March 11 2015

How to Fold King-Sized Sheets Alone and Making the Bed Easier

We have had a king-sized bed for more than twenty years. I had to teach myself to fold those huge sheets alone because there was rarely anyone capable of helping with this chore. I will try to explain how I do this.

When the sheets come out of the dryer, the pillow cases are easy enough to fold, of course.

The flat sheet is a bit trickier, but still quite possible. I find the top edge of the sheet. You know, the one with the extra thick fabric about four inches wide, sewn down.  That is the top edge of the sheet. I find one corner of the top edge, then run my hand down the side to find the corner of the bottom edge on the same side. I then bring the bottom corner up to its matching top corner then keep those two corners tightly grasped in one hand while following the top edge along to the other corner. Once I find the other top corner, I repeat the search down the side for the other bottom corner. Once I find the other bottom corner, I match it to the top corner. Now the hard part is done. You have the king-sized sheet folded in half, bottom to top. Once you have this done, fold the two sets of corners together with the top edge out. From there it doesn’t really matter how you fold it and it is now a quite manageable size. I try to end up with a folded bundle about the size of a sheet of printer paper.

The fitted sheet is the hardest one to fold. It might be easier to practice this method using a twin sized sheet. Once you have it mastered the same method can be applied to any sized sheet. It is similar in theory to folding the flat sheet, but you put the corners over your hand like a mitten. One corner tucks into the other until you end up with a square about three foot in each direction with the four corners all tucked inside each other. Again, what you do from here is up to you but you want to end up with a folded bundle of a size similar to what you got when you folded the flat sheet.

Place the flat sheet on the tale first, then stack the fitted sheet on top of that and put the pillow cases on the very top. Now your sheet set is ready to go into the linen closet. This might be a good time to mention that when folding sheets it is very important to fold with the side you want facing up when you make the bed on the inside. This likely doesn’t matter unless you want to have troublemaking the bed with these clean and nicely folded sheets.

Now the benefit of folding the sheets as instructed with the right sides in for the fitted sheet and the side you want up in on the flat sheet, is that it make making the bed alone much easier. When you are ready to make the bed and have stripped off the dirty sheets, stuff all the dirty sheets into one of the dirty pillow cases. This keeps the entire sheet set together through the laundry process. Now that the bed is ready for the clean sheets, unfold the fitted sheet until you have the four corners tucked into each other and put that quarter sheet down on one corner of the bed. I usually put it at the head of the bed on the left side, but the process works whichever you corner you choose to make first. Unfold the sheet so that top half of the bed is covered with the half sheet. Now carefully unfold the rest of the sheet to cover the bottom of the bed. Walk from one corner to the next out your hand into the corner pocket then lay it at the very corner of the mattress and press firmly while the other hand slides the pocket off the hand that was holding it and wraps it neatly over the corner of the mattress. Repeat with all four corners. The flat sheet is done basically the same way, but when you get the sheet unfolded to the one quarter size, make sure the top edge of the flat sheet is in the proper corner of the bed where you want the sheet to be after the bed is made. Make sure the fold lines up with the center of the bed. I usually put it about six inches down from the top edge of the mattress, but if you like plenty of sheet to tuck up around your ears while sleeping go ahead and line it up with the top edge if the sheet is still long enough to tuck under the mattress at the foot of the bed. Unfold the first fold across the bed, smooth it out and walk from side to side to check that there is the same amount of over hang on each side. Once that adjustment is made, you are ready to unfold the final fold and smooth the flat sheet over the rest of the bed. Now if you plan to tuck the foot of the blanket in, go ahead and put it on now using the same method as we did for the flat sheet. If you don’t plan to tuck in a blanket, go ahead and tuck the foot of the sheet in under the mattress then add the blanket and you are done making the bed.

I usually put the folded set of sheets into one of the pillowcases and fold the pillowcase around it before putting the sheet set away in the linen closet. This is my way of keeping all the pieces of any given sheet set together without having to worry about digging through or having any of the parts come unfolded. This may not be anyone’s idea of the perfect way to fold sheets, but it is my way and it works for me. (1,019 words)

March 9 2015

The Most Negative Person I Know

I know a person, who shall remain nameless, that is always negative. Her spouse tried to reach me by cell phone today, and my phone had died, so I didn’t even know they had tried to call. There was a 20 second voice mail on my phone when I got enough charge to turn it back on. I listened to the message and realized it wasn’t really a message so much as not having disconnected the call after the voicemail picked up. In the background I hear my name and that I hadn’t answered, and then I hear the negative person say, something to the effect that I was probably doing something I wasn’t even asked to do instead of what I was supposed to be doing.  Now if I call someone during the work day and they let the call go to voicemail for whatever reason, I assume they are busy and can’t answer the phone right now. I do not automatically think of a hateful negative response that was in no way called for as to why the person didn’t answer or what they might or might not be doing instead of answering my call. There was no reason for this person to offer such negative and hateful comments. I’m not sure why they didn’t just call the land line when I didn’t answer on my cell. I had already told the person who tried to call not an hour earlier that my phone was all but dead, but for some reason they insist on calling the cell phone at least part of the time.

