Scrapbook Eighty Six…


JULY 2014


brushFun is where you find it.
I just put my tooth brush in the dish washer so I have a few minutes to talk about how I’ve learned stay happy in today’s gloomy world.

When I was in junior high I hated washing the dishes, especially after supper, which was our family’s big meal. So sometimes my father would assign those duties to me alone, thinking it’d be a satisfactory supplemental punishment for doing one of what he called my “personal inconsiderations,” like putting itching powder in Skippy’s shorts.

There were five in our family plus a dog, so when you threw in a skillet, rolling pin, cleaver, and potato masher, the dish washing and drying task became monumental.
But I developed an antidote that I recommend to anyone who feels down and wants to acquire a more positive attitude.

While standing on a stool in front of the kitchen sink, I’d break into song as if I were on a national stage and performing before the great kings and queens and Tsars and Tsarinas of the world. What my voice lacked in quality it made up with in quantity, and the flourish of scrubbing a pressure cooker only enhanced the drama. As the crescendo built so did my motivation and our neighbors could probably enjoy me clear down the block. Even my father had to admit that I could perform Oh Sole Mia with unusual aplomb?

Often the dirty dishes disappeared before I was ready to take my bows. Sometimes I wasn’t finished with my aria, and I’d look around, desperate for something else to wash. Finally, that done, I would step down from my stage happy, having forgotten that I’d washed and dried the dreaded dirty dishes.

That subterfuge was a great life lesson for me and over the years it has manifested itself in ways that have allowed me to stay positive – at least some of the time.

Oops, the dishwasher just stopped, gotta go.

46 thoughts on “Scrapbook Eighty Six…

  1. I think a few here would love to cover you with itching powder! My brother loved to short sheet my bed, and hang my bike in the tree, but with six sisters he got his fair dues.

  2. Thank you for the idea! I’m going to try singing during meetings at work during my report out. Will let you know how it goes 🙂

  3. My family runs for the hills if I sing! Wouldn’t it be great if Forrest would sing a few notes here on the Blog. That has to be possible.

  4. Reminded me of doing dishes by hand when I was young. There were 3 of us that had to trade off being the washer – 1 to wash and 2 to wipe. i hated being the washer! Maybe I should have tried singing. 🙂

  5. First, The Path has be Illuminate and seconds are passing buy. And 3rd begins the week of Big Harvest Day. I have been called to follow the Rabbit through the hole.

  6. “Often the dirty dishes disappeared before I was ready to take my bows. ”

    After reading that, I envisioned a Fry meme: “Not sure if the washing went faster ‘cus the singing took his mind off it…or someone else came in & did the washing ‘cus they couldn’t stand it anymore.”

  7. Forrest Fire…..A great disposition to have had all of your life. It’s no wonder that you are so content. Thanks for sharing your memories with us. A treasure more than gold.

  8. mr. forrest ,you are a mess,you sounded like you were a stinker ,just like my brother,when he was a young teenager,he would pick sandspurs and throw them in your back,as they would latch onto your clothes with the spurs on them,and hurt,oh my. he laughed.he’d poke us with a strong peace of plant,that looked like a mother in laws tounge plant,only stronger,and poke you in the butt.felt like a’d have a new bottle of coke and he’d say give me a drink,he’d drink the whole bottle and leave just alittle at the bottom for me..he’s 68 now and still loves to joke around.but I love him.he lives in Alabama ,and me in Colorado,so I have not seen him in a few years.boys will be boys ,no matter how old.

  9. Forrest.
    No wonder your dad had a handful.
    You sound like a emotional roller coaster. 🙂

  10. This story takes me back to my own childhood. My sister and I would sing while doing dishes although I was often left to sing solo while she snuck off to the bathroom to sneak a smoke. Makes me smile as the tune “white coral bells, upon a slender stalk…..” runs through my mind. I Love your stories so much!

  11. Mr. Fenn,

    You definitely give some good advice…I guess this is along the same lines as whistling while you work. I have a neighbor who whistles all the time while doing his yard work… Sounds really good and I am sure it helps keeps his mind off the task at hand. This also reminds me of a technique the POWs used to use to stay sharp. When I was stationed at the AFA I got to visit the Gimble Library and I loved reading the biographies of the Graduates who had gotten shot down and what they did to survive their ordeals. I think the “Great Escape” is probably the best picture to show how positive leadership can keep people from losing their will to fight. I got to see some of the original documents they counterfeited on planning their escape and I was amazed. One POW during the Vietnam era relayed he would visualize building his dream house when he was getting tortured. Just something I thought you might like to know.

      • Nor,

        I am unsure of the second part of your message? Do you mean you are more of a hands on type or do you mean you visualize/dream more about getting through the hard times?

  12. Mr. Fenn-

    You have my mind working overtime,
    “What my voice lacked in quality it made up with in quantity, and the flourish of scrubbing a pressure cooker only enhanced the drama. As the crescendo built so did my motivation … ” f
    The dishwasher story seems to metaphorically mirror The Chase at this point in time. The blog is moving so fast that each time I look up after typing the next story appears and my thoughts remain in the past. Might take a while for them to catch up.
    “O sole mio” – also mentions a window- nice song. I like the Now or Never version by Elvis.

