Aunt Lelah and Re-gifting


The Case of Aunt Lelah
New ways to look at re-gifting.

The recent poll in our local weekly, The Statesman Examiner, says that 38% of people in the study believe that re-gifting is okay.

Aunt Lelah has quite the reputation in my Mother’s large family for making a practice of it.  She was petite, barely five feet tall, but reached legendary status for her talent at doing so.  “Which one is going to get a gift we gave her years ago,” I heard my Mother whisper one Christmas gathering to her sister Stella.

Aunt Lelah was married to my Mother’s brother, Fill Westland.  She couldn’t care less what anyone thought of her.  She blazed through life like a little tornado, a practical person doing what was needed to get through the Christmas season.

The Lazy Bee, where I live, is a rustic ranch in the Pacific Northwest.  Through the years it has received its share of re-gifted items.  Usually they’re hand-crafted, always large in size~, mainly made of wood or fabric,  a plaque, painting, wall-hanging, mainly representations of the Old West.  We savor them for a time.

Returning to Aunt Lelah and the things I’ve learned through her reputation: a) A re- gift is something that’s been given to someone new; b) It’s passed along to a recipient in SECRET;   c) The person who is giving a re-gifted gift may be spotted and tagged as a being one who re-gives a gift they’ve received; d) If enough investigative reporting is done, most everyone at some time has re-gifted an item.

The subject of re-gifting is rarely talked about, even around a blazing camp fire.  Libraries may have policies in place for re-gifts.  I’ve been a board member at the Cedar Falls Public Library in Iowa and the Spokane Public Library is WA. State.  The topic has been debated.

To sum up – if one looks at the re-gifting in Aunt Lelah’s case, it’s not bad.  In her case, it created memories, that have given her a legacy.  She had to wait until the perfect recipient came along to pass along a gift that she’d received.  If the person receiving her gift recalled who had first received the gift, they could either find a use of the present or make the decision to pass it along.

One final note: I believe that the best re-gift is what happens in a DIVORCE.  We pass someone along to a person who hopefully is a better fit.






The Elf on the Shelf

Is this an NEW tradition? Or, am I just now hearing about it this holiday season?

“Is he here?”  The seven-year-old boy’s eyes filled with expectation when he found his older sister.

“Mom says he might be.  You know we found him last year for the first time a few days after Thanksgiving.”  His sister, l0, was wise and knew how to find the elf.

“Remember?  He’s a tiny little guy.  He wears a floppy red hat.  The shorts he wore were so baggy I wondered how he kept them up.  His long socks were red with white stripes.

“Mom says Santa sends him to watch us and report back to him every day.  Lets go to the dining room,” she said.  Her memory of past events was sharp and she recalled that the elf had chosen that particular spot a number of times.

“He especially liked to sit upon a shelf inside the big buffet.  Or, then again, I spotted him perched upon a shelf in the kitchen above the spice jars.  Every day he might be relaxing, his skinny legs bent over a shelf of some sort.”

The kids raced to the dining room and there he was, looking down at them from the tippy top of the buffet.  And, that, according to a mom we just met in Spokane, there are many homes with a Mom who has the skills and talents to seek out a different place every day for this little guy.

The mom  relating the story of the Elf on the Shelf at her house, says the tradition has become part of the mystic of Christmas.  The story of Jesus born in a manager is the biggest event.

Be alert.  It might be that the elf visited your house to check out your behavior this Christmas , returning every day to tell Santa what you were up to.  I must have been really, really good.  My sweetie spent hours before Christmas to hand-tool a leather belt for me.  It  has a silver buckle and my name spelled out between the many roses.



I Just Learned that . . .

Joy is infectious.
In one week, here are a few helpful things I learned.

“Why can’t they wait until Martin Luther King Day,” moaned a blogger.  She points out that authors send the most queries out the first of each new year.  Publishers slush piles are the highest for at least thirty days.  Competition is the roughest so keep those New Year’s resolutions but send in your beautiful story later in the year.                                                                                      Publisher’s Marketplace

I tried this.  One hour before serving a meal, you can mash potatoes, put them in a warm crockpot and they will hold beautifully at a low setting.

Did you know that steaming a ham in water makes the moist meat?  You put it in a big pot filled with water, turn it to boiling, then let it simmer for one and a half hours, before turning OFF the stove and letting it sit for another hour and a half.

