The Lopez Old Wive’s Tales


San Francisco circa 1985, cousin Diana’s wedding


Deuteronomy 1:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

11 May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times over, and bless you as he promised!


We have all grown up hearing old wive’s tales. I am part of the Lopez clan, and my mother and her 5 sisters passed on some wonderful ones to us. I loved sitting around my mother and aunts because they were so full of life and laughter. My mother also had 3 brothers, who along with her sisters produced a total of 50 first cousins.

As a child I truly took these old wive’s tales to heart. When my nose was itchy, I knew we were going to have company. I’ve had allergies most of my life, and I can never remember when my nose was not itchy, but that did not matter. This old wive’s tale always came true.  Another one:  when your left hand was itchy,  you were going to get money. I called my sister Norma to ask if she remembered any old wive’s tales. I reminded her of the left hand one and she said, “Oh, that’s not one: it’s really true, every time my left hand itches, I get unexpected money.” I was left speechless and about ready to call her out, when the Holy Spirit quickened my mind to whenever my left hand is itchy, I purchase a lottery ticket.

I shared with my cousin Nellie that I suffered from leg cramps, and she told me an old wive’s tale. Nellie’s advice: “Didn’t your mother tell you that you need to put your shoes under your bed, but they must be facing down?” She added  “You will never suffer a cramp if you do this.” Our home was built in the early 70’s; it was obviously designed by a man because we have small closets. I store my seasonal shoes in a plastic container under my bed. The other night I suffered a massive leg cramp. It started with my foot and quickly traveled to the upper muscle of my lower leg (tibialis anterior). I struggled to get up, because  my foot was curled under. I wanted to scream but Mike was on a business trip, so it was useless. I finally forced my foot with my hand and planted it on the floor when the cramp moved to my upper thigh (rectus femoris muscle). It was 2:30 a.m. when I looked at the clock. I hobbled back and forth, asking Jesus to remove the pain, but to no avail. I crawled back into bed only to experience another round of torture. Then I remembered the shoes under my bed. I prayed out loud, “Dear God, please let at least one pair of shoes be upside down!” When Mike is home, and I wake up screaming from a leg cramp, he usually gets up to rub my leg, while asking me if I had eaten a banana that day. My reply is always the same, “Really, I’m dying here, and you want to know if I ate a banana?” Take it from me, this old wive’s tale is not foolproof. This walking nightmare lasted over 5 minutes.

I talked to my other cousin Elvia, who is Nellie’s older sister, and she shared with me that her mother, my Tia Margarita, made her attach a safety pin to her underwear while she was pregnant during an eclipse. The safety pin was to keep the child from having any birth defects.

My cousin Delia, daughter of my Tio Leandro, said that our grandmother would cover all the mirrors in the house when her children had the chicken pox. Covering the mirrors would keep the pox from spreading.

The spilled salt dilemma

One of my favorite old wive’s tales: when you accidentally spill salt, meant that something bad was going to happen to you. This old wive’s tale required immediate action:  you had to take a pinch of salt and toss it over each shoulder to avert the bad luck. Every time I spill salt this comes to mind, and sometimes I secretly stick to the ritual. I’m just covering all my bases.

I believe we were all told about the broken mirror and seven years of bad luck. When I was younger I accidentally broke my mother’s compact. It was a horrible day because I thought I was doomed to bad luck. I remember counting the years when this would be lifted from me. No one took the time to explain that this was not true. All I heard was, “To bad for you, seven years of bad luck!”

My cousin Connie, daughter of my Tia Consuelo, reminded me of another Lopez old wive’s tale. This one also required action:  if you did not cover your feet at night, the Devil would lick them. My sister Norma and I grew up yelling, “My feet! My feet!” and running to cover our feet whenever we were scared about something. I honestly believe Norma still covers her feet when she gets frightened. As much as I hate to admit this, in all fairness, my feet are always covered.

Nowadays I cover myself with the Blood of Jesus; that is the only thing that keeps me from fear of the unknown. These old wive’s tales become habits that we carry  from one generation to another. I shared some of them with my grandchildren, and they just laughed. They are not as gullible as we were as children.

1 Timothy 4:7 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Avoid profane and silly myths. Train yourself for devotion,

Many of my cousins are still my dear friends. The Lopez family has strong roots that are too deep to sever. All the cousins I keep in contact with are also serving the Lord. Some have taken the Protestant path, but  in the end we will meet at the banqueting table of the Lord in Heaven. I praise God for them, and am grateful for the love we share. God has blessed us in keeping our faith intact, despite passing on the tales of our ancestors.

The only picture taken from the boat from the not-so-calm sea
Me, Maddie, Wil, Lucas and Jacob 2 Timothy 3:15 New King
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Banished to Patmos

The only picture taken from the boat from the not-so-calm sea

This was one of my first Blogs. This adventure to Patmos took place back in 2008, I added to the original story.

