Saturday, December 31, 2011


Pres. James Monroe
By Presidents Information Center
Note: Gold Railroad Spike
Rapid City, South Dakota is referred to as City of Presidents because one of their tw0 Historic Districts is the old downtown area with unique buildings and the Walking Tour of presidential statues, a remarkable 10-year achievement in of and itself.

In 1972 Rapid City experienced a devastating major flood along Rapid Creek, killing 272 people. Almost like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, these hardy citizens decided to rebuild their city. Fortunately, the flood did not destroy a high percentage of their historic past, which was impetus for the two historic districts.

Central to their recovery was formation of a Flood Plain Development Committee which addressed concerns for any development in the flood plain of Rapid Creek. One result is development of green areas with flowering shrubs and flowers, bike and walking trails, peaceful parks and playgrounds. Yes, such can be destroyed, but are easier to reconstruct than lost businesses and homes. The result is a beautiful city.

I have failed to find the significance of the spike which
looks like a railroad spike. The First Transcontinental
Railroad was not completed during Monroe's terms of
Office. Monroe's primary claim to fame was
the Monroe Doctrine
Despite the devastating destruction, it gave city fathers and citizens, their government and planning commissions a fresh start in laying out an esthetically, lovely city with a population near 68,000. The City serves as a center of area tourism, but also well integrated hub of several industries.

The completion of I-90, the first east to west coast Interstate in 1978, certainly contributed to Rapid City's recovery success.

Rapid City has two historic
districts and touring buses
are available or you may
follow these signs and
map your own tour.
(Husband's Photo)

We viewed the Downtown Tour of Presidents late in the evening and our photos are not the best so I refer you to this link for complete information and pictures. Rapid City claims to be the only location in the world where all 43 presidents are displayed in life size bronze statues.

The seed of germination for a tour of US Presidents was born in a business man Don Perdue. There was a life-size seated Lincoln outside a hotel where the public interacted with statue, having their photos seated on the bench beside him. Sharing his idea with Dallerie Davis, a realtor and activist of the artist community, the two committed to a 10 year time line for the project.
Rapid City Historic Building
(Husband's Photo)
Seven South Dakota artists/sculptors formed the team. Each artist's commission included extensive research into the presidents' lives of their work.

Pres. Harry Truman Holding
Infamous Newspaper
Published Before Final
Electios Results An-
noucing His Opponent
For example, President Harry Truman is depicted holding a newspaper with the headline that Dewey won the election. President William Taft was a former baseball pitcher and is sculpted in a pitching position with a baseball in his hand behind his back. President Dwight Eisenhower is shown in full military dress with feet planted on a platform with a map of Europe.

There is a historical building downtown that serves as the Presidents Information Center. The center contains biographies of all the Presidents and maquettes (smaller versions of the actual statues), other memorabilia and souvenirs.

Certain events provoke additional activities. Veterans often gather at Eisenhower's statue on D-Day. On International Women's Day, posters of all First Ladies are displayed by each President. And some devotees of the project wrap scarves around their favorite Presidents during the cold North Dakota winters.

Another Historic Building in Rapid City
(Husband's Photo)

Boy Scouts care for the appearance of the statues. In October 2010 when the last four statues were unveiled, the Scouts paid tribute to Mr. Perdue's dream by reciting, "I will follow my dream--because I can."

The Dream was completed in the 10th year as dreamed by its founders. I believe the very friendly lady at the Information Center said a non-profit foundation was formed. $2 million was raised in private donations.

I, as a former city official, am really impressed with this project, which shows what a small core of committed, devoted people can create, be it a significant historic project, or restoring a near destroyed city with economic impact to its public and private sectors.

Again, Rapid City is a place I would have loved to have the stamina and time to explore.

I plan a FLICKR slide show of the Presidents even though it is not even close to good photography and only presentable through heavy use of Adobe Photoshop Elements. If I knew more of the programs features I probably could have done a much better job. We literally took some of these shots after dark (and I forgot to remove my polarizer which cuts out some light).