Every book at the Colville Public Library that comes into the library is cleaned with an antiseptic solution.  Said one of the volunteers, “The kids books get pretty sticky.”                                                                   Colville Public Library Volunteer

If someone asks you if you’d like to have a cup of coffee, or water, accept because your time with them will go more smoothly.  It is really “no bother” for them.  You’ve really been offered a gift.           Dave Kerpen from his book, The Art of People

In a U.S. Civil Court, you only have to prove, what is at issue is more likely than not, or have an over 51% certainly, to win.  In Criminal Court, you can’t risk sentencing someone innocent, so 99% certainty is required.  So, that explains the O.J. Simpson case.  He was found innocent in Criminal Court but guilty in Civil Court.                                                                      F.C. Budinger, Expert Witness

A witness of fact may only testify to facts.  An expert witness may present his/her opinions.  The legal side of one side or the other hires people in particular subjects: doctors, engineers,  like my husband mentioned above, or, say, scientists.  Our son, Vince Budinger, for example, a test pilot, may someday fill such a role for a plane crash.

When having a professional manicure, ask the clinician if you can have one of their Emory boards.  You’ll find that these last forever and do a better job.

If you want a logger to harvest timber on your land, you must first get a Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources Forest Practice Application.  When that paperwork is filled out and you give them a check for $100, a forester will come out to see what you’re going to do and so will the Internal Revenue Service.









New Industrial Revolution

What again!
We at the early stages of a new industrial revolution. Or, how your life is changing.

It is being called “The Internet of Things.”  Things that used to be done by humans are now being done by computers.

It’s only natural to wonder how a self-driving vehicle, car or truck, can navigate through hectic residential areas, wind along back roads and interstates before coming to parallel park.  How in the world does this happen?  If we know how, perhaps we can accept the massive industrial changes coming our way.

The company, Nvidia, for example makes artificially intelligent software that lets computers see, think and learn like humans, something being called “deep learning.”

The devices they make, Drive PX hardware, also work for robots, defense contractors, cloud applications under trademarks like Jetson, GeForce or Tesla.  Over 3,500 companies for example are working with Nvidia products.

Their technology is computerizing more and more and they do it through an intertwined network of objects imbedded with sensors, analytics software and electronics.  There are billions of devices in use, and, they talk to each other, analyze, collect and exchange data.

I know from personal experience that computers, tablets, smartphones are changing my life.  The second wave of Internet development is here.  The first allowed people like me to  connect with other people like you and businesses.  The second, the  Internet of Things lets machines talk to other machines.

Apparently the Silicon Valley in California, the area around San Jose and Palo Alto, is where many cars are self-driving.  The talk to other cars, weather stations, the Dept. of Transportation, stop lights.

There are Internet-enabled thermostats (not us – only use wood burning stoves), light bulbs,  refrigerators, baby monitors, windows and toasters that observe our behavior.  There’s a toilet that opens, closes, deodorizes, plays music via a mobile app.  A humorist like my neighbor, Gretchen, would love this one because she features such wacky things in her bathroom.

This revolution already knows where I am and sends information to apps like Google Map and Waze.  It checks me in at an airport or grocery story.  I’ll be seeing even more dramatic changes in energy, manufacturing, health care, food, banking, places that will have “things” doing work – sophisticated machines connected to one another.

Robots are now in use at Siemens, Harley Davidson, GE and Cisco.  They use interconnected devices to run their plants, increasing productivity 34% with cost savings to each plant.  Health Care, for example at the University of California, San Francisco, has a robotics-controlled pharmacy which has dispensed over 350,000 prescriptions without error.

A vegetarian fast-food restaurant, Eatsa, has a touch-screen to order.  The meal slides into a cubby that lights up with your name in minutes.  In retail, products are tagged so they can be tracked for almost perfect inventory accuracy.

Some day I hope that I will have a freezer that can inventory and tell me exactly where that package of frozen peas is hiding.

Being Affectionate


At the top of a man’s list of his basic needs, flashing away like a bright bulb on top a Christmas tree, is his need for sexual fulfilment.  For a  woman, however, her needs for affection must be met before she can give herself permission.  The priorities of a man are different from those of a woman.

The atmosphere between them, no matter how long they’ve been a couple, says “I like you.  I really do love you and I know you love me.  Sex, according to William F. Harley, Jr. is a “special occasion,”  which follows the prelude of affection.

In his l986 book, His Needs, Her Needs, Harley says sex is most passionate when built on a relationship of mutual caring and the skills the couple has met for their very different needs.  Almost all men he reports need tips for being affectionate.

Women like physical closeness: hugging, hand-holding, sitting near each other, notes, cards, gifts, being taken out to dinner, car door being opened for them, efforts on his part to join her on expeditions like shopping.

Habits of the affection man may include: a hug and kiss every night, a kiss before leaving for the day, flowers as a surprise, occasionally a sentimental (not humorous_ card) for special days like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s, spending a little time upon coming home and sharing what’s happened to each of them.

