Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sun Day

Those of us who live in the Midwest should be on the lookout today for the devil.  Why?  Because it's gonna be hotter than hell, that's why!

Sunfish
Days like today make me think of sunup and sundown, sunfish, sunflowers, sunbeams, sunscreen, sunrises, sunburns, sundaes, suntans, sundials, sundresses, sunglasses, sun porches, sun dogs, sunsets, and my favorite sunny-side-up eggs.  

In my younger years I most assuredly qualified as a sun worshipper.  Every chance I got, I was out in the sun...seeking to darken my skin.  Going fishing meant more to me than just catching fish.  It meant an opportunity to wear as little clothing as my parents allowed and soak in more sun.  The frying rays gave me a high like some people profess to get when they consume controlled substances. 

Island sun
In 1999, my niece and I went on a cruise that took us to sweltering islands.  It was there that the Sun threw me a challenge.  We were on air mattresses, floating on the clear blue waters, when I felt a burning heat penetrate through me like nothing before.  Thank heavens I had the brains to quickly find my t-shirt and buy the strongest sunscreen the islanders were selling in the thatched hut.  Since that trip, the sun and I don't get along like we once did. 


Sun bonnet
 When I have my eyes checked, the optometrist really stresses that I wear sunglasses.  The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays are very harmful to our eyes.  That's why my last prescription has transitional lenses that adapt themselves to changing light.  For me, they are the cat's pants, cuz I don't have to worry about carrying another pair of glasses with me.  If I had my life to live over again, I would never expose myself to the sun like I did.  The problems that I have with my eyes now may be hereditary, but they may just as easily be from sun damage that I caused myself.

We can't go back and undo life.  What's done is done.  I can't quite figure out why we get our good sense at the tail end of life.  Somehow that seems to be a bit of a snag in the creation theory.....then again, maybe our structural flaws are what give evolution its good argument. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

Firecrackers, cherry bombs, fireworks, and other loud booms and bangs are sounding and sizzling across America.  These familiar sounds are telling us that it's time for parades, picnics, baseball games, and nighttime fireworks....hot dogs, beer, brats, and backyards.

Trivia

  • We use fireworks for fun, but 1,000 years ago the Chinese used fireworks to ward off evil spirits. 
  • The Italians were the first Europeans to use firecrackers as an art form, and even today several of the top U.S. firecracker manufacturers are of Italian descent.
  • Firecrackers are still made by hand.
  • The people who make firecrackers wear all-cotton clothing, even their underwear.  The static electricity from synthetic clothing can ignite firecrackers.
  • Firecracker specialists are known as pyrotechnicians.
  • In many states it's illegal to buy firecrackers, even though licensed public displays are perfectly legal.
  • The word 'patriotism' comes from the Latin 'patria,' which means 'homeland' or 'fatherland.'
  • The origin of Uncle Sam possibly began in 1812, when Samuel Wilson was a meat packer who provided meat for the US Army.  The meat shipments were stamped with the initials, U.S.  Some person joked that the initials stood for 'Uncle Sam.'  This joke eventually led to the idea of Uncle Sam symbolizing the U.S. government.
  • The 4th of July is one of the few federal holidays that has not been moved to the nearest Friday or Monday.
  • Iowa has four towns with 'liberty' in their names:  Libertyville, New Liberty, North Liberty, and West Liberty.
I'm so very thankful to share that our niece emailed us yesterday that she's on her way home from Afghanistan and will be coming to our house on Sunday. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dreams

Now I know what an electric mixer must feel like.

My head is flying in circles, remembering last night's dream.  Many of my dreams are about the work place that I left behind in 2006.  Co-workers and situations, both, come back to spend the night with me even though they aren't invited. 

The study of our "night mind" would have to be mighty fascinating.  Even though we're sound asleep, we experience situations as though we were awake.  It's interesting to me how I hold onto my real-life values in my dreams.  Last night I was struggling to fight a potential criminal.  My co-workers fell victiim to his cunning compliments, while I remained steadfast in my fight to stop him. 

Elias Howe (1819-1867) is claimed to have said one inspiration for his invention of the sewing machine came from a nightmare he had about being attacked by cannibals bearing spears that looked like the needle he later designed.

Various famous authors attribute their classics to dreams.  Mary Shelly claimed inspiration for Frankenstein  came from her nightmares, and Robert Lewis Stevenson accredited his classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to the same.

One of the most infamous dreams in history was President Lincoln's in 1865.  He envisioned his own death just a few days before he was assassinated on April 14, 1865.

We humans aren't the only ones who dream.  The fuzzy one dreams quite often.  She makes abbreviated barking sounds, and her fuzzy legs jerk like she's running.  I can't help but wonder if the poor little girl is dreaming that something is chasing her.

So many mysteries.  If man has been able to create something like the computer, just imagine the intricacies that live within our heads.  If inventors have used their dreams to invent, maybe we should be paying closer attention to what our dreams are telling us. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Country Living

There's nothing quite as peaceful as a summer Sunday morning out back on our patio.  Cottonwood seeds float like snowflakes, Orioles dip their beaks in the fresh spoonful of grape jelly, petunia faces look toward heaven, the flag swirls in a gentle breeze, and the three of us drink it all in along with our coffee.  A person can't help but sense the presence of something that feels like a Mother's love.

About 5 o'clock yesterday we headed west out of town for a late-afternoon drive.  Living in rural America, we have countless special places we return to over and over again.  Where we live, the country roads are gravel.  The gravel dust can get pretty nasty, and when it's really dry we tend to stay off of them.  One short drive and the car needs washing.   
Taken through the windshield

Fuzzy One loves the open window

I'm always wondering......
What's around the corner!
A river that eventually
runs near our home

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Exercising My Freedom of Speech

News headlines this morning have gay-rights supporters wearing ear-to-ear smiles and proudly waving their flag of stripes.  New York Governor Cuomo said, "We've reached a new level of social justice."

Indeed we have. 

I am clueless when it comes to the gay kingdom.  For example, I had to research the flag they are waving, because there's only one flag that means anything to me.

