Friday, August 31, 2012

JUST IMAGINE

Imagine if we could see our world only in black and white.  

Color lets us in on a secret.

Our Creator intended for us to live in sweet splendor.

Imagine the intricate design of our Eyes.

Profound.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interesting Thought

Happened upon these words.....

Did you ever look at a picture of yourself and see a stranger in the background?  
It makes you wonder how many strangers have pictures of you.
How many moments of other peoples lives have we been in?
Were we a part of someone's life when their dream came true?
Or, were we there when their dream died?
Did we keep trying to get in the picture?
As if we were somehow destined to be there?
Or, did the shot take us by surprise?
Just think, you could be a big part of someone else's life,
and not even know it.
Strangers Unaware

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Aristotle: Reaching for The Mean


  1. Aristotle believed that, in every situation, proper behavior lies at the midway point, or the mean. 
  2. Example:  My doctor tells me to walk, walk, walk.  Forget about all other exercise, just walk.
  3. How far?  Where?  I'm stuck, and I procrastinate. 
  4. Guilt gets out its hammer and starts pounding on my brain, "You should be walking.   You should be walking.  You're not walking.  You're not walking."
  5. Aristotle would tell me not to fret, but instead look for the mean.  It's midway between walking a mile and not walking at all.  Half-mile is the mean.  
  6. If I go out my front door and walk ten steps today, eleven steps tomorrow, twelve the day after tomorrow, I'm working toward the mean.
  7. In two weeks, walking will be a habit, and I'll be closer to the mean.  
  8. A half mile a day adds up to 3-1/2 miles a week, and that's nothing to sneeze at. Not only that, but that Nasty Old Guilt will stop hammering away at me.
  9. Thanks, Aristotle for teaching me about this cool approach.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brace Ourselves!

Getting dental care these days is frightening.  Not because of the drone of the drill, but because of the cost.

Both of us are presently in the middle of major dental work.
Translucent Retainer
What do you suppose it cost
to make this?
What it will cost me:  $650.00
Yesterday was my first of several appointments for a tooth implant.  A front lower tooth.  Implants are done in steps, beginning with x-rays, consultation with oral surgeon, the surgical implant,  months of healing, and placement of crown onto the implant.  Unless I want to go without a front tooth while it heals, I'll wear a custom-made translucent retainer with one tooth.    

Hubby asked what the implant would cost.  When the consults, x-rays, the surgery, the gizmos and gadgets were tallied, the total was estimated between $5,000 and $6,000.

(That's one tooth and just me.  There's hubby's half to this dental story, with an estimated cost between $5,000 and $6,000, too.)

Later in the afternoon, after we regained consciousness, we stopped at one of those big stores that sells everything from lumber to kitchen faucets to candy.  We agreed to meet by the lawn tractors when we were ready to check out.  My tolerance of this kind of store is zero, so it didn't take long and I was back by the tractors.

My body was weary and begged for a place to rest.  I figured this was the kind of store a person could sit just about anywhere, so I parked my empty shopping cart and seated myself up on a big yellow zero-turning lawn mower.  For me, waiting is like drowning.  I fidgeted, looked down and staring at me on the steering wheel was a price tag.  For the heck of it, I wondered what such a piece of equipment cost.  I turned the tag over.  Price:  $2,658.   What?  You have got to be kidding me.  You mean we could buy two of these huge yard mowers for the same price as one measly front tooth, the size of a peanut?

If there was a way to shove a Chiclet Gum between my two front teeth and make it stay there, that's what I'd do and forget about the frickin' thing.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Strolling Through The Years


Rusted and tuckered
I'm over seventy now.
Little kids loved me.

I took them for rides
Tightly they held on to me.
Sidewalks, up and down.

Feeble and broken,
I can hear the giggles still.
It is going to rain.

by 
Nature Weaver

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Memories of Meadow Clover

As a kid, my brother and I spent our idle time walking fields of purple meadow clover and energetic butterflies.  It was such a big deal to pick a clover blossom, pull out a purple tube, and suck its sweet nectar.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) wrote the poem "Clover-Blossom."  It tells a story as sweet as I remember the clover-honey to be.......

"In a quiet, pleasant meadow,
Beneath a summer sky,
Where green old trees their branches waved,
And winds went singing by;
Where a little brook went rippling
So musically low,
And passing clouds cast shadows
On the waving grass below;
Where low, sweet notes of brooding birds
Stole out on the fragrant air,
And golden sunlight shone undimmed
On all most fresh and fair; --
There bloomed a lovely sisterhood
Of happy little flowers,
Together in this pleasant home,
Through quiet summer hours.
No rude hand came to gather them,
No chilling winds to blight;
Warm sunbeams smiled on them by day,
And soft dews fell at night.
So here, along the brook-side,
Beneath the green old trees,
The flowers dwelt among their friends,
The sunbeams and the breeze.

One morning, as the flowers awoke,
Fragrant, and fresh, and fair,
A little worm came creeping by,
And begged a shelter there.
'Ah! pity and love me,' sighed the worm,
'I am lonely, poor, and weak;
A little spot for  a resting-place,
Dear flowers, is all I seek.
I am not fair, and have dwelt unloved
By butterfly, bird and bee.
They little knew that in this dark form
Lay the beauty they yet may see.
Then let me lie in the deep green moss,
And weave my little tomb,
And sleep my long, unbroken sleep
Till Spring's first flowers come.
Then will I come in a fairer dress,
And your gentle care repay
By the grateful love of the humble worm;
Kind flowers, O let me stay!'
But the wild rose showed her little thorns,
While her soft face glowed with pride;
The violet hid beneath the drooping ferns,
And the daisy turned aside.
Little Houstonia scornfully laughed,
As she danced on her slender stem;
While the cowslip bent to the rippling waves,
And whispered the tale to them.
A blue-eyed grass looked down on the worm,
As it silently turned away,
and cried, 'Thou wilt harm our delicate leaves,
And therefore thou canst not stay.'
Then a sweet, soft voice, called out from far,
'Come hither, poor worm, to me;
The sun lies warm in this quiet spot,
And I'll share my home with thee.'
The wondering flowers looked up to see
Who had offered the worm a home:
'T was a clover-blossom, whose fluttering leaves
Seemed beckoning him to come;
It dwelt in a sunny little nook,
Where cool winds rustled by,
And murmuring bees and butterflies came,
On the flower's breast to lie.
Down through the leaves the sunlight stole,
And seemed to linger there,
As if it loved to brighten the home
Of one so sweet and fair.
Its rosy face smiled kindly down,
As the friendless worm drew near;
And its low voice, softly whispering, said
'Poor thing, thou art welcome here;
Close at my side, in the soft green moss,
Thou wilt find a quiet bed,
Where thou canst softly sleep till Spring,
With my leaves above thee spread.
I pity and love thee, friendless worm,
Though thou art not graceful or fair;
For many a dark, unlovely form,
Hath a kind heart dwelling there;
No more o'er the green and pleasant earth,
Lonely and poor, shalt thou roam,
For a loving friend has thou found in me,
And rest in my little home.'
Then, deep in its quiet mossy bed,
Sheltered from sun and shower,
The grateful worm spun its winter tomb,
In the shadow of the flower.
And Clover guarded well its rest,
Till Autumn's leaves were sere,
till all her sister flowers were gone,
And her winter sleep drew near.
Then her withered leaves were softly spread
O'er the sleeping worm below,
Ere the faithful little flower lay
Beneath the winter snow.