I am always hearing negative comments about how people who look like them don’t get treated fairly. Yet this person never stops to consider that perhaps the way they treat others has more bearing on the way they get treated than the color of their skin. One time, we went out to lunch as a group of four to a nice upscale bistro. The front of the small interior of the restaurant was crowded and loud. The hostess seated us in a spacious table in the very back of the dining area and I was glad for the peace and quiet that table afforded as the busy tables had young kids and were too noisy for my tastes anyway. But no, Miss Negative decided right away that we were seated in the back because of the color of their skin. We were looking over the menu to see what we wanted to order and she kept making comments like, “I don’t see anything that sounds good, we should just leave and go somewhere else.” We all had no problem finding any number of yummy sounding offerings from the menu and said we were ready to order. Finally she calmed down and placed her order. The food did take an extremely long time to come out, during which we heard a steady stream of negativity coming from her mouth. She had no idea how miserable she was making the rest of us, it was all about her. I for one was glad we were seated in the back so nobody could overhear her constant ranting.

The food finally came and right away she starts looking for something to complain about. One of our co-workers had ordered fruit as the side item. It came out on the plate with his sandwich like any other side item might have. She jumped on that saying how the fruit should have been in a bowl so the grapes didn’t roll around all over the plate. She made some comment about not wanting to bring us any spare dishes probably thought we would steal them. Then the bill finally arrived and they put cash down to pay for all of our meals. There was some change due to come back, but apparently the wait-staff at this place was no better at counting change than those who work fast food, because she gave us at least ten dollars too much back. Miss Negative was complaining about that too, although the waitress was very thankful when she pointed out the mistake. Once we left she grumbled about how she should have just kept the extra for the terrible service we got and how they treated them so bad. Honestly, we were all happy to get out of there and get back to work. The only one who had behaved badly during that lunch was Miss Negative herself.

There are so many other examples of how negative this person is on a very regular basis, but this is enough negativity for today.  (770 words)

March 7 2015

Lu Ann Barrington Character Sketch

Lu Ann Barrington is in her mid to late fifties. Lu Ann was a recent widow after being married for 36 years and when she got the money from her husband’s life insurance, she decided to use it to open her own business so she could be surrounded by people who enjoyed the same things she did and earn a modest living while doing it.  She opened her store only after she had paid off her house and car and put money in her retirement account. She was nervous about spending the money to start the store but felt she had done what she could to ensure her financial future by cutting her expenses and paying off her debts. She didn’t know if she could make it work, but she hoped she could if she started small. She was confident she could teach others to quilt, knit and crochet, she just wasn’t sure she could make a living doing it.  

Stitches in Time is her brain child. She always loved to sew and do all sorts of crafts, but never seemed to know what to do with herself. She never went to college, never really wanted to even. She married her high school sweetheart and settled into married life trying to be the perfect home-maker. She never really worked outside the home, at least not for pay. She had done a lot of volunteering and being on various committees at the church and helped to organize the occasional bake sale, rummage sale or other fund raising event. She wasn’t without experience, after all, being a wife and mother for so many years had given her wisdom and experience a plenty. Her resume was a little thin, so being her own boss seemed the perfect solution. 

Lu Ann wanted to help others develop the love of all things stitched like she had. She wanted a place where they could learn to knit, crochet, do cross-stitch or quilting, or even make their own clothes. She would offer classes for those who didn’t know how or those who wanted to learn more. She would offer the supplies needed to do all the projects that they could think up and give a ten percent discount to those who were buying supplies for the classes she offered. She was best at quilting, so she began by offering basic quilting classes and decided to wait and see what else her customers were interested in learning. She would meet lots of new people and thus would ease her new found loneliness. 

