Like Mother, Like Daughter

I love my iPhone, especially for texting.  Texting is a quick and efficient way to reach business associates and family members.  No busy signals or phone tag (leaving messages back and forth), with texting.  Because it’s a quiet function, I can text in a crowd, at dinner (only if it’s urgent) or when my spouse is snoring like a bear next to me in bed.

Holy Mackerel, this sounds like a commercial for iPhones.  And me, not getting paid!

One thing I really like about my cell phone is that I can speak my text into the phone, in lieu of tapping away at the keyboard with my index finger.  Speaking a text is so much faster than typing the words one letter at a time (the kids use their two thumbs to text.  I can’t.  I guess my thumbs are just too fat).

But there is one teensy problem with speaking a text.  Sometimes the microphone picks up words I didn’t say.

For example, I said, “So happy you’re going to the movie.  You’ll love it.  Hugs, Mom.”  The phone sent, “Snappy you’re getting groovy/ Plug Tom.”   Um, what?

Another time I verbalized a text to a tenant, “No problem, Sue.  I’ll call the plumber to fix your toilet right away.”

Sue’s response to my message was a series of question marks.  Looking at my phone, I understood her confusion.

The microphone had recorded and sent, “Nose problem in loo. I’ll call the bummer, he’ll mix your toilet, keep away.”

This “predictive text” feature was pretty unpredictable!

Continue reading “Like Mother, Like Daughter”

A Memorial Message to Paul E. Swigart, Jr.

“Oh my God,” I repeated silently to myself, “The longitude and latitude of his last known coordinates is all Ludora has left of her precious son.”

I had not seen Paul Swigart’s mother, Ludora, for several years when I ran into her at the supermarket one afternoon in Seal Beach, the city where Paul and I grew up.  Ludora was one of the sweetest ladies I ever met.  Always upbeat and friendly, she was one of those moms that made you feel special when you were a little kid.

LTJG Paul E. Swigart, Jr. Highly intelligent and confident, I wasn’t surprised to learn that he was creating an impressive career in the U.S. Navy.

With curly red hair that fell about her shoulders, Ludora had an engaging smile and was still beautiful, despite a cluster of wrinkles pinched around her gentle blue eyes.  We shared a big hug and our conversation quickly turned to Paul, her handsome son, my former classmate and a Navy pilot serving off the coast of Vietnam during the war.  Paul and I had been close since kindergarten.  We often chased each other in a game of “Tag” on the blacktop during recess and ate together at lunch.  Because both our last names started with “S” (Swigart and Strother, my maiden name) and seating was alphabetical, we almost always sat side-by-side in class.  All through junior high and high school, our lockers were close to each other, so our contact was constant.

Goofball that I was, it wasn’t until my wedding day, when Paul and I hugged at my reception, that I discovered Paul had once thought of me as a potential girlfriend.  During that hug, he whispered in my ear, “I always had a crush on you.”

I thought we were just buddies! Continue reading “A Memorial Message to Paul E. Swigart, Jr.”

A Walk For The Cure

We lived in the city of Avalon on Catalina Island when I went into “training” (and I’m using that term very loosely).  Alan, my sweet and encouraging husband said, “Are you nuts?  My God, I hope you don’t have a heart attack or stroke or something. You do realize you’re almost 60 years old?”

That’s me on the left in green standing next to Emily Beckman, my sweet niece with her mother, Kay Bernards. Alice Ryan, our leader, is in pink. Kay was unable to walk with us but met us along the road and cheered us on.

If I am anything, I’m spontaneous.  So I didn’t think twice when my sister Alice called and asked me to join the “Jelly Bean Team,” the group she was assembling for a Susan G. Komen “Walk for the Cure and Breast Cancer Research.”  After all, I knew the heroic battle her sweet daughter-in-law Lori was waging against cancer.  Surely, a sister could step up to the plate, or in this case, out to the street, for such an important event.

“I’m in, sissy.  When is it?”

And with that quick response, I had just agreed to walk 60 miles in three days.  Plus, I had agreed to raise my share of the entry fee … $2,500.

See, Alice had taken on quite a job.  She had agreed to raise not only her fees but also the money for her son and his wife.  With travel costs and hotels, Alice was planning to raise over $10,000.

“That’s a lot of money, sissy,” I said, trying to be realistic without being negative.

But Alice was steadfast.  “I can do it.  I will do it.”

And she did do it.

Normally gentle and rarely outspoken, when it came to raising money for the Jelly Bean Team, Alice turned into a lioness.  First, she got my husband to donate an old Ford van we used for office deliveries and moving stuff around.

“Alan,” she said boldly one morning at the office.  “Why don’t you let me sell the Ford van so I can raise money for my team?”

Without so much as a whimper, Alan agreed. Continue reading “A Walk For The Cure”

Elder Issues

“REALLY, you guys should check it out, my heart doctor is excellent. He’s just a kid, like Richard here.  But he seems to know what he’s doing. I mean, he didn’t kill me or anything.  I can give you his phone number if you want.”