As a "flicker" of the slide show I present Pres. Taft, the baseball player. As a younger man he was very athletic. Even after his athletic endeavors were abandoned for politics with its many dinners, potlucks etc., he considered himself "in good shape." a delusion many of us portly people maintain. He was and still is the heaviest man to be President.
Pres. William Taft in the Pitcher's Position
Shaking Off the Catcher's Signal
(Husband's Photo)

Pres. William Taft
Different View
Baseball View in Back

Photos by NitWit1,
unless otherwise

President William Taft
The Pitcher's Grip
Is It Going to Be A
Slider, Sinker,
Fast Ball?
President William Taft
Alternate View of  Baseball
and Hand Grip
(Husband's photo)

Friday, December 30, 2011


It seems each year around New Year's Day there is a surge of questionable comments, or downright spam. Today I received a new twist.

A seemingly positive comment, perhaps more sarcastic than positive, appeared by a person/site under name of "gclub." Within the comment were two hyperlinks in a foreign, seemingly oriental, language. Not having Google Translate immediately available I clicked on one which lead to a gambling site. I did not click on the other as I am afraid I might get a virus. My fairly rigid BitDefender did not pop and sock the first one.

I did not post the comment and marked it spam. The comment was on the recent blog about Mammoth Site; it referred to the fact I had used an You Tube movie for my information and made an oblique comment I was relying on the info of the movie. I had a several of my own pictures.

Most of these travelogues rely on information gained at visit, my own photos, and brochures received, plus Internet to back up my information and links provided for those seeking more information. The YOU TUBE was simply for your enjoyment and may have contained more information.

This blog is an effort to record my own life experiences; advertising. overt or covert, is never welcome. Subjects of my blog, the places I visited, and other topics might be construed as advertising, but it is a stretch. I certain am not receiving monetary value or collected any vast number of "hits.". In fact, we PAID a fairly expensive package vacation fee which included these sites.

There is also some comments going around using aliases for legitimate bloggers. If it sounds odd, e-mail the blogger.

This criticism is not aimed at those of you who are fortunate to offer gifts and give aways. You are open about  your activities. I am referring to subversive, hidden  activities.

Have any of you received this kind of spam? I wonder why a blog with less than 50 comments per post was singled out?

Be sure to read post before this; I just wanted  to interject this friendly warning.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Other Mountain of Tribute in South Dakota

Crazy Horse Memorial - face is completed; the white paint designates the 45 ft. ear
and 16 ft. wide eye of the 22 story-high horse. SOOC (straight of the camera)
taken from the parking lot at the Welcome Center.
Welcome Center
Husband's Photo
Prototype with Mountain Carving Progress on Mountain
in Background. Made from Viewing Veranda
I started to name this post: Dueling Mountains, but I have already posted Mount Rushmore, a tribute to four Presidents. This post is about Crazy Horse Memorial, a mountain sculpture tribute to the culture, traditions and heritage of American Indians; in particular the spirit of a legendary Lakota leader, Crazy Horse (Tasunke Witko).The Crazy Horse Memorial, when finished, will stand 641 feet long and 563 feet high, exceeding Mt. Rushmore. In fact it is claimed to be the world's largest carving.

Mt. Rushmore inspired Chief Henry Standing Bear and Lakota leaders, that "red men have great heroes also." They chose sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to create the statue of Crazy Horse. Korczak had won 1st prize at New York's World Fair for his sculpture: PADEREWSKI: Study of an Immortal in 1939.

Before his death in 1982 Korczak did much more than rough out the contours of the carving, starting in 1948. He established a museum and a scholarship fund for American Indian students. He inspired his wife and 7 of his 10 children to continue the memorial's mission with a non-profit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. He twice refused federal funding as he believed the intersted public should build the memorial.

The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is the heart not only of completing the sculpture, but starting the university courses, a Cultural center, enlarging the Indian Museum of North America, opened the Indian University of North America and its first student Living and Learning Center in 2010. The Scholarship Fund of the Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million since Korczak's original $250 in 1978.

Funding is entirely by visitor admissions and donations. No federal or state funds have been given to this massive project! It is a non-profit, education and cultural project financed primarily from an admission fee.

On the grounds of the memorial is Korczak's studio, home and workshop; Indian museums and Native American Cultural Center. There are optimistic plans for a medical training center to diseases peculiar to the Native American.