Our boat ride to Patmos was anything but uneventful. We were Izmir, Turkey, experiencing a different type of thunder storm, one that sounded more like an air raid with the loud popping sound of lightning shaking our hotel. We had to be up by 4:00 AM to allow for clearing customs for the departure to Patmos. My mind was filled with doubt about this trip. The unfamiliar weather played into my fear; we did, after all, have to pay a little extra to charter a boat off season to the remote island; things just did not feel right. As we approached the dock, a small, older boat was waiting for us to board. The vessel was bobbing wildly like a whale caught in a fishing net. I could not imagine how we could board the boat, let alone sail in it. We all needed assistance to get on the boat but not our leader Joanne. It seemed that as soon as she placed her jewel-studded shoes on the dock, it calmed down, like Jesus walking on water she was in. No sooner did the rage continue with waves splashing all over the deck. By the time I boarded, the ramp was being violently whipped up and down with huge swells beating the boat, Mother Nature’s heavy hand showed no mercy. We were told that instead of the usual three hours it was going to take five, and the theme song from “Gilligan’s Island” quickly flooded my brain,”A three-hour tour.” I found a spot to sit and started to pray, “Dear Lord, please forgive me for all the bad things I said about of some of the people on this trip.” It was not even 20 minutes when the dread of motion sickness set in. Like a chameleon, my color tone changed from yellow to green, and ridding myself  of the small morsel of breakfast was too much to bear. The W/C was located on the deck. Nothing about this boat was use- friendly. The Aegean Sea made me drunk, and like an inebriated sailor I struggled to go outside to free my stomach of the queasiness. As returned I wanted to check on an older lady from our team, but I dared not disturb her near-death experience. My roommate Alida, a nurse, needed to use the facilities, but she insisted on taking her personal toilet seat cover to the bathroom, I had to take a rain check on laughing.

Where the apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation
Entrance to the monastery

By the time we finally docked the boat, I honestly felt like I got beat up by a strong man and lost the fight.

We were quickly ushered to the top the hill to St. John’s Monsatery,  where an unfriendly Greek Orthodox priest was guarding the door as we passed. He told us that we only had an hour because he was scheduled to teach a class. We all wanted to get the most out of the experience, and were taking in all of what our tour guide was explaining. I was in complete awe, touching the spot where St. John laid his head to rest, the makeshift granite table he used for writing. I was trying so hard to imagine what it must have been like, to be in the presence of God. The old apostle wrote the Book of Revelation in this cave, Jesus instructed him to write down these words. This was Jesus speaking to him! The voice so powerful that it cracked the granite overhead in three directions.

The strict Greek priest forbade us to take pictures, but we were not going to be denied. We hid our cameras and took pictures without flash. This was before phones had good cameras. For a special blessing I placed rosaries and handkerchiefs that I purchased in Ephesus on the table, where the apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation.  We prayed and could have stayed there for hours but the priest ushered us out and locked the doors behind him.

Patmos icons

We had only a few hours before we boarded the boat from the nether world. Many of the shops were closed but I managed to find a store with original artwork. The only thing I could afford was a painted egg and an icon of John. The artist was out running an errand, so her husband, not realizing, sold me the egg with wet paint. When I got home, the gold frame came off along with the Greek newspaper it was wrapped in.

Our Greek lunch

My roommate Alida wanted to experience Greek food, but we only had a half an hour to eat. By the time our food arrived, my head was still spinning from the ride down to Patmos. I did not enjoy one bite of the beautiful feast set before me, so I can never say how great the food was, just that it looked amazing.

We all boarded the small boat…well not all of us. Jane was missing. Other than the monastery, I could not remember seeing her after that. An hour went by and still no Jane. This is a small island, and for a person to go missing is really unusual. We needed to get back to Izmir before dark, so the last thing we wanted to experience was the bad attitude of the sea at night. We were well into the second hour of looking for Jane, when Joanne, the head of the ministry, decided to call the authorities. I volunteered to go up and down the streets of the smallest village one more time. I yelled, “Jane, Jane, we need to leave, where are you?” Suddenly, just a stone’s throw away from the boat, I found her. Jane was so sick that just like Rip Van Winkle, she  fell into a deep sleep. The bench where Jane was sleeping was hidden behind a shady tree. Jane never heard the commotion we made, yelling her name and nervously running around to find her.

The ride back was smooth sailing. I will always remember this wonderful experience. Years later, we returned but this time we had the cave all to ourselves for hours.

“On  the Lord’s Day I was in the spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and sent it to the seven churches…” Rev. 1:10-11


  San Francisco circa 1985, cousin Diana's wedding   Deuteronomy 1:11
Me, Maddie, Wil, Lucas and Jacob 2 Timothy 3:15 New King
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The Caregiver

Me, Maddie, Wil, Lucas and Jacob

2 Timothy 3:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

I knew I was in trouble when agreeing to add another day to caring for two of my grandsons. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of my grandkids, but finding things to occupy their days has made for a summer of adventure.