I come to find out that the LGBT flag is a symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, it originated in California in the 1970s, and is now used worldwide.  As of 2008, their flag consists of six stripes of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.  The original flag had two more stripes, pink (symbolizing sexuality) and turquoise (symbolizing magic/art), but they were taken out for some manufacturing reasons.

What do the six remaining colors represent?  Well, the colors stand for things all of us world citizens hope for, none of which has anything to do with being solely of the LGBT sector.

Red - life
Orange - healing
Yellow - sunlight
Green - serenity with nature
Blue - harmony
Violet - spirit

Who on this planet doesn't want life, healing, sunlight, serenity, harmony and spirit?  That's the ideal human rainbow. Shouldn't there be one more colored stripe in this flag to represent their cause?   After all, they are fighting for something additional that many of us still consider to be immoral.  

That's as far as I'll go, because I'm about as ill-informed about this whole thing as it gets.  My country-girl parochial upbringing sheltered me from this alien lifestyle, and that's just fine with me. 

I certainly believe in the six things this flag stands for......but I can't say that I support the reason it's flying high in NY today.   

Friday, June 24, 2011

Nikon Camera

A week ago we bought a new Nikon camera.  Inside the box was a sweepstakes entry form that expired in 2008.  Hmmmmm.  Something told us we might just have gotten fleeced.  The camera proved to be unsatisfactory, so we returned it for a different model Nikon.  The sweepstakes form in this box expired in 2009.  Makes a person wonder if stores purchase truckloads of outdated cameras for a pittance and then pass them off to us average idiots at flying prices.  Nothing in the retail world would surprise us anymore.

Kodak Brownie
Nevertheless, we are the proud owners of a tiny digital camera, a far cry from Mom's boxy Brownie back in the 1950s.  This camera is about the size of our cell phones.  We need more pockets. 

The Nikon will go wherever we go, on the chance we'll come across some rare wonder of our small world.  Now days we download our photos onto the computer for easy viewing.  Before that, we took pictures, oohed and aahed at them when they were first developed, and then put 'em in a drawer or cardboard box only to be forgotten.  We pass pictures down to the generations following us until one day nobody cares anymore.  When I look through our old family pictures, I think to myself, "now, who is that?"  Why didn't someone write the names on the backside.

The first time we went to Sea World in Florida back in the 1970s, I came home with lord knows how many pictures of two dolphins.  I snapped pictures of them jumping out of the water, diving back in the water, grabbing for food, and more of the same.  I wasted my time and film taking so many pictures that I missed out on the actual show.  That was back in the days when everything outside our small town impressed us in amazing proportions.

When we sort through the hundreds of pictures we inherit, we gotta think of them as frozen moments.  Brief and special stories.  For them to eventually end up in a landfill is a sacrilege and dishonor to the pair of eyes who saw and saved the moment so others could see it, too.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Leasing vs. Marrying

At the same time our courts are trying to legalize same-sex marriages, they're dissolving existing marriages. People are struggling to either live together or not to live together. 

I have a theory about this.  Maybe it's time to re-think marriage and instead think about leasing a partner.  The lease might be for a period of five years, at which time both partners would review their situation and decide if they want to re-up or get out.  Maybe this would also encourage both parties to be nicer to the other, especially if they want to renew the relationship when the lease expires. 

Somewhere along the line marriage has turned into an experiment. It either works or it doesn't.  No effort involved.  Isn't this a good indication that marriage might be a thing of the past?   Here are some statistics about divorce that might give credence to my theory:
  • Almost 49% of marriages end up in divorces.
  • First marriages end up in divorces in an average duration of just less than 8 years.
  • 60% of all divorces are related to individuals aged 25 to 39.
  • There were more than 21 million divorces in the year 2000.  In the same year, 58 million couples were married and still lived separated.
  • The average male age for a 2nd divorce was 40.4 years and the average female age was 37.3 years in 1990.
  • The divorce rate of first time marriages is almost 10% less than the divorce rate for 2nd marriages.
  • Over a 40-year period, 67% of first marriages terminate in a divorce and 50% of these divorces take place within the first 7 years.
  • Ever year more than 1 million children are affected by divorce.
These statistics make our court system smile.  For every divorce, it takes a minimum of 2 lawyers and 1 judge.  That's another healthy statistic that can't be disputed.  The court system financially wins 3 to 2.
   
A legal and binding lease between two people (doesn't matter what sex they are) would eliminate this stupid bickering about same-sex marriages.  Who would protest two men or two women living together under the terms of a lease?  It seems to be our human nature to want that which we cannot have.  Instead of legalizing same-sex marriages one State at a time, why not eliminate the business of marriage and be done with it.  Think of the money that would save.  Maybe the word "marriage" is something that any two people could achieve after re-upping for a total of 50 years.  Marriage would be the trophy at the end instead of at the beginning. That's another thought.

Weddings cost ungodly amounts, with brides paying as much as $10,000 for a dazzling white dress that will get only a few hours of use.  Then the $10,000 object is stuck in a box and left to the years to turn yellow.  I know, because that's what happened to my $125 dress.  Maybe if wedding days weren't made into such fantasy occasions, the actual marriage wouldn't be such a let-down. 

Unfortunately, little children are the ping-pong balls of divorce, and their welfare is the key element of this theory that needs to be worked out.  I'm not sure why I waste my time thinking about stuff like this.  I just guess I enjoy solving the world's problems and then knowing that I have the answer!  Or, maybe it's because I just don't understand why we perpetuate a custom that 50% of the time doesn't work.

(Statistics from Divorce Rate 2011) 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Clover Blossoms and Fences


White clover blossoms
 Thunderstorms brought us a good inch of rain over the last two days.  Now the lawn is dotted with white clover blossoms.  It wasn't long ago and the lawn was dotted with yellow dandelion blossoms. 

Sky is overcast where I live, and the air has cooled down considerably.  The tree branches are doing their morning workout exercises, fanning the fresh air through the screen door.  It's amazing how this area can be host to intolerably hot and unbearably cold temperatures, within months of each other.  Guess that's what makes us Mid-Westerners such tough little buggers.

