Thursday, December 30, 2010


Just in case you have not had enough of my 12 days of Christmas:

Friends who must have known about my obsessions sent me this e-card for Christmas which is cute, although I enjoyed the Muppets, too.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reflection, Remembrance, Resolution, Repentence-Part 4

Vendor Gift Ware
 In my previous post I mentioned having two sets of Christmas glassware, one of which a vendor gave my Dad as manager of a family-owned lumber business (not his family).
A Partridge in
 a Pear Tree
 The second set is my collection of glassware, the theme of which is the 12 Days of Christmas. If any of you have been following me for any length of time, you know I have an obsession with this Christmas-based song, the lyrics of which are somewhat redundant. The link above is Wikipedia and has a variety of interpretations. I'm sure there are 100 more.
2 Turtle Doves

Seemingly of English origin (maybe my British readers can shed more light on its origin, intent and meaning) although some think there is a French origin, I find it simply amusing, not only the gifts, but the many parodies and theories written, some of which are ribald, about the song.

3 French Hens
 In the latter parts of the song, verses 9-12 the gifts seem to get interchanged in some versions of the ditty, but I doubt by this time anybody cares what number of lords leaping, ladies dancing, or pipers piping, drummers drumming, are minus or plus one or two members!
 Colly (Calling)

More interesting to me, is this song obviously was imported with our early American settlers, and it seems our overt capitalistic instincts enjoy figuring the total cost of buying such gifts.
5 Golden Rings

One source to read is the The New York Times, but their figures I found confusing. However, I am in no way sending anybody a gift of so many birds, which I prefer to watch as wildlife, not domesticated. Even in zoos, the bird display section seems to be the worst malodorous site of excrement.
6 Geese

One of the most interesting sites is an interactive site by the PNC Company that as been setting these price indices for 27 years. This year it is $23,439.28 compared go $12,673.56 in 1985, but remember this does not include the repetitions of the gifts 1-11 which bring the anticipated total $97,000, plus S&H and surely insurance for such expensive gifts.

7 Swans
 However I perceive the recipient will not be jolly either, as upkeep, insurance, work compensation (injuries to the milkmaids, lords, ladies, pipers and drummers.) Possibly Social Security and Medicare also will add to the upkeep, unless this is temporary or contract labor. Most likely living quarters for both livestock and entertainers will have to be built,  enlarged, or lodging and boarding contracted, lease or rent payments.
8 Maids

If I received 9 drummers, they would be fired after 10 minutes....Sorry, but I would rather pay Worker Compensation than suffer migraines plus medication costs. in some renditions this is 12 drummers!

9 Drummers
 So with apologies for redundancy here are photos of my collection of glassware - 12 days of Christmas. I took these photos using my light box. The two Christmas glasses in previous post turned out fairly well, but many of the 12 Days of Christmas set have too much flash burn.
10 Pipers

I've had little time to learn how to avoid, and/or correct this ugly glare. I only have two lights; I need one or two more, or learn timed exposure w/o flash.

If I remember correctly, this glassware was distributed by Pepsi Cola Co.

11 Ladies
The Lords leaping, Ladies dancing, Pipers piping, and Drummers drumming, are not always in the same order in various renditions of the carol--not sure why but since it is a very old carol, something may have been lost or changed, for whatever reason on the centuries.
But in the Spirit of Christmas, especially this fast tempo song, I present to you my collection.
12 Lords

I also have a collection 12 Days of Christmas stamps!!!

We had a small theater in our town once occupied by a Branson performer of some note. She presented a family Christmas show and featured this song. My boss took us all to the show. She singled us out to imitate the various gifts. As I remember my husband and I were the calling birds and had to flap our arms like birds and make a bird-like noise. I felt like a turkey, more than a calling bird.

Now you know why I am NitWit1!

If this embedded link works, it is the Muppets from You Tube singing the 12 Days of Christmas. If not here is the link.

Should you wish to sing along, here is one version of the lyrics:

On the first day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree

On the second day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the third day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the fourth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the fifth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the sixth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the seventh day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the eighth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the ninth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the tenth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!
If you made to the end of this zany post:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reflection, Remembrance, Resolution, Repentence -Part 3

M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S  E V E ! 
(This will be a multi-part post.)

December 25th is by far the holiday with the most significance in almost every country, especially those where the Christian religion exists freely.

Certainly its celebration has evolved into a consumptive event that greatly overshadows its original meaning, and hence celebrants are not necessarily based in religion, but a season of variants of good-will and giving. which is not bad, either.

Families develop traditions from attending church services on Christmas Eve. to their Christmas Day menus, to other traditions, even how the tree is decorated, (I have two Dallas Cowboy ornaments) to hanging stockings (Luckie is the only one with a stocking this year.)

Christmas traditions change due to marriage and integration of traditions, changes and decisions of who to visit on what day, health issues. About 3 years ago an ill-timed phone call in the middle of a Christmas feast with 6 friends changed forever the joy of Christmas and many other facets of my life for me, personally.

I still believe in the essence of Christmas, to me, the birth of a Savior for all who accept him AND his teaching of living a life of self sacrifice, something I am still working on and probably will until I die.