In an excerpt from an article by Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski about Crazy Horse, the Indian leader insofar as can be determined never signed a treaty or touched a pen. Crazy Horse was born on Rapid Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota, about 1842. He died by a stab in the back by an American soldier, Sept. 6, 1877 at approx. age of 35 at Fort Robinson, Nebraska which was under a flag of truce.

The statue depicts Crazy Horse with his left hand thrown out pointing. Someone derisively asked him, after the government agents and army defeated the Lakota tribes, "where are your lands now." He replied , with his outstretched arm is pointing to the plains, "My lands are where my dead lie buried."

He lost his leader Conquering Bear who was exterminated by treachery. A treaty guaranteeing Black Hills (Paha Sapa) would forever be the land of the Sioux was broken. Government agents' promises included meat, clothing tents--all necessities for existence were worthless; the deceit was only realized after they relinquished their lands and retreated to the reservation located in the southern part of the Badlands--near worthless land. His people's lives were ravaged and destroyed.

In 1891 another Lakota, Red Cloud, said, "They made us many promises, more than I can remember--The never kept but one: they promised to take our land, and they took it."

I loved this place, maybe because I have a little native American (Cherokee) in me, but not of the so-called plains tribes. I loved the Indian Museum of North America, The Native American Cultural Center (friendly Native American artists and craftsman plied their trades here) and the sculptor's studio home. I would have loved to spend an entire day here absorbing the culture.

Before I end I must tell the story of the blue beads. There is a huge room of beads on exhibit and to sell. However, there a case enclosing a string of blue beads with a story that only a few were made, and sold. Until all the beads are together again, the monument will never be completed. These beads were used by fur traders doing business with Native Americans. It is said Manhattan was bought with similar beads. However, many consider all of this a legend.

Because of a large number of photos I have created a FLICKR slideshow. Click on FLICKR link in previous sentence and select (click on) slideshow in upper right of screen. Some of photos in this post are also there. But 16 photos a bit much for a post.

Further today Blogger will not let me put the photos on this post where I want them nor can I move them around. And the new composing window is difficult to see and read with stuff scattered all over the web site, not designed for a neophyte like me.

PHOTOS by NitWit1, unless otherwise identified.

Information garnered from our Road Scholar Guide, Exploring The Black Hills and Badlands (The Great American Road Trip), Rapid City Visitors Guide, Crazy Horse Brochure (Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation) and Internet.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


It is time for my annual Twelve Days of Christmas, a musical ditty that has fascinated me since childhood. In some ways it is a boring round type song, but the gifts fascinate me, especially so many birds; yet the 8th round introduces humans with maids a-milking and a large mammal-cows.

Another audio-visual appears at the end of this post.

The Twelve Days of Christmas (12 Days of Christmas)

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 turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
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 turtle doves,
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 turtle doves,
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 turtle doves,
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 turtle doves,
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 turtle doves,
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 turtle doves,
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 turtle doves,
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 turtle doves,
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 turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!

There are a few variations in the rounds, i.e., calling birds are colly birds in some versions; round 10-12 may be rearranged. Numerous parodies have also been penned, as well as letters from recipient of true love's gifts.
So this year I thought I dream up a similar ditty for the unique state, Arkansas, in which I live. Instead of repetition, I'll list the twelve gifts.

1. One eagle nesting in a pin-oak tree.
2. Two wood-peckers
3. Three wild turkey hens
4. Four mourning doves
5. Five golden fishing lures
6. Six leghorns a-laying
7. Seven bass a-swimming
8. Eight fiddlers a-fiddling
9. Nine Arkies a-clogging
10. Ten hunters of deer a-leaping
11. Eleven Arkies' Dulcimers a-strumming
12. Twelve festival -participants with mobile outhouses  a-parading

I would add another: American Flags a-flying and Patriots a-serving. I have lived several places and see more flags, at least where I am living, than any other place. As a whole we are proud to be Americans, yet very independent in thinking. yet respectful of our differences--not unlike many other areas of our country. With sorrow , deepest respect, and unspeakable thankfulnesss near wordless, we have buried our share of patriots who gave the ultimate sacrifice; also those who continue to served, and those who made it a career and retired in service to our country.

I know-somewhat amatuerish--I bet Jinksy of Napple Notes could whip out a better rendition in far less time.