It's an ordinary day for us.  The kitchen cupboards need to be restocked, so a trip to the grocery store will most likely happen sometime today.  It's a perfect day to jump in the car, head out of town for a spur-of-the-moment day trip with no particular place to go.   

We had a little visitor to our garden yesterday, so we think perhaps a wire fence might be necessary if we want our garden to grow.  Who can blame an iddy biddy bunny for wanting to chomp down on all those enticing green plants.  We see the bunnies as pests, and they see us as wonderful providers. I guess it's just like everything else in life.....it all depends which side of the fence we're standing on!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Homemade French Dressing Recipe

If you're like us, you love fresh garden salads this time of year.  My mom used to make the best homemade French dressing, and I keep the recipe taped to the inside of my spice cupboard.  It's quick, easy, and really tasty.....

Mom's Homemade
French Dressing

3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. dark vinegar
1/2 c. catsup
1/4 c. oil
1/4 tsp. each  (garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed)
Ground pepper to taste.

Shake well before serving.  Store in refrigerator. 


Monday, June 20, 2011

Bear Hug


What the world needs more of.....


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Daddy's Day

I personally think today should be called Daddy's Day, cuz it doesn't necessarily take an honorable man to be a Father.  But....it sure does take an honorable man to be a Daddy.  On this day set aside for daddies, I pay tribute to mine.  I was 34 and he was 71 when cancer cruelly took him from us.
  • He never said anything bad about anyone. 
  • He and I went fishing together after Sunday Mass.  He wouldn't let me take a bullhead off the hook cuz he didn't want my little hands to get stuck by their whiskers.
  • He held my little finger with his little finger in church when we all stood up.
  • He told jokes and had a great sense of humor.
  • He had two pet names for me.
  • He was very kind to our farm animals and brought orphans and runts into our house to keep them warm and care for them.  
  • He had small hands and wore size 8-1/2 shoes.
  • He worked very hard, wore overalls in the fields, and his dark complexion got really tanned in summer.  Where his shirt sleeves ended, his arms went from white to a reddish brown.
  • He always thanked Mom for the meals she made for us.
  • He spoke English, Czech, and German.
  • He could work algebra problems when I was in high school.
  • He was handsome and kind.
  • He had a hard life, but never complained.
Oh, I could go on and on about the guy.  Guess I was one of the lucky ones.  When I read the horror stories about fathers who are mean to their children, well, I am so terribly sad.  Daddy brought peace to our family by simply being here.  When he died, we crumbled apart. 

"Happy Daddy's Day" to all you great guys out there who love and respect your children, fur-children, and grandchildren.  We honor you today for being our nation's foundation.

The fuzzy one wants to say something this morning.......

"Happy Daddy's Day to Mine Daddy
 from your Little Mutt!!!
I wuv you.
Thanks for being so good to me!
(One licky kiss) 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Goodbye

The car with New York license plates backed out of our driveway......four hands waving.....two leaving.....two staying behind.  Will we ever see each other again.  That's all I could think as we walked back in the house.

Before she left, my pen pal of 45 years secretly placed in our refrigerator a small photo album with a note that it was for the photos she will be sending back to us.  Her camera was busy capturing special moments like the two of us acting like little girls in the backseat eating huge homemade Amish donuts. 

The photo album is hands-on proof that our friendship isn't affected by miles, nor by long absences.  Hearts are very resilient. What I have to do now is keep telling myself not to cry because they're gone, but rather to smile because they were here.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Leg Exercise

Okay, let's pretend that I'm an Olympic trainer, and you've hired me to manage an exercise routine that would strengthen your legs.  Let's pretend also that we're at the gym, ready to begin the grueling muscle strengthening sessions.  The first thing I would want to find out is just how smart your legs are.  Here's what I would ask you to do......

  1. Sit down on a chair.  Lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it.
  2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.
  3. Did your foot change directions? 
  4. That's okay, because there's nothing you can do about it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Rainbows

The eastern sky last evening brought our attention to the left half of a double rainbow.  Different shades of ornery-looking blue clouds back staged this magical blending of water and light.
  • Rainbows occur when it's both raining and the sun is shining simultaneously.  To see a rainbow, you must stand with your back to the sun, otherwise it won't be visible.
  • The main colors of a rainbow are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  These colors are called the colors of the spectrum.
  • From the ground, a rainbow appears as all or part of a great arc of color.  When viewed from an airplane, it is possible to see an entire circle as you can look down on raindrops as well as up to them.
  • Rainbows tend to be seen in the later afternoon when a thundershower has passed, and the sun from the west is shining on the receding edge of a raincloud moving east. 
  • You can never be directly under a rainbow.
  • No two people can ever see the same rainbow.  As the eyes of two people cannot occupy the same place in space at the same time, each observer sees a different rainbow.  That's because the raindrops are constantly in motion so its appearance is always changing.  Each time you see  a rainbow, it is unique from all the others.  Each eye sees its own rainbow.
  • Probably the most famous of rainbow legends is the one that at the end of every rainbow lays a pot of gold guarded by a Leprechaun.  The leprechauns are sly and cunning mythical beings, and they're known to be little tricksters that are always trying to outsmart humans.
  • There's a story about a man who once tricked a leprechaun into revealing the location of his valuables.  The treasure was located beneath a bush in a large field surrounded by other similar bushes.  The man needed to go off and get a shovel with which to dig up the treasure, so he tied a red ribbon to the bush so he could identify it on his return.  He made the leprechaun promise not to take it off.  Convinced he was more clever than the leprechaun and had secured his gold, he went off to get his shovel.  On his return, however, he found that the little creature had tied a red ribbon on every other bush in the field.
  • Moral of the story:  Chances of ever finding the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow are pretty slim!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Friendship of a Rare Kind

The fuzzy one started barking.  Two people stood on our front porch.

Our first hug lasted a long time.  It was the reunion of two girls who have been pen pals for 45 years.  We had changed calendars 23 times since we last saw each other.  