She bought a large Victorian house near the business district of the small town, she made the upper level into her living quarters and the lower level was renovated into a store front. The living room now housed the quilting fabrics with the walls lined with notions of every kind. The dining room table was where they hosted quilting classes. There were lots of extra outlets installed and smaller tables around the edges of the walls so the customers could set up their sewing machines and work during classes. The kitchen was condensed to a much smaller version of its original size to use as a break room and the space saved from reducing the size of the kitchen made a great storage room. The rooms in the rest of the main floor had been combined to house the yarn arts area. The walls were lined with cubes to hold the various yarns, and there was a comfy seating area with a sofa and a few overstuffed chairs that customers could hang out and knit or crochet in or for seating during classes.

By living above her shop, she saved time not having to commute to work. She also saved money by being able to sell her house she had shared with her husband and the kids when they were growing up. She had loved the old house but was glad to be away from all the old memories now that she lived alone. 

Lu Ann has a very strong faith and hopes having her shop will give her the chances to gently lead others to a relationship with the Lord too. She helps with various groups and tasks as needed at the church she has been a member of for many years. (717 words)

March 4 2015

Floating Loans

When we were kids we worked. I got a paper route delivering the Indianapolis News six days a week from the time I was eleven until I had two years in when I was thirteen. Mom made us keep the News route for two years so we would qualify to get the scholarships the newspaper offered. Supposedly if you carried the morning paper, The Indianapolis Star, you had to have had your route for two years or more and still have it at the time you graduated from high school. If you carried the afternoon paper, you just had to have had a route for two years to qualify. So we were bullied into keeping our routes until our two years had passed. My brother and I each had half of a sort of rough apartment complex called the Country Club Apartments located near Troy Avenue and Brill Road on the near south side of the city. We had a lot of trouble with people moving out without paying their bills. We always had pocket money and got pretty good at saving a portion of our income, even going so far as to open savings accounts at Indiana National Bank where there was a nearby branch at US 31 and National. If I recall correctly, at one point these savings accounts were paying eight percent interest, unheard of these days.

When mom would go grocery shopping, an almost nightly occurrence, we would often beg to tag along. Mom would be in the checkout line and invariably come up a few dollars short of the amount on the register. She would look down at us, at least I know she did it to me, and say, “Can you float me a loan?” We would gladly hand over the few dollars needed if we had it, proud that we could help out. This happened often, and eventually I learned not to carry much cash with me or not to go along at all, or I would suddenly not have any pocket money to spend at my discretion. Mom was pretty cool about it. She kept track of how much she had borrowed from us on a piece of paper she kept in her cigarette case. I did, eventually, get “paid back” in the spring of 1984, when I wanted to buy my first car, a 1974 Dodge Colt Wagon that was a dull chartreuse green. It was $795 dollars and I had part of that amount saved, but mom and dad came up with the amount they owed me from all the floated loans over the years to pay the rest of the money toward the car. Looking back, I’m not sure if floating these loans wasn’t some devious trick to get us to save our money unknowingly. We ought the car and got it home then took it to the mechanic for the once over. It turned out that what looked like just a lot of rust on the rounded insides of the body under the hood was actually rust on the frame of the car and required some pretty serious welding on of additional metal to make the car drivable. Dad was a barber, and not exactly mechanically inclined. I was a senior in high school before I got the Colt and then it took quite a while to get it fixed up and drivable. I had gotten my learner’s permit when I was fifteen and taken driver’s education which I had to pay for myself to the tune of over three hundred dollars. I got my license as soon as I was eligible after turning sixteen. Then mom and dad informed me that they could not afford to pay for auto insurance on both me and my older sister and since she had more driving experience they were giving it to her, so from the time I got my license at barely sixteen until late in my senior year two years later, I was not allowed to drive at all. I was upset, but what could I do? They couldn’t afford it, so I couldn’t drive. It never occurred to me to ask if I could pay the cost myself or even how much it would be. They never offered that option either. It wasn’t like my sister had a car to drive, she could drive mom’s nine passenger station wagon when mom wasn’t using it and that was it. The benefit to my parents, especially mom, was that my sister could drive to the store to grab a few items or pick one of us younger siblings up from an after-school event if need be and mom could get on with making dinner for the family. My sister was likely honored to be entrusted with this added responsibility and mom was likely thrilled at the freedom another driver afforded her. Then I got the car and was about to begin working the summer between high school and college and suddenly me having insurance was a necessity that could no longer be avoided. I had a car and was able to drive myself back and forth to work, pump and pay for my own gas and be responsible for my own car repairs. I loved that little wagon! It represented adulthood, freedom and responsibility to me. We probably never should have bought it. Although the body looked fairly decent and the interior was in good shape, with the rust on the frame members, it most likely belonged in a junk yard. It served me well for a couple of years before the engine gave out and it simply wasn’t worth putting that kind of money into it, so it did end up in the junk yard after all. One never forgets their first car. (965 words)

