Friday, January 29, 2010


My friend Margie's favorite joke:

Little Billy Bob was in class and the teacher asked the question, "Now, students, I want you to tell me what you think is the world's most important invention."

She called on little Betty Sue and little Betty Sue said, "I think it's the wheel, because if we didn't have the wheel we couldn't have the other inventions." The teacher said, "That's good, little Betty Sue."

Next, she called on little Jimmy Joe and he answered, "The atomic bomb, because it changed the world forever." The teacher said, "That's good, little Jimmy Joe."

Next, she called on little Billy Bob, and he answered, "The thermos bottle!" The teacher asked, "With all the important inventions in the world, why would you think of a thermos bottle?"

Little Billy Bob answered, "When you want it hot, it's hot and when you want it cold, it's cold--HOW DO IT KNOW?"

As you might have guessed, "How do it know?" comes up as a reply frequently in her family and also in mine.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I was riding in her car with my friend Eleanor and suddenly she said, "Look, there's a hawk!" I looked and said, "No, I think that's a kite." She said, "A kite? really, Sue, I think I know the difference between a bird and a kite." I persisted, "But a kite is a bird." She said, "No, a kite's a kite and a bird's a bird." I said, "But kites have long, pointed wings and hawks have short rounded wings and a long tail." She asked, "You saw all that while I was going 55 miles an hour?" I answered, "What can I say, I love birds!"

When we moved to our current home, we noticed some of the the neighbors outside, banging boards and pans together and fastening aluminum pie pans in the trees. One of the neighbors asked my husband, "What do you folks do to keep the birds away?" My husband answered, "Oh, we do everything we can to attract them." Vive la difference!

Each year, when the buzzards are flying to Hinkley, Ohio, a great number of them stop and rest in our trees in the side yard.. My husband will run into the house and yell, "The buzzards are here!", grab his camera and go out to photograph the event. Recently, a woman came to my house and asked, "Can I come to your house when the buzzards come?" I asked, "You know about the buzzards?" She said, "Yes, we were driving by one day and saw them in your trees and I told my daughter that I was going to ask you if we can come to your yard when they come again." I asked, "How do you know they'll come again?" She answered, "We saw them twice!" I replied, "Of course you can come join us!" She asked, "Why hasn't the newspaper ever covered this?" I said, "I think some of my neighbors would be upset if I publicized it." She said, "We call your house the Buzzard House." She saw me wince at the reference and said, "Oh, every time we drive by, we talk about the buzzards!" She said, "You should have a party!" My brother, ever the wit, said, "Yeah, you could serve bird's nest soup!"

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My brother Norman told me that in my last "Cringe" column that I was mistaken about the use of the term "half-mast" being incorrect when used in reference to flags other than on board a ship.

I tried to wheedle out of it, but after he produced three--count 'em--three different sources, I had to cave in, and admit that I was wrong, although I still think I'm RIGHT! [Where's E.B. White when I need him?]

When members of my family prove me wrong, they write it on my calendar and lord (that's correct since they are all male!) it over me for the remainder of the year.

Just one thing: I would like to have the culprit who posted this on my refrigerator to "fess up":

What do you call a woman with PMS, ESP, and SPC?


Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Peeling a Potato

To all who love making scalloped potatoes from scratch and potato salad but hate pealing the boiled potatoes, here is the solution for easy peeling.

This will BLOW your mind.

Well, we do learn something new every day.

I wished I had known about this thirty years ago. Peeling the cooked potato was the least desirable part in making a potato salad. Enjoy.

No need for a peeler, use this method to peel beets and tomatoes also.

Monday, January 25, 2010


During the winter, we would have bales of hay placed around the house for insulation. Around and on top of the hay, my mother would put bricks. Over the winter, the bricks would be strewn about and in the spring, we would have to pick up the bricks and stack them beside the well house. I would always grumble about the bricks and suggest we get rid of them but my mother would always answer, "Sometimes you need a brick". We did use the bricks for a lot of things: door stop in the summer, a brick and a hammer to crack nuts, shards for flower pots, etc.

My mother would often tell us how brave her sister was because she never screamed out while in labor and her sister bore her six children, all at home. Mother told us that when my aunt was ready to have one of her children, it was in "the dead of winter" and the house was very cold. Mother heated bricks and put them in the bed to keep her sister warm during the labor. My aunt pushed the towel off one of the bricks and touched her foot on the hot brick.. Mother said all that she did during the labor was complain about the burn on her foot instead of the pain of childbirth.

When I was to be married, my mother wrapped up a brick with a note that read, "The first brick for your first house." I laughed, wondering what I would do with the brick, but my husband and I have used that brick to crack hickory nuts every year for my Thanksgiving specialty Hickory Nut Cake.

Each time I host a wedding shower, I also wrap a brick with the note which reads, "The first brick for your first house" and then I have the guests play a game called "Sometimes You Need A Brick". I tell the story of my mother and then challenge them to list different ways to use a brick. The best one is always "HUSBAND TAMER".

Last year, when my husband wanted to repair the brick walk in the front yard, he wanted to be able to match up the old bricks. He wondered where he could get old bricks. I told him I would call the current owner of the farm where we had lived to see if they had disposed of the bricks. When I spoke to him, he laughed and said, "I wondered why there were all those bricks around the well house." I laughed and said, "Sometimes you need a brick!" He told me that I was welcome to have the bricks. I had not been back to the home place since 1973 and I was overwhelmed by both sadness and happiness. I asked if I could see inside the house and I was somehow touched to see that my room, with the beautiful sycamore tree growing outside, was still "the girl's room". As I stood at the well, I was flooded with memories as I remembered my younger brother going off to war, my older brother going off to be married and the worst day for our family in October, 1964. I remembered my first date when my brother thought it would be an absolutely hilarious thing to be waiting on the porch with a rifle. Imagine that the guy came back for a second date and ended up marrying me! I sat down in the stairway where my then boyfriend (and future husband) and I sat and watched the moon landing. We'd had a contest of what would be the first words Armstrong would utter and my husband's contribution was "Goddard, we are here!" which was his homage to Robert Goddard and J.J. Pershing! I remembered how we sat on the couch in the "TV Room" on June 7, 1971, and decided to get married. It was good to see the paw paw tree, the elder flowers, black berries, the woods and the flowers still growing which my mother had planted, and the garden space which she had tended. As my husband was picking up the last of the bricks, I retrieved one and said to the owner, "Keep one of the bricks and tell your daughter that it's the first brick to her first house."