She lives out east, just far enough away from me to make visits a challenge.  She and her husband are on the tail end of a trip that spanned our continent so they could follow the Lewis & Clark Trail.  They are staying a few nights at a B&B just around the corner from our home. 

Today the four of us are going to rod around in our vehicle so they can sit back and relax after driving so many days and so many miles on their trip.  We will be the tour guides.  I've been making notes of places we'd like for them to see while they're here. 

I must make this blog short, as within the hour the fuzzy one will once again start barking when she sees those same two people standing on our front porch.  I've got to get in the shower so I'm ready when the door bell rings.  To the rest of the world, this is just another ordinary day.  For us pen pals.......well, it's gonna be mighty special! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flag Day

Iddy biddy wabbits are busy nibbling off the grass in our back yard.  They're about the size of my fist.  A few years back when I was still working, we had a wild bunny here that would scamper to the front yard every morning right before I'd back the car out of the driveway.  It was the sweetest thing, and I made all sorts of silly assumptions about this daily farewell.

Yesterday two young sparrows were sitting on a tree branch beside the patio.  They just sat there.  Hmmm.  I'll just bet they're waiting for their mama to bring them something to eat.  Sure enough, mama flew to the branch, and I watched her feed them beak-to-beak.  Mother Nature once again quietly displaying the attributes of motherhood. 

I had been busy in the house putzing right before this.  The fuzzy one wanted to go outside, so I stopped what I was doing and we took a break.  It was while I was reclining in one of the lounge chairs that this mama sparrow was feeding her little ones.  My first thought was to whisper a thank-you to Mother Nature for encouraging me to sit down for a few minutes.  She was about to put on a live performance, that would otherwise have gone by without an audience.

Today, June 14, is National Flag Day.  Let's all ratchet up our patriotism a notch or two.  It is so easy these days to plunge in a sea of despair with rising costs, loss of jobs, higher education, the furious national debt, the wars and giving of lives.  I'm the first one to nod my head that our country is changing in ways that are frightening.  We just have to pull together instead of pulling in opposite directions, party against party, race against race, religion against religion.  Whether we like to admit it or not, we're all in this basket together and we need to be pulling on the same end of the rope. 

America's flag is a freedom flag.  Sometimes we let ourselves get sidetracked and don't really think about the everyday freedoms that we have here in America.  When we watch little kids run down the sidewalk, or drive their little tricycles as fast as their little legs can pedal them, that's freedom.  There are countries where children aren't allowed to do that. When we go for a Sunday drive, as a family, that is a freedom many people in our world do not have.  Dictators tell their citizens where they can and can't go by themselves.

I personally feel that Our Creator will continue to protect and care for us Americans, but, when we start acting like spoiled brats, I really think that we might see what it's like on the other side of the fence where our freedom flag does not fly.  A good parent provides appropriate consequences for misbehavior.  That is how we all learn.  If Our Creator sees that nothing is quite good enough for us, and we aren't appreciating our abundance, He just might pull the plug and let us learn the hard way. 

If I could choose one national platform, I would fight against the waste of food.  If we proclaim to be Christians and follow the words of the Bible, then we must know about manna, the edible substance that God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert.  Food was and is a sacred life necessity.  Somehow during the last fifty plus years food has become this expected luxury to pick and choose, misuse and abuse.  Maybe the price of groceries should continue to go up until we learn to eat all that we have on our plates, or else learn to use the Tupperware that keeps falling out of our cupboards.  (See 50 ways to never waste food go to www.planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/ways-avoid-waste-food.html.)

If I was The Creator looking down on America, I would be counting the half cans of pop that are poured down the drain, the uneaten food sent back to kitchens, the leftovers that are carelessly tossed in the kitchen waste basket, and I would shake my head and say, "No, no, no.  This won't do.  How can I make you people appreciate your abundance.....maybe you should know what it feels like to have to beg for food.  Should I send a drought or a flood?"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fabian Forte and Me

When I was a teenager in the 1960s, I wrote a letter asking to be a member of the Fabian Fan Club.  One summer day, weeks later, a large envelope was jammed in our rickety country mailbox.  The return address was Hollywood, California.  I screamed the whole way down the driveway back to the house.  My mother's reaction to my hysteria was, "Omigod, what happened!"

What happened?  Look at this.  This is a picture of Fabian.  It's his handwriting!  And, our stupid mailman bent it! 

Well, it didn't take long for me to realize that nobody in our household had the mental capacity to appreciate beauty.  That was just fine with me.  I kept my 8 x 10 picture safely in my room.  I taped it onto the wall next to my bed, and during my high school days Fabian tucked me in at night and kissed me when I woke up.   Finally I knew why I had been born. I about wore out my small record player playing his 45 record, "Turn Me Loose."  Fabian "sent me."

That was 50 years ago.  Since then I calmed down somewhat, and my delusional love for Fabian was replaced with the real McCoy.  But, you know what?  Deep down inside my teenage heart, I still think of him as my teenage hunk. 

Fabian today
The passing of time has changed Fabian, as it has changed me.  The mirror is no longer the friend it once was.  Our teenage desires and dreams are replaced by reality.  Our hearts yearn now not to be excited, but rather to be comforted. 

Ah, yes, Fabian was my idol.  He forever will be.  Fifty years later, I see him to be someone who was able to make a little girl's heart pound, he entertained me as I sat in my room all alone with my record player wondering why nobody else in the family saw life as I did.  There was a time when it was just me and Fabian, and I'll always be grateful to him for that. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Dinner

Do you remember Sunday dinners?  When the family sat around a table, with a setting for each person?  platters and bowl and ladles?  family style?  always dessert?  We reminisce about walking in the door and knowing right away what was going to be served.  Literally rivers of gravy were poured over mashed potatoes.  The gravy flooded the entire plate, and at the end of the meal would have to be mopped up with a slice of bread.  Even though our mothers left their recipes behind, the food never tastes like it did back then.

I'll leave you with this chuckle, hoping that it will inspire all of us to attempt CPR on one of the most endearing customs to ever bless our human family.

