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Tuesday, December 20, 2011



After I painted this, I sprayed the canvas with spray adhesive and then 
sprinkled mica flakes onto

Sherry Hill

*Best to use the spray 
and mica flakes outside.




Sherry Hill


Wishing you a Merry Merry Christmas wherever you may live. Christmas is much more than gifts, trees and sparkly things:  It is a feeling of wonderment and one that makes you feel warm inside. Being with family and friends is what Christmas is all about--that and giving. May your Christmas be bright and happy!

Sherry Hill

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


“A True Christmas Miracle”

It happened so fast that I went into panic mode.
It was Christmas time and I was teaching that last day before vacation---28 years ago to be exact.
As usual, my teacher friends and I exchanged gifts.
I was the recipient of a beautiful box of cashew nuts; thinking I’d better not eat them in front of the kids [oh how I wanted to!] I remember putting some of them into a bag and shoving them into my pocketbook.
My then younger son was a student at my school but in the fourth grade and my older son was in junior high school.

Had it not been for the fact that I had asked the principal to show the movie “The Hemlich Maneuever” I wouldn’t be writing this article. In fact, I wouldn’t have been writing anything.
The movie had been shown a week before Christmas to all of the students at school.

As usual on the last day for Christmas vacation, when the bell rang for dismissal everyone scattered out as fast as they could…students, teachers and all.
As for me, I had to go to “Magnet Bank” on Washington Street to cash a check [Magnet Bank is now a BB&T branch drive through.] Before I made a left turn across from the mall, I thought about those nuts in my pocketbook.
Quickly I popped a bunch into my mouth; major mistake as I had nothing to drink with me in my car.
I drove like a maniac into the bank drive through thinking they would have cookies or something since it was Christmas time .Wrong.
And my throat was closing up as fast as lightning.

When you get into a panic mode all you can do is think how to survive. I ran red lights and sped down West Washington Street to the Valley Bell [long gone, now the home of Rite Aid] and pointed to my throat. One girl realized I was choking and gave me a glass of water with crushed ice.
As I tried to drink it, it didn’t help.

I fled home feeling my throat getting tighter and tighter and I knew I was going to die before I could get out of the car.

It had to be a miracle that my then husband and my two sons were sitting at the kitchen table when I walked in.
Couldn’t talk. My older son said “Why is your face purple?” Pointed to my throat and my younger son immediately got up and did the Hemlich maneuver on me.
The cashew nuts that had been stuck in my throat came flying out all over the floor. I was alive! I wasn’t going to die.

Speaking of miracles and especially ones at Christmas, this was a true one.
For if my son had not been a student at my school or watched that specific movie, I wouldn’t be alive. Best of all was that he was home and knew exactly what to do.
My son is now grown with three children of his own.
And he may have forgotten the fact that he saved my life; after all it was quite a while ago. But to him I am so very grateful.
He was a lifesaver: at the right time, right place and one who always remembered movies. Thank God for that and for him.
Miracles all around us: I am living proof.

Sharon Reed Hill

*Published in the Charleston Gazette

Sunday, December 4, 2011


A Memorable Christmas

My most memorable Christmas happened in the 50’s when I was 6.
I was an only child of two working parents with one of them always home by dinnertime. Yes, I had a babysitter but that’s another story in itself.
All three of us had gone the night before Christmas Eve to pick out a tree.
Didn’t matter if the weather had been balmy before, it was on that day so cold that you literally shook. And it wasn’t just one of us who liked big trees, we all did. Back then no one bought trees early or decorated early like today:  it just wasn’t heard of. Somehow the man who sold the tree to us managed to secure the giant tree on top of our semi-frozen car and my parents dragged it into the house leaving a trail of Frazier fur needles throughout.
The tree was put into a corner as my dad had to go somewhere for his job on Christmas Eve day. He had promised to be home early that next day.
The day whizzed by and it started getting dark; my dad was not home yet.  My mother decided that she and I would get the tree upright. But first she had to go to a neighbor’s house to get some rope to anchor the tree to the window casing. My job was to try to hold the tree against  the window until she returned. That didn’t happen as in a matter of minutes it fell right smack backwards on me smashing me to the floor. Soon afterwards, my mother opened the door and started screaming because although she saw the tree on the floor, she couldn’t find me. Luckily, she found me underneath and managed to pull me out through the branches. I looked like I had been in a cat fight but other than that, I was fine. Can’t say the same for the tree: some branches were off and so were lots of pine needles. And I thought I was going to be grounded for life but it didn’t happen. We managed to prop up the tree and she tied it to the window casing. It’s amazing that a 90 pound determined woman and a little six year old girl could do that considering the tree was about seven feet tall and big around. But we did it!
After resting for a while, we put on the lights, garland and the ornaments and stood there in awe.
It was truly beautiful and we had done it by ourselves when usually my dad was there to help.
As luck would have it, it started pouring the snow and I heard my dad drive up to the house.
He just couldn’t believe that the tree was standing [well sort of] in its full glory. Nor could he believe it when he saw me covered in scratches.
We told him the whole story and he just shook his head. “Determined women!” he said.
That night was miraculous in lots of ways. The tree was up, it was snowing,  my dad was home and for the first time in my so-called little life, I had help accomplish an unbelievable task. There were to be lots more Christmases in my life and hopefully more to come, but that truly was the most unforgettable one ever.  The presents I received were just what I wanted, the family was together and all was well. But the best present I received or ever received was a feeling of self-esteem and accomplishment.
And I would hold onto that from then to now. Sometimes what you think will turn out to be tragic will be exactly the opposite. That’s the miracle I experienced that Christmas.