Spring came again, and the flowers rose
From their quiet winter graves,
And gayly danced  on their slender stems,
And sang with the rippling waves.
Softly the warm winds kissed their cheeks;
Brightly the sunbeams fell,
As, one by one, they came again
In their summer homes to dwell.
And little Clover bloomed once more,
Rosy, and sweet, and  fair,
And patiently watched by the mossy bed,
For the worm still slumbered there.
Then her sister flowers scornfully cried,
As they waved in the summer air,
'The ugly worm was friendless and poor,
Little Clover, why shouldst thou care?
Then watch no more, nor dwell alone,
Away from thy sister flowers;
Come, dance and feast, and spend with us
These pleasant summer hours.
We pity thee, foolish little flower,
To trust what the false worm said;
He will not come in a fairer dress,
For he lies in the  green moss dead.'
But little Clover still watched on,
Alone in her sunny home;
She did not doubt the poor worm's truth,
And trusted he would come.

At last the small cell opened wide,
And a glittering butterfly,
From out of the moss, on golden wings,
Soared up to the sunny sky.
Then the wondering flowers cried aloud,
'Clover, thy watch was vain;
He only sought a shelter here,
And never will come again.'
And the unkind flowers danced for joy,
When they saw him thus depart;
Fort the love of a beautiful butterfly
Is dear to a flower's heart.
They feared he would stay in Clover's home,
And her tender care repay;
So they danced for joy, when at last he rose
And silently flew away.
Then little Clover bowed her head,
While her soft tears fell like dew;
For her gentle heart was grieved, to find
That her sisters' words were true,
And the insect she watched so long
When helpless, poor, and lone,
Thankless for all her faithful care,
On his golden wings had flown.
But as she drooped in silent grief,
She heard little Daisy cry,
'O sisters, look!  I see him now,
Afar in the sunny sky;
He is floating back from Cloud-Land now,
Borne by the fragrant air.
Spread wide your leaves, that he may choose
The flower he deems most fair.'
Then the wild rose glowed with a deeper blush,
As she proudly waved on her stem;
The Cowslip bent to the clear blue waves,
And made her mirror of them.
Little Houstonia merrily danced,
And spread her white leaves wide;
While Daisy whispered her joy and hope,
As she stood by her gay friends' side.
Violet peeped from the tall green ferns,
And lifted her soft blue eye
To watch the glittering form, that shone
Afar in the summer sky.
They thought no more of the ugly worm,
Who once had wakened their scorn;
But looked and longed for the butterfly now,
As the soft wind bore him on.

Nearer and nearer the bright form came,
And fairer the blossoms grew;
Each welcomed him, in her sweetest tones;
Each offered her honey and dew.
But in vain did they beckon, and smile, and call,
And wider their leaves unclose,
The glittering form still floated on,
By Violet, Daisy, and Rose.
Lightly it flew to the pleasant home
Of the flower most truly fair,
On Clover's breast he softly lit,
And folded his bright wings there.
'Dear flower,' the butterfly whispered low,
'Long hast thou waited for me;
Now I am come, and my grateful love
Shall brighten they home for thee;
Thou has loved and cared for me, when alone,
Hast watched o'er me long and well;
And now will I strive to show the thanks
The poor worm could not tell.
Sunbeam and breeze shall come to thee,
And the coolest dews that fall;
Whate'er a flower can wish is thine,
For thou art worthy all.
And the home thou shared with the friendless worm
The butterfly's home shall be;
And thou shalt find, dear, faithful flower,
A loving friend in me.'
Then, through the long, bright summer hours
Through sunshine and through shower,
Together in their happy home
Dwelt butterfly and flower."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Dusty Gravel Roads


A vermilion-red vine clings and prowls its way up the branches of a tree, creating a roadside rarity.....a tree all dressed up with no place to go.

An errand took us out on dusty gravel roads last evening.  Ugh, to the clouds of dust kicked up by the muscle pickups that gunned their way around us.  

We were watchful for deer poised in the ditches, ready to jump out in front of us.  Somewhere along the line our car stopped so a chipmunk could make it the rest of the way across the road.  It's in the early evening hours before dusk that the animals magically appear.

The rivers are low, very low.  One of the old iron bridges we crossed marks the 1941 flood line.  We tried to envision the river banks full of that much water and flowing over onto the farm fields and farm yards.  Old iron bridges remember well the high waters of the past.  One day soon this bridge, too, will be replaced with a modern structure, and its high-water memories will be lost forever.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Catch and Release












The problem with any past situation or relationship is how we decide to remember it.  Either we aggrandize and embellish, we overlook, or just plain forget chunks of how it really was.  The human tendency is to take a fresh mental sheet of paper and carefully sketch the past to be how we wish it had been.  At that point, it no longer is our past, but rather a cleverly constructed self-deception.

Imagine the commercial fisherman who lowers his nets in the waters, returns the next day to pull in his catch. He throws some fish back, some he keeps.  That's what our minds do.  Sort, keep, and throw back.  The ones we decide to keep become our new recollection, and that's what we hold onto.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Windmill Farm Art

Nature is masterful at recycling and reusing remnants of the past.  This windmill is old and worn out.  No longer is it needed to produce energy.  Yet, it's perfectly suited to be a trellis for plant life to lean on.  I'm pretty sure there's a moral tucked in there somewhere.