* * * * 

"Sunday dinner with my mother Adah, my father Fred, and my three siblings was always lively.  On one occasion all of us, except my mother were in a silly mood and we began requesting, in rhyme, items at the table.
"Please pass the meat, Pete."
"May I have a potatah, Adah."
"I'd give you the moon for a spoon."
After several minutes of this, my mother had heard enough.
"Stop this nonsense now!" she shouted.
"It's Sunday, and I would like to enjoy my dinner with some good conversation, and not all this chatter."
Then she sat down, still in a huff, turned to my father and snapped,
"Pass the bread, Fred."

(Taken from Daily Chuckle archives)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Kaleidoscope

Who among us baby boomers didn't have a dime-store kaleidoscope when we were kids?  Man, I wish I still had mine, cuz it was the neatest thing I owned as a little girl...next to my dolly...and my red purse...and my black and yellow bike....and my pink plastic telephone...and...and... 

Now that I'm taller, I still secretly wish I could have one of those beautiful gold kaleidoscopes that costs a lot of money.  But, my sensible wiring keeps reminding me to look and not touch, admire and not buy.

If you want to have some fun, go to www.permadi.com/java/spaint/spaint.html.  This site allows you to paint a kaleidoscope and feel like an artist.  Just move your mouse across the screen and watch the colorful images appear.  Click the 'clear' button and you get a fresh screen. It's just the neatest thing!

Among my collection of quotations is this one by Henry Ward Beecher ...

"Our days are a kaleidoscope.
Every instant a change takes place in the contents.
New harmonies, new contrasts,
new combinations of every sort.
Nothing ever happens twice alike.
The most familiar people stand each moment
in some new relation to each other,
to their work, to surrounding objects.
The most tranquil house,
with the most serene inhabitants,
living upon the utmost regularity of system,
is yet exemplifying infinite diversities."

Friday, June 10, 2011

FREE

In the last AARP magazine appears an article entitled, "Listen for Free" in the Save a Buck column. Why is it that the word "free" ignites an explosion of neurons in the brain?  Anyway, it does in mine.  AARP's goal is to inform us seniors.....we sophisticated baby boomers who were not so long ago sucking our thumbs. AARP alerts us to the scams out there that try to take us for a ride and steal our money in the process.  It's a magazine I like to read, now that I'm in this golden, or pissy, stage of life.

Okay....here's the scoop.  We have the opportunity to listen and to read books online for free from http://www.librivox.org/.  This is a digital library with more than 4,000 classics and poetry.  The books can be accessed by computer, MP3 player, cellphone, or, burned to a CD. 

This is new to me, too, so I can't applaud this quite yet.  I did look into their catalog, brought up a book, and it popped right up on screen for me to read.....free.

Another cool element of this is the opportunity we all have to volunteer to record our reading of a book for this digital library.  You'd have to go to LibriVox to read all about doing that. Sounds fascinating.

I'm to where I'm parting with my books.  Culling the herd.  The first time I tried sorting them to see which ones I could live without, my heart actually ached.  Books have hearts that beat.  How else could they inspire, teach, and inform as they do.

Our rain gauge shows 1/2" of rain overnight.  Cooler temps have moved in and so have the clouds.  It's a welcome reprieve from the 100+ degrees of a couple days ago.  A good day to curl up and read, or listen to, a good book.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Diagramming Sentences, Complexity vs. Simplicity

Question:  Are English teachers today still teaching sentence diagramming?  I have no earthly idea what brought this into my head this morning, but it's bugging me and so I'll write my thoughts about it.

Sentence Diagram
Maybe it was that side of my brain that didn't understand how to solve mathematical story problems that made diagramming sentences very hard for me.  I do remember, after all this time, that the subject and the verb are on a straight base line, divided by another straight line.  The subject is who or what the sentence is about, the person or thing doing the action.  The verb is the action being done. 

From that point forward is where diagramming made no sense.  Why couldn't the ever-so knowledgeable scholars have come up with a simpler way to penetrate a child's mind using words that make sense to the mind of a child.  I always figured the complexity was their sly way of perplexing our empty minds, thus assuring a permanent dividing line between teacher and student.  

What do I mean by complexity?  Well, there are objects and indirect objects.  Prepositions I understood, and once in awhile I'll use one to end a sentence with.  That's a no-no.  Then there are the modifiers.  What's a modifier?  It's a word that gives more detail about a subject, an action, or an object.  But, wait, there are the articles, too.  The articles modify the nouns.  Wait.  There's more.  The dependent/subordinate clauses...the ones that can't stand alone.  I'll stop there.

The reason I ask the question if diagramming is still a part of the English curriculum, is because today our society seems to be aimed at making all things easier for our children.  Kids are being spared and protected legally from much of the anguish we went through. 

The nuns who taught me in grade school certainly were not delicate in their teaching methods.  They kept a ruler or a rubber kitchen spatula in their desk drawer as a teaching tool for those of us who were slow to learn some of these things.  A nun's way of teaching was dictatorial, harsh, and uncaring.  All the attributes of a woman of God, don't yah know.  (oops, can that stand alone?)

I guess I'm veering off the subject of sentence structure, but the mind cannot help but fall into the trenches of the past.  It makes me absolutely ecstatic to see kids today having computer software to teach them their English and their math in ways that don't punish.  To me, this is the human progress that points us in an optimistic direction for humanity's future.  No matter the depth of the planetary problems we are facing, we have to remember that among us live children who are going to solve these problems.

Our future's
vault of knowledge
When we look into a baby's eyes, we cannot fathom what possibilities live inside the little boy or girl.  It is the baby of today who will simplify and enhance the world of learning, they will be interested in bettering it, they will work to make positive advancements for their own children.  Their skills and their visions will work to discover ways of solving the monumental problems of environment, disease, the problems of over-population, and to go exploring in dimensions that we can't imagine today.  

