Mr. Ruff and Tuff Part 3


Big Nostrils Breed a Life Long Fear!

All of a sudden, I cannot remember her name. She was the #1 Pre-School Principal in our area. My mother decided to enroll me in this neighborhood pre-school because, she wanted to reward my good behavior. I asked why this school was so special, and she replied that it was a fun; all day, school. She loved to see me smile. So this happy, all day, fun place would bring lots of smiles. I bought it. I had no inhibitions or fearful thoughts until Mrs. Forgot Her Name opened her school door.   There, all of her 250 pounds stood smiling below her huge quivering nostrils. At that very moment, I manufactured my life’s worst nightmare of being sucked into her huge Gargantuan nostrils. As the huge, trembling, quivering, wavering nostrils came closer to me; I dove off of the steps, into the garden, and started running as fast as I could, ever forgetting to take a breath here and there. Whatever happened behind the pre-school doors is something I will never know because I was told I became unconscious for a short time. Needless to say, my strong willed, tenderhearted mother saved me.

On Being a Messy Painter

When I joined the bustling Kindergarten class at S.S.E.S., I knew this was going to be my all day fun place. Everything was beautiful. I noticed so many new things. Only in writing these few memories do I realize, perhaps the other students were not so awestruck because many of them had been in Mrs. I Forgot her Name’s preschool being sucked up by nostrils. Oh, today was painting day, whatever that meant. It did not take long to slip on a painting shirt and poke the brushes into the milk cups.I remember being very happy working at the painting station, until the teacher said,“ My, my, you are a very messy painter.” She pointed out my forehead and my chin full of painting swashes, and did not neglect to show me the easel full of my exuberance. For years, I studied what it means to be a messy painter in the most positive of terms. I came up with the facts of being messy means a great sign of depth and enthusiasm, unafraid and a willingness to achieve.

Also, it means one with a vibrant, creative, independent, futuristic soul. I accept.

 Pee? Not By Me

Have you noticed when you enter theaters and auditoriums used for elaborate venues, they have tiered seating? When I was only in the third grade, a great avenue through the middle of my mind opened up for viewing. It never occurred to me that the tiered seating opened up viewing and that you had to know which way the pee flowed to get away with what I tired.

I asked the teacher if I could use the restroom and annoyed as can be she grunted out the words, “No You Cannot!” In my immature mind, I figured when the movie starts, and the lights are out, I will do my deed, and I did. They cannot tell me not to do what I felt could be done and over in minutes. Little did I realize that the auditorium being tiered allows me to tell this story 70 years later. When the movie was over, the lights flicked on and the principal waked to the microphone in the front of the auditorium. He winced and stepped over something. Oh no; he began to follow the water from the puddle in the front to my exact chair.

How did this happen? Surprise little girl, rules are rules and you can’t always do what you want and get away with it. 

Lost By One Vote

During the last year of Junior High School, I ran for 9th grade President. I had been active in the politics of the school, had strong grades, and thought I would be a good representative for our class. On voting day, we all quietly entered the classroom to listen to the speeches, and hear the teachers explain the duties of the President. I wondered what to do. Do I vote for myself or for the other candidate to be polite?   Such was the dilemma. Wasn’t I very naive? I lost by one vote, my own.

Dismissed from Chorus on a Human Failing

I love to sing, but standing next to me was an endurance test. I have since found out that I am tone deaf and all of what I thought were lilting melodies, were in fact horrid sounds. The teacher, as it turned out, was pretty crafty. She worked it out with the students to stop singing at a particular spot, leaving only my wailing resonances and me. My mind was crushed and my body left barely able to walk from the scene.

I had been dismissed from Chorus. I still mouth the words to the Happy Birthday song after all of these many years.




Mr. Ruff and Tuff: Part 2


Mr. Ruff and Tuff Part 2

I have been asked to change the spelling of the title and so be it

I have also been asked to delve further into the inner me and see what I can add as part 2, so be it.

Before I begin, thank all of you for your loving support. Thank you for not mentioning the grey streaks in my hair and the crumpled up hunch back that Physical ‘therapy has promised to help. God Willing.

Ring, ring, ring, “Hello.” Is this your inner self??” “Yes.”

“Remember, dearie as you write, you have more memories of the past than things coming in your future. Write, Write, and Write, to your hearts content!”


I was in the sixth grade when the teacher’s introduced Square Dancing as our 6th Grade culmination dances. Everyone was terribly upset, as they would be required to hold the hand of the opposite sex. Oh, my goodness what fear and loathing of handholding became the conversations of the days to follow. And so it came to pass, we all held hands and danced with our partners regardless of what our thoughts beheld.


