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The Observer paper 12/26/14

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Teeny-tiny fuzz balls prove opposites attract

What do folks think of pilling [my new word for today], I wonder.

I don’t mean the kind of pills that come in a bottle and almost everyone, with an exceptional few, has to take at some time in their life.

I’m beginning to hate it — the kind of pilling that seems inherit nowadays with any kind of material.

You’ve paid good money to buy something new, whether clothing or bedding for instance, and it looks fine. You wear it or use it and then wash it, or you follow the instructions that tell you to wash it before you wear it as though they had sent it to you unclean. Whichever way you go, the end result is that it begins to unravel in your hands.

All over the item appears teeny-tiny fuzz balls, so you begin picking.

This becomes your life.

Little white blobs adhere to dark colors and black cotton balls choose white articles, thus proving that opposites attract.

Take this “for instance”: Saturday evening I chose my clothing to wear to church the next morning. A dark jacket over white appealed to me, so I took it out of the closet and proceeded to pick it clean of little white cotton balls.

Then I put it on a hanger and hung it on a bathroom knob conveniently close to my dressing station ready for morning.

The white top lay folded on a chair close-by.

I swear that they were friendly in the night, for in the morning black showed white and white showed black. Picking began all over again.

The main trouble with the picking procedure is that the little blobs, once removed from wearing apparel or bedding, can’t be released from your fingers no matter how hard you try, thus becoming reattached to their previous picking grounds.

It then becomes a comedy(?) of full-time picking pillings.

I thought back to childhood and came back with no remembrances for learning the picking trade nor did any come forth in adult or middle-age.

Now I wonder if it comes along with old-age, for I find myself with difficulty in refraining from picking at others wherever I find them. Those at jeopardy can be those sitting ahead of you in church or at a meeting when you see little cotton balls here and there or the store tag sticking up at the back of the neck. It takes a lot of self-control to resist.

This can become an embarrassing pastime when the picked-on realize that they have become your victim.

While I am becoming an expert at picking unawarely, I still worry about the potential consequences should I one day be caught affronting another individual without their recognizing the service I am giving them.

I have plenty of picking to do at home, but I am beginning to tire of this obsessive career and would enjoy putting on and wearing a piece of clothing that isn’t into the picking game.

It makes me wonder when fashion changed to require that all lovely-looking items new to the closet must come with a guarantee to be so made that the fibers are short enough to be time-released to curl up into little balls and come to the surface at any given time.

Also, must they be treated with static so that you are dressed in cotton balls all over again when you’d like to wear something new?

I’m afraid I have become a constant pilling picker, but I admit that I’d rather be doing something else.


Newcomers to this area are usually curious about our weather.

They’ve heard that we have seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter, so they wonder when each begins and ends.

Does winter come after Thanksgiving and end at the end of February? Does spring come in with the roar of a lion and go out like a lamb from March into April? Does it rain in April and the sun shine in May?

Then does summer take over by the end of June and carry us through until fall drops the leaves in October?

Yes, we expect to have snow for Christmas. Yes, it gets warm in summer.

Yes, the leaves are usually pretty in the fall. Well, yes, we do get some rain. Perhaps a little more than we used to.

And, yes, we do have seasons.

The only difference in annual or monthly seasons is that we have daily seasons coupled by hourly seasons, and they can differ in various parts of the county at the same time.

That’s why we say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a while and it will change.”

“If you want to know the weather, look out the window.”

“Take a sweater with you even on a hot day.”

I always assure these new folks that I live here because I’ve always liked the changing seasons — spring, summer, fall and winter. Whenever they happen.

I remember them well when they were just that way.


Veteran newspaperwoman Dorothy Swart Fleshman is a La Grande native. Reach her at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


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