The Best for Mom

We all want what’s “BEST” for our parents, but in our rush to protect and make things better, we sometimes overstep our good intentions.  My mom has always had a problem with her knees.  After being dared by her older brother (my uncle who owns the property next door to Mom) to jump the fence between their homes and landing awkwardly on one knee, it has been an on again/off again knee problem for many, many years.  Damp weather or cold weather makes it worse, but for the most part she gets around just fine.  In her recent years, she has taken to using a walker to keep herself steady because she doesn’t want to fall.

After Dad passed and before she started with the walker, she used to be active outside.  She’d rake her leaves, clean her windows and even do some limited gardening.  Then one afternoon, she discovered her good aluminum ladder was gone from the woodshed.  Since my brother and his wife were the last visitors she’d had, she called them and confronted them about the ladder.  Their first reaction was to deny it.  When she persisted, they giggled.  Then they confessed that they didn’t want her to climb ladders anymore.  She was furious. First, they lied to her. Second, they treated her like a child.  Despite their good intentions, mom felt, in a word, gaslighted. 

Times have changed since then, and my brother and sister-in-law have problems of their own and have less time to do things for Mom.  My cousin who lives next door with my aunt and uncle has stepped up and so has a younger neighbor of my mom’s.  They will get groceries for her or take her along if she’s up to it; they run her to doctor’s appointments and do other odd errands and chores for her.  She feels lucky to have them.  She does, however, reward them financially for everything they do.  (But there are times, she insists, they refuse any money.)

Mom comes from a family of 17 children, so she knows what it feels like to have very little of her own.  To that end, after she married, she helped all the siblings who came behind her as much as she could.  She saved things constantly, telling me so and so might be able to use this. But now, in her later years, she is tired of the clutter in her house and wants to get rid of things.  So my visits have been trying to declutter her rooms and make it easier for her to move about more freely. 

Mom has not been able to go into her upstairs or down into her basement since she started using the walker, so she has relied on others to get or take things from those places and it’s been her niece and neighbor friend.  During the last 2 visits with Mom, she’s made comments about missing some things she’s sure she still had.  Now, I know my mom—she freely gives things to anyone if they need it.  But she doesn’t remember giving these items away.  Could it be a memory issue?  Sure, she’s not a young lady anymore.  But that incident with the ladder is haunting her—she isn’t sure that one of the people who have keys to her home (for emergencies) isn’t taking things without permission. Out of sight, out of mind.  Again, Mom insists, if someone asks, she’d surely give it to them.  But this is making her feel unsafe in her home.

This last visit, I confirmed that this is not all in her imagination. The last trip we made in December, we discussed certain items I told her were still in one room upstairs.  Four Lipton Tea cooler sets she sent box tops to get years and years ago. (The set was a cooler—one man lunch kind of thing—and a good thermos on the top in a space made just for it.) She had 4 of them with the thermoses on top.  This visit, the thermoses were gone, except for one lid and cup laying on a dresser.  The coolers were still there though.  Both my cousin and her friend had been upstairs in the interim.

I didn’t have time to search the entire upstairs for these thermoses so I can’t positively accuse anyone.  Our next visit will be a more concerted effort to find them.  But we spent one whole day cleaning the other room.  I started with taking pictures of each side of the room and showing her those.  Then bringing down items and boxes and detailing their contents.  Then I drew a “map” of where everything was placed.  I will compare that list/map to what’s there next time.  That will at least help Mom’s mind, I hope.  And if something is moved or gone, we can discuss other options…nanny cams perhaps?

No Blarney

15 St. Patrick’s Day Facts

St. Patrick’s Day always falls on the 17th of March.

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place in America—not in Ireland.

The New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade is the world’s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States.

Chicago began its annual tradition of turning the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day in 1962.

In Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day had been viewed mostly as a religious observance, and up until the 1960s, they even had laws that forbid bars from being open that day.

It wasn’t until 1798 (the year of the Irish Rebellion) that the color green became officially associated with St. Patrick’s Day. Before then, another color was originally associated with St. Patrick (see the trivia below!).

St. Patrick’s Day switched over from a strictly holy day for Catholics to an official Irish public holiday in 1903.

Although St. Patrick’s Day falls within the period of Lent—a time when the Catholic Church prohibits eating meat, the ban is lifted on this specific day of celebration.

The annual shamrock ceremony in the White House started in 1952.