Sunday, January 24, 2010


When my husband and I were on our honeymoon we were snuggled together and I slid my foot against his calf. He asked, "Sweetheart, aren't you going to take off your house slippers?" As I wasn't wearing house slippers, I knew that I should have taken advantage of that "spa day" that my girlfriends had suggested and had those calluses removed!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


My nephew refers to my husband as "The Saint" because my husband is known to pamper me. When my nephew and his wife were living in New York, she was pregnant and one late night she had a craving for ice cream and she wanted him to go out in the cold to get it. He resisted and she said, "I bet Uncle Gerald would go out in the cold and get it for Aunt Sue." He answered, "Then I suggest you call him in Ohio and see if he'll come to New York to get you ice cream!" My nephew asked my husband, "Don't you know how hard you make it for the rest of us shlumps?"

Friday, January 22, 2010


I cringe each time I see a local person being interviewed by a Columbus television station. How can our Fayette County accent be so bad when we live barely fifty miles from civilized sounds? Do I sound like that? Yes, unfortunately, I do! Here are some examples of words from "Fay-yette" County:


Warshington Washington
Ohiuh Ohio
Wrinch rinse
Feesh fish
Weesh wish
Deesh dish
Ungyun onion
Oysture oyster
Spayshul special
Prayshush precious
Vunnerable vulnerable

If you have never seen Jeff Foxworthy's "You Know You're From Ohio If....", check it out on the internet.
It's hilarious. I've added a few gems from Fayette County:

You know you're from Fayette County if they say "Fay-yette County for Fayette County
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. "mango" for green pepper
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. "ideal" for idea
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. "pike" for route or highway
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. "I reckon"


Why do people in Fayette County name their sons "the Second" when they should clearly be named "Junior"?

"The Second" is correctly used to name a son for his paternal grandfather or for paternal uncle if the name is the same. "Junior" is correctly used to name a son the same name as his father.

For example: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is named for his father, the late Robert Francis Kennedy. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s brother, Josph P. Kennedy II is named for his grandfather Joseph P. Kennedy and also for his late uncle Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.

Do people in Fayette County think "The Second" sounds better? Classy? Refined? Dumb?


The freecycle network is made up of 4,837 groups with 6,659,000 members across the world. It's a grassroots and entirely non-profit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own communities. It's all about REUSE and RECYCLE and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer. Membership is free.

To join:
type in freecycle
enter your location in the search box: e.g., Fayette County, Ohio
follow the menu and join us RECYCLERS!


Last week, while I was enduring physcial therapy at a local physical therapy site, two MALE therapists had no patients and they were participating in some male competitive banter. One was from Findlay, OH and one was from Hillsboro, OH. Mr. Hillsboro said, "Findlay is the ARMPIT of the world!" and Mr. Findlay countered with, "Well Hillsboro is the SPHINCTER of the world." They both laughed and then Mr. Hillsboro asked, "What do you think Chillicothe is--the BELLY BUTTON LINT or the T'AINT of the world?" When I started guffawing, my therapist who is FEMALE, yelled at them, "Hey, guys, I have a patient here!" I told my therapist, in mock anger, that I wanted to talk to those guys after my session. When I confronted them, they thought that I was upset. I told them that I forgive almost anything if people are funny. I asked, "So what is Washington Court House?" One of the guys sheepishly replied that they hadn't yet come up anything for Washington Court House. I told them I would have to think about it and I would get back to them. They looked worried when I told them I was going to put it on my blog! I reassured them that I would not reveal their identities. Today, I told them that I'd come up with: "Washington Court House is the FISSURE of the world" but my brother outdid me with "Washington Court House is the TOE JAM of the world."


"CEE-MENT"--yeah, I pronounce cement as CEE-MENT! My friend Patty and I have an ongoing contest to identify the most ridiculously dressed cement geese. My brother told me that it would be correct to use "Concrete Geese" as cement is a component of concrete. Patty reported geese with mortarboard and gown for graduation; I saw geese dressed as a nun and priest; Patty saw them in football and baseball uniforms; I saw them in swiimsuits with pink flamingoes. [Patty, the Hoosier, swears that people in Indiana do not dress cement geese and that it's indigenous to Ohio] Last week I saw a whole gaggle of cement geese dressed in Halloween costumes. I was in such awe that I stopped my car to gaze at the display.

Not only was there a pumpkin dressed goose and a ghost dressed goose but the fait accompli was an entire Wizard of Oz cement geese grouping. There was Dorothy with Toto in a basket, the Tinman, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion. If only Glinda had been there! I say, "Top that, Patty Burch!"

I have never met the set of neighbors on one side, nor do I wish to meet them. Several years ago, the male half of the couple came across our fence, into our yard, and whacked branches from our smoke bush. I know that he had the right to trim any branches which protruded into his yard, but he had invaded my space and maimed the bush! I didn't want to have any neighborhood squabble; thus, I bit my tongue and let the bush recover on its own. However, I did grumble to my husband, "Well, what would you expect from people who have cement geese wearing Bengals outfits?"


Why is it that young people think that "old" people don't know anything about contemporary culture?

We recently had a tiger-stripe female cat decide to stay with us. A few days later she produced three kittens. After the kittens were born, the mother was, of course, very protective and all of our cats, except one, are old. All the cats were intimidated by the mother cat. One day my brother commented about how "fierce" she was and I said, "Oh, I'm going to name her "Sasha Fierce". He said, incredulously, "HOW would you know about Sasha Fierce?" Being offended that he thought that I wouldn't know Beyonce's other persona, I reacted, "Well, DUH, I DO read!" Later, I said, "After all, I am understated, yet a woman of the twenty-first century." He said, "Well, that sounds better than DUH!"

For the cat lovers, you know when you name a cat, it's all over and they are there to stay. Gerald named the kittens and they have all joined the family: Puff, Piewackit4, Louise, Spot, Frances, Snowball, Patches and the youngin' Stormy. Last year a neighbor down the street called and asked, "Are you the folks with the cats?" I was immediately filled with anxiety as I thought she was probably thinking that I was "the crazy cat lady at the end of the street." I answered, timidly, "Yes, we have cats." She then said that she and her daughter had been walking and they had spotted a kitten in a storm drain and they couldn't get it out and they wondered if we might help. Gerald immediately went there and leaned over and said, "Hey, kitty, kitty" and the kitten leapt out of the storm drain. That's how "Stormy" entered our lives. My brother said it was lucky he wasn't in a sewer or we might have named him "Ed Norton".