Windmills afford landowners the ideal tool for decorating their yards.  At first we didn't realize the middle tree isn't a tree at all.  It's the base to the circular blades up against the old pump house.  Simple, yet majestic.


Wait, there's more.......


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mississippi River and A Camera

From the main channel to the secluded backwaters, the Mississippi River is a photographer's playground.  For instance, these ribbons of wild celery stretched out in the late afternoon sun.  Water, weeds, rocks, and reflections....what a photo op!

These backwater beauties are truly diamonds in the rough, growing where few eyes will see.  No matter to them.  They are resolved to stand tall and be the best they can be.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sunflowers and Vincent van Gogh

The Smile in Our Back Yard
The tootsies were surprised to step on dew this morning.  I wanted to get a close-up of this happy face growing beside our screened-in porch.

by Vincent van Gogh
Sunflowers have been the inspiration for artist and writer over the centuries.  Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) created two series of paintings of sunflowers in various stages of life from full bloom to shriveled.  He preferred the yellows, and some of his paintings were done entirely in shades of yellow.
by Vincent van Gogh

The French appropriately call the sunflower tournesol, which means 'turn with the sun.'

It's so easy sometimes to put our anchors down in the waters of sadness.  Maybe the sunflower is trying to tell us something.  It's not easy to be down in the dumps on a sunny day.  If we follow the sun, our spirits will lift so we see only the good in our lives.  Another example of the outdoors being a storehouse of answers.  When one thinks about it, life is pretty much a scavenger hunt, isn't it?
I hope your heart is smiling today.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Speakeasy

  • Even though the 18th Amendment went into effect, people still wanted to drink.
  • To circumvent the new law, saloon owners came up with the idea of charging customers to see an attraction (like an animal) and then serving them a complimentary alcoholic beverage.  An example would be charging 25 cents to see a pig and throwing in a free gin cocktail. These places were low-class dives, known as Blind Pigs and Blind Tigers and served only beer and liquor. 
  • The Speakeasies, on the other hand, were the high-class establishments that sold alcohol illegally, but they offered their fashionable customers not only liquor, but food and entertainment as well.  Some speakeasies required men wear coats and ties and women evening dresses.
  • Bartenders told their customers to be quiet, or speak easy, when they ordered an illegal alcoholic drink so they wouldn't raise suspicion.  
  • The saloon had been off limits to women before this, but now they went in droves to the speakeasies to enjoy a cocktail.  The speakeasy quickly became the "cat's pajamas" and the "bees knees!" 
  • When one saloon shut down, a half-dozen underground speakeasies opened up.  They operated in basements, top floors, or abandoned buildings with back entrances.  The majority of big-city speakeasies were established and controlled by organized crime.  
  • To strengthen their security, a lot of speakeasies required a password be given to the guy guarding the door.  Some required membership cards or secret phrases, like "Frankie sent me."  
  • Daily raids became the norm, but the club owners cleverly incorporated sophisticated warning systems to intercept them.  When a raid went off as planned, the owner would do jail time, the speakeasy would be smashed to pieces, and the alcohol  dumped down the sewer or in the river.  
  • Some speakeasies served liquor in teacups with saucers, so if there was a raid, it would look like the patrons were abiding by the no-alcohol law.
  • Speakeasies were a major reason for the development of jazz music.  By offering music, a bar could draw more business.  
  • As the years of Prohibition advanced, so did the number of speakeasies.  With the increase of speakeasies, there also came a rise in police corruption.  Especially in NYC.  Bar owners granted bribes to enforcement teams to avoid raids or just to give them a heads up if a raid was on its way.
  • Gin and vodka replaced rum and whiskey as cocktail ingredients at speakeasies, because they didn't require as much aging and were easier to make illegally.
  • The 21 Club, one of New York's most notorious speakeasies, outsmarted law enforcement with a series of bells and whistles to alert their management that a raid was about to take place.  The biggest secret of the 21 Club was the wine cellar.  A two-ton brick wall built on hinges was used to hide smuggled goods from the police.  The only instrument that would open the secret door was a meat skewer.
  •  Speakeasies are historical landmarks that bring the legends of the Roaring Twenties back to life.   


"For every prohibition you create,
 you also create an underground."
  ~Jello Biafra

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Prohibition - A Sobering Time in History


  • Prohibition of alcohol was known simply as Prohibition and referred to the banning of the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sale of alcohol and alcoholic beverages.  
  • The supporters of Prohibition were known as Dries.
  • During the 1800s and the early 1900s, Prohibition became a big issue, and everybody had their own opinion of it.  Before elections, politicians were asked where they stood on Prohibition.  Those who admitted to Wet tendencies, knew they would lose thousands of votes.
  • The Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League were fundamental supporters of Prohibition. They published cartoons, posters and leaflets and spread them all over the country.
  • The Temperance Movement was the first serious anti-alcohol movement in the U.S.  In the early 1800s, the average American male drank 7 gallons of alcohol a year.  This movement took root in America's Protestant churches.  At first they campaigned for moderation, but then pushed toward no drinking at all.
  • The 18th Amendment abolished the sale or consumption of alcohol in the U.S. Congress voted its approval in October 1919, and enacted it into law as the National Prohibition Act of 1920. 
  • Maryland did not enforce Prohibition.  Maryland felt Prohibition was an infringement of its state right to control alcohol within its borders.  Not everyone was in favor of Prohibition, and from the beginning even the other states kept up the flow of alcohol with the help of gangsters and the speakeasy.
  • Bootlegging was the term used for illegally transporting liquor to either sell or use.  It became a booming business and made it easy for small-time crooks to become big-time crooks. In the 1880s, bootlegging referred to hiding flasks of illegal liquor inside boots.
  • Prohibition was enforced by poorly paid agents and commissioners.  There was one agent for every 200,000 square miles.  The agents were easily bribed and corrupted by gangsters, who would do anything to keep their profitable alcohol rackets alive.  Despite this, there were successful agents, like Isadore Einstein and Moe Smith, who, between the two, made over 4,000 arrests.
  • In 1921, the agents seized 414,000 gallons of alcohol.  Eight years later, in 1929, they seized 11,860,000 gallons.  This shows how much corruption was going on and how Prohibition had failed.  
  • Gangsters like Al Capone (Public Enemy No. 1) and Bugsy Moran used Prohibition to their advantage.  With large mob gangs, they smuggled in alcohol across every border and ocean.  Their profits were massive, estimated about $2 billion a year. 
  • After the Wall Street Crash, people across America became penniless and desperate.  The unpopularity of Prohibition grew like wild fire.  People felt that Prohibition was having detrimental effects on their lives, and they wanted to end the gang culture that had grown to dangerous heights.  
  • Eventually, Prohibition was repealed.  Alcohol became legal again in December of 1933.
  • The 21st Amendment to the Constitution is the only Amendment that repeals a previous Amendment.  It repealed the 18th Amendment which prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol. 
Tomorrow the speakeasy will be in the spotlight.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Lured to the Mississippi

The sun was in the east, casting shadows before hubby and his buddy starting casting their lines in the waters of the Mighty M.