Yesterday, we were having lunch with my husband’s new business partner, a handsome 30-year-old CPA who is so cute he “makes some of our clients, blush.”  There we were, three senior citizens (my husband, Alan, his old college buddy and business partner of 40 years, Bob, and me) having lunch with a young whippersnapper (that’s old folk talk…in case you are under 30 yourself).

When you’re a senior citizen, everybody looks like a kid. One client asked Richard, “How old are you anyways?”

We were lunching at CoCo’s, one of the restaurants we frequent so often that the waitresses call us by name.

Anyhow, as often is the case when senior citizens outnumber youngsters at lunchtime, the conversation moved to illnesses, treatments, stomach issues and other medical stuff.  Bob, the oldest member of this lunch club, started telling us about a procedure he recently had:  a “catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation.”

“Sounds ghastly,” I blurted out, as Bob struggled with the proper medical pronunciation.

“Wasn’t that bad at all, really,” Bob began, as the waitress placed his iced tea with lemon in front of him.  “The heart doctor just runs a tube up through a vein in your groin, up to your heart.  Of course, you’re sedated … sort of.  You are in twilight sleep, but you can hear the doctors talking and joking around.” Continue reading “Elder Issues”

Toddler Talk

At this point in my life, nothing is more fun than spending time with London, our “I’m almost three” granddaughter.  She’s a happy and energetic child, and so full of life.  Just being around her makes me laugh and fills my heart with love.  Recently, we attended an open house at London’s nursery school, which is a short drive from our home in Vero Beach, Florida.

It was obvious that London was ecstatic that we were there.

“Hi, Goo Goo Gaa Gaa,” London screamed as we exited the car.  That’s what London calls my husband.  I’m just “Grandma T.”

Once inside the play yard, London took off.  Left, right, straight…she ran and rocketed.  So much to share, she couldn’t decide which way to go first.  Should she grab a treat at the breakfast bar?  Show us the swings?  Or … show us the “big kids’ monkey bars” (which at her age were normally off-limits)? She kept running, and we gamely followed, until she stopped at the chicken coop, a brightly festooned set of cages attached to the fence on the side of the yard and filled with a rooster and several chickens.

Because we are a family of animal lovers, I wasn’t surprised London liked the chickens.  After all, she’s grown up with two dogs that are more like siblings than pets.

“Dare [they are] my patients,” London told us one Sunday, as she dragged her mobile doctor’s kit out of her room and began taking their temperatures, checking their ears and pretending to give the dogs shots. Totally trusting, the two dogs lay quietly until “Dr. London” was finished with her poking and prodding.

Teri, London’s mom, has told me many times, “They are so close … it’s like we have pack of three dogs.” Continue reading “Toddler Talk”

Stu Taylor Interview with Author Paula Thomas

On January 18, 2018, I spoke with Stu Taylor, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, about my new book, POTLUCK: Little Stories from a Big Table.

My interview was aired on Stu Shows (Eastern time):

Radio America Network Sundays 10 pm
Biz Talk RadioNetworks Saturdays 8-10 pm
Biz Talk RadioNetworks Weekdays 8:00-9:00 pm
Money Matters Radio Network Boston & New England—Weekdays at 9 am to 10 am

To hear the full interview, click this link:

Welcome to Paula Thomas’ Potluck

Are you ready to start 2018 laughing?

Well, I’ve got the antidote if you’re anxious: POTLUCK: Little Stories from a Big Table. It’s my new book!

I grew up in a tiny beach cottage in Seal Beach, California with six siblings, two parents and my granny from Kentucky on occasion. That’s ten people in a two-bedroom cottage. When you live like that, you have to do something to survive. In my case, telling funny stories about my idiotic antics and the poignant events that filled my life kept my friends in stitches and kept me sane.

All my life I’ve had a knack for embarrassing myself.

Like the time my husband and I were invited for cocktails at a friend’s house. The host wasn’t quite ready when we arrived, so he showed us to his bar and poured us a glass of wine, promising he and his wife would return shortly.

As we sat and sipped, I munched on some unusual-looking nuts in a dish on the counter. (In a big family, food is never in excess, so you do NOT pass-up a snack).

“These must be imported nuts,” I told my husband. “I have never seen anything like them. Maybe they are from China or Vietnam, real gourmet. They taste a little weird, but they are not totally awful.”

When our host returned, I was popping another handful into my mouth. I asked, “What kind of nuts are these, Bill?”

He gave me a long stare over the top of his glasses and said dryly, “They’re not nuts, Paula. That’s koi food.”

So, you see what I mean? If you need a good laugh and a break from all the bad stuff going on in the world, read POTLUCK: Little Stories from a Big Table.

I promise you won’t be disappointed. My stories will have you fluctuating between laughing out loud and wiping tears from your eyes. Just punch the title into the search bar at or Barnes & Noble … and like magic (well, okay … science), you’ll be able to purchase it.

I hope after you read it you’ll also share your thoughts with me at [email protected]