However, this post is mostly my childhood memories of Christmas. I add this is my adoptive family, but at that time it was to known to me as my only family.

Christmas was THE big event of my family's year for many reasons. Dad received a big bonus for his year's hard work, 7 a.m. to often 7 p.m.

His unit in the small family-owned chain lumber business was the most successful. He knew his customers and often opened late or early, even on weekends to sell a bucket of paint.

He had a canny sense of credit when there were few credit bureaus. Often the now politically correct called African Americans made payments better than some of his cherished so-called Christian church friends.

Dad's other great talent was estimating materials needed for builders almost down to the number of shingles, 2'x4's, nails, whatever. He received no remuneration for this talent, but was widely respected for his talent, which was free and drew customers to his business.

Collin Street Bakery
FruitCake-see website
 During the Christmas season he also received scrumptious gifts from vendors in return for his orders during the year from various housewares to Collin Street Bakery Corsicana world known fruitcakes. [This is ironic because in 2000 when I found my biological family, my maternal grandmother worked at this bakery, which is still in existence, and a historical site in Corsicana, TX.] 
"Season's Greetings" glassware
Set of 8 - Vendor's gift
to Dad one year.

I also have a set of Christmas glasses in good condition. I'll try to get a picture for this post. Actually, I think these are glasses for alcoholic drinks, but this non-drinking family used them for regular soft drinks, milk, etc.

I also own a set of the "12 days of Christmas" glasses,too. I'll see what I can do for pictures of these glasses, too, for different post.

  (I have few old photos because I recently disposed of all prints to eliminate clutter and mold in our house.)

Dad shopped on Christmas Eve only for Mother whose birthday was Christmas Eve. His gifts were the same as long as I can remember, a nightgown and her favorite perfume. The "family gift'' which was a major purchase was his job, too, probably jointly decided between he and Mother.

Dad once told me Christmas was great in his family of 8 children if they all had stockings stuffed with oranges, apples and nuts and other odds and ends, As very young tyke, I remember some Christmas gatherings with his parents of grownups and cousins that was a little different with small gifts for everyone and an unbelievably meal so large the table could scarcely hold it all..

Mother's upbringing by two old maid aunts after the death of her mother the week after she was born, was probably just as stark by today's standards. However, she had quite a few cousins and relatives that probably doted on her whenever they had the means to do so. She rarely talked about it.

At our home, depending on the bonus, there usually was a family gift. The one I most remember was a black/white TELEVISION. We had one of the first, in town.

Of course, rules were established as to what we were allowed to watch, which present day children would be rolling on the floor laughing--like westerns were too violent. We watched a lot of I LOVE LUCY, the news (how violent is that?), and nothing, if homework was waiting.

Sometimes the family gift was a new appliance like a washer, dryer or refrigerator/freezer, which us kids did not realize as "family" so much as MOTHER. However, we benefited directly or indirectly from its use.

I do remember the FIRST dishwasher, and took note of the fact it was easier and less time consuming to unload and put up clean dishes, than the chore, which I often was assigned of washing, drying and putting up dishes and pans.

The FIRST DRYER was also a relief, as it was my chore to hang clothes on the clothesline, a good distance from the house. Carrying wet heavy clothes required several trips back and forth from the house. And I ended up doing a lot of ironing. [I became a liberated woman last week when all the ironing boards went to the Humane Society. I kept one iron.]

I did not have all the chores assigned to me, but as the oldest I certainly seemed to have more. My sister never had the number of assignments I had. My brother helped with mowing, trimming, and helped Dad on his gentleman's farm and at the lumber yard. He got MONEY for some of his work.

On the other hand Christmas was Mother's season of magic, partly because Dec. 24th, Christmas Eve was her BIRTHDAY! I always thought she was shortchanged on gifts as was my sister whose birthday was Dec. 31, New Year's Eve when we were all tired of gifts.  

Since Mother did not drive, she mail ordered much out of Sears & Roebuck or Montgomery Ward catalogs, or the other many small catalogs that arrived in the mail in those days. For weeks in mid-November through December mysterious packages arrived, the contents of which we were not privy.

Each sibling had the same amount spent on him/her almost to the penny. After her death we found one of her lists where she kept account of her spending on each child.

Of course, Santa brought the gifts, but there were always a few wrapped packages under the tree before Christmas. Mother loved wrapping packages. She stored her orders in a closet which we were prohibited from entering. No use to even try, it was so stuffed with all manner of her hobbies, etc. it would be a hazard to open the door.

We left Santa cookies, Coca Colas, or hot chocolate--depending on the weather in Texas. Some Christmases in Texas came nearer to bathing suits than fur coats. 

We worried Santa would burn his britches with a hot seat, coming down our chimney which had a gas-burning log stove in it, so Dad turned it off (temporarily) until we all went to bed.

After reading the Biblical Christmas story and 'Twas the Night before Christmas by Mother or Dad we were ushered off to bed.