    I have an itch – Gotta go.

  13. That Texas education must have been really much better in the 30s and 40s. Hmmmm!

  14. Yes, Mr. F. that was a cute cuddly story!! I sang while I washed dishes too and my Mama could and still can mess up two kitchen fulls of dishes. She cooks and then realizes it is not the right skillet and has to break out another to finish somthing she is frying and there goes another dish to wash. She has never even wanted an electric dishwasher she says that is when she thinks and plans while she washes her pots. My sister and I of course do not do this and all of those holiday dishes are a lot after everone has eaten and not on paper plates, mind you!! We get to stand in a hot kitchen while everyone else gets to sit and enjoy the game or talk and visit. It usually takes us an hour to get them done just right and put them up and then everyone wants desert and somthing to drink. Mama says do not bother she will do them later but we also have desert and coffee and then return to wash the last of the days final plates and cups and glasses and finally get to visit and then the men and kids are ready to go home. That is how it is and always has been since I was a child, come help cook, set the table,eat,clean dishes , eat again clean again and then go home. I sing to releave the relentless scrubbing scowls and washing the pot blues. Do not get me wrong, I love to help my Mama and never let her do the dishes when we have eaten there but goodness, why do there have to be mounds and mounds of pots and pans and casserole dishes and lots of cups and knives forks and spoons? Does the Turkey taste better on a real plate instead of a paper plate. Is the dressing and green beans some how better on fine china!! At least we are conserving on the trash pickup even though a few paper plates and plastic cups are expected on a holiday or just a family get together. Any Hoo, I grew up with a huge family at my Granny’s house on every Sunday and it took me, my sister, my female cousins, my Aunts and my Mama; hours to do dishes after that huge clan got through devouring a meal. My Granny did not do the dishes nor have a dishwasher. Sometimes there were lots of gossip, a few get out of heres, lots of take this in there, put this up here and here are some more glasses we did not see, but I never remember hearing any singing, except for my Aunt that was howling and trying to carry a tune in the living room while playing her autoharp!!! She is my Mama’s only sister the youngest of 9 children and never had to do a dish and still does not to this day. She was always singing or playing music or talking with the other family members and somehow got out of dish detail. One Sunday afternoon I remember one of my Mama’s sister in laws blurt out after hearing my aunt singing in the den ,” Sounds like a screeci’n hoot owl caught in a bobbed wire fence.” That was not very nice I thought to myself, not nice but true. All of us dish washers got a real kick out of that and had heard my Aunt had had a sick headache that was usual for her after a meal!!! Some how though she fought through the pain and tried as she may, TO SING!!!! My Daddy, who plays the guitar, has always said ” Your Aunt could not carry a tune in a bucket”!! I still laugh about those holiday and Sunday afternoons long ago hearing my Aunt so called “Trying to Sing”!! So Mr. Fenn I give you kudos, I know you have to sound better than God help her,My Aunt!!! Oh and by the way she many many years ago tried out for Who wants to be a Star, went to Memphis and poor thing did not get picked. I will leave all of the dishwashing tunes to her for my part , I occasionally hum or turn on the radio at Mama’s house but I HAVE A DISHWASHER and love to snap my fingers to the sound of the rinse cycle. You Go Mr. Fenn and help out Ms. Peggy!!! Do my Aunt Proud……..

    • Judy Ms. Girl – I love your stories, but sometimes wonder if you’ve tapped my phone. My heavens, my sister and I had a near identical conversation recently about doing all those Thanksgiving dishes while the men relaxed. Occasionally, we employed the sink sprayer & knive tossing to break up the work. Yes, my sister had stitches after I tossed, and she caught. I love having all boys, they really don’t care about using paper plates, and I’ve tried to train my young men to pitch in and help after a meal. I hope their wives appreciate it. Thank you for the story.

      • Thanks, my sister and I hate dishes and she finally got a dishwasher just a couple of months ago for the very first time!! A couple of years ago my Mother and sister were sick and I went to Mama’s house and washed every dish in the place while they slept they had the flu and My Sis was staying with her at the time. They said thank you and were glad to have someone take care of them. The crazy thing was I did not get sick but for both of them not eating much, there were a million dirty dishes. Oh well, I did not sing then either.

    • Judy
      All your talk about plates has me hungry.Whats for diner tonight? I promise i’ll be good and eat what ya put on the plate. I’m not hard to please. I have eaten off dishes that shine like a gem but good food on a paper plate works. And, coffee to go stays warm longer and that is a plus when your on the road alone…
      I can drive a long way for a fried half moon pie and good cup of coffee 🙂

    • Straight from the mouth of a Suthern grl to the ears of anuther. We always work way too hard to please everyone else.

  15. When I was growing up we used a pressure cooker, only we called it a canner, to preserve our vegetables. The pressure had to be monitored or it would explode. I hated washing that big heavy thing, and never sang while doing it. Maybe that was a mistake. Maybe I should have sung “Rock of Ages” from my Methodist hymnal.

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