The rules for writing proper English sentences and for proper spelling of words both are losing their sense of importance, so it seems.  The use of acronyms is a good example.  We were in a Hallmark Store recently, and for sale on the counter were pocket-size books of texting acronyms.  This is the new dictionary.  We humans are communicating across the world today using hand-held devices.  Complex technology has introduced simplicity into our lives. Change is what keeps life going forward on that base diagram line.  Life is one long paragraph, divided into sentences that we call generations.  If we look ahead with an optimistic eye, our sentences will clearly end with exclamation points!!!  If we choose to ask ourselves why things have to change, our sentences will end with vague question marks??????? 

I prefer exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!  


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Record Temperatures

Every year since we were married, we've tried to make at least one improvement to our home or yard.  Two of the trees beside the house were removed this week, and what a difference that makes in our looking out the windows.  We can actually see out the windows now!



All that's left of a
 humble home
Two more trees need to come down, but they are the hosts to families of wrens, so they will be spared till next year.  It's difficult to see the trees we planted years ago now being sawed down, but nothing lives forever.  When the juniper yew came down, a delapidated little bird house fell from inside it onto the lawn.  Its four walls simply unfolded.  I saved the front side, the part with the little hole. 
Mississippi Rock
This morning the guy from a local nursery delivered a load of Mississippi rock and laid it around the north and east sides of the house.  We couldn't decide on a kind of rock, but then we figured we should be loyal to the rock from the Mighty Mississippi rather than the white stuff that comes in small bags at big prices.  I love rocks, and I'm looking forward to having a whole new assortment to admire.  After they got the rock put down, they sprayed it with water to bring out the colors of each of the rocks.  Love it! 

We've removed the gold drop bushes that had seen their better days and were scraggly.  We're not going to replant shrubbery, but instead will put decorative pieces out there that can be replaced now and then.  The old birdbath got a fresh coat of paint, and that will go in front of the house. 

The older we get, the more we hire others to help us.  Young people need the money, and we need their muscles.  We used to babysit for the nursery guy himself when he was a little boy.  We would go stay with him and his sisters while their parents went on trips.  So, that in itself adds a more personal touch to the rocks, and I know he'll pop into my mind when I look at the rocks.  I'm being a sentimental sally.

The temperatures in our area have been, what I call, deadly and oppressive.  Not fit for humans or any of the creatures living beside us. Our heat gauge rose to 102 yesterday.  My hair is short, but I called the salon to see if I could get it cut even shorter.  When I sat down in the chair, I told my stylist to whack it all off.  Funny how we women like our hair long when we're younger, and when we reach the 60's we like to wear it short.  Carefree and comfy. 

We need rain, or our lawns will be drying.  This heat spell is forecast to move out of here tomorrow, with cooler temperatures coming in.  Like down into the 60s.  The relief will be more than welcome.  Our little family has been sleeping downstairs on the couches the last couple of nights. 

How well I remember what it was like sleeping in hot weather when we were kids.  One small oscillating fan for the whole family, and mother never let us sit right in front of the fan.  She warned us we'd catch a cold if we did.  Air conditioning wasn't heard of, and even it would have been, my dad wouldn't have used it.  First, we couldn't have afforded it, and, secondly, he just didn't believe in spending money on things of temporary comfort.  We were raised to sweat it out, and in time cooler weather would return.  I remember laying in a damp bed, tossing and turning, my long hair twisting into knots, and trying desperately to fall asleep. 

I can still see my dear Gramma H sitting in her rocker, fanning herself with a newspaper.  Poor dear would be baking bread in the wood stove, her face was beet red.  Women back then went to any length to provide bread for their tables.  Bless their hearts.  That's why there used to be separate small buildings beside the house known as summer kitchens where women could do the canning and baking while keeping the heat out of the main house.  Gramma didn't have a summer kitchen.  If/when I get to Heaven someday, she is the first person I'm going to run up to and hug, and I'm not going to let go of her for a long time. 

Speaking of kitchens.....I was closing the crisper in our refrigerator when a piece of plastic broke off.  The crisper drawer hung down like a drooping flower.  Why does it always have to be me that breaks stuff around here.  We called the appliance store and they were able to order a new piece for only $29.  I'm mechanically impaired, so it is not I who has to replace the piece.  My mechanical abilities stop with the can opener. 

Stay cool and please keep an extra eye on the pets who aren't able to fend for themselves in this dreadful heat. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Blog Notice!

New digs once again.  We won't go into why I changed my blog page format today.   

The World Population

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the current number of living humans on Earth to be 6.92 billion.  The population of our world has had a continual growth rate since the year 1350, when the population was 300 million. 

Big number, 6.92 billion.  How are that many of us able to co-exist as well as we do when very often two people cannot peacefully co-exist under one roof?  Maybe it's because Our Maker made different models of people, just like Ford makes Cars, Crossovers, SUVs (sport utility vehicles), Trucks, Hybrids and EVs (electric vehicles), and Commercial Trucks.  Within each of those categories there are yet different models and colors.  Something to suit every one. 

Just imagine for a second if there was only one kind of a car in the world.  Same size, same style, same color, same everything.  Think of the chaos that would cause.  Well, let's imagine a world with only one kind of person.  Same size, same build, same color, same everything.  Each one of us is a special model, uniquely designed, just like vehicles.  When we want to find a life partner, we go out and look for the kind of person we want parked at the breakfast table every morning.

This is a list of personality types.  Which one best describes you?  Maybe you'll find that your character fits into more than one category, kinda like a crossover vehicle.  Try and see.

The Duty Fulfiller or Detective
Quiet, cautious, meticulous, responsible, strong and silent type.

The Guardian or Overseer
Friendly, realistic, analytical, organized, very driven and enthusiastic.

The Nurturer or Defender
Cautious, hard-working, thoughtful, careful, very dedicated to causes and relationships.

The Caregiver or Loyalist
Talkative, practical, caring, decisive, very harmonious.

The Mechanic or Artisan
Independent, practical, realistic, adaptable, very skillful with tools.

The Doer or Promoter
Sociable, practical, observant, adaptable, very unpredictable.

The Performer or Entertainer
Approachable, decisive, concerned, adaptable, very generous.

The Artist or Composer
Modest, easy-going, caring, flexible, very artistic.

The Executive or Director
Energetic, creative, strategic, decisive, very commandeering.