Why is a fiction writer, like me, sharing what essentially could be looked at as a book review about just one chunk of a man and woman’s basic needs?

A woman needs: l) Affection – regularly and often 2) Conversation  3) Honesty and openness  4) financial support  5) Family commitment.

A man needs: l) Sexual fulfilment – his natural feelings of arousal  2)Recreational companion ship  3) an attractive spouse/partner  4) Domestic support  5) Admiration.

No matter what is happening in their lives, affection is not impractical or unnecessary because it achieves a one-spirit unity between a couple.  Most men become aroused easily.  They think women do, too.  However, women have to make a conscious decision to have sex.  For a woman, it is more mental than physical, especially easiest and the most passionate when a path of affection is part of the equation.

Or, as my Mother said at age 90 when we quizzed her about why she hadn’t accepted his proposal of marriage, “I don’t know if he can perform.”

Harley believes even relationships torpedoed by an affair can be towed into dry dock, repaired and refitted to sail further than a previous times if only the man and the woman are willing to meet each others needs.





Gone Missing – Ask the Internet

Sherrel did it. This may work for you, too.

The was a hot day when Sherrel Bradford Rhosdy was out weeding her little garden in Spokane, WA.

Suddenly she looked up when poking around in the fairy roses and cried, “My wedding rings.  They’re gone?  What shall I do?  I can’t find them anywhere?”

Same thing happened to me, only it  was my self-defense tool that’s gone.  It’s something everyone needs to have with them when in the deep, dark woods near the Canadian border.

The information, about little tool I try to remember to have with me at all times, came via an advertisement in my mail.  It said it was the secret to protection from violent assaults without carrying a gun or to taking a martial arts class, a little difficult class to find here because no one teaches such courses, although, like border patrol officers, they may know how, or, should they be former military, they don’t have time to teach a self-defense class because there are so few of us here who might be interested.

My little tool was an important thing to carry.  It was small, but strong enough to break glass in case I’m kidnapped or if I get locked out of house or car.  It goes through airport security, too.

The thing is — it’s a tactical pen — and because it is a pen, these things have a habit of going missing,  Plus, I wouldn’t be as lucky as Sherrel.  I wouldn’t be smart as she is either.  She said, “I went to the Internet.  I found Luke the Ring Finder.  He came over with his metal detector and found my rings.  I was so happy.”

Sherrel’s story had a happy ending.  I wouldn’t be as lucky. If tactical pens go right past airport security, they’d escape the detection of a metal detector.  Besides pens are like sunglasses, who knows where these items go when they go missing.  As one reader told me when I wrote this blog about losing your sunglasses, “I always envision the ones I lose. I picture them on a beach watching the sunset.”





Calamity at the Canadian Border

U.S. liberals sneaking over to Canada. Shortages in organic broccoli and Perrier Water now.

I’m watching this dilemma with a sharp eye. I live five miles from the Canadian border in Washington State, alert for such incidents.

It seems liberal Americans are sneaking across into Canada.  Patrol agents are on the alert to stop these illegal immigrants into their country.

They must pass a row of small cities which lay directly across the border before they can head into the Okanagan Valley farming lands.  It’s common now for a farmer to spot a sociology professor, a global warming advocate, and even green energy proponents in their fields.

One farmer came across a tall, skinny, middle-aged man wearing a Hawaiian shirt decorated with palm trees in his barn.  “Can you spare a latte, maybe a breast of a free-range chicken?”  The man left in a hurry not wanting to defend his global warming position.

If border patrol agents catch one, they put them back in their electric car to accompany them back to the U.S. where they must figure out what to do when their battery dies.

“These people are just not ready for our rugged conditions,” said one border patrol lady.  “I found one carload in distress because they had run out of Perrier drinking water, but did have a little wine and kale chips remaining, not enough they said to make a dent in their needs.”

Rumors are that Canadians are telling them, “If you’re caught, you may be sent back once in again in the U.S. to a re-education camp to study the Constitution and to learn how to drink Bud Light beer.”

Canadians report a shortage of organic broccoli, Barbara Streisand C.D’s.  They hear a lot of complaints that they hear only BBC broadcasts and no CNN.

“I really feel for these Americans,” said one Canadian.  “Our Canadian economy just can’t support any more art history or Marine biologists.”

(Author’s note:  I am of Swedish descent, appreciate but can’t write good humor, but wanted to try anyway.  The gist of this message is being passed along in the U.S. where everyone does enjoy starting or ending their day with a little humor.  Maybe it brought a little chuckle for you.)