Each year, 5.5 million people visit New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Before St. Patrick became a missionary, he had been kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave.

St. Patrick is said to have been buried in the town of Downpatrick, County Down, in Northern Ireland.

There are two autobiographical writings from St. Patrick himself, including Confessio and Letter to Coroticus.

Traditionally, Catholic families go to church in the morning on St. Patrick’s Day, and partake in a meal that includes cabbage and Irish bacon.

Dublin’s first official celebration of St. Patrick’s Day did not occur until 1931.

15 St. Patrick’s Day Trivia Questions

Question: What’s another name for St. Patrick’s Day?
Answer: The Feast of Saint Patrick.

Question: Where was Saint Patrick actually born?
Answer: Roman Britain (What is now either England, Scotland or Wales).

Question: How many hours does the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade take?
Answer: Over five hours.

Question: How many pounds of green vegetable dye are now used to turn the Chicago River green?
Answer: 40 pounds.

Question: What do some historians believe was St. Patrick’s real name?
Answer: Maewyn Succat.

Question: According to legend, what happened during one of St. Patrick’s sermons on the Irish hillside?
Answer: Legend has it that while he was speaking, all of the snakes were driven out into the sea.

Question: What color was originally associated with St. Patrick?
Answer: Blue.

Question: According to legend, what did St. Patrick use to describe the Holy Trinity?
Answer: The shamrock.

Question: What is another term used for Ireland?
Answer: “The Emerald Isle.”

Question: What does St. Patrick’s name mean?
Answer: “Patricius,” or “Patrick,” comes from the Latin term for “father figure.”

Question: Why did it take until 1998 for the city of Belfast (in Northern Ireland) to have a St. Patrick’s Day parade?
Answer: Because of Protestant hostility toward the display of Irish national symbols.

Question: According to Hallmark, how many Americans exchange St. Patrick’s Day cards each year?
Answer: 12 million Americans.

Question: Why was St. Patrick’s Day once celebrated in May instead of March?
Answer: In 2001, a foot-and-mouth outbreak ran rampant in Ireland, so Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day parade was moved to May (with a great turnout of 1.2 million!).

Question: From 1927 to 1961, where was the one place in Ireland that legally allowed drinking on St. Patrick’s Day?
Answer: The RDS Dog Show.

Question: Is St. Patrick’s Day the most popular drinking day in America?
Answer: No, it’s actually the fourth most popular (behind New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day and the Fourth of July).

Source: Parade

Missing from the History Books

Plenty of historic events have taken place in Nebraska over the years, but not all of them have made it into common knowledge. Some are so obscure or unusual that they aren’t even found in most history books. These six things are so crazy that it’s almost hard to believe they happened right here at home.

1. A Nebraskan “won the war” for the US.

Andrew Jackson Higgins

Andrew Jackson Higgins, born in Columbus in 1886, would grow up to manufacture boats that the US Navy found instrumental in winning WWII (though his company was not based in Nebraska). In fact, more than 96 percent of US Navy boats were “Higgins boats” at the end of the war. Then-General Dwight Eisenhower referred to Higgins as the man who won the war for us.

2. Early Nebraska maps featured six “ghost counties” that never existed.

Just after Nebraska became a state, mapmaking company Colton printed maps containing six counties in western Nebraska that were entirely nonexistent. The mistake came about because the mapmaker referenced an early legislative bill which showed an alternate version of the county lines. By the time the county lines were finalized, the maps were already printed. Other mapmakers copied the incorrect map, and the error was not corrected on new maps for more than a decade.

3. Nebraska was hit by a Japanese balloon bomb in WWII…and no one said a word.

Japan sent out balloon bombs during WWII, then tracked where they ended up so they could perfect the technique for hitting their targets from such a far distance. One such bomb exploded over the Dundee area of Omaha in 1945. In the interest of thwarting the Japanese efforts to chart the bomb’s trajectory, the incident was kept completely out of the news until after the war ended. Today, a historical marker stands on the site where the bomb exploded.

4. A tiny Nebraska town voted itself out of existence.

Seneca, NE

The Thomas County town of Seneca, which was incorporated in 1888, dissolved in 2014 after a year of disputes and acrimony. The incident which began the disputes was regarding an ordinance that barred residents from keeping horses within town limits. Over the course of several months, bickering and bitterness led to the village board voting to dissolve Seneca. The motion won by a single vote. Seneca officially became an unincorporated community in mid-2014.