That was yesterday.  Today we eat the bounties of their casts.  Nothing compares to fresh fish, filleted, seasoned with salt and pepper, dredged in flour, and fried to sizzling crisps.  Frying fish is an ancestral ceremony at our house.

The fish has been a symbol in Christianity since its origin.  The fish symbol is based on the Greek word, ichthys, meaning  fish, and is an acronym in Greek which translates into English as  "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior."  According to tradition, "when a Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt.  If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company."  (Christianity Today)

"Going fishing" with a buddy is a non-denominational communion.  Fishermen are quick to admit to the old saying, "The fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad."  For those of us who enjoy the sport, fishing is spiritual, with biblical roots.

When the guys get home from a day of fishing, I always get a kick out of listening to them tell where they put in the boat, what area they fished, what they used for bait, what fish bit on what bait, what kinds of fish were biting, and, of course, the size of the "one that got away."

Fish stories are a lore of their own.  If a fish story is told enough times, it's acceptable for the fish to keep growing.  It's simply more proof that the fun of fishing doesn't end when the boat comes back out of the water.  One day of fishing can last a lifetime.

Before
Yesterday's catch included these crappie, bluegill, perch and bass.  The guys released the bass back into the river because they didn't meet the legal length of 14 inches.


After

"If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing
 poles."  ~Doug Larson


Friday, August 17, 2012

Haiku Poem - Beside the Stream


Mother Earth wears green,
Edged with yellow polka dots. 
What color is calm?

Ripples from a trout
Swimming in sweet cool silence.
What color is peace?

Her dress is relaxed.
As she wants her guests to be.
What color is prayer?

by
Nature Weaver

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thoreau and Me

Gosh, it must be 30 years or more when I browsed a local book store and came upon two beautifully-bound volumes of Henry David Thoreau's Journals.  The volumes were substantial and pricey.  My budget screamed when I bought the one volume and cried when I left behind the second. 

Thoreau's heart-string connection to Nature, his intense thoughts about the natural, his wisdom about the ordinary, and his simple life at Walden, all managed to sweep me off my feet in a literary love affair.  



Thoreau's writings were responsible for my annual solo stays in our 1850s log cabin in the woods.  I'd pack minimum gear and withdraw for one week each winter to our 1850s log cabin that hubby restored for us.  His vision, his determination, hard work and endurance brought our humble log-cabin dreams to reality, and I cannot ever thank him enough.  Our log cabin in the woods was a most sacred gift hubby gave to our marriage.  

My winter week in the woods, usually between Christmas and New Years, was a communion with Nature that few have a chance to experience.  When the early evening darkness set in, I cuddled close to the light of an antique kerosene lamp and the warmth of the wood-burning stove, and my brain and blood feasted on Thoreau's every awe-inspired word.  Our cabin was my Walden, and my solo stays in the woods were among the richest times of my whole life. I hiked through the woods, and one fallen log beside the river came to be my outdoor easy chair.  It was there that I was able to rinse myself clean of stuff that bothered me.  More than anything, I would manage to put things in perspective.  Like Thoreau, I wrote in my journal.   


I genuflect before a sampling of Thoreau's writings...........

However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names.  It is not so bad as you are.  It looks poorest when you are richest.  The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise.  Love your life, poor as it is.  You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse.  The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man's abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring.  I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.
************ 
If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.  As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!
************* 
 The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.  I am surprised, as well as delighted, when this happens, it is such a rare use he would make of me, as if he were acquainted with the tool.
************* 

Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.
(January 5, 1856) 
************ 
Have no mean hours, but be grateful for every hour, and accept what it brings.  The reality will make any sincere record respectable.  No day will have been wholly misspent, if one sincere, thoughtful page has been written.  Let the daily tide leave some deposit on these pages, as it leaves sand and shells on the shore.  So much increase of terra firma.  This may be a calendar of the ebbs and flows of the soul; and on these sheets as a beach, the waves may cast up pearls and seaweed.
************* 
The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls.  The worst man is as strong as the best at that game.  It does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Trout Fishing


The area within 100 miles of where we live is blessed with fertile trout streams, and hubby is drawn to the challenge of trout fishing. Yesterday the trout were playing hard to catch, but that only cranked up the challenge.  We parked close to the stream, so hubby could walk back to the vehicle and try different jigs and spinners.  He caught his limit of five, each with a different bait.

We were on our way home from a visit to a Cabela's Store, where we each bought a new hooded sweatshirt for autumn's upcoming cool nights.  Most of our sweatshirts are well-worn to the point of having frayed cuffs.  Old sweatshirts are like old shoes....the older they are, the better they feel.

While hubby fished for trout, I reclined the passenger seat, put a pillow over my eyes, and fell asleep.  Through the open windows, an afternoon stream-side breeze fanned me with cool air, which was a welcome reprieve from the past weeks of stifling heat.

The wild daisies are so pretty now.  Small patches of them here, there, and everywhere the birds have been.  The sweet solace of a new season is peeking at us, and we can't wait for autumn, when the fall fairies dance on daisies and whisper to us in the cool breezes.    

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Shopping

Shopping with a girlfriend is not something I do often.  Actually, I'm a non-shopper, but yesterday's trolley was far from the ordinary for a gal my age.

She treated me to a drive in her convertible.  We kicked back, cranked up the radio to the beat of rock-and-roll, let our hair fly, and cruised to a city 75 miles away.  My heart had so much fun, mainly because I felt carefree.  We made a pact before we left.....no hurry, no worry.

The weather was absolutely convertible perfect.  Sunny, high 70s, with puffy white marshmallow clouds above us.  I leaned my head back on the head rest and looked up into the sky.  We were wrapped in pretty day.

Where to eat lunch was the biggest decision of our joyride.  We parked the convertible under a shade tree in the Red Lobster parking lot and went inside for a taste of the sea.

