Category Archives: My Quotable Sister

Two Fabulous Words

Cashmere socks.

Every Christmas, my sister throws a little cashmere my way. She is the type of shopper who finds incredible deals and then uses a store coupon on top of that.  This Christmas, her bargain purchase was cashmere socks. Up until a few days ago I didn’t even know socks came in cashmere.

Today I wore my socks to work. It felt odd putting cashmere on my feet but I must tell you, my soles rejoiced. Cashmere socks are ultra soft. They kept my toes delightfully toasty. They made my shoes, and everything else I was wearing, look old and worn.

Every day when I ‘dress up’ for work I put on clothes that will survive floor time with preschoolers. This morning as I pulled on my cashmere socks they seemed at odds with the rest of my outfit. I wore them anyway.

So while I played and crawled on the floor in my casual attire, I felt very adult knowing I was wearing some very classy cashmere socks.


Tis the Season for Checking Your List…Twice

Santa isn’t the only one who is making a list and checking it twice. Tis the Season of Lists. We have gift lists, to do lists, packing lists, food lists. Lists, lists, lists. For someone who loves a good list, this is a great time of year.

Yesterday, my sister and I not only worked off our own lists, we phoned each other multiple times to compare lists. Late in the afternoon, she called me for the fourth time.

My sister: “I finally finished my shopping and unloaded all the bags from my car when I had a nagging sense that I had forgotten something. I thought about the food and was sure I had everything from my list. I thought about the gifts and couldn’t think of any I hadn’t purchased. I puzzled about it for a moment and then gave up because I couldn’t think of anything I was missing. I started calling Bella (their dog) to let her outside. I called and called and called but she didn’t come. Finally, our daughter came out of her room and said “Mom, Bella isn’t here. You took her to the groomer.” And just like that I remembered what I had forgotten. My dog!”

“I’ll Tell You What is Les Misérables”

My sister travels for business. One summer I tagged along with her to New York City. Since we only had two days to shop and sightsee, we set a frenetic pace so we could try to do it all. On Saturday we went to the top of the Empire State Building, climbed the Statue of Liberty, explored Ellis Island, and shopped until I was ready to drop. Then we raced back to the hotel to dress for dinner and Les Misérables on Broadway.

As we were sitting watching the play my body began telegraphing signs of pain and discomfort to me. All of the walking, climbing, running and sweating had taken its toll. I was exhausted, sore and probably a little dehydrated. I was trying to sit still and not squirm in my seat when my sister leaned over and whispered, “I’ll tell you what’s Les Misérables. My feet and my butt are Les Misérables.”

That was it. I lost my big city cool with a barely suppressed snort of laughter. My sister and I proceeded to shake with silent laughter for an indeterminate amount of time. The shushing, the scowls, the turned up noses from those around us only succeeded in prolonging our mirth. Of all the experiences, sights, smells and sounds that weekend, sitting with my sister in the theatre is the memory that is most vivid. A close second is my climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty when I ended up using all fours on the steep spiral staircase. My sister was behind me protecting and pushing all the way.

“Do you have real lemon?”

Traveling with my siblings in North Dakota involved some strategic planning. Where were we going to eat each day? I did not sign on to the trip until this question was answered. The first day we stopped at a wonderful small town cafe. Since the town boasts a population of 300, everyone knows everyone else and their business as well.

When we walked into the cafe, we stuck out like the big city kids we are, and then we opened our mouths. First was the question, is this a seat yourself or a wait to be seated establishment. Take a guess. After some raised eyebrows, we conspicuously made our way to a table. My brothers looked at the menu for about five seconds and then crossed their arms. I took slightly longer, but since we have a long history of visiting small town cafes the fare was standard and I soon made up my mind. My sister opened and read the two page menu, then closed it as she looked at the front cover, then the back cover and then, once again, opened the menu to study it in great detail. The waitress came up, removed a pencil from behind her ear, pulled a green pad out of her apron pocket, licked the tip of her pencil and said, “Whattle ya have?”.

We knew to let my sister be the last to order. When it was her turn she hemmed, she hawed and then said, “I guess I will just have a salad.”
Waitress: “What kinda dressing?”
My sister: “Do you have vinaigrette?”

My brothers raised their eyebrows and rolled their eyes. The waitress just stared at my sister, not saying a word. The prolonged silence began to become uncomfortable. My sister, forgetting everything she had ever learned about small town cafes, finally broke the silence by asking, “Well… what dressings do you have?” The waitress didn’t even move. She just stood there with the same expression and silence. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I looked at my sister and said, “French, thousand island, blue cheese, ranch, Italian.”
My sister said, “I will have ranch.”
Waitress: “Do you want anything to drink?”
My sister: “I would like iced tea with lemon. Do you have real lemon?”

The waitress just turned around and walked away from the table, my brothers dropped their heads in their hands and I burst out laughing. My sister said, “What?”

Sometimes if we know something bothers or annoys you, we do it again

This past June, I traveled to North Dakota with my siblings. Now that we are middle age orphans, we felt the need to embark on a tour of remembrance to the prairie towns where our parents were born and raised. We visited the old farmsteads, a few people of our parents age that are still around and, of course, the cemeteries where we found grandparents, aunts, uncles, distant relatives and acquaintances. We talked, we laughed, we had moments of silence, but most importantly we forged stronger bonds in our relationship with each other.

All four of us have very strong personalities. Our spouses doubted we could survive this trip in harmony. We not only survived, we thrived. We found our personalities continue to have much in common. What drove one of us nuts, drove all of of nuts. What made one laugh, made all of us laugh. My husband started calling our road trip the kumbaya tour and wished we would all return to normal.

While traveling, my sister recorded a list of traits we share in common. Mind you, I am not proud of all of these traits, but they are acknowledged similarities due to our DNA. We blame our father’s side of the family.

Our Shared Traits:

  • Sometimes if we know something bothers or annoys you, we do it again. Weird quirk, I know, but we get endless entertainment from this.
  • If you set a timeline, you better follow through with it. In other words, when you say dinner is at 6:00, expect us to be in our chair with fork raised at 6 on the dot. Whoa to you who is not feeding us on time.
  • If you say we can’t do it, you will be proved wrong in short order. Saying we can’t do something is akin to a motivational speech for us.
  • If you tell us to calm down I pity you. If we could calm down we would, but we can’t so stand back because you have just poured gasoline on our fire.
  • Good luck to anyone who tries to control us. Many a brave man and woman have tried. Mom and dad had to rely on long lectures and the fly swatter.
  • If you insult a family member, even if we agree with the statement, we will have to defend them. You have just waved a red flag in front of a bull.
  • We will always share the details and facts about a tragedy or death. Our morbid side was nurtured hearing many a small town story about life, death and survival.
  • We will ask you several times if you are having a good time or whether you like something. We have a strong need for affirmation and hearing how much you appreciate us.
  • We love to all talk at the same time. This is very disconcerting to people who marry into our family and are actually used to polite conversation.
  • We enjoy embellishing a story and tend to be repetitive, telling it over and over again. We know our stories improve with the retelling.
  • We need to know the plan, especially where and when we will eat next. Our daily life revolves around our meals for the day, secondary to that is what we will actually do.
  • We enjoy laughing at ourselves and retelling our most embarrassing stories.
The picture you see at the top of this post was taken on the last day of our sibling trip. We are holding hands while standing near a field on our dad’s childhood farmstead outside Harvey, North Dakota. We continue to communicate weekly and I am happy to report have kept that loving feeling. Hold on to your family. Kumbaya!