Sharon Reed Hill

Published in the WV Gazette


The Christmas Present
By James Michener

It was the turn of the century and I was a mere boy of 10. During the summers, I cut the grass of an elderly lady who lived near me. Approaching the end of November, she told me that she would have a present for me for Christmas!

I ran home full of glee and wonder. Could it be ice skates, a basketball or a bicycle?
On the first day of December, I asked my mother if I could go to the elderly lady’s house for my Christmas present. I got a resounding “No!” On the fifth day, I asked again and received the same answer, “No!”
My mother said it was not at all near Christmas yet.

Finally, on the 12th day of December, I could not stand the suspense any longer for all of my thoughts had been concentrated on the amazing present the woman would give me.

With excitement, I walked over to her large house, walked up on the front porch and knocked on her door. She opened the door and said, “Why James, have you come for your Christmas present?” I could not help but say “Yes, I have!”

She ushered me into a parlor where there hung heavy dark red velvet draperies and told me to sit down on the couch. Then she left to get my present. I could hardly stand waiting because I knew that it would be one of the three things I wanted more than anything in the world.

When she came back into the room, she was holding a wrapped present that was about a foot long, nine or so inches across and about and inch thick. My heart sunk. It was not a basketball, ice skates or a bicycle in that small box.

Gleefully, she handed me the box and told me that it was a magical present. When she said that, I tore open the paper and there in front of me was a thin box that said “Royal Carbon.” I had no idea what those two words meant.

When I opened the “Royal Carbon” box, inside it were 12 sheets of shiny black paper. I asked her “What do I do with these?” At that point, she presented me with some plain white paper and a pencil and told me to put a shiny black sheet on top of one plain piece of paper and write my name on it.
I did. Then she told me to lift up the shiny black paper and there was my name… as if by magic.

I thanked her for my present and went home mostly disappointed but yet there lurked an excitement in me to try the magical papers again.
I went up to my room and collected a stack of plain white paper and many pencils.
Hours went by as I wrote and wrote upon the shiny black paper [carbon paper, I learned] until I ground off all of the carbon on those twelve sheets. I wrote words, and then proceeded to sentences and finally, stories.

I learned more about words from doing this than from any other source. It occurred to me that her gift had not cost her a cent. But she gave me something far better than the three things I wanted for Christmas. She gave me imagination.

During the years, I have received many special Christmas presents but none could compare to the elderly lady’s gift of carbon paper. She opened up a world of writing to me that exists in my soul and in my books.
Sometimes a gift that appears to be nothing can turn out to be the most magical gift in the world.

*James Michener went on to write novel after novel. He won the Pulitzer Prize as well as numerous other literary awards. His books have been translated into just about every language possible and a lot of them have been made into movies. He always credited the elderly lady whose grass he cut for giving him the gift that changed the course of his life.
Sherry Hill

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Wishing all of you who celebrate
Thanksgiving a day of togetherness, happiness, lots of food and many blessings!

Sherry Hill

Monday, November 21, 2011



Published: Sunday, November 18, 2007
Page: 10F

These days, Thanksgiving seems to be viewed more as the kickoff for Christmas than a day for special family gatherings.

When I was a child, Thanksgiving dinner was always held at my grandparents' house. The table would look elegant with its freshly ironed linens, and napkins so big they covered your lap. There were fresh flowers and cranberry glass goblets and place settings so pretty they took my breath. Even the turkey wore shoes to the table (although he arrived at the table on a platter and his shoes were made of paper).

At the center of my grandparents' dining room was a large table with six chairs, each of which was covered by its own color of needlepoint. My grandfather's chair- the only one with arms - was covered in purple. Looking back, I'm certain he didn't choose that color. I expect my grandmother did, as she was the one who did the needlepoint. I'm not sure how she chose him for the purple, but he and his purple chair were a commanding presence at the head of the table.