5. The first self-propelled vehicle west of the Mississippi was debuted in Nebraska.

In the mid-1880s, an entrepreneur named Joseph Renshaw Brown saw the opportunity to introduce steam-powered vehicles to the prairie. His contraption caused a lot of excitement in Nebraska City where its journey began. After its payload was attached and the vehicle started to chug toward Kearney, it unceremoniously died seven miles into the trip. Although it didn’t achieve its mission, the vehicle still made history.

6. A “volcano” once existed in Nebraska…before it was washed away.

In northeastern Nebraska, a mysterious hill right on the banks of the Missouri River used to release heat and steam of such power that people assumed it was a volcano. In reality, it was a chemical reaction within the hill causing these events. In 1878, a flood washed the “volcano” away forever.


This month we focus on Aquarius in the zodiac. 

Element: Air

Color: Light-Blue, Silver

Quality: Fixed

Day: Saturday

Ruler: Uranus

Greatest Compatibility: Leo, Sagittarius

Lucky Numbers: 4, 7, 11, 22, 29

Dates: January 20 – February 18

Aquarius traits

Strengths: Progressive, original, independent, humanitarian

Weaknesses: Runs from emotional expression, temperamental, uncompromising, aloof

Aquarius likes: Fun with friends, risky business, fighting for causes, intellectual conversations.

Aquarius dislikes: Limitations, broken promises, being lonely, dull or boring situations.

You are the innovators of the Zodiac. The best way to understand your sign is to think about the progression through the earth signs of our celestial heavens. Taurus plants the seed, Virgo harvests the seed and Capricorn represents the pinnacle of civilization. What comes after this? The unknown. The yet-to-be discovered. The future.

Aquarius sees the world as it should be, could be or will be. Definitely tuned into the beat of a different drummer, you do things in your own way. There are, however, some Aquarians who act a lot more like Capricorns. Go back and read that section if you don’t identify with the particular personality aspects discussed here.

Freedom is extremely important to you. You are destined to bring the world new ways of doing and looking at things and must have the space to be able to manifest it. Your sense of style is unique and sometimes flamboyant. You can relate to almost all others in a detached way and you are dedicated to bringing humanity a step closer to fair and just. Injustice pushes your buttons like nothing else.

You have many friends and you are conversant in an abundance of topics. You follow your intuition with a sense of purpose and you listen to it even when it seems odd. Somehow you know that it truly provides the best guidance.

You want everyone to be happy. If there is a way that you can make it happen, you will do it. Like a mama duck, you sometimes have people following behind you and seeking your inspiration. You are very good at leading groups and can often be found teaching unusual topics. Friends know that they can look to you for upcoming trends.

Aquarius Friends and Family

Friends – No matter their ability to communicate, Aquarius representatives need time to build closeness with a friend and they will unconsciously do a lot only to avoid being emotional and vulnerable around others. They are willing to self-sacrifice but only if absolutely necessary, and by the time they jump in to help, a person in trouble will probably realize that they never needed help to begin with. They need creative friends with integrity and a strong intellect.

Family – Theses individuals have certain expectations from their family. Even though it might not be their place to search for answers their parents should seek, they will do so anyway, and more often than not impose their will on family members from the best possible intention – to make them get along. The sense of duty they have with some relatives won’t keep them around for very long, for this, as all emotional blackmail, hardly ever touches the soul of an Aquarius.

Aquarius Career and Money

This is a sign that brings enthusiasm, excitement, and innovations to their workplace and has a remarkable ability of exploitation of their imagination for business purposes. Their high intellect combined with their willingness to share their talents, inspires many people in their lives. They are a visionary who likes to engage in humane activities, and needs to work in a place that supports better circumstances for endangered groups of people.

Finances of this zodiac sign can be spent on various risks but also held on to, and all they need to have in order to create a saving zone out of their life, is to give them something to look forward to. They are well adapted to their feel for style and are not afraid to show it, which is why their colors shining in the outer world make all the difference for their emotional state. They feel extremely good in professions such as piloting, paragliding and photography, but also make excellent programmers, ingenious mathematicians and scientists, and need to show their personality with not strict guidelines for the way to do so.