Magically the next morning Santa had left an array of gifts. But before we could touch our gifts, we had to eat breakfast. As long as I remember I was allowed to set "get up time" - 5 a.m. I think the breakfast manifest was so our parents could endure the mayhem of three siblings tearing and throwing paper, boxes, and general excitement.

Mother was like Santa's wife enjoying our delight over all the presents.

As years passed and we grew, of course Santa Claus existence became known to each of us .

Remember, I told you I never sleep well. My bedroom was behind the wall where the Christmas tree was placed one year. I thought I heard rustling on the other side of the wall, but when a doll baby cried, I knew who was really Santa. But I said nothing to spoil it for my siblings.

From this moment, Christmas began to change for me.The next year before Christmas Mother told me, and maybe my brother about Santa. We were asked to not tell my sister, as I remember (this is a tad vague). I never told which probably surprised everyone as I did not keep many secrets, nor was very adept at lying, either.

Of course some things often were mixed up. I really did not play with dolls to any extent as my sister did. One year I asked for a wedding doll, which was just that, a doll in a wedding dress. But before Christmas I told Santa I wanted a Kewpie doll instead, which seemed to upset my Mother!!!

I got the wedding doll. Well, there was no clothes to change or anything. Just look at it. I think she finally sewed a few things for me to change clothes.

We had lots of board games the family played together. I soon learned I was much better with Sorry, Monopoly and similar board games than card games involving math skills. I thought OLD MAID was a ridiculous waste of time.

However I often enjoyed my brother's toys that involved building like Erector Sets, Tinker Toys and building block sets. Legos were not yet invented.

When we had allowances Daddy took us to Woolworth's or a the "nickel and dime" variety store as we called stores similar to present day Dollar stores. We bought very small inexpensive items for our parents and sometimes each other. Mother, particularly treasured each gift, even if it was a fake 10 cent ring.

As we grew we were taught the benefit of giving to others. Our fire department renovated toys for those less fortunate than we. Mother dictated we had to select a toy in GOOD condition to give to the effort.

In her own way, she was teaching us to give our best which the Holy Scriptures teach. Of course this was usually a toy we did not use very much, but not always. Sometimes this was not an easy choice; Daddy took the toys and sometimes we accompanied him to the fire department.

Later we also bought small gifts for our best friends, too.

Another highlight was what Mother would get with all the S&H Green Stamps she accumulated for a year. This was usually something for the household.

After I graduated from high school and was working in a drug store between college breaks, I proudly bought her the forerunner of today's Crockpot, a bean pot.

It took a goodly portion of my pay. I forgot which she opened first, but I was very upset; she then knew there were two bean pots' yet she would not let me take it back for credit either. She never re-gifted, but this was one time it should have been appropriate.

The two pots were identical. I think eventually I took one to an apartment after I graduated from college. In my mind it was the most miserable gift experience, because I was able to spend more than a few cents on a gift and thought I had really outdone myself. She tried to convince me "great minds run in the same channel" to no avail.

Mother had pictures of our Christmas trees which we all helped to trim. Sometimes presents stretched wall to wall.

One of favorite games was to guess what was in a particular gift. Mother would be resting in a chair and we 3 siblings picked a particular gift with our name on it and tried to guess its contents. Of course, she never admitted we were right, but some of us got very close several times.

One year new blood entered the family owned lumber chain. We knew Dad was stressed more this year. Lots of changes in business procedures which Dad had done so well ad lib. However, the ultimate insult was about the time the Christmas bonuses were given, the new honchos announced no bonuses.

Mother was crying, not so much because of the money, but she knew how hard Dad worked. Since Christmas was already bought, I'm sure they dipped into savings to cover it. Soon as I graduated from the university, he and a business friend put in their own lumber yard and he left the company.

In this time frame other changes began to happen. The vendors began to donate to charities instead of the year-end fruitcakes and other tokens of appreciation for business.

There is so much more I could write, but I think I can safely say, for a family of five in the '40s-50s we were blessed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reflection, Remembrance, Resolution, Repentence- Part 2

Quilt Piece
Mother pieced this design from
 a dress for me she sewed from a feed
sack. The outer tiny print was the dress.
I know I ended my previous post with this question, and will comment on it, but I wish to address the traditions of my adoptive family at Christmas, too. Probably Part 3.
6. Have you ever said about your parents, or friends: "I'll never be like that when I grow up!"??? I have a funny realization about that little remark, too.

Our  parents often appeared to have ridiculous rules for our behavior that would lead us to think or say, "When I grow up I'll never be like that, do that, weird, etc."

I've eaten those words and thoughts so many times, I nearly regurgitate them.

When I, being the oldest sibling, reached elementary age, we moved to a very nice brick home within two blocks of an elementary school, so we could walk to school. Mother did not drive; Dad went to work at 7 a.m.

Being the first to enter public education, Dad and I practiced walking the 2-block route to school several times. There were instructions: walk on the sidewalk if any, or the very edge of the street, or curb but not a yard. Don't cut corners. Come straight home.

DO NOT WALK ON ANY ONE'S YARD, regardless of what other children do. This was THE cardinal rule I remember violating only once.