A woman who worked for me called me one evening crying. She told me that she'd gone to empty her trash in her complex's dumpster and there was a kitten in the dumpster. She said she tried to get it out but couldn't. Gerald went and retreived the kitten. We decided to name him "Rumpke". My brother said he was glad the dumpster wasn't owned by Waste Management!

Gerald's niece Robin was visiting and she said she couldn't believe that we had a cat named Piewackit because a friend of hers did too. I told her that her friend must like the movie "Bell, Book and Candle" as Kim Novak's cat in the movie is named Piewackit. I like the name so much that I am now on Piewackit4!

A friend of mine who has cats named several of hers after the cats in the musical "Cats', but I told her that I couldn't name any from that or the book on which it's based, "Old Possum's Book Of Practical Cats", because T.S. Eliot was an anti-Semite. My friend says I'm the only politically correct cat namer she knows.

Our cat Frances is named Frances Albert Sinatra because the cat has one blue eye and one green eye, so we call him "Old Blue Eye"!


When we moved into our home twenty-five years ago, my husband still had his hippie long hair. As he was outside tearing down the rotten fence, he was dressed in shorts, muscle shirt and flip-flops with his hair tied in a pony-tail. Bob Mace, our back-door neighbor was also our County Commissioner. Mr. Mace leaned across the fence and asked Gerald, "How much do they pay you to do that kind of work?" My husband answered, "Oh, they don't pay me anything, but the lady of the house lets me sleep with her." Mr. Mace walked away quickly.

The next evening, Mr. Mace came to the door and I invited him to come in to visit. He had obviously checked the voter registration roll as he said, "I just wanted to welcome some good Democrats to the neighborhood." I told him that we had always voted for him. He proceeded to ask me about where we worked, etc. When he asked about my husband I said, "You met him yesterday--let me get him."
I yelled and Gerald came down the stairs with his hippie hair bouncing freely.

It was ALMOST worth the price of the house to see the expression on Bob Mace's face.

Mr. Mace tried to apologize to Gerald, but Gerald stopped him by saying, "I've already told the story ten times and I'll probably tell it a hundred more times!" Gerald also told him that the quote wasn't original but that Carl Rowan said it to a neighbor in a similar circumstance.


I came out of Kroger one sunny day and I had driven my convertible with the top down, I put my groceries in the trunk and opened the door to get in and I noticed an old Chevrolet station wagon right beside my car. There were three young Hispanic teenagers leaning up against the car. As I got into my car, one of the guys said, "Nice car!" I smiled and lifted up my arm to wave goodbye and I called out "GRAZIE!" I noticed that all the young men gave me quizzical looks. I was nearly half-way home before I reralized that I had thanked them in ITALIAN instead of Spanish !

It was then that I realized that I needed to take a course in Spanish. I got in contact with our local community college and was told that they would only teach a class with 6 members and they only had three signed up. I immediately called a guy from my aerobics class who was going on a mission to Central America and needed the language skill.

So, in desperation for the sixth member, I called my friend Lori and asked her to join as she's always one to jump in for an adventure. Thus we had our class of 6 adults. It was very difficult to go back into a classroom setting after being away for a long time. The following summer we were able to put a sign in our booth at the County Fair so that we could help them complete the voter registration form when they became citizens!

Si se puedo!


Whatever happened to people naming children John and Mary?

In my charm business, I have many requests for unusual names. My supplier and I challenge each other to supply the "Week's Most Unusual Name".

A couple of weeks ago my supplier told me that he actually had someone who had named a child with the first name of OLAJUWON after the basketball player.

Until OLAJUWON, I held the title of the most unusual name request. One of my customers ordered the name "NEVAEH" and told me with a great deal of pride that it was "heaven" spelled backwards. My brother, always the wit, said, "It's a good thing that she didn't have twins--she might have named the other one LLEH!"

Unbelievably, since then, I have had six other requests for "Nevaeh" and all the mothers believe that it is unique with them.

In "The New Yorker" magazine last week there was a cartoon of a teacher in front of her class and she says, "Will Kristen, Kirsten and Kiersten please choose new names?"

I have had six different spellings of Mackenzie and they are not Scottish!


While living in Wapakoneta, my brother used the term "toboggan" to describe a knit winter hat
to one of his neighbors. The neighbor had never heard the term used except for a sled. My brother
called me, and said, "You MUST find proof SOMEWHERE that I am right!" Sensing his urgency to be
proved right (a noticeable family trait), I set about my assigned task. After reviewing several sources, I
consulted my trustworthy Merriam-Webster Third International Dictionary (a "free" gift of a 3-volume
dictionary set when I bought my Encyclopedia Brittanica in the 1960's). It not only had the third definition
as a ski-cap, but also an illustration of the TOBOGGAN as a hat! I took the proof with me to Wapakoneta and my brother gleefully called his neighbor on the telephone and said, "Come here, once!" I thought that "Come here, once" was a strange thing to say to the neighbor, but I soon learned that it was a quite common phrase used in the Wapakoneta area and that sometime or another my brother had laughed about it. AHA! Then I understood my brother's need to prove his own colloquialism to be correct!


I am constantly surprised when I come in contact with young people who do not "get" simple literary references. While working at BMY, where we built trucks for the U.S. Army, the average age of the manufacturing workforce was twent-six years of age. The management team was much older and we were a Deming-style operation. The Team Leaders were all young, aggressive, and educated. One day, one of the Team Leaders, Sonny, was showing a problem to me and I told him to go in to see our Engineering Liasion John MacGregor to assist with the problem. As he was leaving, I laughed and said, "But don't go in Mr. MacGregor's garden!" Sonny gave me an amused look and both he and Mr. MacGregor returned to the manufacturing floor for John to look at the problem first-hand. After John had analyzed and given a solution to the problem, he and I walked away together and John laughed and said, "That kid came in and told me that you told him not to go into my garden but he didn't have any idea what you meant." I said, "Well, John, youth AND literature must both be wasted on the young." John said, "You better not use a George Bernard Shaw reference when he doesn't even know Peter Rabbit!" Knowing that John had grown children, I asked if they would understand those references and John said that they would, but he doubted if his grandchildren would, because of how busy the parents were.