My grandfather was actually my stepgrandfather, as he was a childless widower when he married my widowed grandmother, who had two teenage daughters. They all moved into his beautifully furnished home.

According to my late mother and her sister, my grandfather wasn't quite sure how to handle living with teenage girls in his house. He'd actually once confessed to not much liking children, saying he wasn't as extreme as W.C. Fields, but close. Still, he adapted to having children around without much complaint. (I'm sure he'd have said it was pointless to complain, as he was outnumbered by females.)

By the time I was born, his opinion of children had totally changed. I was the apple of his eye and could do no wrong. The same was true of my two cousins. Whatever we wanted, he'd see that we got.

There weren't many Christmas dinners to remember at my grandparents' house. It wasn't because of anything more than the typical family holiday dysfunction, but somehow, we always managed to get together for Thanksgiving - the feast headed by my grandfather, in his purple chair.

I had 11 Thanksgivings with my grandfather, and then he was gone.

After that, even though my grandmother still lived in their house, she came to our house on Thanksgiving. We would still have other family dinners at her house, but my grandfather's chair was always left empty, as if no one dared attempt to take his place.

When I was 27, my grandmother died. Since I was the only married grandchild with children, I inherited her dining room table and chairs. For years, my family used the set, then I got into the country mode of decorating and decided to sell the table. But I couldn't bring myself to sell the six chairs.

They were more than just chairs to me. Each represented the person who sat in them, especially my grandfather's.

I've told all three of my grandchildren about the Thanksgiving Grandfather Chairin the hopes that someday, when the chairs are passed down, they will be treasured. They never knew my grandfather, but he changed all our lives for the better.

Six years ago, after going through a divorce, the death of my mother, and some other sad and difficult experiences, I moved my grandfather's chair into my bedroom. It comforts me there, reminding me of the love and caring of the special man who once graced it. The man who made me feel cherished.

And so, in return, I cherish his chair.

Sharon Reed Hill

Thursday, November 17, 2011


A long time ago I went on a business pleasure trip with my then husband to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Lots of his co-workers went as well as their wives and we were having a blast because the men were in meetings and we, the women, had all the free time in the world! We shopped, we got in the ocean and every day we had lunch at the huge motel in which we were staying--it was nirvana to the max.

Every evening someone would decide where we would go to eat dinner. And the choices were always great--that is until one evening when someone suggested we go to one of those steak places that serves all you can eat. All of us went in different cars but some of us took others with us.

I will never forget when we pulled into the restaurant's parking lot: There were only two cars there. Not a good sign!! Everyone parked and we all went in; we had no sooner gotten in than the manager showed us to our tables. Must have been about twenty of us all seated and the same man came over to take our orders. I said I wanted a salad and later when he arrived back at our table [where were the waitresses or waiters I thought?] he had half of a head of lettuce on a plate.

Never had seen that for a salad and something told me that things were just not right. And no they weren't for we heard the roar of motorcycles outside and someone went to the door and looked out--it was a group of "Hell's Angels" out there. Abruptly, the manager ran to the door and locked it and rushed back  into the room.

Now here I was, along with the others, trying to eat my steak and each bite sort of stuck in my throat for we were locked in this place and the worse was outside! Wasn't alone in my thinking because I could see terror on others' faces--we were trying to eat in a locked up restaurant and it wasn't going well at all!

Banging on the door from the motorcycle gang continued for what seemed like an eternity. Didn't do a thing for anyone's appetite. The manager was petrified out of his wits [he must have had dealings with them before I guessed] and the dinner seemed endless. Heaven knows how long we were in there but I can tell you one thing--hardly anyone ate their meal that evening!

As stated before, there was not one waiter or waitress to be seen from the beginning to the time we left--that alone was weird for it was just that man, the manager in control of seating, taking orders and apparently cooking the dinners as well!

Things got real quiet outside [no roar of the motorcycles] so the manager went over and unlocked the door; we left as fast as we could and ran to our cars terrified. And also hungry for no one had hardly eaten a thing. I will never forget that evening as long as I live and that was so long ago. Not too long ago, a friend took me out to eat at a fine hotel's restaurant and lo and behold I ordered a salad and when it came, it was a quarter of a head of lettuce!

You know what went on in my mind when I saw that--yes back to Virginia Beach and that horrid restaurant. But things were safe outside where I was this time and I was actually able to eat my entire dinner without fear.

Moral is if you pull into a restaurant's parking lot and only see two cars and the  place has a glass door for an entrance, do not go in! Drive somewhere else as fast as you can for you might wind up in a place like I did and live in fear of your life for over an hour.