 Mother was usually waiting at the back yard gate for my arrival safely home and my chatter about my day's activities.

There is a poem called THE WATCHER by an American poet , Margaret Widdener, that so reminds me of my mother and many others, I'm sure. I have provided a beautiful link to it on the title and also a link to the poet.

Mother's Apron
This quilt pieced block of large print
 black material was one of Mother's
aprons and probably a dress as she
loved large print clothes. Not all our
clothes were feed sacks!

Many thanks to Pat-Arkansas of Remembrances of an Arkansas Stamper who re-discovered the source of the poem for me last year. I had read the poem in an anthology call Leaves of Gold, or similar collection, this book along with many others went the way of a yard sale to reduce dust accumulation in my house.

Over my life in my parental home, there were other rules but this one sticks in the deepest recesses of my mind. Mother fussed and fumed when other children violated this edict on our property.

We lived on a very traffic-busy residential corner and our property had a brick wall and monuments marking the entrance to a subdivision, nicknamed "Silk Stocking Row."

This subdivision had expensive stylish homes for the times. Dad happened to pick the house at a bargain as a result of the Great Depression. He also found similar bargains in furniture. Being extremely frugal and unimpressed with the "get rich Wall Street crowd" he simply saved. Nor did he lose anything when the banks closed, to my knowledge.

Children loved to climb and walk on the brick wall. Often Mother would ask them to refrain from this activity. I'm sure she had liability issues in mind. No telling what the kids told their parents about that mean old lady on the corner of Ave. K and Elizabeth Dr!

The most memorable occasions I swallowed my vow was several occasions after marriage, when children mutilated our property, with bicycles, tricycles, scooters and simply traipsing home. I would complain to my husband.

He, who criss-crossed pastures and fields on the way home from school, could not understand my angst. One day he asked me, quite innocently, "what are the kids hurting?"

I replied, "My parents, or my Mother would not let us cross other people's property." And then it hit me ... oh! S...T. I have become just like her!

Upon reflection many other smaller habits, I adopted or inherited or whatever word you choose, but have relinquished over time. She saved twisties, the plastic wrapped wire on breads, etc., all rubber bands, paper clips, even cottage cheese containers.  [Being heavy, she, like me was always on a diet--I hate cottage cheese to this day.]

Today, I have a few of all of these items, but not huge drawers, filled to the brim, or cabinets filled with empty containers saved from various purchases. You must remember my parents lived through the Great Depression.

Bowls collected by
purchasing a certain
brand of Oatmeal.
I own this bowl.
 We ate lots of oatmeal to get the dishes distributed in the box. Various dried beans and cornbread were staples, which I actually enjoy to this day.

I much more enjoyed Cracker Jacks for the little plastic toys! Besides Cracker Jacks tasted better than oatmeal with their syrup-c0ated popcorn, peanuts--my addiction again!

Mother's Quilt -  Piecing of various clothing
we wore out or out-grew - some originally sewn
from colorfulprint feed sacks for chickens or
livestock. Some clothing became aprons before
quilt pieces.Her generation practiced recycling!
I think this may be the popular Garden Path
pattern, but some of you quilters may
correct me. I do not piece or quilt.
  Strangely I never felt deprived, and due to my parents' frugality and team management, we were not, in my judgement. Yes, Mother occasionally sewed me a "feed sack" dress.  I was just as proud of those dresses as if they came from the dry goods store, even though Mother's sewing efforts were somewhat elementary.

For you who never heard the word, chicken feed sacks, as well as other farm feeds once came in colorfully design bags, easily converted to dish towels, aprons, small dresses. When the dresses no longer fit,they became quilt pieces. I have a small quilt she pieced from some of our clothes, I remember to this day. Clothing was also swapped between cousins. I, being the oldest, had few hand-me-downs.

 I found the pieced motifs in a dresser drawer and had it quilted by a friend after Mother died. I loaned it to Daddy as I thought it might comfort him. There are some soiled spots but I was able to clean most of it and it adorns a church bench in my house to this day.
Family motif??
If I had to guess, Mother has a piece
from all family members in this motif
although I don't see one Dad would
have worn at all. I recognize parts of
of two chilren's garments, and
of Mother's aprons.

[Part 3, Christmas - hope I get it written by Christmas!] 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reflection, Remembrance, Resolution, Repentence- Part 1

The nearly 2-month holiday seasoning beginning with Thanksgiving Day, some would say Halloween, are times laden with past memories, both sweet and treasured, or bitter and regretted.
As you age, the lists of memories grow exponentially. So I am taking time to draw from my 74- year old memory diaries, some faded with time, so forgive me, but yet still in the recesses of my mind. Some may be in question form, some may be in admittance of deed, or both.
Paint paddles for
spanking were about
this size but somewhat
thicker; hence sturdy.

1. Do you remember your parental first punishment,  spanking in my case,  and was it deserved? Yes, to both in my case. It took me a long time to see the lesson, in my very young mind, that was probably not ready for lessons in expectancy and courtesy, but I finally got it many years later as an adult.