I have not asked permission to use Johnny’s name. I do not know if he is living or not. I haven’t seen or heard of him in more than 60 years. Having established that our encounters happened so very long ago, I can still see Johnny’s most handsome face and feel his gentle touch. We met at the Christmas Parade held every year down Pacific Blvd in Huntington Park, California. For me, it was astonishing to have a boyfriend. At last, I sighed over and over again during those months we shared. Many boyfriends have come along, plus a husband with all of the characteristics everyone would desire, so why do I preach Johnny’s as golden? Probably, because, he displayed such dignity, a love of humanity, and a morality not heretofore seen often by me, in budding young men.   Johnny and I parted ways due to religious differences. His mother explained to him the difficulties melding the two religions and he shared them with me. So, my first love for almost all the right reasons died on the vine. I still love you in my fashion, Johnny, for your truth, and your love of humankind.


This inner me story comes next because Johnny is still partly in my life for a little while longer.

I was a new driver and pretty proud of my new licensed skills. I picked up Johnny and we chatted all of the way to church for Mass. I parked the car and as we walked up the huge stairs, I could hear my inside voice in a begging format.

Dear God,

“Please give me a sign that you are really here, caring for us and letting us know of your work. I will not need to ask you again if you just send a sign my way. Just one.”


Mass was over and the congregation began to exit the building. I quickly scanned the parking lot to find at my dismay, my car missing from the lot where I had parked it. It boggled my brain and my knees went week. I continued the scanning and came upon my car. It had rolled through the parking lot across the sidewalk and thankfully to God had stuck itself upon the light post stopping it from rolling into the street and causing a horrible accident.

Do I ever need to ask for sign again? Ever? The answer is no, never do I need a sign again. Thank YOU GOD!

The Temple Rabbi and I:

Oh my, I was called into the Rabbi’s office for a conference.

Since I have never been called into the Rabbi’s office on any other occasion, I figured, this could be very serious. As it turned out it was short, but quite serious.

Rabbi: ” I am sorry Sheila, but you will not be able to be confirmed with the other girls in your class.”

Sheila: ” Why not? I am a top graded student.”

Rabbi:” Oh it has nothing to do with grades, but the fact that your birthday is Sept. 19th and the cut off date for conformation is Aug 31.

Sheila: I begged and pleaded furiously. I could not budge the Rabbi: so my parting remarks were:

‘ Shit, I hate your rules and am not coming back to temple ever if I can work it.”

I rarely came back or have come back and when I do, I love being there with all of those familiar sounds.

The dearly departed Rabbi never stopped trying to make it all up to our family and me. He asked to be taken to our Family Seder and brought 20 brand new Hagadah’s to accompany us throughout the coming years. He filled our home with bits and pieces of Judaism. Thank you Rabbi.

I asked my dearly beloved husband to marry me which was definitely against the rules 55 and 1/2 years ago and he said,” If I want to marry you, I’ll ask you.” And as you can see, he did!

What Mr. Rough and Tuff Brought Out of Me


I hope you never find out how much you can’t do when pain and broken bones bog you down and connect you with your bed, but it happened to me. Extreme pain is like a straight jacket tightened around your past life. No reading, no watching TV, no visiting with friends, no cooking, no cleaning, no tending to the garden, no family dinners or events, no driving to meetings and luncheons.

Mr. Rough and Tuff came to visit to make sure I was alive. He said, “How could you do nothing all day? I just don’t get it. You were always so vivacious and active.” Those words got me thinking about how we see ourselves and how others see us. There is more than what meets the eye. There is the deeper self, so I took this opportunity to spend the next couple of days to come up with some things my friends don’t know about the inner me in hopes that you will think about what your friends don’t know about you.

Here they are:

I learned to cuss like a drunken sailor in my early teens. I’ve never forgotten a word and I return to this form of expression internally as occasions that need a depth in discussions arise. Once in a while you will hear me vocalize my internal expressions.

I dearly love the deep twang of classic country music, second only to the cooing of a baby. I hear a sending out into the atmosphere, deep mesmerizing sounds to calm my daily build up of fears and naughty wayward notions. The country sound puts a deep warming spell upon me at each and every listen. Listen and learn to savor.

I bleach my fingernails: How often? When I think about it, I put a capful of bleach into motion. I soak all nails and then rinse the bleach off to see sparkling white nails free of bacteria and anything else I might have put my hands and nails into. Treat yourself to a nice germ free day, and perhaps enjoy sharing the news.

Two mothers raised me. When I was nine, my parents hired a housekeeper who stayed with our family for 30 years. Each taught me something uniquely different, using their own style. Mother #1 used a double dose of words to share her messages, and mother #2 shared her messages by modeling behaviors and outcomes. Therefore, producing the product that I am today, a very fortunate woman.

I have a Hippy heart. I was drawn into the Hippy subculture when I was married with children. So, you see, I was really to old to follow the scene. I tie-died shirts, grew my hair long, and adopted the principles of love and sharing, but I had to restrain myself from running off into the sunset searching the depths of life for meaning.