Sherry Hill

Saturday, October 29, 2011


It was trick or treat and I was with a bunch of grade school friends--one of them was
my friend Karen
-and we walked way up her steep hill,  Greenbrier Street. We were
all out of breath as we climbed the fifty steps [or so it seemed] to the last house
on the left of the top of that horrid hill! One of us rang the doorbell and an old
man appeared with a tiny bag in his hands. Hmm we thought. We all said the 
normal "Trick or treat!" and he proceded to hand each one of us one black jelly
bean--that was it! One jelly bean.  Aside from being out of breath after climbing
those steps and also being kind of scared, all of us were shocked to get just
that one thing. But the way he looked it wouldn't have mattered if he gave us a
bag of candy each--he was frightening. We trudged down those fifty steps and
ran down the hill as fast as we could; each of us had thrown our one jelly bean 
away. Who could forget that?
Sherry Hill



When I was eight years old, my parents and I moved to St. Albans, WV—we moved into a giant mansion that had been made into two dwellings. Lucky for us, we had the left side [if you stood outside and looked at the huge place] and I was thrilled for the street was full of kids! The mansion set on Hudson Street and right near the corner of Kanawha Terrace.

Best thing aside from living there was that I got to go to a new school—Highlawn Elementary. I had already gone to two other grade schools so I was familiar with the routine of meeting new kids –in fact it was commonplace with me by this time. School started in September which flew by and it was almost Halloween! Like every kid, it was a time looked forward to for it meant dressing up and of course, getting candy! The Halloween before I had to wear one of those dumb costumes that came in a box; mine was some flimsy girl outfit complete with a black mask and horrible hair attached to it. Hated it. This time I asked my mom if I could wear my Aunt Carol’s dancing dress:  She had sent it to me and it was beautiful, long and all sparkly. Loved it.

Shock set in when my mom agreed I could wear it! The night before Halloween [which fell on a Friday,] my mom sprayed my dark hair with some kind of gold color. Smelled to high heavens but oh I loved it. Then she used gold spray paint and painted my white shoes and made a wand which was also painted gold. I went to bed with thoughts of being so utterly beautiful that I could hardly sleep. Next morning before my parents left for work, I was outfitted in this attire and dropped off at school which was about four or five blocks away. I felt like a gold glittery fairy. [Back then you came to school in your Halloween outfit and wore it all day—the parade was the best as you got to march around everyone.]

In retrospect, I must have looked pretty ridiculous but sure didn’t feel that way. Stayed with my aunt after school till my parents picked me up. When we got home, I ate dinner and was off with friends to go trick or treating—with that metallic smell in my blonde hair, shoes and wand. Came home with pillow cases full of candy and was worn out but happy—that is till my mom insisted my hair had to be washed. “Couldn’t leave that gold stuff in it!” she said. After that I don’t remember much except going to sleep.

The next morning was Saturday; I remember going through the pillow cases of candy and sorting it out but that didn’t last long for I wanted to go outside and play with other kids. Was a ritual. There was a blonde haired boy who lived up the street from me; we were in the same fourth grade class. He motioned for me to come to him and fear set in my heart—had this terrible crush on him but I walked up to him. “We’re having a party tomorrow evening here at my house! It’s dress up. Do you want to come?” Asked him what time and he said five o’clock. Ran home to ask my parents and they agreed that I could go for they knew his parents.

Now if you are eight years old and a kid asks you to a party right after Halloween and says it’s dress up, you get your costume ready to wear. At four thirty that Sunday, my mom went through the gold hair spraying routine again on me, helped me get into my aunt’s dancing dress and I put on my gold shoes [that looked pretty shabby after wearing them at school that Friday and then trick or treating in them] and got my want and marched up the street to the party. Ah nirvana I thought to myself.

When I rang the doorbell to the boy’s house, his sister opened the door: I could see inside the living room and what I saw stuck fear in  my heart—all the kids were dressed up all right—dressed up in church clothes!! And there I stood looking like a complete gold glittery fool. Words weren’t even exchanged between his sister and me; I was mortified! Ran down the street to my house as if I had wings on my feet and got inside and crumbled into a heap at the kitchen table. When I could muster up the words, out they came to my parents about what had happened. I was soothed by them and had to go through the hair-washing ritual again to remove the gold stuff out of my hair for the next day was Monday and school.

That Monday I said nothing to that blonde haired boy. Ignored him. Really wanted to scream at him for making me feel like a fool but I kept my feelings inside. It was the worst Halloween party I had ever almost attended! So glad I had the sense to not go in but to head for home. That was so long ago and I can look back at it and laugh for I should  have asked him what kind of dress up but when you are eight years old, you think it means wearing a Halloween costume. Ah but I had the memories of being a glittery gold fairy of types and that part made me feel so good—if only for two days. Other Halloween parties would come and go and I relished and remembered them all. But I will never ever forget that almost one party—ever!