We had certain things to shop for, and the two of us rambled the racks looking for what we needed.  After applying our store coupons and taking advantage of the so-called sales, we felt we had flaunted our frugal financial wisdom.  Our last stop was the liquor store.

On these special days, I usually buy something to remember them by.  When I spotted this beaded bracelet and put it around my wrist, I knew right off the bat it was about to become my convertible-ride memory.

Our 1-day outing was more invigorating than if we'd gone away for a week.  Knowing time was limited, we crammed all the fun we could inside the hours.  The snazzy convertible returned us safely to our starting point, and now it's the business of remembering.  Spits and spurts of silliness, deciding which entrees to order at Red Lobster, and our little-girl giggles as we tried on shoes......won't be forgotten.  I was back home with hubby and the fuzzy one by 7 o'clock.  After setting my two shopping bags on the couch and changing into my jammies, I realized how I cherish my old friends.  She and I go back to the early 1970s when we worked together.  To think.....some 40 years later we're out there letting our hair blow in the wind and singing to the oldies.  Wowza, what a day!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Guest Blog

Dis  Iz  da fizzy 1.

Myne Muthr wEnted shopPinG 2day  an  LEfted  mE  an  myne Dady hoMe.  She seD I kud rited hr  bloge.

Ya no  WhaT?

Myne  DadY taks  mE  4 woKs.   Hee  kaLz  mE  hiz  liddl  MuTT.   Da  2  uv  uS  R  guNNo  havz  loTTSa  fuN  2dae.

BYe.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Minnesota's Charming Characteristics



PHOTO OF THE DAY
Cathedral Aisle

Did you know?

  •  The small extension on the northern tip of Minnesota makes Minnesota the northernmost point of all 48 contiguous states, including Maine.  This area is known as the "Northwest Angle" and is only accessible by land through Canada.
  • The northernmost town in the contiguous 48 states is Angle Inlet, Minnesota.
  • Minnesota has 90,000 miles of shoreline, more than California, Florida and Hawaii combined.
  • Minnesota's waters flow outward in three directions:  North to Hudson Bay in Canada, East to the Atlantic Ocean, and South to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Minnesota has 11,842 lakes over 10 acres in size.
  • Minnesota has 6,564 natural rivers and streams that together flow for 69,000 miles.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Tree Homes

Squirrels, porcupines, raccoon, and owls make their homes in tree hollows, or den trees, like this one.

I can't help but look at a tree like this and remember visiting a wildlife exhibit with a camera inside a tree hollow showing a squirrel family cuddled and snuggled together inside it.  Talk about sweet.

Hollow logs also give shelter for other animals that live in the woods.  With the present-day uprooting of timbers and wood lots, just imagine the baby animals we are leaving homeless.  This makes me so sad, and I can't help but wonder when the affects of our thoughtless destruction will be realized.  


"We must protect the forests
for our children, grandchildren,
and children yet to be born.
We must protect the forests
for those who can't speak for themselves
such as the birds, animals, fish and trees."
~Qwatsinas, Nuxalk Nation

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday's Fascinations

Whew!  Am I ever relieved that my terrifying nightmares were only that.  This morning my coffee tastes better, and the world looks more beautiful knowing the last six hours were a hoax.

The tornado siren went off in our town yesterday afternoon.  Fuzzy One knew something was awry, and her daddy wasn't home to protect her.  So, I proceeded to take over the position of great protector.  Poor little girl didn't want to go in the basement with me, so I picked her up and carried her down there.  I sat down on the bottom step and looked down at those two black eyes that were asking, "Where's my daddy."

I gotta share yesterday's silly senior moment.  We had trolleyed for groceries, to a town 13 miles from home.  Our village has a wonderful convenience mart, but naturally doesn't carry everything.  On our way home, we were talking about our upcoming vacation, stopped at a stop sign.  Kept talking.  Stayed sitting there.......waiting for the light to turn green.

Dah.....stop signs don't turn green.  Neither of us realized  we spazzed out, so we couldn't spar like we usually do when one of us does something silly.  Like we say when we have senior moments......who really cares!

The U.S. is leading in Olympic medal wins, with 90 as of this morning, according to Yahoo News.  The Games are truly inspirational, aren't they.  They also show us up close the proverbial agony of defeat.

Today we're getting ready for a patio picnic with friends.  The temperature is forecast to be in the high 70s, so that will be so much more comfortable than the 100s the last weeks.  Both of us here are ready for the temperatures to get down to where we need sweatshirts and turtlenecks.  The only bad part of winter for me is having to wear shoes outside.

I'm reading a book by Robert Wilder, "The Sea and the Stars."  The blue hard cover was forgotten in the side pouch of one of my suitcases.  Must have taken it with me somewhere and then forgot about it.  Copyrighted in 1967, the coarseness of the paper and uneven edges echo a decade I remember well.  Beside me here lies Wilder's book and right next to it lies our Kindle Fire.  Both offer their individual avenue of mental stimulation. It's fascinating as I put my left hand on the past...and my right hand on the present.

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PHOTO OF THE DAY
Why Is Everybody Staring at Us?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Dots and Dances

If I push my life's rewind button, the polka dance appears in spurts and spikes.  I literally grew up watching my parents dance the polka, the waltz, the fox trot.  Dancing was the soul of their married life, and it was I who benefited from their love of dancing.

Memories make me cry, when I envision daddy whirling me around the ballroom floor.  Not bragging, but one time the other dancers on the pavilion dance floor stepped back to let the two of us 'strut our stuff.'  Daddy was wearing a suit and tie, and when he smiled, gold twinkled in his mouth.  It really twinkled when we danced.

My kissing cousin was a fabulous polka dancer, too.  He and I kicked up our heals to the polka like we were plugged into a light socket.  Both of us put our whole heart and soul into our 'cousin dances.'  The more he hopped, the higher I'd hop, and the more we'd sweat.  Our steps were in perfect sync, and if I faltered, he'd lift me up and I'd land right back in step.  He was the love of my life, because he made me feel like a princess in his arms.  It was such a shame that my dad and his mother were brother and sister.

So, where did the Polka Dot come from?

In early times it was nearly impossible to put evenly spaced patterns of dots on clothing material without them bleeding into uneven blotches.  With the birth of the industrial age came the ability to create dotted fabrics.  During the 1850s, dotted fabrics were popular and so was the Polka dance.  The theory is that dotted clothing (especially dresses) was worn to the polka dances, and that's how the two became connected.