Four years ago, we had one of my husband's nieces (a 16-year-old National Honor Society member with a 3.8 average) paint our fence as a summer job. When some other young people stopped by to talk to her, I told her she should do a little "Tom Sawyer-ing". She had no idea what I meant. Earlier this year we were talking about someone's unruly child and I said that I had named him "Red Chief"; the college-educated mother didn't understand the reference to O. Henry. We had to have one of our birch trees removed and the tree trimmer didn't understand the reference when I told him I'd named the tree "Robert Frost". These are all references that I learned in high school.

In talking to a high school senior last week, I was told that they report on four books a year and all the kids read the same book and take turns reading the book aloud in class. He said that he'd read "Gone With The Wind", "The Outsiders", "The Pearl" and he couldn't think of the fourth one. I said, "How could it take three months to read a novella; "The Pearl" isn't even a full-length book!" At least he knew the author was John Steinbeck. I remember, as a senior, I asked Miss Digman if I could report on "Lady Chatterley's Lover" which the publisher had recently won a Supreme Court suit to allow it to be imported into the United States from England. I had the unexpurgated edition which my oldest brother Bode loaned to me. Imagine my shock when I received my report back from Miss Digman, without the usual "A", full of red ink with the caustic comment, "Obviously you did not know this book is an allegory on the Industrial Revolution!" I was too smitten by page 155 to realize that!


I was behind an older man in line at the grocery and I heard him speak to another older man in the adjoining aisle: "Hey, Joe, how's it going?" Joe answered, "I'm doing pretty well, Jim, how about yourself?" Jim answered, "Not so good; if I was a dog, I'd be eating Cycle 4!"



1. The check's in the mail.
2. I'm from the government and I'm here to help you.
3. I'll still respect you in the morning (oh, I cleaned it up for my readers'

The following are actual lies and excuses I have heard during my career:

4. It's in the Contract (Handbook).
5. John said, Sue said (he said, she said, they said).
6. It's only a cold sore (I'm not that kind of girl, I don't usually do this on
the first date).
7. It was OK when it left my area.
8. But that's the way we've always done it.
9. They're working on it (it's on order).
10. It can't be hot--I don't have them yet.
11. If you do this, I promise I won't ask you for anything else.
12. They told us that in Orientation.
13. This won't hurt anyone.
14. We're here to work as a team.
15. I'll get back to you (I'll put it on my list, I'll make a note of it, I'll take
a look at it).
16. We're like family. (You're a part of the family)
17. We're an equal employment opportunity employer.
18. No, we're not hiring.
19. You'll be promoted on merit.
20. You'll be let go according to your evaluation.
21. I promise I won't tell anyone (I know how to keep a secret).
22. It'll never happen again.
23. I'll have the part there before the line goes down (The part will be there in
the morning).
24. A.O. Smith has a quality department.
25. We have a just-in-time system (Just-in-case)
26. I don't have any extra people.
27. I'm not the regular crew chief.
28. It's not in the specs.
29. It's an ongoing process.
30. It's not on my breakdown (it's not my job, I'm not paid to do that).
31. The warehouse is only a half-hour away.
32. It's logged in (it's in the Macro).
33. I'm just a temp.
34. Yes, these are safety glasses.
35. It didn't get this way overnight-it's not going to change overnight.
36. Figures don't lie (but liars can figure).
37. We'll do lunch.
38. Don't call me-I'll call you.
39. I'll see you after this appointment.
40. You're looking good.
41. He's the same as all the other customers.
42. It's not good--but what will they take?
43. My Grandmother died--(5 or 6 times).
44. I was absent because of jet lag.
45. I thought that you were going to take care of it.
46. I love him like a brother.
47. It's worked for twenty years--let's leave it alone.
48. I just got here (I've only been here 5 minutes)
49. I'm late--because of: car trouble, alarm clock, traffic ticket, my wife didn't
wake me up).




51. I'll pencil you in to my Blackberry.


Just when I thought that I'd heard all the excuses in the world, I heard this one:

Nathaniel had been gone for his two weeks National Guard training. This, of course, had to be
approved by me. I had completed his paperwork and knew that he was supposed to return on the Monday
following the training. When Nathaniel sauntered in on Tuesday, I asked, "Nathaniel, where were you yesterday?" He blithely answered, "I had jet lag." I asked, "Jet lag--you went to Camp Grayling, Michigan--how could you have jet lag?" He laughed and said, "It was a good try, wasn't it?"

The forklift driver Gary had heard the entire exchange and he motioned for me to come over and he leaned over and asked, "If I'm late returning from my Army National Guard training, can I tell you I had Jeep lag?"

Now, every time I hear a lame excuse, I mutter to myself, "JEEP LAG!"


Last week I was cited for my LAST (I promise) speeding ticket. Because of my lead foot I have received several nicknames in the past: "Bobby Sue Rayhal", "Speedo", "Speed Demon", "Speed Racer" and "Speedy Gonzales".

One always remembers the first day of school, the first kiss, the first date, the first- EVERYTHING--and I certainly remember my first speeding ticket.

It was three days before Thanksgiving in 1976. Ironically, I was speeding on Court Street (just like this year) and I was terribly embarrassed and didn't tell anyone. Being very naive, I didn't know that those items were published in the newspaper. I only told my husband and mother.

In our family we have a saying that "we'll put a sack over our head" if someone in the family causes any kind of embarrassment. On Thanksgiving Day, dinner was at my house. We were waiting for my brother Roger and his family to arrive. Someone yelled, "They're here!" and I looked out the window to see my sister-in-law Sheila leading little daughter Tracey by the hand and my brother Roger carrying baby Joshua on his arm. All of them were wearing paper bags over their heads with triangles cut for the eyes, mouths, and noses. When they came into the family room, everyone else was laughing uproariously.

Little Tracey stomped her foot and said, "Daddy told us everybody would think this is funny, but I don't think so!" Sheila stepped forward with a bowl of Waldorf Salad with the newspaper clipping of my citation taped to the top of the Saran Wrap and said, "Everbody knows, Toots."

This time I made sure to tell everyone so maybe I'll be lucky and have no sacks!


In the 1980's my sister-in-law Sheila gave me the following list and nothing much has changed:



















HE'S COMPASSIONATE........................SHE'S A PUSHOVER





While working at Rockwell, we were having a new Gemcor Automatic Riveter installed. The hole
for the riveter had to be 12 feet deep because of the force of the equipment. The digging could
only be done on second shift because everything had to be cleaned on third shift for the first shift's
operation. Each morning, nearly everyone in the department would go to look in the big hole to see the progress. One morning, Eddie, one of my operators, came to me and said excitedly, "You're going to have to call an exterminator--there's a rat down in the hole!" Eddie's riveter was right beside the big hole.