My parents believed gifts were graciously accepted, but not expected. Furthermore, I-the spoiled first child of a couple, childless for the first 10 years of their marriage-was the center of attention and pride by them and their friends on all business, social and church occasions.

 Mother used paint stirring paddles, quite naturally free since Dad worked for a small lumber and hardware company chain; she claimed she wore out two paddles on us three siblings.

Broderbund ClickArt
Medieval Hand Crusher
Spankings weren't quite
this level of torture but
perception is everything!
 Dad used his bare hand much more effectively than Mother's spankings. Neither parent left any marks on our little bottoms other than some momentary discomfort and redness.We duly endured Mother's discipline and dared not mention they did not hurt because we knew who and where a second disciplinary action would  follow, and sometimes did anyway .

When Mother considered our disobedience a major violation of both parents' rules, she promised us discipline when Dad came home from work:  the excruciating wait, usually standing in a corner, with our fear magnifying exponentially until his arrival. Both parents were unified in their decisions.

My parents said I was "talking baby talk" when they picked me out from 7 available babies for adoption, and I never stopped talking. Indeed, I sometimes did not know when to  shut up, seal my lips, bite my tongue, and nobody was going to get the best of me. This included when discipline was applied. I must have decided in my young mind I had the right to defend myself--with my mouth--bad news for me.

If I lucked out and only had to stand in a corner, I could not shut off the faucet of talk. I muttered and threatened, as if a 4-7 year old could be much of a threat. My favorite threat was to leave home.

Finally Mother tired of that threat, and told me to go ahead, but not take anything for which I had not personally bought and paid. My mental picture of leaving the house buck naked finally shut me up. Also I had visions of hunger pains; as you see my food addiction started very early!

Once I received a more severe punishment I did not deserve. The spanking was mild compared to the fact I did not get a  bicycle for Christmas.

In a disputed event between my siblings I was accused of intentionally causing a bike accident in which my sister's arm was broken. She was on the back of my brother's bike when they rode through a make-believe garden I was hoeing. They rode in behind me me at an  angle. There was no way I could have planned to cause a wreck.

 Two against one, is a majority; I was punished immediately plus guilt imposed for months while my sister's arm healed; the final act being no bike for Christmas.

Parental punishment is an interesting and controversial subject. Having never been a parent, I  rely on opinions of others, most specifically my Mother who admitted sometimes it was difficult to distinguish the culprit in any given situation. We may all have been involved, so we all got punishment. Sometimes she misjudged entirely and punished the wrong person.

Because of my austere, conservative upbringing it took me a long time to realize how difficult parenting is, and forgave what I perceived as unrealistic and harsh upbringing. Responsible parents have no printed manual. They either write the manual as they go, or rely on their own past family experiences.

Dad, I perceived from his stories and knowing his dad, was quite strict as the were peanut farmers. Everyone had chores, brothers and sisters. Mother, raised by two old maid aunts probably had a less strict upbringing, but income was quite limited. One aunt worked in a dry goods store. The other took in washing and ironing.

Dr. Spock did not know everything! We are composites of all phases of our lives from infancy to old age.

It took me nearly 55 years to determine my core spiritual beliefs did not have to be legalistic to the core. Once the chain linkages were broken or unlocked, I learned to love, forgive and care for both myself and others. More importantly, the adage to judge not, was etched  invisibly on my forehead, especially after the story below.

2. Which brings me to another question:  Have you ever made a misjudgement of anyone, but specifically your best friend from the second grade?

Broderbund ClickArt
Best Friends
 My dearest friend from the second grade (the one we baptized our dolls in the city park fish pond until they would normally drown-in early blogs) had many boy friends, and was always dramatically involved with perpetually perceived most popular men on campus.

We attended different universities; she eventually met, as she claimed, the most popular guy on campus, became engaged, and married an American missionary ( in Africa) couple's son. The marriage produced one child. Suddenly, she was filing for divorce.

Of course, there was her story plus all the ancillary stories evolving other people's personal interpretations, i.e., rumors. Knowing her as a somewhat fickle person, she immediately developed a relationship with another man and I, set myself up as judge and jury, decided she got tired of her husband and was ready for a new relationship.  Further I verbalized my thoughts to others. Not one but two terrible mistakes on my part.

Not that it matters, but this is in the late 5os-early 60s when those of us who considered marriage a lifetime commitment, and separation/divorce, minimum, a failure. I was one of these persons; despite these "facts" I still considered she one of my dearest friends--still do. I was still unmarried, so I had little understanding of this most complicated of relationships called marriage.

Coincidentally her mother was also a good friend with me--remember we were young adult women at this time. She told me the actuality of the divorce where her daughter's husband had a girl friend while stationed in Germany in the Army; he brought her to US to go to Christian college where he planned to finish his ministry studies--the same college where he met his wife. Also he later broke up the marriage of  a missionary couple in Africa who were working along with his parents.

I was smitten with grief to my innermost conscience and core for my complicity in indulging and believing rumors, assumption of an sordid affair and the participation  involving repetition of my version of events.

However, I believe in apologizing for misjudgements, and went to her, asking for forgiveness for not having had more faith and trust in her, than what I heard from others. 

