He stood on the shore
at the Lake of Life
and threw pebbles,
stones called Service, Compassion,
Aid, Wisdom, Patience, Peace.

Even when he found himself
he threw anyway,
knowing the tiniest ripple
finds a target.

Then, through the fog of Apathy
the mist of Me Only
there’d be another
kerplunk and another
and soon,
under Charity’s sky of blue and sun,
a whole chorus.

Ripple after ripple
found its mark.
Waves crashed upon the shore.

Tides might turn.
Through landslides and thunderstorms,
the darkest hours,
he threw his pebbles,
holding faith
others would find the path
in their own way.

Always his ripple prevailed
guiding the way
to the tsunami
of Unconditional Love
he hoped for,
believed in,
made happen.

My Particular Talent

Have you ever stood up in the WC after using toilet paper and found it still cloven onto you or into you as the case may be, lodged betwixt your two degrees of separation?

Somewhere along my genetic history, I have attained this uncanny ability to pick up paper with my buns and so has, I found upon inquiry, one of my sisters. My other sister was struck dumb when we inquired whether she had inherited this family trait. Her eyes narrowed as she waited for the punchline. When we said we were serious, she said, “NO!” not like NO! in one huff, but in an undulating No-o-o-o-o-o the intonation of which meant I think you both are idiots and now I need to erase the last minute from my memory bank. She beat at her ears to knock the inane question from them. I have not asked my brother. The most opportune moment has not introduced itself yet. Asking my other sister scared me. Knowing my brother, though, he would ask, “What’s toilet paper?”

I wanted to know if this trait is indeed genetic or if my sister and I are savvy mutants who have added a new strand to our DNA, so I researched toilet paper.

When was it invented? My research, all done on the internet so I know it’s valid, stated that in 1391 toilet paper was first produced for the Emperor in two feet by three feet sheets. All sorts of questions came to mind when I read this. Did he use it all at one seating? Was he a prodigious defecator? Did he perhaps use the sheets like a diaper? Did he share with his family? Wife number one, you get five inches, wife number two, you get three inches, wife number three…I could sit here all day pondering. I’m sure you have some ponders of your own.

Common folk like us got to use stones, moss, leaves, corn cobs, sponges, our left hands, and later, the Sears & Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalogs. I know my grandparents used the latter in their two-holer, hence the term “Rears and Sorebutts.” I myself have used S & R pages.

Fast forward to 1857 when Joseph Gayetty sold the first factory-made toilet paper in sheets, loose and flat. Knowing that could take up a lot of room on a Costco shelf, on July 25, 1871,Zeth Wheeler put the paper on a roll, and patented it, #117,355 (US). He called it wrapping paper. Evidently, the Victorians had trouble knowing exactly what the proper term for such a product should be. Wouldn’t it be fun to go back in time and see the list of crossed-off possibilities before “wrapping paper” was decided upon?

The next invention, formulated, I’m sure, just to appease my father who allowed us three squares a day, occurred in 1879 when Walter Alcock (What a great name for a guy!) introduced the perforated toilet roll.

Later improvements came with splinter-free toilet paper and two-ply in 1942. Except for the public bathrooms in the University of Nice where I went to school not so long ago. There, the toilet paper was pink, rough as crepe paper, and full of visible splinters.

My research also revealed that an average American uses 57 sheets a day. That makes 20,805 sheets a year. My dad owes me 78,840 sheets for my high school years alone. My sister can do her own math.

So, my googling has informed me that toilet paper has been around longer than my sister and I have. That means our ancestors could have passed our special “pick-me-up” knack on to us. However, we haven’t just stood up with dangling toilet paper wetting the back of our undies and been happy with that. In fact, we have perfected the art in our generation to include toilet seat covers as well.

Now I wonder which one of those ancestors is responsible for the time at an all-day jazz concert I walked down the grandstand stairs in view of 10,000 people, all the way to the third seat from the bottom, with toilet paper dragging behind me, just the way one sees it done in humorous skits. That was when a kind woman, during a quiet moment, yelled, “Ma’am? You have a parade of toilet paper following you.” When it happens to you in real life, it isn’t that funny. I would rather have laid the blame for such a gaff at the feet of Great Aunt Fanny than been mortified on my own behalf.

I understand there are certain establishments where our sisterly talent could make us money, especially if we appeared nightly and in some form of undress. I don’t know about my sister but I just don’t have the stamina anymore for theatrics, so I shall continue to be a rapt audience of one during each of my surprise performances.

The Scary Photo in My Wallet

I need to warn you all about renewing your driver’s license. Changes have been made here in Oregon (and in other states as well) and luckily, the state DMV sent me a postcard outlining what was required a month before my birthday.

First, you have to take every official paper you have concerning yourself from birth to now, if you can find them. Finding them if you have not lived in the same house all your life may prove to be difficult. More difficult will be finding proof of your various names and marriages, if those things have changed in your adult lifetime. If you cannot find the necessary official documents or are sure you never had them to begin with, you must order them, which costs money and takes time.

Although I found what I needed pawing through various piles and files, the most difficult for me was finding something to prove I live at this address. Most of the bills come in my husband’s name and we use a post office box, not our house address. The house belongs to him so not even the tax bill is in my name. Finally, I found the PUD (electric) bill with my name on it and our house address. Whew!

Next, after showing the clerk all your papers, and he or she verifies each one is valid, he or she stamps the additional form you have filled out while waiting for your number to be called. I didn’t know about the additional form until the clerk started yelling at everyone for not have one filled out and told us all where we could find one.

