traces of whiffs of skunk and our cats have been using that hole to prowl under the trailer – which they sure wouldn’t have done had there been an occupying skunk. Bob put a log over the hole to discourage this, too.

It was on the To Do list to fill in the hole and put an end to this nonsense.

Thus it may well be that the skunk lived elsewhere and just happened to be passing through the yard last night on his way home. Or maybe he happened to remember his past efforts and decided to see what had become of the burrow he’d started. And he checked around under our step, too, for old times’ sake.

Some people like to portray nature as a gentle force, even speak of Mother Nature and her care of the little critters out there. They say if we could get back to nature a bit more, life would be better and we’d live longer. Nevertheless, our Creator has blessed the pokey skunk with a powerful deterrent spray just in case there are altercations.

It’s hard to imagine that ANYTHING would want to attack and kill a skunk. I’ve read that great-horned owls will because their sense of smell is very poor. But we know this was no owl.

Something frightened that skunk in his amble past – or whatever he was up to. It smells like he was near our back step when this happened, for when Bob opened the door he remarked on the aroma of skunk outside. In skunk’s apprehensive state, he remembered that old hole and chose to take refuge there. That we know. In fact it looks like he dug himself in frantically beside the log Bob had put there to keep him out.

And something went in after him. That we smell.

Just before bed one of our cats wanted in urgently. And yes, I caught the familiar acrid smell, but surely our cats would never tackle a skunk. Angus came in and began sniffing all the registers. The bathroom was taking on a very bad smell, as if a skunk were coming up through the plumbing opening beside the vanity.

My hearing isn’t the best. Even with my hearing aids I didn’t hear the squealing Bob heard, but I did hear a number of thumps just a few minutes later. Slow to catch on, I assumed our cat Pookie was bumping around on the step outside, wanting in. I opened the door and in he rushed. Both cats began sniffing around the heat registers (set in the floor) and the trailer was now full of the stench.

I put old towels over all the register openings; it didn’t help much. We lit candles, opened windows and took refuge outdoors for while. The cats came, too. Out there we could catch a faint whiff from our farmer neighbour’s pig barn, but this was infinitely preferable to the reeking air inside.

Our bedroom is in the addition, on a cement base, so the skunk odour couldn’t come from below us. Enough came in through the hallway, but with windows open and ceiling fans running, I was able to get some sleep there later in the night. Bob chose the recliner in the living room, with all windows open and ceiling fan running.

I’m afraid the smell of murder at midnight is not only a right-then overpowering stench, but will linger for some time to come, too.

Next-day note:
It has. We spent a good part of yesterday away from home.


We’re spending a quiet Sunday evening at home, so I decided to start working on a jigsaw puzzle this evening — and this choice generated my response for today’s daily prompt word: cheat.

I dumped the pieces out of the table and see that there will be no cheating here: I didn’t find even two pieces clicked together. Mind you, this puzzle is only a small one, easily done in an evening without any extra “assistance.”

There have been a few times I took the lid off a puzzle box I’d borrowed or bought at a garage sale and discovered the person who did it last had nicely put the puzzle back into the box in chunks. My fingers twitched as I faced the solemn choice to cheat or not to cheat. At times, I confess, I did cheat — especially if the puzzle contained 1000 pieces. I’ve saved myself hours of work by laying the chunks out carefully and joining them with the loose pieces that fit in around them.

What about you, dear reader? Given the opportunity, would you ever cheat at jigsaw puzzles? Or would you go the honest route and dutifully break those chunks into individual pieces and start right from scratch?

Then when you’ve completed the picture, do you ever put large puzzles back into the box in chunks to make life easy for the next puzzler? Wretched thing that I am, I break apart every last piece — or as close to it as I can manage — before putting the pieces into a plastic bag and then into the box. After all, one doesn’t wish to encourage cheating. Right?

I’m also getting to know more about my new (to me) computer, which was prepared and set up here on Friday. So good to be functional again; I wandered around rather lost for a day and a half, not being able to check my e-mail. However, I spent the time profitably in cleaning up my sewing room. It’s just that my feet automatically wandered into the office every few minutes without me consciously directing them. Is that what you’d call a habit or an addiction?

My old computer, loaded with the seriously outdated Windows XP, was getting so slow and unwilling otherwise as well. I see that I can now access sites I couldn’t before. The few computer games I indulge in via Lumosity brain training work so much better; clicking response is faster now. Windows 10 may take a bit of getting used to, but so far I haven’t encountered any real problems.

Now I’d best go finish my puzzle. Wishing you all a great week ahead.

Golden Oldie Computer Trials

HOPE for the Technologically Illiterate

“Hello. You’ve reached No-Woes Computers technical support hotline. How may I help you?”

“Oh, yes I have woes! This Computer you sold me isn’t working.”

While I was taking my chemo treatment on Monday — an all-day affair — my dear hubby visited his favorite bookstore and came back with a book he thought I’d enjoy. The book is called:
My Senior Moments Have Gone High-Tech
© 2016 by Karen O’Conner,
Harvest House Publishers in Eugene Oregon

I’ve been chuckling my way through it ever since. The book consists anecdotes about golden oldies who take up using a computer in their senior years. As well as humor, she offers hope, advice, and encouragement for those who feel their offspring are tossing them into this sea of new technology without a life jacket.