I went over and looked in the hole and there was indeed a rat in the big hole. I said to Eddie, "I'm
going to climb down in the hole and you hand me a mandrel." I was on the third step of the ladder and Eddie handed me a mandrel which weighed about thirty-five pounds. I tossed the mandrel toward the rat and it missed the rat by about two feet. I said, "Hand me that bottle of MEK." [MEK: methyl ethyl ketone, a cleaner which is poisonous to humans if ingested]. By that time I had quite an audience including the Union Committeeman who was yelling at me that it wasn't my job. I climbed further down the ladder and started squirting MEK in the rat's face.

The rat started squirming and dropped over. I jumped down on the ground and picked up the mandrel and crushed the rat with the mandrel. I yelled at Eddie, "Do you need this mandrel for today's orders?" He said that he didn't so I left the mandrel for the excavators to bring up out of the hole. When I climbed out of the hole, I received a round of applause from the audience, except for the Committeeman who told me that I should not have have been doing that "work" and that I should've called some Union employee. I told him we didn't have any in-house exterminators so it wasn't a Union job. I also told him, "Besides, I just saved the Company $150.00 and resolved a safety issue with Eddie." I turned to Eddie and I asked, "Right, Eddie?' Eddie said, "I can't believe you killed it--I thought you were a nice lady."

I asked, "Eddie, what are you having for lunch?' He said, "A ham sandwich." I asked, "Do you think they killed the hog before they cured the ham?" I told him I grew up on a farm and I gave him a demonstration of how to kill chickens and then I told him I didn't mind killing anything except the rabbits because they cried. He gasped, "You mean you killed bunny rabbits?" I said, "Yes, and I enjoyed eating them too." After that, my nickname was RK (you figured out it was Rat Killer, didn't you?).


"onliest" for the only one
"half-mast" for half-staff
"cohorts" for cohort
"I seen" for I saw
"ex-pecially" for especially
"have went" for have gone
"vunnerable" for vulnerable
"surrup" for syrup
"supposebly" for supposedly
"irregardless" for regardless
"crick" for creek

You know they are from Chillicothe if they say they had worked for "THE Mead" You know they're from Ohio if they say "THE Ohio State University" You know they are from Newark if they say "Nurk"

The School Superintendent said "pluh-thor-uh" for plethora. I handed him a note and he thanked me.

The School Principal said "most unique" and when I corrected him he became angry and challenged me. When I patiently explained about superlatives, and offered to bet with him that I was right, he turned away from me in a childish manner.

17 1/2

My young friend (the one who thinks old people don't "get" any current cultural references), told me that he is 17 1/2. When's the last time you were 1/2? I think I was 12 1/2! Ah, youth, IS wasted on the young.

After lecturing another youngster about his being dismissive of "old" people, he now precedes his amazement that I know something with, "Well, maybe you already know this......". Of course, I know ABOUT Lady Gaga (hey, I still watch SNL), but that doesn't mean that I know her whole repertoire, but unlike my young friends, I also know about Malcolm Gladwell's new book. The young friend asked me if I "actually" read all of those magazines on my coffee table and I answered, "Pick up that "New Yorker" and ask me something." He selected an article written by Malcolm Gladwell and it was about football injuries and although I am abysmally ignorant about football and ALL sports (except for curling), the article was nevertheless fascinating. I sent the article to my football-fanatic friend Patty who actually knows about football and everything else, including curling!


People from other states think that we are ignoramuses. On Saturday, while seated next to a couple, I noticed a regional speech difference and I asked if they were from New York or New Jersey. They both stated that they were from New Jersey. In further conversation, the man said that he'd gone to college in New Jersey at the state university. Knowing that New Jersey has only ONE state university, I said, "Oh, the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers." He was obviously surprised that I knew Rutgers University, let alone the teams' name, as he asked, with a note of condescention, "You know Rutgers?" I asked, increduously, "WHY would you think that I wouldn't know the STATE University of New Jersey?" He said, "Most Ohioans we've met don't know it." I said, "I guess I would expect you to know that Ohio has a number of state universities so I would think that you would expect Ohioans to know your state university." He could tell that I was irritated and he tried to mollify it by saying how Ohioans had been so "friendly", but being a poor sport, I actually said, "New Joisey" instead of New Jersey in my next sentence but I wasn't about to tell him that I only learned about Rutgers being the state university because of the Don Imus scandal with the women's basketball team.

Telling the story to my husband later in a restaurant, a man in the next booth turned around and said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation and I wanted to know if you'd heard that because of the terrible economic conditions they are going to combine Ohio University and Indiana University and move them to the state lines (I knew that a joke was imminent) and they are going to call it I.O.U." We all groaned at the joke and then shared some of my own "overheard conversations" (O.K., it's eavesdropping!):

AT A LOCAL RESTAURANT: When smoking in restaurants was still legal, my husband and I were sitting in a local restaurant and my husband lit a cigarette. An older couple were sitting at a table adjacent to ours and I heard her complain to her husband about the cigarette smoke. I tapped my husband on the hand and asked him to put out the cigarette. Later on, the woman was telling her husband that she wished that she could take a Lifesaving class. I leaned over and said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation about the lifesaving and I wanted you to know that the American Red Cross offers those classes and here's the number of the local Red Cross office." She thanked me profusely and within a few seconds, she realized that if I'd heard about the lifesaving class, then I had heard her complaining about the cigarette. She said, "I didn't mean anything by saying that about the cigarettes." I told her I was trying to get him to quit anyway!

AT A COLUMBUS RESTAURANT: We were sitting in a restaurant and the tables were very close. From the conversation, I could tell that the couple beside us were gay. During their conversation, one complained about the War Sui Gai and the other said that he wished that they had gone to Schmidt's in German Village. I leaned across and asked, "Did you ever eat Chinese-German food?" They looked at me as if I were crazy and I gave the punch line: "It's good, but an hour later you're hungry for power!" They laughed but said, "That's terrible." I said, "I know it's not politically correct, but how many Chinese-German jokes are there?" It was about a minute later when they called for their check and obviously they realized that if I'd heard the Chinese-German conversation,, then I'd probably heard the other--intimate--details they had been sharing!