An interesting fact I heard recently i'n this overtly political season with resounding overtures drowning out the reason for the season:'  Of our entire US population, 97% have never run for office to serve their fellow citizens. I am pleased to have been part of the 3%. However, I fully understand why so few choose public service.

Audio-Visual - YOU TUBE:
#1- Mormon Tabernacle Choir; #2 - John Denver and The Muppets

Saturday, December 17, 2011


In keeping with the Western and historical themes of our Moroccan Reunion Convention touring, we had a dinner scheduled one night at Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper and Show.
Chuckwagon (Internet)
First, I had to learn how the chuckwagon differed from other covered wagons that roam the western frontier. I  found two links; one is linked in first sentence of this paragraph and the other is here.

Dancing With Wolves
Buildings (Internet)
Poor photo
Our group had reservations at Fort Hays Chuckwagon Supper and Show, 5 miles south of Rapid City. It is well-known as some of the scenes from Dances with Wolves, were shot there.

Fort Hays(Internet)
Horrible photo
There are a number of chuckwagon type restaurants in the general area, all of which have a show featuring folk, western and/or mixed music and comedy, after the dinner is served.

The Wranglers
[Photo Husband]
Young Teenage Fiddler
Fort Hays has on its campus several buildings used in Dances with Wolves, as well as other early western frontier turn-of-the-century buildings:tin shop, rope shop, blacksmith shop, sawmill, penny press.

As you walk into the dinner theater you are confronted with long rows of sturdy wood "picnic-style" tables. See this link for some very good photos. I had considerable difficulty maneuvering my prosthetic legs under the table as there was not much space for me to do it. The placed was packed. But our esteem Road Scholar acquired the front two rows of tables--great for the show, and also the first served.
When the dinner bell rang (and it was a loud sucker!)we were provided a tin (aluminum) plate and lined up in a long queue table row by table row to the"chuckwagon" kitchen.

Young Teenage Vocalist
The first item on the plate was a huge baked potato which the food handler smashed on to the plate. Better hang on to the plate because that potato is mashed in one strong smack. There were the expected baked beans and choice of sliced beef in BBQ sauce or baked chicken, along with chunky applesauce, biscuits w/honey, coffee or lemonade, and spice cake.

Young Teenage Vocalist
I did not see anybody getting seconds of anything but coffee or lemonade! I was somewhat uncomfortably full.
When all our plates were empty and cleared from the tables, the show began. As expected the music was decidedly country and western, but a variety of other music was sandwiched in to please all of us.

The Wranglers- Grandpa
I was impressed with the skills of two female teenagers in the 14-15 year old range: a fiddler who nearly set the bow and strings of  that bow and strings on fire, and a lovely soprano songbird.

The hall was filled with tour groups, including an USS Hawk ship reunion and our Moroccan Reunion of military and US civilians who had lived in Morocco. Some special requests were taken, and patriotic music included. The show concluded with I Love the USA.

We all stood when a gigantic US Flag was unfurled.
The Wranglers - Vocalist
(Photo - husband)
Yes, all in all, it was a evening to remember!

PHOTOS: by NitWit1, unless otherwise identified.
The Chuckwagon Supper and Show
NOTE: Internet photos: I have not often used Internet photos because they are very low resolution photos which save time in loading a web page. Some of them are so low resolution when you enlarge them you think you may need glasses, or new lens!
In the case of Fort Hayes, the crowds were so dense There was no where to get a photo unless I climb as utility pole! Not an option!

This is another place we might have enjoyed having more time
to explore.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Badlands National Park
Of all the tours we experienced on our vacation, the Badlands National Park  is the most difficult t0 describe, partially because we only toured the northern part of the 244,300 acres, called the North Loop Road and the Badlands Wilderness Area which probably encompassed about 66,000 acres.

In 1935 Frank Lloyd Wright, the notable architect said, "I've been about the world a lot, and pretty much over our own country, but I was totally unprepared for that revelation call the Dakota Badlands...What I saw gave me an indescribable sense of mysterious elsewhere--a distant architecture, ethereal..., an endless supernatural world more spiritual than earth but created out of it."

The Badlands National Park is a treasure trove of geology, paleontology, and history but its formations are an ever-changing example of water (rain) and wind erosion. The rock formations are very fragile. In a short length of time persons who regularly study these formations can accurately show these effects.