Don't all of us baby boomers remember Brian Hyland's "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini!"

August 9 is National Polka Festival Day.  A day to salute and take our hats off to this exhilarating dance.  The polka has a rich heritage that originated mid-19th century in Bohemia.  The name of the dance, Pulka, meaning 'half step,' describes its quick shift from one foot to the other.  It's an especially happy dance, with hops and skips, twirls and spins.  For me, the polka dance holds another cherished dimension.....that gold twinkle.

"The man who dances
has his choice of romances."
~Author Unknown  

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PHOTO OF THE DAY
Sunflowers Dance Around Our Garden

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Do We Expect Too Much From Others?

One of the morning habits in our house is hubby reading to me the Pickles comic strip in the morning paper.  You see, hubby reads newspapers from beginning to end.  He keeps current, he keeps informed.  I, on the other hand, read headlines.  Interesting ones get read, others do not.  You now know which of us is "up on things" and which one is not.

Pickles is a comic strip about a retired couple in their 70's.  Earl and Opal Pickles are retired and show life as it really is.  Brian Crane fashioned the comic strip after his in-laws.  Earl is bald, wears glasses and has a white mustache.  Opal is the pleasingly plump wife, who oftentimes wears polka-dotted dresses and sneakers.

This was yesterday's strip.....

"Opal:  Earl, did you pick up my dry cleaning like I asked?
Earl:  Oops, sorry, it slipped my mind.  Are you mad at me?
Opal:  No, I'm just disappointed that you didn't do what you said you'd do.
Earl:  (putting his arm around Opal) I think the key to having fewer disappointments in life is to lower your expectations."

Bells ring on that one, don't they?  All we ever seem to do is harp on one another, blame, scold for either doing something, or not doing something.  Our minds fashion "the way a person oughta be," and then if that person doesn't match up to our expectations, we get all crazy and start throwing spears.  We are all guilty of this at one time or other, and we need to be realistic and remember no two of us are alike.  Our Creator designed every single one of us to have annoying quirks and jerks, each unique to the Self.  Doesn't it stand to reason that when we criticize someone, we're criticizing Our Creator as well?

The Pickles comic is a good reminder for us to be more patient and accepting.  Just because we think something should be one way, that doesn't make it the right way.  Maybe if we do lower our expectations of others, we'll be happier and less twisted and tangled in self-induced stress.  Just like Earl, sometimes I forget to do things.  Just like Opal, I'm quick to be disappointed.  But, turn the situation around, and, man, am I ever grateful when I get understanding and kindness in return.  Every detail of life is a 2-way street.  What we give, we get.  What we don't give, we don't get.  It's that simple.


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PHOTO OF THE DAY
Pearl Collar that Belonged to My Aunt 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A Contemplative Day

Yesterday was one of my contemplative days.  They come for no reason, with no warning.  The hours seem longer, but I get through them however I can and wait for the next sunrise.

My contemplative days are days that my brain flashes forward.  It is clear and keen and can create every possible scenario waiting in the weeds to jump out and terrify me.  I picture myself left alone, something happening to the fuzzy one, losing my friends, me growing old and less able to care for myself, and that list went into infinity.

The crazy thing is that I know better than to let my mind scare me like that.  What happens, happens.  We can't change or alter what destiny has on its roster.  We're simply expected to feel our way through the darkness. Right up to the end.

Life has already taught me that there is a Strength or Power that comes when we need it.  Where it comes from, no one knows.  It cannot be explained, nor can it be identified.  My family, like all families, has walked through ferocious storms, the likes of which one can't even imagine living through.  Yet, as I look back, every kindness offered me felt like the Great Spirit Himself had His hand on my shoulder, assuring me I'd be okay.  It took intense effort on my part to work through the years, but Divine Inspiration came to me and eventually my heart stopped bleeding.

The older I get, the more I wonder about what the next dimension will be like.  And, I've got to be honest and say that on my contemplative days, I even wonder if there is another dimension.  No one knows for absolute positive 100%.  But, there's always that Hand that I feel on my shoulder, and the voice that whispers, "Sure there is.  Just don't worry about everything so much. You're not the one in charge.  I am."

So, here I am blessed with a brand spankin' new day, and all my ponderings are tucked back where they belong.  The blue sky and sunshine are here to help us do whatever it is we must do.  Maybe we're given those contemplative days to set things straight with ourselves.  I'm the first to say that I feel a whole lot better for having juggled and breathed new perspective into my uncertainties.


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PHOTO OF THE DAY
The River on a Windy Day

Monday, August 06, 2012

Welcome to Our Home

Gracious sakes, I've been chatting here for over two years now, and I've not invited you into my home.

C'mon in.  This is our living room, and this photo faces east.  Our home is a no frills small Cape Cod.  Most of the decor is handmade by hubby or me, or else by our artisan friends.

The wooden plates on the mantle are three of hubby's blue-ribbon chip-carvings, as is the wooden rectangular piece above the plates.  It reads, "A Place Where Water Tastes Like Wine."  We converted our fireplace to electricity a few years back, for convenience.  There was a day when it snapped and cracked with a wood fire.  Ahh, the memories of us spending our weekends with the squirrels cutting down trees, hubby chopping them into liftable chunks, and I throwing them in the back of our pickup.  Heaven knows where we found the energy to do all that, because neither one of us has it now.

The striped burgundy rug hanging on the wall to the left of the fireplace was hand-woven by yours truly on a wooden frame loom.  It's one of the examples of my making new things out of old things.

The tree in the corner stays up year round and moves from room to room.  It's decorated by season, and right now is splattered with birthday cards.  Over the 4th of July, it was filled with U.S. flags and red, white, and blue flowers.  Now we'll have to come up with an August-September theme.

The coffee table in the center of the room is second-hand, found in an antique store.  It was one of those "love at first sight" purchases.  Our wood floor is original to the home built in 1945, but the tile is something we added a couple of years ago.

There's a small pillow on the couch that reads "Old Friends are the Best Friends." It was a gift and pretty much says it all.

The white mop you see on the floor is our fuzzy one, keeping an eye on her digs.  She's a woman of substance, she's sassy and she's brassy.  She thanks you for coming to visit us.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Timely Thoughts

Our area was blessed with a half-inch of holy water yesterday.  It was a slow rain with thunder.  This morning the earth looks refreshed and a titch greener.