Sherry Hill

Sunday, October 23, 2011



Today, October 23rd, is my mom’s birthday but she has now been gone for ten years—seems like forever. She would have been ninety one. And on her birthday, I always sent her a dozen yellow roses for yellow was her favorite color and what woman doesn’t love roses? Started sending her these when I was about fifteen and working [while in high school] and onward and it became a tradition.

Lost my dad long before her and when she died, it hit me later on that I was an orphan. Guess anyone who has lost both parents comes to that realization as hard as it is to comprehend.

As an only child, I didn’t have a close relationship with my mom; she worked before I was born and afterwards—working was her life. Either I stayed with her mom, my grandmother or baby sitters until I was in the sixth grade for my dad also worked. I look back at so many times I wanted to be close to her but something in her make up put a barrier between us and that barrier lasted until the last three months of her life.

My mom wanted me to be like her but alas I was not—I was me. The things she liked were things I didn’t like and yet, she had given me lessons in everything from dancing to tennis to modeling but she was an executive secretary and there was no way I wanted to be one. She made me start work at fifteen [with a work permit] as a typist for the department of highways; this summer job lasted seven years. Did I like it? No way! I hated it but I did save the money I made and used while in college and afterwards for I became a teacher. I suppose she was proud that I chose that profession for she told me several times that she was.

As a grown up, I lived about ten minutes from her and tried to be the dutiful daughter; it was harder on my part for I had two sons and she only had one child—me. Anyone with two children knows how hard it is to work and take care of them and be everything and yet I tried. In 2001 she started getting a metal taste in her mouth and went to dentists and doctors; she told me that every single thing she ate tasted like metal. And then she got the bad news that that metal taste was cancer.

She knew what type she had as did I for it was cancer of the liver, lungs and adrenal glands but she didn’t want to know how long she had to live. One day I called her doctor whom I knew and was told that she had three months left of her life. I was in utter shock and didn’t say anything to my mom—no one did. Chemo was tried and her outlook seemed full of hope but she was in and out of the hospital so much that it ravaged her already ninety pound body into someone I hardly recognized.

That last few weeks of her life, I stayed with her-- took off from teaching and wish now I had taken off earlier.  Her favorite place to sit in her apartment was in her kitchen: She would sit at the round glass table and peer out the window to see the street and the passing people. I sat there with her those weeks and it was during this time that she told me how proud of me she was and that she loved me. Never had said that to me in my entire life and yet I knew she did love me but to hear it was what I had wanted all of my life.

We talked of miracles happening before our eyes but avoided the talk of cancer; do remember her saying “We don’t remember what it was before we are born and won’t know what happens when we die.”  Those words numbed me. No one thinks that their mom will ever die for they seem invincible even though we shove that back in our minds.

I was in the hospital with her that last week of her life. Things went from bad to worse; she was in horrific pain. Luckily, she had a living will and a caring doctor. Got in bed beside her and told her it was all right to let go [how I found the courage to say those words I don’t know] and she took her last breath on my face. It was over—I had lost my mom.

Weeks later I would find these little signs such as a butterfly landing on my face or arm—those signs went on for several years. Other unexplainable things have happened since her death and they have been good things on my part. I am left with so many unanswered questions to which I will never find the answer and perhaps that is how it should be.

Today I think of her and the birthdays past and wish her with me. All I have to do is to look at yellow roses and I am flooded with many good memories and a lot of missing. I’m glad I was with her those last weeks of her life—no one can take that back for it was the mother-daughter bond I so desperately sought and received.

Sherry Hill

*Rose picture from online: Apologize for don't remember source.

Monday, October 17, 2011



How many of you have a pet? I have a large black dog and a calico cat: Both are female. Have had a pet in my life since I was eight years old—wish it had been earlier but it wasn’t. Over the years, my family has had numerous dogs, cats and one time a pet rat that lived a short time. But during all those years of having pets, my sons learned so much as did I: It takes a lot of responsibility to be a pet owner.

Not only does a pet have to visit a veterinarian but has to have shots, be groomed, bathed [unless it’s a cat—never attempt to give a cat a bath unless you’d like your arms to be scratched all over,] fed, walked [not a cat] and loved. Like humans, pets need attention and appreciate hugs or pats on the head. If they are neglected in this area, they will become withdrawn and then extra attention will have to be given; I’m sure you have noticed this with your pets.