Like the lady who took a Computers 101 evening course to learn the ropes. The first lesson was how to find info by using When this patient young instructor told them to use their mouse to move the cursor to the icon and click on that, the other students managed, while this particular senior sat in the back row totally puzzled.

The instructor came along to check how she was doing and she told him her cursor wasn’t moving anywhere. When he asked to have her show him exactly what she was doing, she picked up her wireless mouse, set it on the monitor screen and said, “See. Nothing happens.” Though the instructor quickly covered his mouth with his hand, his twinkling eyes gave him away.

Then there was the lady who set her mouse on the floor, thinking it should work like her sewing machine foot pedal. And the irate fellow who ordered tech support to come and figure out why his printer wasn’t working. The company rep dutifully showed up, checked things out, and asked how long the printer had been unplugged.

Which reminds me of my first attempt at using our computer. Bob had purchased one three weeks previously, so he and our daughter (who worked at a computer store) were messing with it and babbling this strange language. This made me all the more dubious and determined not to touch the thing. However, we’d been on a Family Reunion trip to Boston and I wanted to write up a long letter to his mother plus half a dozen penpals. Rather than hand-write all those pages, I typed it into the computer, thinking to do a long one for Mom and shorter versions for friends.

Starting with “Dear Mom, We had this great trip to Massachusetts…” I went on for eight pages giving her all the details. Then I hit PRINT. Nothing happened. I hit it again. Nothing happened. After the third try I called our daughter at work. She asked, “Are you sure it’s plugged in?”

I checked. It wasn’t. I plugged it in. Out came the eight pages. Then another eight. I couldn’t stop the thing! I unplugged it again, then plugged it back in. Out came another eight. I’m thankful my two penpals didn’t seem to mind an eight-page letter that started with “Dear Mom,” accompanied by a handwritten note of explanation on top. And when hubby got home, he showed me how to cancel a PRINT order. ☺

I took my book along yesterday for my second chemo treatment, which was to last only a couple of hours. However, after the first treatment Monday, in the evening when I got ready for bed I noticed a blotching on my torso and some on my upper legs and arms. No itch, thanks be.

Yesterday when I showed the nurse now now-quite-pink rash, she called the doctor to see what he thought. The result was, instead of giving me the chemo dose, they gave me a shot of Benadryl antihistamine and a few pills of the same to take later. This made me so dopey we came straight home after.

It’s kind of a disappointment because I’m sure I’ll have to make up that missed chemo, which means an extra trip to the city and one more IV insertion sometime. Maybe I’m a wimp, but I hate those IV needles going in! Thankfully Benadryl has helped the rash, plus I’m well rested and feel quite perky this morning.

Maybe since I’m feeling ambitious I should get out my new cell phone and figure out how to access my voice mail. I’ve had it for several months now and am finally getting a handle on how to turn the thing on and answer incoming calls. (I’m still mourning the obsolescence of my old cell phone. It worked so well; to answer a call, you just flipped open the lid. 😉 )


Magical Disappearance

The Daily Post prompt this morning asks “Do you believe in magic?” And if I could have some magical power, what would it be.

Well, I don’t believe in magic that’s actually useful and there’s absolutely no magical power I want. But there may be one amazing request I’d make.

For some reason this prompt, and reading one blogger’s response to it, takes my mind back to a conversation I had one morning at the donut shop. Jeff, our very capable baker, was just finishing up his night shift and Mark, doing counter sales, had started at 6:30 am. I think I came in at 7am, also doing counter sales.

Mark and Jeff had been listening to the radio before I got there and were hashing over the radio announcer’s question of the morning: if you could send one modern medicine or remedy back to the past and give it to mankind sooner, which one would it be?

The two of them bounced this question off me soon after I arrived. I forget what Jeff would have revealed to his ancestors. Being twenty and…ahem…full of life and vigor, Mark’s choice for the all important medicine was Viagra.

Being a cranky old lady, I thought his suggestion was pretty short-sighted. As if the human race would have needed that “important drug” centuries ago. My suggestion was antibiotics. My second choice would be multi-vitamins. My theory: better to keep humans alive longer rather than sexually active longer.

Thankfully once they’d thought it over, they agreed that, yes, antibiotics would have been a pretty important discovery.

This brings me back to the Daily prompt and the magic powers I don’t have. If I could perform one miracle cure on my fellow man right now, I’d put an end to arthritis. I’d have all the various forms of arthritis disappear from the earth right now, in the twinkling of an eye.

I wouldn’t put an end to something terminal like, say, cancer — because we all have to die and when you put an end to one fatal disease people die of something else, so you’re not much farther ahead. People who survived the Spanish flu epidemic have since died of WW II, heart disease, cancer, or something else.

Another example: Consider how we have managed to come up with antibodies and immunization has put an end to so many childhood diseases. Alas! Now our young people are dying of peer pressure. At least I’ve heard suicide is now one of the leading causes of death. (And the suffering from teasing and bullying tends to be more prolonged than a fatal case of measles.) I think the next cause is vehicle accidents—another social ‘condition’ of our day.

But arthritis — as I well know — is a long-term disease that cripples otherwise healthy, active people. It renders their day-to-day lives miserable and painful. And since I’m only asking for one major miraculous request here, that would be it.

Maybe you think this is very short-sighted. Probably you have your own daily affliction you wish could disappear. Go for it! Write your own post and tell us what you think is most important.