To this very day it was one of the hardest confessions I ever had to make. We both shed tears; she forgave me. We remained good friends separated by many miles. I came away from that  moment with a different sympathetic attitude about divorce, a my core belief to this day.

 Today she has dementia, probably Alzheimers', but I send her cards for her son to read to her. Whether she knows me at all, I do not know, but one day in  another life, when we are both again made whole, I hope to know we will be best friends.

Excruciating painfully learned lesson, today I am very careful to declare the source of any statement I make as rumor, or I personally discussed it with whomever, etc. Most especially, I am careful when discussing another person. And yes, once in awhile, I goof up, but never, never to the extent of the just regaled story. As you can see it is over 50 years old, so you know how literally burnt in my memory bank this story is today.

Again, my upbringing makes it hard for me to be the warm "hug and kiss" type of person, so many men and women find so easy to be, these days.

3.  Were you taught respectful manners, such as how to address an older person, table manners, etc.? As early as I can remember, we all were taught to properly address my relatives as Aunt,  Uncle, Grandmother, Mr., Mrs., Miss so and so, and the courteous use of 'please,' thank you,' 'yes sir/ma'am,' 'may I?' etc. which I use to this very day. Today I am amazed when persons use terms of respect and manners. It does not seem to be expected anymore.

4. Did you ever do some things, harmless within themselves, but just plain stupid which, may have reflected on yourself, as much or more than your family?

I certainly made mistakes and took turns in life which disappointed my parents, especially as I started life after graduation from high school without their supervision. Yet some of these turns, or decisions, if you may, are a part of being a young adult, deciding with whom I would associate, and indeed my own core beliefs.

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Not this kind of
Still single, I had an acquaintenance who drank a tad too much. However, some Saturday nights we would cruise our small Texas town of about 20,000. I being the non-drinker designated driver, do not know exactly who concocted the idea, but we stopped at a drugstore to buy a box or two of prophylactics, not for their normal use.

We started down Main Street and made "the loop" through the areas most young drivers made, blowing them up, tieing a knot in the end, and throwing them out the car windows like balloons. In fact, they make great balloons. 

In retrospect that was a stupid idea for entertainment. We did not get in trouble, nor did I ever repeat such a stunt--seemed very funny at the time, but whatever possessed me to participate in such a ridiculous joy ride, is beyond me at this point in my more circumspect life. I supposed the police, if so inclined, could have taken my license plate #, found me and accused me of disorderly, if not lewd conduct.

However, some turns in life were NOT mistakes. I remember Mother wanted me to marry a doctor. This is after I graduated from pharmacy school and was in the workforce.

Since I was single for nearly 15 years, relative and friends tried to find matches for me. They did not realize I met the man I would marry in my freshman year at the university. At that time he was in USAF, and later was in USN. We were separated by careers, land and sea. So this was close to a 15 year romance, mostly in absentia. Most of my friends figured I was destined to be an old maid.
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Medical Professionals
seem to have  higher
averages of marital

Because Mother never worked in a public job outside of being a homemaker, she never realized what I saw as a difficult marriage situation where your husband was exposed to 100+ cute nurses flirting with him and every other man, single or married, more hours/day  than he spent at home. I wrote those prospects off my list so early, it never made the Bucket List.

5. Have you ever said about your parents, or friends: "I'll never be like that when I grow up!"??? I have a funny realization about that little remark, too. Try to get to it in next post.

[Apologies for such a long post, Part 2 will be next, and don't know  how long it will be. This is a type of catharsis for me, and not meant to be depressing. I hope you see some of the sardonic humor of growing up in the 40s, 50s and maybe early 60s. I graduated from the University of Texas in 1960 at age 22. I married at age 33 so had a decade of single young adult life.]

Friday, December 10, 2010


This week has been a mirage of mini-glimpses of life. I did indeed put out two small Christmas items, my limit for this period in my life.

**Friday Shelly took 22 sealed huge boxes as well as a number of loose items to the Humane Society of North Central Arkansas. These boxes contained what was to be a garage/yard/deck sale of 30 years of clutter I removed.

**However, my atrial fibrillation was such I thought better of the stress of sitting in the hot weather for a few pennies.
Actually, there was much more than a few pennies, but I'm not sure it was worth another ambulance ride to ER which in my area is $999, plus whatever they may do to you during the ride.

**I swear I could probably pull just that many more boxes if I had the energy. At least I now have an empty room I can use as a guest bedroom with a inflatable bed, if needed.

**Oh yeah the DIET, Weight Watchers really renovated their Point system, now called Points Plus. Just as I thought I had a small handle on the procedures, the site froze for two days. Despite their technicians trying to help me, nothing worked. Finally, after much frustration, I decided to just RESTART. Voila! Everything works.

**Sometimes easy ideas should be tried first. I'll try to remember next time. Anyway WW learning goes on. Wish I lived near a group, but I'll just trudge along learning on-line.

**The ongoing battle with my atrial fibrillation includes a vagus nerve component, primarily as relates to eating. I can eat about one cup food, or 2 cups fluids; if I exceed these limits I trip into A-Fib. Chocolate also triggers it.