Pets give us so much unconditional love. Doesn’t take much to please them unless you happen to have one that wants up in your face all of the time—some pets are like that while others can be standoffish. No matter what, having a pet just makes you feel better. It’s been proven that people who have pets live longer than those who don’t—maybe it’s the bond that is created between owner and pet or maybe it’s much more than that.

Would love to hear back from you if you have a pet and how you get along. My cat and dog demand a lot of attention but it is so worth it in the long run. And remember that dogs have owners but cats have staff—I am both. Are you?

Sherry Hill


Forever I have wanted to write this story for I can’t begin to tell you the times that I have thought about this guinea pig. And he traveled. When my sons were young [older one is two and a half years older] they both went to pre-school located in a nearby church--Bream Presbytertian. My older son started at age three and only went three times a week; he loved it. My younger son was a mere six months old and it would be two and half more years till he also went to pre-school.

My then-husband and I only had one car at that time; he worked and I had quit teaching to stay home with my sons—a fact which left me stranded with them. But thanks to my friend, Bev, up the street who was the mother of three sons [and had enrolled two in the same pre-school,] she offered to pick up my younger son and take him and also pick him up every week. I was so relieved as well as grateful.

Yes, I did get to visit the pre-school off and on:  It was fabulous! And in the room in which my son was as well as my friend’s sons and many other boys and girls, was a pet guinea pig named “Barney.” Barney lived in a cage, was well taken care of and looked exactly like the picture above. The cage set up sort of high but am sure that many three-year old fingers touched Barney or poked on him.  I did hear my son talk about him and listened—thought that was that. Within the first month of school [it was September,] when Bev dropped off my son here, he handed me a note before he even got out of the car.

I looked at the note and it said:  “If you would like for Barney to spend the weekend with your child, please sign this note and return it with him or her.” Read this note on a Thursday and sent it back the next day with Bev and my son and I felt sure that my son would take the note to his teacher or hoped so. I should note that at that time we had a huge purebred collie and a cat and when the time came for my son to arrive home, I was shocked at what he had in the beside him—Barney cage and all! Wasn’t expecting the guinea pig in like forever much less that next day! And worse was that my then-husband had gone hunting for the weekend. Found myself alone with my sons, the collie, the cat and Barney.

What to do I thought? I couldn’t let Barney out nor could I let him stay in his cage anywhere for the cat would have gotten him for sure. In a stage of complete panic, I realized that I could let Barney stay in my older son’s room on one condition:  The door had to be shut at all times. Try explaining that to a three year old; wasn’t easy. And seemed as if all I got done aside from mom duties was to keep checking to see if that door were shut. Many times it wasn’t that first evening and good grief, Barney would be with us all weekend!

Both sons had eaten dinner, played and of course talked to and fed Barney. Came time for them to go to bed:  It was easy to get my younger son to bed but not my three year old for he had Barney in his bedroom. The light had to be on and the door shut but I must have made fifty trips up and down the hall to make sure all was okay. When it was, I came into the kitchen, sat down and grabbed the remote to watch something—anything for I was beyond frazzled and the first channel I hit was showing a movie but not just any movie for it was “Willard The Rat!” Quickly switched channels and watched something else for would I want to watch a rat movie with a guinea pig in the house? No way!

Somehow we made it through the weekend with Barney till my husband came home on a Sunday evening: The minute he walked in the door, I told him all about it and then went straight to bed collapsing into a heap. Exhausted. Frazzled. Tired.

Next morning after my husband left for work, not long after Bev showed up with her sons ready to pick up my son and Barney and off they went. A sigh of relief could no doubt be heard into the next state for the cat did not get Barney nor did the  dog and things went back to normal—for a while. Barney became a monthly visitor and yes, my son’s bedroom door had to be shut but these times I had reinforcement in the form of my husband.

When my younger son entered the same pre-school, Bev would pick him up for she had a son his age. And guess who came home monthly to visit? You guessed it—Barney! Yes, I had signed that note once again for him that first month just as before. When both of my sons were in grade school, I was subbing and really didn’t think much about Barney but off and on, I wondered what happened to him. Called the pre-school one day and was plain shocked to learn that Barney was still alive! He had survived every weekend with different kids all year long for years which was pretty amazing considering how three and four year olds can be! Never did learn who kept him every summer but he was apparently well taken care of.

Barney lived to be twelve years old. Amazing for he belonged to the sisterhood of the traveling guinea pigs and maybe his being with such young kids gave him courage to live on. Had I been him, I’m not sure if my nerves could have handled all that but Barney did! He had nerves of steel, was loved and fed by litle kids and had a great life. I wonder if there still is a sisterhood of the traveling guinea pigs? Maybe not at that pre-school but somewhere out there exists that sisterhood and if you sign a note, be prepared to be on your toes constantly, on the lookout and enjoy a guinea pig—tedious but wonderful.