I was baptized in the fourth grade. On this particular day, the teacher was very angry with me for talking when she was talking. She dug her nails into my shoulder and sat me outside the door. I decided to explore the neighborhood. I walked down the street from the school and began to run to enjoy the day. I fell in front of the church, skinning my knee, and began to cry. A nice lady from the church in a bright yellow suit came out to help me. She invited me in to clean and dress my wound. Once I was bandaged, she lifted my chin and said, “Do you want to go to heaven, little girl?” I replied, “Yes I do, yes I do!” She called to the others and they came with dishes, statues, and water. They dribbled water on my hair and neck. I thought the church had a leak in their roof from rain, but it was a bright sunny day. As soon as I could, I ran back to the school and sat down where the teacher put me. Later in my life, I realized I had the good fortune to be baptized.

I did something bad and felt good about it. Every spring the neighbors would gather together in the side lot to practice our baseball skills. For years everyone aimed for the neighbors window. Who ever broke the window first, would be the hero of our gang. No one ever succeeded, until I got up to bat and accidently, on purpose, broke that window. I felt very accomplished even after the neighbor came out and everyone told on me. I spent the rest of the summer proudly working to pay off that window.

I have a Personal Plucker, therefore I’ve covered the horror of old age facial hair that comes long after you cannot see them. This PP deal I made with my much younger loving friend gives me peace. Having a PP, I now have one less aging horror to worry over.


Your turn: Please share with us your inner self.




I’m in here somewhere, Mr. McHugh among the pills, the pain, and the self-pity. You mentioned that I had not blogged since the beginning of the year and he came to check out the heap of bones still sputtering with the resemblance of a past life of working in unison with all parts having their assigned place and proper movement status.

Now the well-tracked bones have skipped off track, fractured and are looking to be cement and or restrung. You think she is spouting nonsense, but I assure you not at all.

I am suffering from vertebral stress fractures of the back due to Osteoporosis and the pain has been horrific. Take your calcium supplements and don’t be a know-it-all like me. Not me I am fine, but I am not.   I am paying the price and worried about how long this will continue.

In the meantime let us get on with blogging. Thank you all for asking that I return. I have to climb the stairs to get to the computer a built in exercise perk.

I just received this note from a student from years ago. How lucky I am to read these words. What powerful healing medicine.

Dear Remembered Teacher.


You may not remember me but you were my fourth grade (1997) teacher at Calvert Elementary. I came across your Facebook page and thought I would say hello. I am now one semester away from graduating college and of all the teachers/professors I have had, you are one of the most memorable.

I remember making polyhedrons, dream catchers, Indian rain dances, pancakes but mostly I remember reading. We read so many books for a fourth grade class and its sad to say, I don’t remember reading more than five or six as a class until I got to college. I truly enjoyed my time in your class and have always remembered it as “the class that read over 20 books and learned about the birds and the bees.” I hope all is well.



Auld Lang Syne


When I was in Kindergarten the teacher used to play the piano and we would sing her repertoire of songs. It was a pleasant time of day when the music surrounded us and our voices rang out with joy. I looked forward to hearing the joining of piano and voices. That joy would not last long enough for me to paste it in the indelible file. I must admit that I was a curious child and always talking and squirreling around. I’d make noises trying to sing along. Being tone deaf is offensive to those who have perfect pitch.

One day the teacher was again miffed with me for something or other. She shook her whole body and then made a lunge for me. My big bow ripped at my hair and my teeth bit my tongue. She shoved me in the little space behind the piano and the wall. She began to bang out my favorite song, Auld Lang Syne. When I say bang out, I mean a hard, loud hammering and a shattering sound effect was created as she pressed her tiny feet on the pedals and her fingers on the keys. That was the most beautiful song and I loved to hear and sing it, but now it has become loud smashing, devastating sounds ever since my stay behind the piano and between the wall scenarios. The space behind the piano and the wall, in my mind has become a personal prison. Some things we never forget and some things continue to effect us in various ways for all of our conscious lives.

With all of that said, sing and be happy. Why not?




Hope is a word when uttered gives you a break in the present time

Spoken as a wish for all future times.

It is a word that is uttered during cherished moments and

as well, for moments yet to come.

Living with hope in our daily lives we give positive energy into the air. Hope rises and melds into the atmosphere.

Hope gives us confidence that all will be well and that we will continue on a righteous path.

When combing your brain for an answer, most likely the word hope will give you several answers to choose from and all leading back to you.

Add the words wish and want to your hope and it gathers more strength.

If you are looking at the past tense of hope, turn around three times and change the word to the present tense and turn around three more times.

Are you starting to think this is crazy? Well, my friend, do it and tell me you do not feel full of hope. Yes, in that order. You may be a little off center for a moment after the circling and then, you are filled with a gleeful spirit.

Yes it is you who is filled with hope making you hopeful. Full of hope is having a clear strong sense of the future for you and yours.

By: Sheila Clapkin

Stop, Become, and Start


Stop comparing yourself to others. This is generally a source of much unhappiness. Become aware of choosing negative thoughts and change them to positive affirmations. Okay, how does one achieve turning negative into positive. The key: Start to recognize positive side of thinking vs. negative thinking. You are there! Congratulations. In recognition there is grand achievement.

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