The cardinal rule for tourists, bikers, hikers, and explorers, ADMIRE BUT DO NOT TOUCH, and reports  findings and formations you may think of importance to the entities doing on-going research studies. An 8 year old girl did just that; her find was part of a prehistoric animal whose skeleton was then recovered intact. SHE DID THE RIGHT THING and her name and discovery will be honored when the skeleton becomes a part of a new display to open in 2012. 

Warning to those who may be considering hiking, biking, camping, there is NO POTABLE water or food. Be prepared and watch weather forecasts as very severe thunderstorms and other extreme weather may occur suddenly.

Badlands National Park
The majority of the remaining acreage encompasses the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Lakota Indians.
There are three units to the Badlands National Park (BNP): North Unit and Badlands Wilderness Area, Stronghold Unit (also called the South Unit) and Palmer Creek Unit. The latter two are within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Sioux Nation is composed of 3 major divisions: Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota. BNP reservation occupied by the Ogala band of the Lakota division.

Although the buttes, mounds, and colored striations of the peaks of rock formations, which I would incorrectly call mountains, are the immediate, awe-inspiring sights, a majority of the acreage is prairie with 60 species of grass which form the foundation of a complex community of wild plant and animal life.

The shaping of the land and life in the Badlands is about 75 million years old when the Earth's climate was warmer than today. Hmmm, wonder if the Warming Climate Green enthusiasts know this--don't think humans existed, maybe so-called humanoids, if you believe in such, but I digress.

A shallow sea covered the Great Plains from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada  and western Iowa to western Wyoming. This sea teemed with life. Today the bottom of that sea is represented by a grayish-black sedimentary rock called Pierre shale which is as rich source of fossilization of creatures that sank to the bottom when they died. Inside and outside BNP Pierre shale has yielded abundant remains of ancient fish, giant marine lizards, huge sea turtles, flying reptiles (ugh), a diving loon-like bird.

The Earth's continental plates pushed and shoved as eons passed, which produced the ancestral Rockie Mountains and causing the land under the sea to rise and the sea retreat and drain away. Thus the Badlands area was exposed to air and sunshine. The climate was humid and warm with much rainfall, creating a subtropical forest which flourished for millions of years.

Bandlands National Park Overlook
(by husband)
But then the climate COOLED. (where are the current ecological nuts???) and dried. Savannas formed as the forest receded. The savanna then became much like the grassland prairie it is today. This band in the rock formations is reddish in color and more visible after a heavy rainfall.

Most of the array of fossils are extinct animals from the Oligocene, a geologic epoch 23-35 million years ago.

Oh yes, a river runs through it--NOT THE MOVIE of the same phrase--but the White River which meanders through most of the acreage.

What about humans? The Badlands area has supported humans for more than 11,000 years, followed by nomadic tribes who settled along the White River and were replaced by the Sioux/Lakota in the mid 18th century and flourished in the region for about 100 years.

And then explorers came, followed by French fur trappers, soldiers, miners cattle farmers and homesteaders who changed the prairie forever; the groups battled over the land for 40 years, culminating in the Wounded Tree Massacre.

For more information and history of the Lakota/Ogala and all related to the Pine Ridge Reservation got to this very complete link.

I am including a few photos we made, but because of the nature of the subject matter, I made a Flickr slide show for those of you who might be interested. For some of you a series of similar photos becomes monotonous.

Photos/FLICKR: by NitWit1 unless otherwise attributed. [FLICKR Slide show should work- Click on slide show in upper right part of page; let me know if it does not. There is a click to detail and attribution of photos in the slide show]

Information attribution: BADLANDS, National Park Service, US Department of Interior brochure, Internet, our esteemed Road Scholar (tour guide) and my observations.

Badlands National Park

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Yucca in the Snow
Snow in Arkansas is not a novelty, but it is not a winter season-long event, either. Some years we receive one snowfall which last a few days; the rest of winter is just gray, wet and something we don't like -- ICE.

The first snow is exciting, and it has come as early as November BUT today, Monday, Dec. 5, we received our first significant, ground-covering snow in north central Arkansas.

It was somewhat surprise, even though some weather reports across the northern state line had it in the forecast. We live slightly south of the state line.