Sherry Hill

Monday, October 10, 2011



Yes, Bell invented the telephone. I have seen photos of the first one but only online or on tv: It was used in many movies referring to his time period. Then came the crank-up type of a telephone; no doubt people were ecstatic about that one! In order to make a call, one had to ask for an operator to connect with another person. Forward in time to the first telephone I was familiar with—the standard black one that had dial on front and a receiver that was placed on top. It had a cord and was affixed to a wall outlet and it sat on anything one wanted but was usually a small table. And again, any person using it was limited in movement for the cord only reached so far; that meant that the person was trapped in a small space in order to talk and either sat down or stood up.

No need to contact an operator with this model [unless one needed assistance] for all he or she had to do was simply dial and reach a person. Some people had party lines—that meant that they shared their phone with one or two other perhaps unknown families. I saw that in action at other people’s houses—the waiting for the other party to get off so that a call could be made. Great if you were an eavesdropper I’m sure. But my grandparents and parents never had a party line; I was ever so thankful.

During this time, I never remember any telephone company repairman coming to their house or mine—it was unheard of! Nothing ever seemed to go wrong. Just didn’t happen.

Within a small time frame [or so it appeared to me,] came a new telephone model: The Princess phone. Slender with the receiver fitting upside down on top was a clever design and you could punch the numbers to make a call. Downfall? It was lightweight and fell off whatever it was sitting on. It came in many colors—swaying from that distinct black one. Oh but the cord was still there meaning that one was literally trapped into a specific space in order to talk. Shock:  Someone created an extension cord for this type of telephone. Opened up a new world of being able to move around more while holding the telephone in your hands—a person could no doubt move about ten feet. Just amazing! Yes, you could get an operator on it as well as the big black model; could even make collect calls to others.

Next came the wall telephone: It was oblong, attached to a wall and yep, there was that cord that limited one in movement in the house. Problem was again solved with an extension cord. Came in many colors [I had a yellow one] and yes, people could sit down while talking or move around a room sort of for the cord or extension cord was the barrier. Was virtually impossible to talk on it and reach the stove should one be cooking unless the telephone cord could reach that far. And it wasn’t touch tone; a person had to literally dial a number. There was no called id or call waiting during any of this time. One never knew who was on the other end when the telephone rang—making it bad if it were a crank caller or a relative who loved to talk for hours. [Yes some people still had the black model but it too eventually came in different colors.]

All the while with these three specific models, there was only one telephone company—just one. With the latter I described, the wall phone, I do remember having to call for a repairman and more than once. Hm. Yes, people still had the Princess phone or the one that sat on a table or all three that were in different rooms. Oh and by the way, all of these models had to be purchased by the owner.

Soon came the advent of a caller id unit that was attached to a wall with a cord running down to an outlet. Some people had these but many did not. I did and it was a pleasure to see who was calling: You could choose to pick up the telephone or not.

Forward some years and a new telephone model appeared on the scene: It sat on a table as well but had touch tone numbers. No more dialing. Woohoo! Came in different colors as well. But ah, the cord was still there as well as an extension cord if needed. Then it seemed as if in a flash that a newer clever model appeared: It had no cord attached to the receiver and this fact let the user actually move to different rooms in the house. No more being strapped down to a specific area. Nirvana.

This telephone model was adapted and readapted into more clever forms—caller id was actually with it so one could see who was calling. Next came call waiting—a feature that let one hear a noise that notified someone else was calling! All he or she had to do was to put the person on hold and switch over to the other caller. Sometimes people forgot that they had switched—leaving the other person in limbo and also leaving that person no ability to call out on their own telephones. Good and not good.

Someone working for a telephone company fixed this problem—if the person was waiting for the other to switch back, the phone would go to a dial tone and that  was a good thing. Personally, I couldn’t count the hours that I got stuck waiting for the other person to hang up his or her phone—and you could hear what they were saying to people in their houses for like forever. All one could do in this situation was to hang up the phone and pray that the other person would hang up the phone. Glad that problem was solved along with millions of others.

Sleeker designs appeared and developed into what we have today—swanky versions of telephones that have tons of features. Good thing. But wait—during this period, came the introduction of the cell phone. My word, people were just shocked! No cords, no wires and no being held down anywhere; of course, the phone had to be recharged but who cared? I remember my first cell phone: It was big—about nine inches in length but I could also purchase cool covers for it. Best of all, if I were out I could call anyone—well that is within a certain range according to what cell phone plan I had. There were not a lot of plans from which to choose; most used the typical one which limited calling to other states.