The Scientist or Wizard
Self-governing, imaginative, logical, organized, very independent.

The Visionary or Inventor
Energetic, expressive, decisive, easy-going, inventive.

The Thinker or Architect
Reserved, creative, intellectual, adaptable, logical.

The Giver or Teacher
Outgoing, creative, compassionate, decisive, very persuasive.

The Protector or Mentor
Reserved, creative, decisive, organized, very compassionate and caring of others.

The Inspirer or Motivator
Friendly, imaginative, understanding, flexible, very optimistic

The Idealist or Actor
Private, creative, caring, flexible, very non-directive.

These are generalizations and not all characteristics are going to be valid for any one of us, but it gives a bit of insight as to why the human community is able to function as well as we do.  Quite often we forget that every single one of us is a critical component of Nature's intricately sensitive chemistry.  Your talents and my talents don't match, but they sure do complement each other.  Just like a glass of fine wine complements fine dining.  And, the astonishing thing that I see in these sixteen personality types is the overlapping, the subtle meshing, one type into the other.  Isn't this the ultimate key to seeing ourselves reflected in the person (or creature) standing next to us?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Hot Weather Rules

The National Weather Service predicts temperatures in the upper 90s and low 100s for a huge chunk of the U.S. today.  

Dangerously hot days like this are ample reason to gear down and be lazy.  Oh, I know that 'lazy' has become the other 4-letter word in our rush-rush madness, but I'm talking about taking a break.  When I retired, My Creator handed down to me a new set of hot weather rules to obey.  I was instructed not to copyright them, but rather to share them.  This is the first time I'm taking them out of the Golden Ark.  Please feel free to adopt any or all of them  into your present lifestyle, if you find them appealing.
  1. Stay indoors and turn on the air conditioning, ceiling fans, floor fans, or have one of the servants use a hand fan to keep you comfy.
  2. Don't over exert.  Move as little as possible.  Harbor no guilt. 
  3. Eat fruit or cold salads. Drink cold beverages.  Ones with an alcoholic content are preferred.  This stabilizes the equilibrium that is highly affected by heat and humidity.
  4. If the phone rings, don't answer.  If the door bell rings, stay put.  You're under quarantine.
  5. Keep thinking to a minimum.  Humidity causes our brains to rust.
  6. No human contact is preferred.  The more people, the more heat.  Stay by yourself.
  7. Take secret possession of the remote control.  If questioned where it is, pretend you don't know.  The situation will intensify, but this will keep you physically fit.  You see, laughter strengthens heart muscles, and this can be counted as the day's exercise.
  8. Keep the ice cube trays filled.  Liquid sustenance (referred to in #3 above) will be necessary throughout the peak temperature hours.
  9. Remain in a horizontal position.  This keeps an even flow of blood throughout your body, prevents lightheadedness, and induces sleep.  Research has found that naps give the brain cells a chance to recharge themselves.  Thus, you will get smarter the longer you sleep.
  10. Wear loose-fitting clothing.  T-shirts and baggy shorts are the preferred attire for days such as this.   Don't fret about the way you look.  When external temperatures rise above our normal body temperatures, 98.6, the human body will naturally look fatigued, sweaty, and hygienically impaired.
 
If I could be any other creature today, I would want to be a goldfish.  Yup, I'd like to live today in a bowl of water.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Our Bichon Frise

Our Little Ball of Fire
When the fuzzy one gets in one of her playful moods, we stand back and let her roll.  This picture was taken yesterday afternoon, right after she got her nose in my crochet basket and decided a ball of thread could be a cool toy. 

The fuzzy one has one heck of a sense of humor.  She likes to tease us, she plays catch me if you can, and she just absolutely loves finding and eating paper.  She used to sidle up to her Gramma G and sneakily remove the Kleenex from her sweater pocket.  Oh, Gramma G knew what was going on, and we knew that Gramma made sure there would be a Kleenex for the fuzzy one to find. 

I wanted to share this, cuz it's another example of what goes on behind closed doors.  Bichon Frise means "curly lapdog," and that fits her to a T.....except for those times when something clicks and she starts one of her silly performances that are absolutely hysterical to watch.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Mother Nature Has The Answers

If you would drive by our home, chances are you wouldn't see the buzz that's going on here.  You would have to spend some time here watching a wren work its heart out putting long twigs through the small hole in the wren house so it can build its nest.  It's Nature at its best, and I take the time out of my day to watch it.  I learn from the wrens never to give up, even when the twig falls.  Wrens aren't emotionally wired like we humans, in that they don't get frustrated and give up.  It's truly amazing to watch a wren drop a long twig when it won't fit in the hole, then watch it fly away and return with a shorter one that does fit.  There's no doubt in my mind that these tiny creatures have decision-making abilities.

Iris
My irises are blossoming.  I watched how in the morning they were closed buds with only a tiny bit of color showing, and by afternoon they were all decked out in their flowing velvet gowns.  To think they got all dressed up and had no place to go. Their only desire is to dazzle the neighborhood with their short-lived grace and splendor.  I can feel them connecting with my soul, being ever so grateful for the quiet little space in which they live. 


Wild Geranium
The wild geranium is growing right beside the iris but has no intention of taking second place to the iris.  Flowers should be proof positive to us that Our Creator wants us to slow down and soak in their beauty.  Why else would they be here?

Scientists are discovering that Nature can provide answers to all their human dilemmas.  When scientists are stumped about something, they are now turning to insects, to plants, and to the miracles that Mother Nature is masterfully performing behind stage.  Things like the woven spider web and the 'sticky' gecko feet are providing answers to researchers.  The Divine Force that created us left behind answers, but, we have to be wise enough to go look for them.  Once again, the lesson being that we're not meant to have everything handed to us on a platter.  Ah, contrare.  The Divine Plan expects each of us to put forth effort in meeting and solving our individual and common challenges.

Another lesson for us is to slow our pace long enough to watch the wrens teach us the value of patience. The iris and the wild geranium both proudly grow side by side, yet neither vies for first place and neither is jealous of the other.  They simply exist and grow to be all they can be.  Every single element of Nature is inspiring, has a purpose, and holds an answer to a question.