Winter Caught Some Flowers
And Bushes By Surprise
After my early morning coffee, reading e-mails and getting dressed for a glaucoma eye appointment, grumbling to myself how often I had to repeat these appointments a year, Husband (H)and I walked out to very cold rain and sleet, temperature - 34 degrees. Handicapped ramp was covered with sleet. I carefully edged my way down the ramp holding a cold, sleet covered rail. It was 8:30 a.m., appointment at 9 a.m.

It sleeted all the way to the physician's office which is in a town east of my little 'burb.' He drove under the canopy so I could disembark, and then parked in a handicap space, waiting for my return.  YES I have a handicap plate.

I was called into the exam room rather quickly. Last I looked out the weather appeared to be the same and H was smoking outside the car.

This was a full checkup, glacoma check, refraction, and exam  by physician. All was stable except some membrane affected by my cataract surgery is slightly clouded and may require laser surgery later, or sooner if it bothers me. I made up my mind it ain't gonna bother me. I don't need any more medical procedures than I already face.

After checking out for at least 6 months I hope, I wrapped up tight, especially my head as I am combating a sinus infection, I headed out the door at 10 a.m..

LO! and Behold! The whole world had turned white in an hour. As we headed home some roads were nearly covered, and the landscape became whiter and whiter.

Rails Stacked With Snow--That Summer
Flag Is Probably In Shock!
What a nice  early Christmas surprise from Mother Nature. Accumulation looks to be maybe 1-2 inches.

It seems like a day to be cozy, read, catch up on reading and writing blogs, drink decaf coffee, and complete a few minor household duties--which is mostly what I contentedly am doing.

And if this hangs around (current weather report does not support this) I might decide to cook something--not a chore I enjoy.

Fortunately I have some home-made Chicken Noodle Soup frozen, which sounded just right for tonight...and meets my WW criteria as I know what's in it.

After arriving home I grabbed ye ole camera and snapped a few pictures to share with you.

OOPS! Hope No One's Head Is Buried in the Snow!
A Gnome? A Cherub? A Munchkin?

Monday, December 05, 2011


Just to emphasize and clarify we do not check out on Christmas, as some may have gathered from my recent post, I decided to add a postscript. You might call it that.

This week we completed our Christmas Wish selection and delivered it to the center for distribution. We were amazed at the wonderful and very busy volunteers who seemed very happy to be working so hard.  At the center is a huge area of donations of items and new or old clothing, toys, and miscellaneous items which might be used for Christmas decorations. Each Wish recipient is allowed to chose items from the vast array of donations, according to certain Wish guidelines.

We also delivered a bounty of surplus men's clothing and miscellaneous other items to our favorite 4-legged charity so our beloved rescue, Luckie's friends may have the hope of a "forever home."

The next three weekends we are treating families in our various circle of friends to dinner at a nice restaurant for fellowship and good food (not exactly what I need) but it is Christmas....Tonight (Friday) is the first of the three evenings.

Christmas Tabletop
Today I am setting up two Christmas tabletops which is the extent of our decorations. One is a small fiber optic tree and the other is a lighthouse with a beacon, both cheerful.

Luckie' Christmas Stocking
Luckie has a sock hanged but empty. I dare not put anything in it until Christmas morning or she will find a way to consume, or otherwise tear it up. If she steals any more of my graham crackers on Sunday she may find that big sock barren, or full or running vacuum cleaners, the sound of which she detests.

Three Christmas Cup floral arrangements designed by myself were placed on a china closet/buffet.

We still have 2 Life Group meetings to complete our providing Christmas for 3 families selected from 3 area schools. This Sunday we finalize what still is not done, and next Sunday we wrap and arrange delivery. I was in hospital the very first meeting so I haven't caught up on everything, except we are furnishing 3 boxes fully cooked Christmas turkey w/4 sides/2 pies dinners from a local grocery store and contributed to purchase of clothing and gifts.

Three Floral Cups For the Season
The 3rd Sunday before Christmas we are caroling at area nursing homes, assisted living homes and any special requested visits. If this is at night we may be unable to attend. I cannot stand long periods of time so would have to take rollator which is somewhat a nuisance if we are riding with others.

But I have a personal observance of Christmas I've done for years, some of which began in childhood with the reading of the Holy Scripture of the birth of a Savior. I do it on line  or on my Kindle these days. After all I live in a digital age with everything at my fingertips.