Soon slimmer and smaller models of cell phones came about. Everyone who wanted one could get it—but it had no camera feature or internet feature –no one had home computers yet. Of course, you the reader are aware of what cell phone are available now—anything is possible with specific models. And all have cameras built in them. And then there is the marvel of texting! First it was geared so that one had to punch a,b or c to get a certain letter and so forth making it hard to text but not for young kids. They were adept at it and still are. The touch screen arrived and my gosh, right there were the numbers that could easily be touched in order to make a call or to text someone.

Texting on a cell phone has led to abbreviated words for it is easier to rapidly text thoughts. “You has become “u.” and then acronyms appeared such as brb which means be right back. Do I understand these acronyms?  Yes, thanks to being on facebook I now know what they mean. Have I ever texted? Yes but not much. Just announced last week was a new cell phone model which lets the person actually talk to it and get a recorded message as to what restaurants are needed or the like.

Oh and all cell phones can have apps which are applications for anything and you can also be connected to the internet as well should you choose that option. Land line telephones [which I described above] are now becoming obsolete with many people: They rely strictly on their cell phones for communication.
I still have a land line telephone as well as a newer model of a cell phone. My point in writing this expose is to state what has happened to the telephone for it is becoming obsolete replaced by cell phones. And it seems as if every  month out comes a new design by many manufacturers—one just can’t keep up with the ever-changing technology at all! Shudder to think of what lies ahead in the future: I personally think that people will have a computer chip embedded into them for communication. Scary thought there but probable. Very probable.

Alexander Graham Bell would just be aghast or perhaps not if he were alive. On my part, I have witnessed so many changes as have people my age that it is mind-blowing but not to today’s teens or twenty-somethings: They devour change and those twenty-somethings are the ones making the changes. Meanwhile, I’ll keep my land line telephone and my now new cell phone—at least I can change the latter. Heaven help us all—OMG! C u ltr.

Sherry Hill

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Thank you for your wonderful comment! I love to read blogs to get a different perspective on things and am not envious. The person to whom I was referring to is on twitter. Don't know this person at all; was just dumbfounded to see that tweet. I love to read your blog posts--it is you and I can tell it! You said it so well. I also read my friend Peggy's blog post.
No way am I envious but grateful!
Sorry to reply this way. Had no choice.



You know how it is—you get into one of those moods to make something from scratch. It makes you feel like such a homemaker. Happened to me a lot [still does at times] especially in the late summer when friends gave me some hot peppers, banana peppers and tomatoes. Got a recipe for a salsa of sorts [wasn’t called it then] and had everything including onions.

I set in to make this salsa and was just chopping away at the banana and hot peppers, the tomatoes and the onions and feeling oh so great! Yes I had washed the peppers and had also used my hands to take out the seeds prior to all of this.  I then took all the ingredients and added vinegar and some spices; had about four quarts of this mixture. And I felt so good about myself as I put them in the refrigerator—it was such a sense of satisfaction.

This was in September when I did this and it was a Friday night. Every Friday night forever it seemed, I did my lesson plans for the week for I was a teacher. Dinner had already been served earlier, my sons were in bed and not sure what my then-husband was doing. Upstairs I went to work on my lesson plans and while sitting there I felt a horrific hot feeling on my neck. Touched it and that made it worse.

Thinking it was nothing, I went back to writing my lesson plans and then my upper lip felt hot—like really hot. By this time I was getting scared wondering what was going on with me. The hotness intensified on my neck and upper lip and then it went to my hands and arms. I felt like I was on fire! Rushed downstairs to find a box of soda and mixed it with cool water and applied it to the hot places. Didn’t help. And my hands were getting hotter and hotter. Tried cold water and that only made the pain worse! Screamed, hollered and woke everyone up! The pain was that bad.

By four in the morning, I had to call my doctor; explained what was going on with the “on fire” feelings on my back, arms, lip and hands—and yes I told him about the peppers. He told me that no one should ever touch the seeds with bare hands! How was I supposed to know I thought to myself? No one had told me that ever. But I had never asked either. He told me to apply Noxzema to the hot places and to coat my hands it in; he hung up and I ran for the jar of Noxzema!

I sat in a chair for hours just covered in Noxzema [a white cream in a jar] from my mouth to my neck to my arms and hands. The pain was horrific! Can’t remember how long it took for the pain to go away but it was days and not hours.

The next morning in the newspaper was an article about making what I described above. And right there in black and white it said: “Always wear gloves when seeding peppers.” Well, too little too late for me! I never ever touched any kind of pepper [except the normal green ones] ever without wearing gloves and still won’t to this day. If you have never attempted to make what I did in the recipe described above, please get some plastic gloves to wear—or you’ll wind up calling your doctor!! Those seeds burn like the dickens.

Sherry Hill