DOCTOR'S OFFICE: I was sitting beside a woman in the doctor's office. She was busy talking to the man next to her, but it was no normal conversation. She was talking through clenched teeth and it became apparent that the two were having an affair and that the wife was having him followed so the doctor's office was the only safe place for them to meet to talk. She was giving him an ultimatum, "Either you leave her--OR........ "He was giving the usual excuses which she didn't want to hear and then I became so UPSET because my name was called and I had to go into see the doctor--so I never learned the outcome of it!


My mother would always answer questions and finish sentences with song lyrics. As a number of my family members, including myself, continue the practice, it doesn't seem particularly unusual to us.

When my husband and I were dating, he came to pick me up and it was on our third date, he asked my mother, "How are you, Mrs. Shirkey?" My mother answered with the song lyric, "Fine and dandy, sugar candy." I could see the bewildered look on his face, but always being a well-mannered person, he didn't respond. As we were walking to the car, he turned to me and said, "ABOUT your family.." I was immediately offended and answered, "What about my family?' He said, "It's like being in a Hollywood musical--you guys sing for no apparent reason!"

When my nephew Joshua came home for the first time after beginning studies at Harvard, I asked him what it was like being with all those elite people. He said that the only thing that impressed them about him was his vast knowledge of song lyrics. My mother had been his baby sitter while my brother worked and my sister-in-law Sheila went to college. Joshua knew everything from folk music to Sinatra, to Scat, to Country and to Broadway show tunes.


I loved Soupy Sales. Soupy died on October 22, 2009 at the age of 83. His various shows were favorites of mine from childhood to adulthood. I still remember White Fang, Black Tooth and Pookie. Who can forget Soupy's quote to us kids: "Be true to your teeth, so they won't be false to you."?

My all-time favorite joke came from Soupy Sales. I will try to do it justice:

A convict was taken to his prison cell and as he was getting acquaiinted with his cell-mate, all of
a sudden he heard someone down the cell block yell out "17!" Everyone on the cell block erupted
in fits of laughter. A few minutes later, he heard another prisoner yell out, "22!" Again, the entire
cell block was roaring with laughter. The new convict turned to his cellmate and asked, "What's
this all about--someone yells out a number and everyone starts laughing." The old con explained that they had all been in prison so long that they had all the jokes memorized, so they had them numbered, so they just yelled out the number. The new con, wanting to fit in, summoned all of his courage, and yelled out, "34!" There was silence--not a giggle, not a chortle, not a guffaw--nothing. The new con turned to the old con and asked, "What happened?"

The old con said, "Some people just don't know how to tell a joke!"

In my family, if someone dares to repeat a joke, someone invariably will yell out, "34!"


My great-niece Aron's husband Ziggy is very lucky when he is the third caller on radio contests as he usually wins tickets to concerts.He called and asked, "Aunt Sue, how about a date?" I laughed and he said, "No, I'm serious, I won tickets to a Neil Diamond concert and Aron doesn't want to go." I said that I would love to go with him. Ziggy and I ate dinner and then went to the arena to see the concert. The free seats were in the nosebleed section, and they were aisle seats. We were on time, so it was us, constantly getting up and down to allow the late-comers to pass by us. Most people crawl across other people with their backsides toward the seats. Two rather well-endowed women arrived and as we stood to let them pass, both of the women turned their front sides to us and both brushed their ample bosoms against Ziggy. When they passed, Ziggy let out a sigh of exaggerated pleasure. Ziggy said, "What was that word you told me the other night?" I asked, "Frottage?" He sighed again and said, "Yes, I just experienced the greatest frottage of my life."

Once, during one of my husband's poker games, Ziggy was playing poker with the guys in the dining room while Aron and I were in the kitchen preparing dessert. I told her that I'd learned a new word that day: "macerate". The next day Aron called me and told me that I wouldn't believe what Ziggy had thought I had said for "macerate". When Aron told him that we'd been talking about strawberries, Ziggy said, "Aunt Sue doesn't do that with strawberries, does she?" Aron said that she told him, "She said she macerated the strawberries!" The next time we were together, Ziggy said, "Tell me some other word that sounds sexy like macerate." We were sitting at the dining room table and I pointed at the candleholder and I said, in my attempt of a sultry voice, "bobeche". Ziggy caressed the word with his voice as he repeated "bobeche", elongating the syllables. Each time we're together Ziggy asks for a new word that sounds sexy, but isn't. One time Ziggy was asking for a new word and I told him about "frottage" but I said that the third definition did have a sexual connotation. Ziggy said, "OOOH, a sexy sounding word that is sexy, but most people won't know it--that's the best!"

Poor Ziggy, there he was at the concert, surrounded by middle-aged women, singing along with Neil Diamond. Neil was doing a good job as he sang some old ones ("and then I wrote,,,,,,") and he sang some new ones and he told us about "Sweet Caroline" being named for Caroline Kennedy when she was a little girl in the White House. As he was singing the song Ziggy leaned over and said, "Aunt Sue, that's kinda perverted, don't you think?" I did a spit-take with my drink and sprayed it on Ziggy.

As we were getting ready to leave, I noticed a woman several rows down waving towards us and I asked Ziggy, "Do you know her?" Ziggy said, "I thought she was waving at you." When we waved back, she waved again, obviously thinking she knew one of us. When I went to my water aerobics class the following Monday, one of my classmates said, "Who was that young guy you were with at the Neil Diamond concert?"


Our family motto is "Where there's a will, there's a relative." In my family, one better not use
any cliches or one is pounced on immediately by the Cliche Police! Thus, "I love you with all my liver"
and "Cold hands, warm pancreas" are among the responses when one is guilty of a cliche infraction.
Outsiders don't "get" it, but the offender will immediately know that he/she has committed a faux pas.

At a recent dinner party, we had several guests who were not family members and I committed a "screamer" by saying, "That's like calling the kettle". Of course I didn't have the opportunity to complete the phrase as my niece chimed in with, "Ebony and Ivory." All family members laughed but I had to explain the exchange to the guests. Although we don't know who made the rules, it is not allowed to target guests.

Another family oddity is that whenever a military term is used, we salute. When our guest Hannah Case mentioned she had "majored" in French literature, all right hands went to heads. I must admit, that oftentimes, we throw the terms into conversations on purpose just for the fun of it! Thus, "corporal punishment", "generally speaking", "No Time For Sergeants" and "major malfunction" were thrown into the conversation to allow saluting! My brother said that if I throw "The French Lieutenant's Woman" into another conversation that he is going to disown me. O.K., so my favorite Meryl Streep movie is "Sophie's Choice" and NOT "The French Lieutenant's Woman" but I do love the book!