March 3 2015

Youthful Activities

When I was growing up, I was one of four kids in a family with two parents. I was a bit of a minority because my parents were both my blood parents and still married to each other. All my siblings were full siblings, not steps or half siblings in our family. Both my parents graduated from high school and valued education for us kids. They always expected us to do our best no matter what we were doing. Mom always said as long as we could honestly say we had done our very best it was good enough. We were all good kids and did well in school. The three of us girls were avid readers reading most anything we could get our hands on. My brother read well enough, but never seemed to take to it like us girls did. I can still remember mom yelling at us older two girls to get our noses out of the books we were reading and help her clean the house. This usually happened on a Saturday mid-morning.

Mom had a system for assigning who cleaned what area of the house. She had four kids and areas to be cleaned each week, so she made up a chart and set up a rotating schedule. We each had a turn cleaning each area once every four weeks. We got our cleaning assignments that first week and were told the rules. We had to clean our area once that week and if we didn’t clean it, we would have to keep that area and get the next area to clean also for the next week. Whoever was supposed to rotate into the area you didn’t clean would get the week off from cleaning. This almost never happened, because after the first person messed up by not cleaning and we figured out Mom meant what she said, we knew we better just clean our assigned area each week. I used to like when it was my turn for the bathroom because it was such a small room it didn’t take all that long to clean it and have it looking really good. That chart is still inside the cabinet door where Mom taped it all those years ago, written in red ball point ink on a 4 x 6 index card, a little piece of parenting history err genius just waiting to be discovered.

Mom was full of parenting wisdom. With four kids, she had a rule that we could each be in only one activity. My older sister and I were in Girl Scouts and the younger brother and sister played Little League. That rule changed when we got to high school. Mom didn’t seem to mind how many activities we were in then as long as we found our own rides to and from or walked. She worked at Stokley Van Camp’s (which later became Quaker Oats) when we were in high school and her work hours, whether by her choice or not, were from 7:30am to 4pm. She was happy to drop us at school on her way to work as long as we were ready to go when she needed to leave the house, and more than willing to stop by the school on her way home from work to pickup any of us who were outside waiting for a ride a little after 4pm. She made it clear she wasn’t waiting around on us. If we wanted a ride we would be waiting and watching for her to pull up and ready to jump in and go. If we weren’t there, that was fine, but she wasn’t waiting on us. Sometimes we had band that went until later and she would run errands while we were finishing up then come by and get us so we could be home at a decent hour to help with dinner or do our chores. She would often bring us back and drop us off for play practice of an evening, then come back and pick us up at nine or ten when it was over. We just had to make sure we let mom know what we had going on and where we needed to be. We had to be flexible enough to be willing to arrive early or stay late. A lot of our extra curricular activities met before school so getting dropped off around 7am was great.

If we didn’t have a meeting to go to we could always sit and read or do homework in the band hall or go to the cafeteria to meet up with out friends. During my freshman year I was not in a lot of clubs and such because I was so tired of doing the same things as my older sister, so if she was in it I avoided it. I was tired of being her little sister and expected to be just like her. I wanted to be seen and appreciated for who I was not because I was next in line after my older sister. I know it got much worse by the time my brother got to high school because there were two of us to live up to. There were high standards to live up to too. The older three of us were all a year and a half apart in age but in school the oldest was one year ahead of me, then my brother was 2 years behind me in school with our younger sister following three years behind him. All four of us graduated from high school in the 1980s, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1989. The older three of us were all in band together for one year. There is a photo taken of all of us in our band uniforms standing together outside the house. I wasn’t very musical, probably the least talented musically of all of us. I finally joined band my junior year after taking a beginning band class for a semester. I was never good at sight-reading music. I knew the basics and could figure it out if given enough time, but it was a slow painful process for me. I would write the letters of the notes above my music and then write the letters of the notes in permanent marker on the various notes on my bells for marching band and I could keep up that way until I had the music memorized. I guess they needed bodies more than they needed musically talented students. I was willing, able and teachable, so they took me on and let me play. I always knew I wasn’t good and sometimes had to fake my way through performances rather than mess up where everyone would know and hear my mistakes. (1,127 words)