Famous Aquarians:

Rosa Parks

Ronald Reagan

John Travolta

Auld Lang Syne

When I looked up the meaning of “Auld Lang Syne”, said this:

 The words auld lang syne literally mean “old long since,” though in practice it means “old times, especially times fondly remembered,” as well as an “old or long friendship.”

So, as we near the end of this long, disgusting year of Ultra Maggot’s installation, let’s look back fondly at older, BETTER times!


Creepy Squared: The Mutter Museum

The next time you find yourself in Philadelphia, you may want to consider paying a visit to the infamous Mütter Museum. It was founded in 1863, after Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter donated his collection of medical anomalies, wax models, diseased specimens, and medical equipment to The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Today, the museum boasts a collection of over 20,000 specimens, with about 15 percent on view to the public—and that’s PLENTY!

While serving as a storehouse for the anatomically peculiar, the museum’s display of tens of thousands of provocative items gives an eerie, beneath-the-surface perspective of what physicians study on a daily basis. Inside you’ll find a wide smattering of abnormal body parts remaining preserved in fluid, skeletal formations — like that of a 7’6” man — that don’t seem quite physically possible and tastefully displayed diseased and enlarged organs residing within glass-encased oak frames.

Medical oddities of all kinds captivate visitors, but highlights include Marie Curie’s electrometer, Dr. Benjamin Rush’s medicine chest, slides of cells from Albert Einstein’s brain, and, most spectacularly, the death cast of Chang and Eng, the original “Siamese Twins,” whose autopsy was performed in the museum. There’s also the “Soap Lady” and a 139 collection of human skulls.

Though it was originally intended for biomedical research, the Mütter Museum is a funhouse for those with a morbid sense of curiosity. But be sure to skip lunch before your visit, lest you lose your meal. In no particular order, here are some of the CREEPIEST exhibits.

1. Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Collection

The otolaryngologist (a doctor that studies disorders of the ears, nose, throat, head and neck) Chevalier Jackson was a physician who worked at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia in the early 1900s. He became famous for developing new methods to remove foreign objects from the human body, such as things that had become lodged in his patients’ airways. Nearly all the foreign objects he removed from throats, esophagi, and lungs over his 75-year-long career in medicine are on display at the Mütter Museum. These 2,374 objects include “buttons, pins, nuts, coins, bones, screws, dentures and bridges, small toys, among many other items.”

2. Books Bound with Human Skin

You’ll find several anthropodermic books, or books bound in human skin, at the Mütter Museum. The museum’s neighbor, the Historical and Medical Library, holds the largest collection of anthropodermic books in the world. There you can see three books bound in the skin of a woman named Mary Lynch, who died from trichinosis (a parasite that comes from pigs). During her autopsy, a large portion of skin from Mary’s thigh was saved, and three medical books about childbirth were bound with it.

3. Baby Born with No Skull

One of the largest collections at the Mütter Museum is what they call “wet specimens,” parts of the human anatomy preserved in jars of formaldehyde. Because of their fragile nature, the 1,300 jars representing every part of the human anatomy are kept in constant rotation. One particularly disturbing specimen is a baby born without a skull: a fetus that could not sustain life outside the womb.

4. Hyrtl Skull Collection

Mütter’s Hyrtl Skull Collection is made up of 139 human skulls which belonged to Viennese anatomist Joseph Hyrtl, whose life work was the study of the Caucasian population of Europe. Hyrtl wanted to show variation in cranial anatomy as an argument against essentialist theories about race. Each skull is mounted on the wall, and many are inscribed with Hyrtl’s notes about the person’s age, place of origin, and cause of death.

5. Conjoined Liver of Chang and Eng Bunker

Chang and Eng Bunker were Thai-American conjoined twins who were born in 1811 and died in 1874. They were joined at the sternum and shared a liver. Other than that, however, they were two fully-grown, independent men. The two made a life for themselves in North Carolina, and even got married to a pair of sisters. Chang had 11 children, and Eng 10. The fused liver that the two shared is now on display at the Mütter museum, as is a death cast of their torso.

6. Two-Headed Baby

In addition to Chang and Eng’s liver, the Mütter Museum also owns a large collection of conjoined fetal specimens, including a two-headed baby, as part of their wet specimens collection. Known as “Jim and Joe,” this two-headed baby, in a jar full of formaldehyde rests in the Gretchen Worden room, named after the Mütter Museum’s beloved curator who died in 2004.