My husband has always been a fan of Billie Jean King. During the Bobby Riggs match, he was
betting on Billie Jean with the guys at work. We were in a restaurant and thinking that he was
bestowing a compliment, he said to the waitress, "You look like my favorite woman." The waitress
looked at me and she said, "We don't look alike." He said, "No, I think you look like Billie Jean King."
The waitress was NOT complimented and retorted, "Well, you look like Willie Nelson!" My husband
laughed and said, "That's an improvement because my nephew thinks I look like the Shovel guy in "Home Alone."


When my niece was a teenager, she and I were going to go shopping together at the mall. As we were ready to leave, I said, "Wait, I must change my purse." My niece asked why and I said that it was because the purse didn't match my shoes. She said, "Is that the kind of thing you worry about when you get old?"

Years later, the same niece and her five-year-old daughter were visiting for the weekend. The great-niece wanted to see where her room was located. I always keep my ironing board and iron set up. She asked, "Aunt Sue, what's that thing?"

I told her it was an ironing board. She then asked what one did with it and I picked up the iron and got a blouse from the closet and showed her how to iron. She ran downstairs to tell her mother about the ironing board. She was yelling, "Why can't we have an ironing board?"
Her mother said, "It's because I don't like to iron clothes and I don't buy anything that needs to be ironed!"


When I was a child, my mother made delicious drop dumplings in leftover soups and stews. She called them
"puffy dumplings" but when my oldest brother was little, he thought that she said "puppy dumplings" so it's always been a family saying to call them "puppy dumplings". As a young bride, I learned that my husband liked his mother's drop dumplings. Always wanting to please him, I decided to make drop dumplings. I had never made drop dumplings before and I called to ask my mother for the recipe and that evening I prepared the dumplings. However, I mistakenly put a tablespoon of batter instead of a teaspoon in the broth and the result was enormous drop dumplings. When I told my husband that we were having "puppy dumplings" for dinner, he took one look at them and said, "Those look more like St. Bernard dumplings!"


On the west side of Columbus there is a small settlement of refugees from Afghanistan. When the Russians left Afghanistan after an invasion of nearly ten years, the Mujahadin seized control and they were eventually overthrown by the Taliban. Many Afghanis escaped to our country, settling in Detroit and other areas of the country.

In 1996, there were six Afghani men working at my plant. All of them were good, dependable workers. One of them, Salim, was a short, slender, bearded man in his forties. It was obvious that the other Afghanis deferred to him and as his language skills were the best of all of them, he often accompanied the others to resolve any problems. I later learned that Salim had been a Colonel in the Army. Of course, I knew that they were of the Islamic faith. They all showed respect for me and they all addressed me as "Miss Sue".

One day, I went to the manufacturing floor during lunch break and I was standing behind Salim and he was on his prayer mat. I didn't want to interrupt his prayer, but when the buzzer rang, he arose and folded his mat and went to his work station. I asked, "Salim, aren't you supposed to pray to the east?" He answered, "Yes, Miss Sue." I asked again, "Is your head supposed to be toward the east?" He nodded. I said, "Salim, you're praying to the south!" He laughed--I had never seen him laugh before--and it was a wonderful, boisterious laugh. He said, "That's probably why my prayers haven't been answered!" We both laughed and I told him the quote from St. Teresa of Avila: "Answered prayers cause more fears than those that remain unanswered."

After that incident, Salim would smile each time we saw each other. Several weeks after the incident, Salim came to my office and told me that his wife was going to have a baby and that he would need time off then. I wrote on my business card my Nextel number and my home phone number and told him just to call me whenever she went into labor and I would make arrangements. I asked him if he knew whether it was a boy or girl and he literally beamed and told me it was a boy! The day after the baby was born, Salim came to work and I gave him a present for the baby. I crochet and I always keep baby afghans in various colors to have ready for gifts. When I gave him the present I told him that I had made it for his baby. He looked stunned and asked, "You made it for the baby?" I answered, "Yes, it's a baby afghan." He looked at me and laughed and said, "An afghan for an Afghan!"

Several weeks later, Salim invited me to his home for dinner. When I went to his home, I was surrprised to see a very young woman as his wife. Her English was limited. Their food was spread on a mat on the floor. They had set a tray table set up for me. I asked if I could join them on the floor. We had a wonderful meal of a soup called Shorma, steamed rice with lamb called Qabli Pulao, and Qorma which are steamed onions and Mantu, steamed dumplings, with wonderful bread called Naan.

Salim's wife would not allow me to help and as she was cleaning up from the meal, Salim asked if I would like to hear music and see pictures of his homeland. He told me that his main language was Dari, but that he had learned English also. A little later, Salim's wife brought out the baby, wrapped in the afghan I'd made. She smiled and thanked me for the blanket and then she offered the baby to me to hold. As I cradled the baby and held his head in my hand, I noticed there was stubble on his head. She saw my reaction and she told me that it was a custom to shave the baby boy's head.

As a Colonel in the Army, Salim had spent his life fighting the Russians, the Mujahadin and the Taliban which had not allowed him to have the opportunity marry and have a family. He'd been able to escape and settle in the United States. His marriage to the much younger woman had been an arranged marriage. There is an even larger settlement of Afghani refugees in the Detroit area and Salim's wife had come from there.

Several weeks later, the receptionist called and told me that Zahid's mother was in the lobby and wanted to see me. Zahid was another Afghani worker and he was the exact opposite of Salim: young, tall, and about 240 pounds. I would oftentimes see him show what I gathered to be a deferential manner to Salim. Zahid's mother had brought me several bowls of food. I asked her to go to my office and she said that she'd heard that I liked Afghani food and that I was a kind person. I told her it was very kind of her to bring me food and to compliment me, but I asked her what could I do for her. She told me the purpose of her visit: Zahid needed to go to Detroit as his marriage had been arranged. She continued that Zahid had not worked a year so he did not have vacation time coming and she asked if I would excuse him. I said, "Of course I'll excuse him, but why didn't he just come and ask me?" She said, "He's afraid of you and Salim told him that he wasn't going to do it for him and that he had to act like a man!" I was still shocked that Zahid was "afraid" of me! Zahid was marrying Salim's wife's sister!