So far they have participated in a science camp, learning to build a robot. When I picked them up from the camp they said a kid was bullying them. Jacob said, “Grandma, this kid said that I attract mosquitos, and I even took a shower today!” Lucas claimed the same kid kicked him in the head. I told the boys to point out the bully, and that I would wait in the bushes and attack him. Then we just laughed it off.

one day of  art class, really?

They only attended one art class. This class was a freebee from Groupon. The boys did not want to go back, in Lucas’ words, “I will never go back to that class. The teachers drew everything for us, and plus they don’t even speak English.” He was right about them not speaking English; I believe that they were speaking in Farsi. They disliked this class so much that they didn’t even like for me to drive past the art studio.

These kids live on their tablets, and that drives me crazy. I had a choice: let them become hypnotized on their devices, or think of activities that allow body movement.

We made up a list of things we could do. They protested almost everything on the agenda, with the exception of getting ice cream (of course!) Monday is going to be dedicated to going to the Orange Library and joining a book club. Lucas wanted nothing to do with that, but I forced him to check out two books. Jacob was excited to join the club, boasting to the librarian about how intelligent he is, and that his reading level is much higher than kids of his age. Then he added how good he was in math too. I couldn’t take another word, “Please, Jacob, tell the lady how humble you are too!”

Sweet Paco and Jake reading
Lucas reading

When we got back from the library, for the first few hours all was quiet and the boys were enthralled in their books. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. These boys were really reading! We had come to a consensus that if they read for an hour then they could use their devices for a half an hour. I left the room and, sure enough, Lucas turned on his Chromebook. The battle was on, and Lucas insisted that the books that the librarian chose were above his reading level. He desperately tried to prove his argument by asking both Suri and Alexa, neither of which gave the answer that he was looking for. They never do.

In frustration I yelled, “Lucas, I do not want to hear another excuse for you not reading! Get your book out and read!”                                                                                                                                                                                          “But grandma, how can you expect me to read a book that is too hard to understand!                                                       I’ll prove it to you!”                                                                                                                                                                  “No, you’re going to read!” I answered.

Lucas wanted so badly to prove his theory so he asked for my phone and looked up Lexile. I had never heard of this system that measures the reading level of books. It took him a good half hour to prove that, indeed, this book was meant for 7th grade reading. He’s entering 4th grade, but I still have my  suspicions.

Lucas and Jacob, Miraculous Meda

On Wednesdays we will be learning about saints or Bible stories. This week we studied the life of  St. Catherine Labouré, a French nun and visionary. The Blessed Mother appeared to her and instructed her to make a medal with this prayer written on it: O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. The Blessed Mother also said that those who wear the medal with trust will receive many graces.

St. Catherine’s incorruptible body, The Chapel of the Miraculous Medal, Paris, France

I have been to the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, France several times. I always go into the small shop adjacent to the church and purchase Miraculous Medals to share with others. In our home there are  three drawers dedicated to all the small religious purchases I’ve made when I travel. I found some durable yarn and threaded two Miraculous Medals for the boys to wear.

Soon we will be studying about St. Francis of Assisi. I looked on Amazon to purchase a book about this holy saint but refused to pay $7. Instead we drove over to The Bookman, a popular used book store in Orange. There I found a treasure of St. Francis books for $27. It’s a lost cause and inevitable: this summer is going be filled with me spending money.

Our precious Maddie
Wil, best 12 year old basketball player

My other two grandkids are so busy that their parents barely see them. Maddie has soccer camp all week, trying out for the high school team and practicing for her club team as well. She is also taking a summer health class, and will be trying out for the volleyball team in July. Wil is busy with basketball camps, two so far, and now he has taken up skateboarding. He is a gifted athlete and fascinating to watch. I imagine that my poor daughter-in-law Jenny is worn out with all the driving she has to do.

Next week the boys will go to visit family in Minnesota. You’d think I’d get a break, but no, their obnoxious dog Paco is staying with us. There is a slight possibility that this dog could be bipolar. He barks at airplanes, butterflies, and whatever his keen ears pick up on. You cannot walk Paco in public; I learned that the hard way. We were almost to the house when an old man with a black lab approached us. “Can they be friends?” He asked. I was about to open my mouth to yell, “No!” when that half-a-dog Paco  tore out of his leash and attacked a dog twice his size. In a panic I tried to get ahold of him and was knocked on my butt. I leashed him again, and again he went after the dog. The old man who  was walking the black lab was in shock. I was in complete humiliation, having to drag my battered body off the cement only to witness scene two. The dog fight was loud and seemed overly dramatic. Then I saw the old man give Paco a swift kick to stop the altercation. In disbelief  I watched with my mouth fully extended as I heard the old man saying, “Wow! Wow!” as he walked away.

Other than being the biggest jerk dog, he can also be the most loving.

There has to be a balance when being a grandparent. Above all I am going to teach them to love God.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 New King James Version (NKJV)

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

  San Francisco circa 1985, cousin Diana's wedding   Deuteronomy 1:11
The only picture taken from the boat from the not-so-calm sea
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