My Flower Garden
 How blessed I am to have my home and be encircled by these natural wonders.  But, I consider the real gift to be my thirst and curiosity to appreciate the other kingdoms that share my world.  The eyes and the heart have to work together.  It would be entirely possible to live in my home and never see what I see.  If, as a child, I hadn't been shown how to look for the simple and the sweet, I would not know nor would I care to.  If that were the case, I would consider that to be the biggest sorrow of my life.

See the bunny hiding in the flower bed?
He was a garage sale orphan.
He likes living here, too...

Friday, June 03, 2011

Baby Girl Alert!

A wonderful email awaited us this morning, announcing that a very special baby girl dropped from heaven at 6:33 p.m. last evening.  Baby girl, CA, weighs 6 pounds, 10 ounces, and according to Grandma's email....."she's absolutely beautiful." 

This sweet poem is just for you, Baby CA.....

Little Girls
by Karen Barnes

Little girls are made of daisies and butterflies and soft kitty cat purrs
And all the precious memories of times that once were.

Little girls are made of angel's wings and giggles and a firefly's glow
And all the happy feelings, deep inside, that we all know.

Little girls are made of cinnamon and bubbles and fancy white pearls
And snowflakes and rainbows and ballerina twirls.

Little girls are made of sunshine and cupcakes and fresh morning dew,
And these are the reasons, little one, why everyone loves you.

Love and Congratulations to Mommy, Daddy, Sister S, Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle L!  
                                                       

Thursday, June 02, 2011

My Dragonfly Ring

My hand shook with less than a minute left to push "bid" on an eBay ring.  Yippee!  I won the bid, quickly paid with Pay Pal, and now I'm living in the world of wait for the package to get here from Maine.

A unique silver ring may be the one thing that can entice me to spend money on myself.  When I retired in 2006, we went up into north country on vacation and in a small town art shop I bought a handmade adjustable silver band, made by a local artist.  I wear it all of the time on either of my pinkie fingers.  This ring signifies my freedom after 45 years of employer enslavement.  It signifies my freedom to fill my days as I so choose.   

Okay, so what persuaded me to bid on this particular ring?  You'd never guess in a million years.  It was the dragonfly that sits on top of an iridescent amethyst.  What's special about the dragonfly?
  • The dragonfly, in almost every part of the world, symbolizes change and change in the perspective of self realization...the kind of change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life.
  • The dragonfly's scurrying flight across water represents going beyond what's on the surface and looking into the deeper implications and aspects of life.
  • It's agile flight and its ability to move in all six directions exude a sense of power and poise...something that comes only with age and maturity.
  • The dragonfly can move at an amazing 45 miles an hour, hover like a helicopter, fly backwards like a hummingbird, fly straight up, down, and on either side.  What is incredible is that it does this while flapping its wings only 30 times a minute, while mosquitoes and houseflies need to flap their wings 600 and 1000 times a minute, respectively.  The awe-inspiring aspect is how the dragonfly accomplishes this with utmost simplicity and effectiveness and with 20 times as much power in each of its wing strokes when compared to the other insects.  It does it with elegance and grace, much like a ballet dancer.
  • Both of its wings and body exhibits iridescence, which allows it to show itself in different colors, depending on the angle of light falling on it.  This iridescence is seen as the end of one's self-created illusions and a clear vision into the realities of life.  Iridescence is also associated with the discovery of one's own abilities by unmasking the real self and removing the doubts one casts on his/her own sense of identity. In other words, it means self-discovery and removing inhibitions, which at age 65, should be an integral part of my being alive. 
  • This insect flies only for a fraction of its life and usually no more than a few months.  The adult dragonfly does it all in these few months and leaves nothing to be desired.  This style of life exemplifies the virtue of living IN the moment and living life to the fullest.  By living in the moment, we are aware of who we are, where we are, what we are doing, what we want, what we don't, and can make informed choices on a moment-to moment basis.  This ability lets us live our life without regrets like the great dragonfly.
  • Their eyes are most amazing.  Given almost 80% of its brain power is dedicated to its sight and the fact that it can see in all 360 degrees around it, this insect symbolizes the uninhibited vision of the mind and the ability to see beyond the limitations of the human self.  It symbolizes a human being's rising from materialism to being able to see beyond the mundane into the vastness that is really our Universe, and our own minds.
  • I saved the best for last.  The dragonfly doesn't bite.


Ta-ta. 


(Info taken from the Dragonfly Site)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Morning Shadows

Looking out our front door this morning, I see shadows on the boulevard.  Half is sunny and half is not. 

Our area had gusty winds yesterday, the ones that refresh, not destroy.  Papa Bear went on a day trip with a friend, so the fuzzy one and I declared it  "girls day."  It's amazing how pets grow to mirror their owners. The fuzzy one's personality is a spittin' image of mine, and there are those who know her and will agree!  She and I ate lunch out back on the screened-in porch.  The screen keeps her safe from stray dogs that like to play the "I'm bigger than you" game.  The fuzzy one isn't very street smart, having been protected all her life like a babe in arms.

Perhaps it's my age, but people and pets are becoming more dear to my heart every day.  I don't take either for granted like I used to when I was wrapped up in a career.  Actually, I feel myself becoming acutely aware of life's basics and feeling a deeper gratitude for them.  I find myself noticing things like the morning shadows on the boulevard.  

I'm thankful for...
by Nancie Carody
...the mess to clean up after a party
     because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

...the taxes I pay
     because it means that I'm employed.

...the clothes that fit a little too snug
     because it means I have enough to eat.

...my shadow who watches me work
     because it means I am out in the sunshine.

...the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
     because it means I am capable of walking.

...all the complaining I hear about our government
     because it means we have freedom of speech.

...that lady behind me in church who sings off key
     because it means that I can hear.

...lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing
     because it means I have a home.

...my huge heating bill
     because it means that I am warm.

...weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
     because it means that I have been productive.

...the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
     because it means that I am alive.
The Camelia
Symbol of Gratitude