I returned to International in 1997 and lost contact with the Afghanis. In 2002, at a political meeting I attended, a woman stated that "We should round up all the Muslims and kill all of them." I stood up and told her that I was sorry for her ignorance and that unlike her I actually knew some Islamic people and that it had been a blessing for me to have known good, Islamic Afghanis and you can't brand and condemn all people of any faith because of the actions of some.

That evening, I called Salim and he told me that he and the others had been experiencing backlash because of being Islamic. He said, with great indignation, "They don't even understand that we are NOT Arabs--we are Afghanis!"

I asked, "Will you return to Afghanistan?" He answered, "No, Miss Sue, I want my children to grow up in freedom."



My brother worked at Chrysler for thirty-seven years. During the boom years, there was great influx of workers from Kentucky and West Virginia. One of the West Virginians became a Foreman. One day Norman asked him a question about a part he was checking for Quality Control, and the Foreman was irritated about being interrupted and he gestured toward a blueprint hanging on the wall, and said, " Hell, Shirkey, look over there, there's a diaphragm right on the wall!" To this day, when one of us asks a silly question, another will invariably answer with "There's a diaphragm on the wall!"


One of my friends, thinking it would be a wonderful gag gift, gave me a copy of "The Total Woman";
this was a book brought out as a polemic against "women's liberation". Basically, the book told women to be
doormats for their husbands and to do everything to please them. As I read through it, one item piqued
my interest. It suggested that one should wrap oneself in Saran Wrap and lie waiting, seductively, on the bed
for him to arrive. I did that and I there I was, lying on my side, wrapped in Saran Wrap, with my thigh at its most advantageous angle, and when he opened the door, he asked, "Leftovers again?"

As a young bride I found it difficult to cook for just two people as I'd grown up in a family with seven brothers. My husband said that he loved meatloaf. There were obviously a lot of leftovers when I fixed a meatloaf, so I sent it for his lunch for several days. During those days, I also sent little "love notes" in his lunch box. Imagine my shock when I learned that my husband had traded his meatloaf sandwich for another guy's bologna sandwich. How did I know? He'd handed his wrapped meatloaf sandwich (with a naughty note tucked inside) to Randy and Randy had opened the sandwich, read the note, and wrote a note in return saying that he liked the meatloaf and that he'd also be glad to oblige the request in my note! I said, "Why did you trade your sandwich?" He said that he was tired of meat loaf after three days. I shrieked, "Didn't you know there was a note in there?"

He said, "You usually put them with the fruit, so I never give those away!" Years later, when I went to work at International Harvester, guess who worked for me? Yep, Randy, who never let me live down the meatloaf story!

I would usually make homemade cookies for my husband's lunch box. My brother Neil worked in the same department and he felt free to go to the lunch box and take cookies. One day, I put Oreos in the lunch box as I hadn't made any cookies that day. That evening, when I opened the lunch box, there was a note from my brother, "NO S.B. COOKIES!" I was relieved to learn that S.B. meant


When my husband's twin grandnieces were ready to turn 13, they were visiting at my home and they told me that they wanted to have a slumber party to celebrate their birthday. I said that I had always wanted to have a slumber party when I was a girl, but I had never been able to do those kinds of things. One of them excitedly said, "We could have it HERE."

The next day their mother called and asked, "Were you serious about the Twins having a slumber party at your house?" Of course I had NOT been serious about it, but I didn't miss a beat and answered, "I'd love to have the slumber party at my house!" and afterwards, I was so glad I did it.

I sent out invitations which read, "Aron and Angie Henry and little Suzy Shirkey-Raypole request your presence at their combined slumber party!" I sent the invitations to my friends and told them that they had to wear nightgowns and fuzzy slippers. The twins invited many of their friends.

On the evening of the party, five of my friends came. My friend Bobbi was the most original as she drove to my house, already dressed in her nightgown, fuzzy slippers and curlers in her hair! Another friend asked, "Are you crazy?" but changed into a nightgown at my house A third friend fell asleep at 9:00 p.m. and the other two crashed before midnight. They demanded the beds and the girls were on couches and sleeping bags.

The party lasted all night long and there were prizes for all the events. We had contests and prizes for singing, dancing, makeup, hairdos, cooking, screaming, and a scavenger hunt and the GRAND PRIZE was to be awarded to the one who stayed awake the longest which meant that I had to stay up ALL night to know which one was awake the longest. We watched movies, made popcorn balls, Rice Krispie treats, brownies and ordered pizza.

The next day, my husband, while looking around at all of the debris, asked, "NOW, will you learn to quit whining about all those things you didn't get to do when you were a kid?"

Years later, a young woman came up to me and said, "I won the makeup contest at your slumber party!" I respionded, "And I won the screaming contest!"


Every time I read the word MISLED, my mind says MIZZLED instead of miss-led! I immediately start saying "miss-led, miss-led, miss-led" to overcome the mispronunciation, but the next time it comes up in reading, I say MIZZLED once again. I have a great fear of being asked to read something in public and "MISLED" will be in the text and I will blurt out "MIZZLED"!


I noticed that my husband was engrossed in a magazine article and I asked, "What are you reading?" He answered, "Oh, it's an article about the Marquis de Sade." As his usual reading habits are centered around science fiction and car magazines, I was surprised. I laughed and said, "Let me know when you get to the part about Charlotte Corday." Later, he came into the family room and very grandly opened his shirt to reveal a package of candy protruding from his t-shirt. He said, "He's into S & M, but I'm into M & M's!"


When my grandniece Hannah visits, she always stays in what used to be my mother's room. Always polite, she will say, "Aunt Sue, I'll go ahead and take my bag to my room." Once, when she was very young, we were together in the room and she admired a cardinal music box on the dresser. I said, "Hannah, your Grandma Betty made that," and I picked it up to show her Betty's signature on the bottom of the piece. She looked surprised and asked, "Did you know my Grandma Betty?" I answered, "Of course I knew your Grandma Betty; she was my sister-in-law." Hannah still looked surprised. I continued, "Grandpa Kenny is my brother." Hannah asked, "You mean like John is my brother?" I laughed and said, "Yes, we were kids once just like you and John!" She said, "Well, I knew you were my Aunt Sue because that's what I call you, but I never did know how that works." I said, "It's SO confusing!" and went on to give her a boring list of who, what, when and where about the relatives. She looked wistful and said, "My Grandma Betty loved me very much." I said, "I know; you were the apple of her eye." Hannah said, "Aunt Sue, you talk so funny!"