Sunday mornings bring us the Sunday Paper, which is more substantial than the daily, and its crossword puzzle is larger and more difficult.  Usually I cheat and look up the answers to some of the clues, especially those that pertain to movies and actors.  We seniors are scared to death of losing our cookies, so we puzzle.  We stimulate and energize our brains best we can, doing the things we enjoy doing.

Rules relax on Sunday.  Idleness is permitted.  In our house, snack foods are another Sunday permission and also the perfect definition of the double-edged sword.

Imagine life if days were not mapped out as Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Take that a step farther and imagine if there was no such thing as a clock.  Imagine the chaos without calendars and clocks.

Time is all we have.  It has complete control of us.

"The whole life of man is but a point of time.
Let us enjoy it."
~Plutarch (46 AD - 120 AD)

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PHOTO OF THE DAY
From the Trout Stream to Hubby's Smoke House

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Two Little Girls Need Our Help

My nights and days are tormented by the thought of these two little girls being abducted recently.  I keep racking my brain wondering what I can possibly do to help them from a distance.  A few minutes ago the thought flashed like fireworks through my head that I should post their pictures on my blog.  There is a $50,000 reward offered to anyone who can lead authorities to the girls.


We all have little girls in our families and in our neighborhoods.  We watch them innocently ride their bikes up and down the sidewalks and streets.  Nothing warms the heart more than a little girl's smile, and nothing pains the heart more than the thought of a little girl being taken away from her parents, being tortured, or worse.

These two little girls belong to all of us, because they are part of the American family.  Please keep your eyes on the lookout for them.  They could be anywhere, and they need our help.  We must pray, keep hope, and we must keep searching for them.

Dickey's Printing in Waterloo, Iowa, is selling T-shirts with the girls' faces and the tip-line number on the front.  The money raised will go toward the families and the search for Lyric and Elizabeth.  The shirts cost $15 for youth and adult sizes, $20 for adult sizes XXL-4X.  To order, call 319-234-1777, or email order@dickeysprinting.com.

"Childhood is the most beautiful of all life's seasons," and Elizabeth and Lyric have been wrongfully robbed of theirs.  Please, let us all keep searching for these sweet faces.  Thank you.

Friday, August 03, 2012

2012 Drought

One could say my head hit the pillow late last night.  One could say my head hit the pillow early this morning.  The last I remember my computer screen showed 12:30.  My brain had gotten itself tangled in word games, and then I couldn't fall asleep.  Miserable night.  At first I blamed the computer games but then come to find out last night was Full Moon.

Another sunny morning here, clear skies, still no rain.  Corn fields are drying and now look like they usually do in October when they dry naturally for the season.  Fish are dying from a lack of oxygen in the near-90-degree rivers, stream beds are narrowing  and drying to trickles, livestock producers are having to downsize their herds because of lack of feed, and the lawns are brown and crunchy underfoot.

We're being told to expect higher food prices in 2013.  Grocery shopping already requires wise decision-making and a calculator.  Beware of glitches in food pricing and overcharging.  Many food items are marked on the shelf at a sale price, but are scanned at the checkout for a higher price.  Every penny counts on both ends of the stick.

Maybe it's time we say a prayer of thanksgiving to Mother Earth for all She does for us.  We take Her so for granted.  All living things that cannot help themselves are suffering because of the lack of rain.  It's sad, and it's serious.  



Iroquois Prayer

We return thanks to our Mother, the Earth,
which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water and fishes.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun,
that has looked upon the Earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to Our Creator,
in Whom is embodied all goodness,
and Who directs all things for the good of His children. 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Condensed Timeline of the Olympic Games

Olympic records go as far back in Ancient Greece as 776 BC, but the Games had been held for several centuries before that.  The Games originally consisted of foot races.  Gradually other events were added, starting with wrestling and the pentathlon, the 5-contest event.

AD. 394   Roman Emperor abolished the Games as part of the reform against pagan practices.

1894   The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded.

1896   The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece.  245 men represented 14 countries in 43 events.  No women competed, because it was felt that would be 'impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect.'

1900   The second modern Games were held in Paris, France.  1,319 men from 26 countries competed in 75 events.  Eleven women were allowed to compete in lawn tennis and golf.

1904   Only 13 countries showed up for the Games held in St. Louis, Missouri.

1908   The 1906 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius required the Games be moved from Rome to London.  For the first time, athletes marched into the stadium behind their national flags.  More than 2,000 competitors participated in more than 100 events.

1912   Games held in Stockholm, Sweden.  For the first time, women competed in swimming events.  None of them were from the United States, because the US barred its female athletes from competing in events without long skirts.

1916   Games were canceled due to World War I.

1920   The Olympic flag and the Olympic Oath were introduced for the first time at Antwerp, Belgium.  Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Turkey were not invited for having been on the wrong side of the Great War.  

1924   The first Winter Olympic Games were called 'The International Winter Sports Week' and went on for 11 days in the French Alps.
1924 Summer Games took place in Paris.  Germany was still banned, but the other nations banned in 1920 were back in the Games.

1928   Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland.  Warm weather slowed some events and canceled the 10,000-meter speed-skating race.
Summer 1928 Games were held in Amsterdam.  The Olympic Flame was introduced.  Germany returned to participate.  Women competed for the first time in track and field events, but so many of them collapsed at the end of the 800-meter race that the event was banned until 1960.

Winter 1932 - Lake Placid, NY.  
Summer 1932 - Los Angeles, CA

1936  - Winter Olympic Games were held in neighboring villages in German's Bavarian Alps and included Alpine skiing for the first time.
Summer 1936 Games held in Berlin, Germany,  the first-ever relay of the Olympic Torch.  The Games were the first to be televised and were shown on large screens around Berlin. 

1940-1944  Games called off due to World War II.

Winter 1948 Games were held in St. Moritz, Switzerland, because that city was untouched by the war.  Men and women each had three alpine skiing events.
The 1948 Summer Games were held in London and were the first Games to be shown on home television.  Germany and Japan were not invited to attend.

Winter 1952 - held in Oslo Norway.  The Olympic Torch was lit in the fireplace of skier Sondre Norheim and was relayed by 94 skiers to the Games in Oslo.
At the 1952 Summer Games in Helsinki, Finland, Russian athletes participated for the first time in forty years.

Winter 1956 - Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.  
Summer 1956, Melbourne, Australia.  East and West Germany were represented by one team

Winter 1960 - Squaw Valley, California.  The only winter Games ever that did not include bobsledding,  The organizing committee refused to build an expensive bobsled run if only nine nations would compete.  Walt Disney was in charge of the pageantry, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
Summer 1960 Games held in Rome, Italy, were the first Summer Games covered by worldwide television.  A record of 5,348 athletes competed from 83 countries.  