7. John Wilkes Booth’s Vertebra

History buffs will love the specimen of the spineless (get it?) man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Shortly after Booth was killed during a shootout with the police, his body was sent to Washington, where it was autopsied. The three vertebrae (3rd, 4th, and 5th) were removed to allow access to the bullet, and sent to the College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. Some of that vertebrae and a piece of his thorax ended up on display at the Mütter Museum.

8. The Soap Lady

Exhumed in 1875, the Mütter Museum’s Soap Lady gets her name from the waxy, soap-like condition of her remains. Corpses high in body fat are prone to this rare chemical condition, which preserves the body in a waxy coating of broken-down fat called adipocere. Scientists at the Mütter Museum believe the Soap Lady died sometime in the 1800s. Her corpse was exhumed from a local cemetery to make way for construction, and Joseph Leidy, a professor of anatomy at the University of Philadelphia, jumped at the chance to study the unusual phenomenon.

9. Jaw Tumor of President Grover Cleveland

Another highlight of the wet specimens collection is a large tumor that was extracted from President Grover Cleveland’s jaw in 1893. With the country in financial turmoil, Cleveland didn’t want to upset the American populace even more, so he had the surgery on a boat and said he’d had a tooth extracted. Luckily the tumor was benign, but it left Cleveland with a significant disfigurement.

10. The Skeleton of Harry Eastlack

Harry Eastlack, born in 1933, suffered from an extremely rare condition known as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, or FOP, in which the repair mechanism in the bones of the body works in overdrive, turning muscle and other tissue into bone. By the time Eastlack died in 1973, just short of his 40th birthday, his entire body had ossified, and he could barely move his lips to speak. His unusual skeleton is on display at the Mütter museum.

11. The Eye Wall

12. Soccer Ball-Sized Ovary

If the eye wall and the baby without a skull weren’t enough to put you off your lunch, one of the highlights of the wet specimens is a soccer ball-sized cancerous ovary. Creepy enough to motivate you to book that yearly physical?

More displays…

Dirty Laundry

We all know the critters in Washington DC have plenty of dirty laundry, but that’s not the type I am discussing here.  This is about real stains and how to clean them.  After all, life’s messy…let’s clean it up!  The following list is SOME of the stains and the removal tips I saw on the American Cleaning Institute’s (ACI) website. 

Disclaimer: I didn’t even know we HAD an American Cleaning Institute. (LOL)

General Tips

How to remove stains from clothes

  1. Deal with it as early as possible. The less time a stain has to soak in, the easier it will be to remove, although there are ways to remove old stains out of clothes as well.
  2. Pre-treat with a stain remover, then let it soak in.
  3. Launder according to the fabric care instructions. Regular stains should come out in cold water but for extra dirty clothing or very tough stains, use the warmest setting safe for the fabric. If the stain remains, repeat the steps above. Do not put it in the dryer until the stain is removed.


Fresh Stains

  1. Soak in cold water (do not use hot water as it will set blood stains).
  2. Launder. 

Dried Stains

  1. Pretreat or soak in warm water with a product containing enzymes.
  2. Launder. 

 NOTE: If stain remains, rewash using a bleach safe for fabric.


  1. When the stain strikes, gently scrape off any excess chocolate.
  2. Once you get the item home, soak it in cool water.
  3. Then pretreat with a prewash stain remover.
  4. Launder in the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric. 

NOTE: If stain remains, rewash using a bleach safe for fabric.

Coffee or Tea

  1. Sponge or soak stain in cool water.
  2. Pretreat with prewash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, liquid detergent booster or paste of powder laundry product and water.
  3. Launder using sodium hypochlorite bleach, if safe for fabric, or oxygen bleach. (Note: Older stains may respond to pretreating or soaking in a product containing enzymes, then laundering.)

Dairy Products

  1. Pretreat or soak stains using a product containing enzymes.
  2. Soak for at least 30 minutes or several hours for aged stains.
  3. Launder.


  1. Pretreat or soak in a product containing enzymes.

NOTE: If stain persists, launder using sodium hypochlorite bleach, if safe for fabric, or oxygen bleach.

Grease or Oil

Light Stains

  1. Pretreat with prewash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent or liquid detergent booster.
  2. Launder using hottest water safe for fabric.

Heavy Stains

  1. Place stain face down on clean paper towels. Apply cleaning fluid to back of stain.
  2. Replace paper towels under stain frequently.
  3. Let dry, rinse. Launder using hottest water safe for fabric.