**So tonight we are taking a family to a fine restaurant for a Christmas Dinner. I am carrying two containers for leftovers.

**Those of you who live in Arkansas may read our little town is recalling the mayor who fired a popular police chief and council who upheld the mayor's action. I quit that council one month before this. Am I psychic, or what? And people still call me about events that are occurring.

Our town is known in the whole state and the most raucous community in the state. We have no community spirit. We fight, scratch, cuss and snarl at each other.

However, I have seen it come together in a time of great need, in a way that really amazes me.

And Luckie is still searching the house for more loaves of bread within her reach.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Nothing I like better than a PUZZLE to solve, especially one that involves mental exercise, sort of like my experiences with Odyssey of the Mind, of which I have written earlier [See STOP THIS BUS NOW!, A SCENIC NOCTURNAL DRIVE ON HIGHWAY 7, and THE GREAT BISCUIT AIR FRESHENER.]

As those who surf by my blog know, I am a 'now and then dieter', largely unsuccessful. However, two years ago I lost 30 pounds and only gained 5 pounds back which has nearly all been lost again. The weight loss diet I followed was Weight Watchers.

Today my favorite diet program, Weight Watchers (WW), has introduced a thoroughly renovated diet program-- I mean top to bottom, even though they have retained their infamous Point program, renamed PointsPlus (P+). 

The Points+  are now defined by fat, protein, fiber and carbohydrates, no calories. All fruits and vegetables, minus starches (mainly potatoes), have zero P+.

This is a very limited description because there is far more to any diet than the food, like exercise and habit changing.

I became a life WW member in late '70s. Each time I circle through the program, I usually wipe out one bad habit. My first small step in the '70s was switched permanently to sugar free beverages. I shuddered when told an average size regular carbonated drink had 1 full cup of sugar in it!

My next circle through the program I eliminated carbonated beverages altogether, partially because by then I had kidney cancer surgery. In this time I also restricted salt at the table, but was allowed to used it in cooking; these were my physcian's instructions. I also learned to eat less starches unless they were a part of a  high fiber product.

My next circle through did not last very long as I had to drive at night.  I now subscribe to WW on-line as I would otherwise have to still drive 30 miles round trip to a meeting. I prefer meetings because of the lecture and group therapy.

As you may guess from the above paragraphs I have NOT conquered sweets. Sometimes I have fair to good control, sometimes absolutely no control. Maybe this time. As of this moment (who knows what tomorrow will bring) I am not diabetic, or even close.

 But I am really concentrating on more salt elimination, trying to keep it in the neighborhood of 1200 mg, very low.

If there is anything outside of swallowing pills and surgery, that will help my atrial fibrillation, it is losing weight. The exercise is a problem because my Silver Sneakers class was canceled and the other class is an inconvenient time.

I say all this to say I will need time to convert my personal choice foods and recipes (a very long list due to my long-time partipation} to the new system so may not be writing any humorous stories for a bit.

But I will read and comment. Maybe a shorter post--who knows?

Sunday Luckie stole and ate another loaf of bread off the table which we forgot to put on a high shelf. Not only did I have to watch her for 'bloat.' I withdrew water, and food for 24 hours.

 She had numerous trips outside all night, I hope eliminating, both regurgitating and defecating. Believe me, I did not go out to check. I simply kept feeling her belly to see if it seemed hard. She did not eat the plastic wrapper and quite generously left us 4 slices!

I think Santa may pass her by this year.

Tonight I have to wear a new gizmo (I love gizmos) that is like a pulse oximeter used in exercise and by physicians in conjunction with blood pressure and oxygen. However, this gizmo is connected to a recording device to see what my heart and breathing are doing while I sleep. It surely will beat a sleep study! Most of my A-Fib attacks have occurred between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m.

I had a sleep study once--slept 4 hours--which resulted in messy goo in my hair from a multitude of electrode leads and too few incidences; therefore the proverbial non-diagnostic result.

Believe it or not, our so-called Christmas routine we adopted last year is nearly completed. The rest will be a breeze. And Christmas dinner may be the same as last year which was  "to-go" containers from  local VFW.

Part of the Christmas spending we provide through our Life Group is a complete Christmas dinner packaged by area local grocery chain named Harps Food Market. It is precooked and frozen with full directions for heating and serving. We always buy one more box than we think is needed, because a need usually comes up at the last minute.

If one box is left, I'll attempt not to burn it [see previous post-Burnt to a Crisp-Think Black] and share with friends and neighbors. It supposedly serves 6-10.

Our Life Group adopted three families with children (one happened to be a member of our group and wrote a letter to Christmas Wish sponsored by the Baxter Bulletin). This family wanted a bicycle which was outside the funds we had. Since we adopted the family we hoped to provide everything requested.

Sometimes it pays to know the right person. We knew a local man who renovated bikes all year and gave them to Christmas Wish. My husband (H) paid him a visit and he sold us a bike awaiting his attention for the humble sum of $10. H replaced a tire, seat and brake; I think he had more fun with that bike than he has had in a long time.