Winter 1964 - Innsbruck, Austria.  Weather conditions required the Austrian army to carry ice and snow from higher elevations.  Because of its political position, South Africa was barred from the Olympics.  It wouldn't be invited back until 1992.  
Tokyo, Japan, spent approximately $3 billion to rebuild Tokyo for the Summer 1964 Games.  Tokyo had been devastated by earthquakes and World War II bombings.  Japan's worldwide image got a significant boost by these Games.  

Winter 1968 - Grenoble, France.  East and West Germany compete on separate teams for the first time.  Drug tests are introduced.
Summer 1968 - Mexico City Games were controversially held at the highest altitude ever, 7,349 feet.  The thin air was considered harmful for athletes in endurance events, but it led to records in short races, relays, and jumping events.

Winter 1972 - Sapporo, Japan Winter Games were controversial.  The US, the Soviet Union, and others had been circumventing the IOC's Amateur Code for decades, with no consequences.  The Soviets had been paying their athletes for jobs they never actually performed, while Americans were handing out athletic scholarships to thousands of athletes.  Canada boycotted the Games in protest of  'state amateurs.'
Summer 1972 - Munich, Germany.  The Olympic Oath was taken by a Referee for the first time.  

Winter 1976 - The Games held in Innsbruck, Austria, were originally planned for Denver, but Colorado residents voted against spending money on them.  Ice dancing made its debut.
Summer 1976 -  The original estimated cost of the Montreal, Canada Games had been $310 million, but because of labor problems, financial mismanagement, the building of an extravagant stadium, increased security and other expenses,  the cost soared above $1.5 billion.  Canada barred the Republic of China (Taiwan) team from their country, but then agreed to let them enter if they agreed not to compete as The Republic of China.  The Taiwanese considered this unacceptable and withdrew from the Montreal Games.  Dozens of other nations boycotted the Games.

Winter 1980 - Lake Placid, New York used artificial snow for the first time.  
Summer 1980 - The first Games to be held in a communist country, Moscow, Russia.  Because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, US President Carter called upon the US Olympic Committee to boycott the Games.    The Americans stayed home, and many other countries followed their lead.  Only 80 nations participated in the Games, down from 122 at Munich.

1981 - International sports federations were given the right to determine which athletes may compete.  While athletes must live up to the standards set by the Olympic Charter, the door was opened for nations to admit professional athletes.  Athletes were, however, still barred from receiving money during the Games.
1983 - The IOC voted to open the Games up to corporate sponsorship.

Winter 1984 - Games held for the first time in a socialist country, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.  49 nations attended.
Summer 1984 - Los Angeles, California.  In retaliation for the US-led boycott of 1980, the Soviet Union led a 14-country boycott, citing security concerns for their reasoning.  These were the second Games to turn a profit--$215 million--the first was in 1932 at the Los Angeles Games.  The right to be part of the torch relay was sold for $3,000 a kilometer (a little over a half mile), against Greek protests, but the $11 million raised went to local youth groups.  140 nations showed up, but not the Soviets and East Germans.  

1986 - The  IOC voted to change the schedule of the Olympics.  Summer Games and Winter Games will thereafter take place two years apart from one another, instead of in the same year.

Winter 1988 Games in Calgary, Canada were spread over 16 days for the first time.  Jamaica entered its first bobsled team.
Summer 1988 Seoul, Korea.  North Korea refused to participate, as did Cuba and Ethiopia.  There were no widespread boycotts for the first time since 1972.  159 nations sent 9,465 athletes, including 2,186 women.

Winter 1992 Games in Albertville, France.  Germany was reunited, and the Soviet Union broke up.  
Summer 1992 Barcelona, Spain Games, the first time in decades every single nation with an Olympic Committee showed up, even Cuba, North Korea, and South Africa.  A record of 172 nations participated, represented by 10,563 athletes.

The Winter 1994 Games held in  Lillehammer, Norway, were the only Winter Games to take place two years after the preceding ones.
  
Summer 1996 - Atlanta, Georgia.  179 nations participated.  A pipe bomb in Centennial Olympic Park killed one person and injured 111.  Despite this, the Games continued.

Winter 1998 - A record of 2,177 athletes from 72 countries participated.  Snowboarding, curling, and women's ice hockey were introduced.

Summer 2000 - Sydney, Australia.  10,651 athletes (4,069 women) from 199 nations participated.  The only nation excluded was Afghanistan.  North and South Korea entered the stadium under one flag.  There were 165 events for men, 135 for women, and 12 mixed events.  Women were excluded from boxing and baseball.  Men were excluded from synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, and softball.

The 2002 Winter Games held in Salt Lake City, Utah, were problematic.  Several IOC members inappropriately accepted large gifts in exchange for voting to hold the Games in Salt Lake City.  The IOC pledged to change the way host cities are chosen.  The United States included in the Opening Ceremony a flag that had been at Ground Zero in NY.  Many saw this as contrary to the Olympic spirit.  Doping scandals caused disqualifications.

Summer 2004 the Games returned to Greece.  Participation records were broken, with 201 nations and 10,625 athletes taking part in 301 different events.

2005 - At the Singapore meeting, IOC decided to eliminate baseball and softball from the 2012 Olympics, the first sports to be dropped since polo in 1936.

2006 Winter Olympics at Torino, Italy, was opened with the Olympic flag carried by women.

2008 Beijing, China Summer Games.  Concern about Beijing hosting the Games due to China's economic and military connections. Air pollution in Beijing was at least two to three times higher than levels considered safe by the World Health Organization.  Medical research by the IOC showed that air pollution would put athletes at risk and affect their performance.  The Olympic Torch was carried by climbers to the roof of the world, reaching 29,035-foot summit of mount Everest.  During the ascent, Tibetan women were the first and the last to carry the Torch.  

2010 Winter Games held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  

2012 London, England Summer Olympics, where at least 10,500 athletes are gathered from 205 countries.  An estimated 8 million tickets were available for purchase.  The Royal Mint made 4,700 medals for the events.

"The most important thing in the Olympic Games
is not winning, but taking part.
The essential thing in life is not conquering,
but fighting well."
~Pierre de Coubertin
(French Educator primarily responsible
for the revival of the Olympic Games in 1894)