  1. Sponge the area around the stain with rubbing alcohol or cleaning fluid before applying it directly on the stain.
  2. Place stain face down on clean paper towels. Apply alcohol or cleaning fluid to back of stain. Replace paper towels frequently.
  3. Rinse thoroughly. Launder.

Alternate Method:

  1. Place stain over mouth of a jar or glass; hold fabric taut.
  2. Drip the alcohol or cleaning fluid through the stain so ink will drop into the container as it is being removed.
  3. Rinse thoroughly. Launder.

NOTE: Some inks in each of the following categories _ ballpoint, felt tip, liquid- may be impossible to remove.


  1. Remove any excess ketchup with a spoon or knife, but be careful not to rub it into the fabric.
  2. If the garment is washable, remove the garment as soon as possible and run cold water through the stain from the backside to force the stain out of the clothing.

 Note: Avoid dabbing at it as this can spread the stain. 


  1. Launder stained items using a bleach safe for fabric and hottest water recommended for fabric.

 NOTE: Badly mildewed fabrics may be damaged beyond repair.


Water-based Paint

  1. Rinse fabric in warm water while stains are still wet.
  2. Launder.

 NOTE: Once paint is dry, it cannot be removed.

Oil-based Paint and Varnish

  1. Use the same solvent the label on the can advises for a thinner.
  2. If not available, use turpentine.
  3. Rinse.
  4. Pretreat with prewash stain remover, bar soap or laundry detergent.
  5. Rinse and launder.


  1. Sponge the stain with cool water or soak it in cool water for about 30 minutes.
  2. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover.
  3. Launder; if safe for the fabric, add chlorine bleach to the wash.

For more stain removal tips for specific stains, please see their website:

NOTE: While I was researching this open, these lyrics, from Don Henley’s Dirty Laundry, kept running through my mind…

“Dirty Laundry”

I make my living off the evening news
Just give me something
Something I can use
People love it when you lose
They love dirty laundry

Well, I coulda been an actor
But I wound up here
I just have to look good
I don’t have to be clear
Come and whisper in my ear
Give us dirty laundry

Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down

Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em when they’re down
Kick ’em when they’re up
Kick ’em all around

We got the bubble headed
Bleached blonde
Comes on at five
She can tell you ’bout the plane crash
With a gleam in her eye
It’s interesting when people die
Give us dirty laundry

Can we film the operation
Is the head dead yet
You know the boys in the newsroom
Got a running bet
Get the widow on the set
We need dirty laundry

You don’t really need to find out
What’s going on
You don’t really want to know
Just how far it’s gone
Just leave well enough alone
Eat your dirty laundry
Dirty little secrets
Dirty little lies
We got our dirty little fingers
In everybody’s pie
We love to cut you down to size
We love dirty laundry

We can do the innuendo
We can dance and sing
When it’s said and done
We haven’t told you a thing
We all know that crap is king
Give us dirty laundry

School Supplies

 When I was a child, no, not quite all the way back to the Flintstones era, but close, August was back-to-school month.  To me, that was an exciting time!  The promise of a new school year, seeing old friends again, wondering about my teacher.

As soon as I learned to sew, I was in charge of making my back-to-school clothes.  There was a man who came to the neighborhood driving a paneled van full of “dress-length” fabrics.  (How Little House, right?) He arrived early summer, so we had plenty of time to make some skirts, tops or dresses.

But in August, the entire family went to Kmart!  We all got new sneakers or shoes (whichever we needed).  But then it was off to the really exciting aisle—the stationery supplies!!  Oh my! Standing in that aisle, pencils and pens, erasers and markers on one side and all the notebooks, tablets and paper on the other!  I was in heaven!  The possibilities!! I picked up a spiral notebook, imagining all I could write in it!

While my mom helped my sister and I load up on what we’d need—3 ring binders, paper, spiral notebooks, pencils, pens, some report covers, a glue stick—my dad kept my younger brother busy.  We clutched our treasures and dutifully placed them on the cashier’s conveyor.  My brother struggled to put his new box of crayons on the belt too— no one was left out!  And the cashier gave us each our own bag!

As we got older, we would need to buy slide rules and calculators, and the accursed gym suits!  Boys were lucky, their gym period only required shorts and a T-shirt, but girls?  We were ruled by the whims of the gym teacher.  Since I had an older sister, I already saw the gym suit she had to wear.  It wasn’t bad: a navy-blue crisp cotton all in one suit that snapped up the front, and was slightly gathered at the waist.