Despite the 6% increase in crowds on Black Friday, I was not among the throngs. Many moons ago Best Friend and I was in 4 a.m. lines at WalMart. I cannot speak for BF, but years later I realized at least half, if not all, of what I bought was selfishly for ourselves, not even gifts.

 If you can find a little book entitled The First Church's Christmas Barrel by Caroline Abbot Stanley (1912), you will be blessed with the spirit of Christmas and a little sardonic humor toward the end. It may be in some libraries. I found it listed at Alibris (about $8) in used condition.

I found this 71-page jewel among my Mother's books; it was given to her by one of the aunts who raised her. The theme is age-old, both morally and scripturally. It took me a long time to completely adopt  the theme, but I have, although I slip now and then.

I have 3 personal Christmas traditions (1) read the passage of Holy Scripture concerning the birth of Jesus; (2) Read the abovementioned book; (3) watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation staring Chevy Chase. I guess this reading is from sublime to ridicuous, but thus is life.

I will take this opportunity to encourage all who pass my way to relax and enjoy this Season, whether it is religious to you, or whether it is simply a joyous occasion to enjoy and express good-will to friends, family and the less fortunate, of which we can find many this year.

And if you feel BAH! HUMBUG!, Take a deep breath, sit back, relax and observe life for awhile; then you may become creative and try something different. You might just catch the SPIRIT!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


More than once in my posts I have enunciated my lack of culinary skills and less desire to become the second Paula Deen than I want to spend my days dusting.

Somehow I missed the domestication of a housewife, despite being the last half of that word - wife.

In short summary of the above two paragraphs - I hate to cook and I hate to dust. I have the dust solved with a housekeeper.

Solving my deficiencies in the culinary department is a tad more difficult- to date I have found no one who wishes to cook two different meals 3x a day: (1) one meal in South Carolina cuisine for an underweight husband, and (2)  another meal in Tex-Mex for an overweight wife.

Therefore I try, but despite my efforts I fail, miserably fail and sometimes disastrously fail. I cannot enumerate the meals that have been burnt to a crisp. Believe it or not I even burnt fudge, and I was fairly adept at candy making in my family. Of course-candy is right up my alley-sweet.

I remember scorching rice, burning canned green beans, boiling eggs dry (that is really stinky), many loaves of toast and I am sure I have forgotten some lesser foods.

Twice I have nearly burnt the house down cooking beans--the kind you hydrate, like pinto beans.

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Turkey  Smoking?

I put the beans on to cook,  bring to a boil....and I  forget to lower the heat, and leave the house. We came home to a smoke-filled house with all the smoke alarms on. Once the beans were so burnt, they were glowing like embers in the heavy aluminum ware which was melting on the stove, dripping liquid aluminum into the drip pan under the coils.

The smoke was so bad we filed on our insurance to for smoke damage. They had to dry clean all our clothes and pay for a ceiling to floor cleaning of the entire house. My asthma certainly did not appreciate the intrusion of burnt bean smoke in my lungs.

But then all the dust disappeared with the smoke damage cleaning. Believe me there are better ways to get your house cleaned.
The German Shepherd we owned at the time was inside the house but had outside access. She met us at the front door. I certainly hope she did not stay inside because we were gone over three hours. She since has passed on to Rainbow Bridge.

In 2000, the year I met my biological family, my half-brother blessed me with a surprise early Christmas gift of a Ron Popiel Showtime rotisserie oven, featured on late night infomercials for several years.

Internet Photo
Showtime Rotessire Oven
 The infomercial certainly made your mouth water, so I decided to invite about  6 guests and treat them turkey cooked in the miraculous "set it and forget it" oven! After all the "forget it" part seemed to fit into my cooking disasters.

I am thinking this was a Christmas affair, but may have been Thanksgiving.

I bought the suggested size bird and carefully followed preparation instructions including basting, etc. I set the oven, but did not forget it, as basting periodically was required.

 The skin became darker and darker, but the thermometer indicated longer cooking was needed. I kept cooking; it became a totally black unidentifiable bird by the time the meat thermometer indicated it was ready to be served.

I was devastated as I had so carefully followed directions!

The invited guests were bringing the rest of the dinner, which seemed likely to become vegan, since the turkey appeared to be a total disaster.

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Turkey Buzzard
 As usually was the case, my Best Friend, the cooking editor for our area newspaper, arrived early (probably sensing disaster), and walked in my kitchen to be greeted by this roasted buzzard. She was appalled, even knowing my previous cooking failures.

I told her I had  carefully followed the directions. We decided to discard the skin and see if any part was edible. Once the skin was removed we tentatively tasted the dark and light meat.

To our surprise it was one of the best tasting roasted turkeys we had ever tasted. [Both of us prefer the decidedly less healthy whole fried turkeys, popular these days.]

The dinner was a success, more for the story of the black buzzard (as we named it) than the food.

The moral of the story is you can't believe everything you see on TV. I still wonder how all those infomercials missed having a black turkey...or was it really turkeys they were cooking!!! Only the Shadow Knows!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!!!