After paying your $40, then you must sit in the special chair facing a camera lens and remove your glasses. I asked why I had to remove my glasses and was told for the face recognition software to work. I didn’t understand that my picture would actually be taken that way and was startled by the 1-2-FLASH!

Scary ugly photo.

In it, I look like a felon with a Shar Pei face, chicken neck and no teeth. No way do I look like that in real life and no police person stopping me will think so either. I hope.

I remember writing years ago to one of my favorite columnists telling him I thought the sketch accompanying his by-line made his neck look like it belonged on a chicken. I got no response but I noticed that soon the sketch had improved. Now it’s me with the chicken neck and no staff artist to fix it. Karma?

I am going to have to show that for ID for the next–how long is it before the next photo?—four years? ten years? Great. After seeing that photo, I came home and ordered some makeup.

Just warning you.

Here are the facts, straight from Oregon DMV:

Even if you’ve had your driver license or ID card for years, or even decades, you must bring documents that meet new state requirements each time you renew or replace your card.

All applicants for Oregon driver licenses, instruction permits and ID cards will be required to show DMV the documents that provide:
• Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful presence in the country – such as a government-issued birth certificate or U.S. passport, or foreign passport with U.S. immigration documents. DMV will electronically verify U.S. immigration, naturalization and other U.S.-issued documents that non-citizens and naturalized citizens use to prove lawful presence in the country.
• Proof of Social Security number – such as a Social Security card, employment document or tax document. DMV will electronically verify that your Social Security number, name and birth date match the records at the Social Security Administration.
• Proof that you are not entitled to a Social Security number, if you do not have one and are not eligible for one – such as immigration documents that do not include permission to work in the United States.
• Proof of full legal name – such as birth certificate, or a combination of documents that create a link proving current full legal name, such as a birth certificate and government-issued marriage certificate.

Facial recognition software

Since July 1, 2008, Oregon DMV has been using “facial recognition” software, a new tool in the prevention of fraud and identity theft. The law, created by the 2005 Oregon Legislature, is designed to prevent someone from obtaining a driver license or ID card under a false name or under multiple names.

In order to use facial recognition, DMV has changed from over-the-counter issuance of cards to centralized issuance in 2007. Customers who qualify for driving privileges or ID cards get an interim card at DMV and then receive their final card in the mail within five to 10 business days.

How to Shower on a Small Cruise Ship

How to Shower on a Small Cruise Ship

Open the door in the corner of your stateroom. See a sink, toilet, and shower situated in a space the size of your real shower at home. Realize that to use the bathroom, you will have to take turns with your traveling partner. Notice there is a three-inch lip around the shower portion of the bathroom, er, bathcloset. Think, “Good. At least the floor won’t get wet.”

Change mind when you actually take a shower. Make sure the cloth curtain is pulled snuggly to the wall on both ends of its quarter circle track. Reach hand through teeny open space you have made to turn on water. Turn dial to select correct warmth. Feel wet feet. Realize shower water has sucked the curtain into the shower and several inches above the shower lip so that entire bathroom floor is covered with 1/8 inch of water. This includes the bath mat.

Quickly pull back curtain, step into shower, and pull curtain back shut again. Turn around to access water and realize your butt has pulled open the curtain. Raise arm to pull curtain shut again. Put arm down and realize shower curtain is raised above shower lip again because curtain is clinging to your arm. Remove shower curtain from left arm with right hand. Realize you barely have enough room for such a maneuver. Realize, in fact, you are half an inch away from the wall in every direction and the shower curtain is hugging you on the open side. Try to adjust the shower head so it is not flowing directly into your eye. Curse because shower head does not move. Adjust your head.

Soap up and realize water does not reach any part of you below the chest because you are shaped like a mushroom. Rinse off top of mushroom by mincing steps in a circular motion. Re-adjust shower curtain which has twisted with you, close as a slow-dance partner.

Back out of shower except for one half of your lower body. Wash that side. Turn body the other direction. Exchange legs, keeping shower curtain pulled close as much as possible. Wash the other side. Turn around, bend over and stick butt in shower. Realize as you look at floor it is now covered with ¼ inch of water.

Remember you have to shave your legs. Turn off water. Soap and shave your legs while standing on soaked bath mat. Turn on shower water again and repeat the one leg at a time procedure. Forget armpits. No one will see them since you will not be in a classroom answering questions. Remind self not to raise hands if volunteers are requested for any matter.

Remember you have to wash your hair. Stand in middle of the shower and move your head in a circle until your hair is wet. Remember to shut your eyes because water jetting into eyes hurts as you found out at beginning of shower. Try not to fall down when ship moves back and forth. Grope for shampoo. Find it and estimate how much you are pouring in your palm because you cannot open your eyes to see for sure. Put head outside curtain to apply shampoo. Place head back inside shower stall and rinse.

Wash shampoo off your body once again by the circular motion of mincing steps, then hokey-pokeying your legs in and out of the shower while you stand on soaked bath mat. When you feel totally rinsed, turn off shower water. Open eyes. Pull shower curtain closed again and off you.

Find bath towel on opposite wall shelf by extending arm to finger-tips level above your head and marvel that one thing in bathroom is not wet. Dry off, except for feet which are still standing in water covering the floor. Step outside bathroom into stateroom, throw down towel to floor and dry off feet. Hope stateroom window curtains are closed. Lean over and sop up shower water from floor with your bath towel.

Understand now why entire carpet in stateroom was wet when you first walked in. Count six more days aboard ship. Promise to never again take your shower at home for granted. Tell your traveling partner it’s his turn to take a shower. Smile.