I thought that was what I would have to wear…no such luck!  I got the new gym teacher—younger, definitely, but one who demanded comfort over style.  So off we went to the local sporting goods store to try on and purchase one.  Oh my goodness!  It was hideous!  It had navy-blue and white HORIZONTAL stripes, elastic waist and a stupid short back neckline zipper.  Not a single girl in my class liked the uniform.

Fast forward…a few years…(let’s leave it at that…lol)  …school shopping is completely different!  My granddaughter doesn’t have to wear a gym suit. A T-shirt and shorts are acceptable. She still needs a few pencils, but since cursive is no longer taught in school, she needs no pens or spiral notebooks.  She did need folders—to keep all her “handouts” together.  If she wanted to take extra notes, she would do it on the handouts or on the Chromebook she was “given” from the school district to take notes and do assignments.  She would be required to turn the Chromebook back into the school when she graduates.  She brings a water bottle with her every day and she is REQUIRED to have a backpack. 

*By the way, before I typed this into wordpress, I wrote it out longhand…in a spiral notebook! Grandma is still “old school”…LOL

The Experiment

Getting older is not for sissies.  This I know.  As I’ve gotten older, my long-term memory has remained fairly accurate. (Full disclosure: I can’t remember my locker combination from high school, but to be honest, I forgot it a lot back then too.) But facts, dates, and people? Those I can remember.

My short-term memory, however is like intermittent rain—hit or miss.  Certain words elude me –only to pop up in my mind during an entirely different conversation.  And don’t get me started on why I go into another room…LOL

My experiment is going to be a simple one.  I read an article online concerning tips to improve your memory and I intend to try those tips for a month.  I will then report my findings…did they help? Or am I as lost as I ever was?

Here are the 12 memory tricks that are supposed to help me remember anything EASILY.

Do puzzles or play games that target your memory. 

The study suggests apps (which I won’t use) or flash cards—even just trying to memorize a string of cards from a deck of cards.

Keep your brain active.

Just like your muscles weaken from physical inactivity, brain inactivity may lead to mental decline. It stands to reason that a more active brain is likely to be a healthier brain, and that having a healthy brain will benefit your short-term memory.

Eat a brain healthy diet.

The MIND diet (which is a hybrid of the DASH diet and Mediterranean diet) appears to slow down cognitive decline. It prioritizes leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, olive oil, occasional fish consumption, and reduced red meat consumption. Drink plenty of water as well. Dehydration negatively impacts the brain along with the rest of the body.  (Reduced red meat?  Not likely)

Exercise regularly.

In general, adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week for overall health benefits. (I already do this.)

Get enough sleep.

Research indicates that high quality sleep helps to encode existing memories so that they “stick” much better. (I do this too.)

Focus on what you want to remember.

Scientifically speaking, short term memory only lasts around 15-30 seconds—after that, the information is either discarded or moved to long term memory. Therefore, focusing closely on a new piece of info for 15-30 seconds can keep it in your short-term memory and may help transfer it to your long-term memory.

Engage multiple senses.

When you meet someone new, listen carefully and look directly at them as they state their name. Repeat their name immediately afterward. Shake their hand and feel their grip. Even take notice of their perfume or cologne! The more sensory associations you build, the more firmly the memory is encoded.

Utilize mnemonic devices.

Try constructing colorful, even silly visualizations or verbalizations to help encode a group of things in your short-term memory.

Try “chunking” items into groups.

Chunking is related to mnemonics and is the principle behind using hyphens to break up 10-digit phone numbers in the U.S.—remembering individual groups of 3, 3, and 4 numbers is easier than recalling a single string of 10. It works even better when you can create associations within each “chunk” — for instance, maybe the “3015” section of a phone number contains the jersey numbers of two of your favorite athletes.

Lay out structured associations.

Create a bubble map. In other words, prioritize remembering the most vital information, but also focus on memorizing the structure that connects this vital info to the less important material you also want to remember.

Address existing health issues.

Some medications can affect short-term memory.

Reduce your memory demands.

In other words, write yourself notes.  Again, I already do this.

So that’s the list of tips.  I intend to try as many of these as I can over the next 4 weeks. Wish me luck!

Source: Wiki How: How to Increase Your Short Term Memory