Other things I do is read  Dickens's A Christmas Carol (Tiny Tim) on my Kindle and anything else Dickens may have written. I have his complete works on my Kindle.

 I will probably read The First Church's Christmas Barrel by Caroline Abbot Stanley (illustrated by Gayle Porter Hoskins-3), a simple story about giving with Mother's personal signature, I found among her belongings after her death. I loved its simplicity, probably written for children.

I loaned it to a friend who claim he lost it, which crushed me since she had a personal love of books so much she signed her name in every book she owned to proclaim possession.

After much searching I found an original copy at Alibris, a web site where rare, or out-of-print and used books may often be found. I bought the same edition, exactly as the previous book which was some solace, except it did not have her signature. It can be downloaded from Google Books to computers or some e-readers. I did not see Kindle or Nook among them.
This "illustration" is one of  only three
 in The Furst Church's Christmas barrel
All three are sepia toned but are some kind of
 paintings, from which plates were probably
made for printing. In 1912 publishing and
 illustrating a book was much different
than today.
I also have Handel's Messiah playing on my computer's DVD player. I believe it to be the highest classical piece of music ever composed by man, except, perhaps that of angels. I  am not the only one who has an high opinion of this music; King George II stood for the entire performance of the the Hallelujah Chorus, setting a precedence which all knowledgeable classical music aficionados follow. Stand when the Hallelujah Chorus is performed.

A few years ago 3 friends and I attended a performance of mixed Christmas music in Branson. When the musicians began the Hallelujah Chorus we stood like lost soldiers for a few seconds, before the huge crowd got the point. I learned that fact in choir as a child. It seems my generation forward has little respect for any subject: our National Anthem, our Flag, our Pledge of Allegiance, much less some piece of music they may not appreciate.

I usually have other Christmas music playing on my laptop, too varying to Carols to tradional seasonal music. Two of my favorites are O Holy Night /JoanSutherland and The Holy City /Charlotte Church.

2nd Illustration - Barrel On
Back of Horse (this did
not make a good  photo
nor did Photoshop help.
[Links are to YouTube renditions- if you don't like operatic voice, search YouTube and there are multiple fine selections; my husband literally turns off his hearing aids when I play this kind of music. I had my favorite opera singer Marilyn Horne singing Carmen/Bizet, particularly Habernera, which I played in car-actually attended a performance of Horne/Carmen in Dallas many years ago!]

To pacify the more perverse humor of Christmas, in my opinion, I have the DVD of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Despite unnecessary foul language and gestures, it typifies all that could possibly go wrong at any celebration.

I am hysterically laughing at the snow saucer ride headed downhill at exhilarating speed head-on to a WalMart store; the aunt (I think) singing the Pledge of Alligence for grace (prayer) at Christmas dinner and later The Star Spangled Banner, as a cigar ignites sewer gas and launches the smoker skyward. Although the electrified fried cat is funny, I am sure PETA does not. PETA must not have been around when that movie was made.

3rd Illustration - The First Church's Christmas Barrel
COOK! COOK? Not me! Any of you who follow me know that is not a favorite thing. On Christmas Day I will warm up one of the same pre-cooked dinners mentioned above from the local grocery store. It serves 8-12 so I share with neighbors and friends.

As I think of childhood Christmas events, I may add a blog or two, but I am back to researching the BADLANDS of our vacation.

I also am having a very hard time with Blogger locking up on "error in saving." I tried immediately publish and then edit. But I lose a lot. I guess I am going to have to change to the newer composing window, which I tried and did not like.

Rewriting and rewriting is not at all pleasant.

Monday, November 28, 2011


This and/or similar observations of our English language circulate the Internet, but I find this one uniquely, partially set to rhyme. As it came the circuitous route of "forwards" no author was listed. Just in case there is one, apologies for no attribution.

An Ode to the English Plural

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and there would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are
Square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?
[N.B.:  I would call it the odd one at the end.
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English,
Should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
[N.B.:  Maybe we were, and just don't know it.]
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship...
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop? 

No wonder it is difficult for legal immigrants to learn the language before they can become American citizens! --NitWit1

After a lovely meal with church friends who have embraced us in the tradition that the Christian belief teaches, and, later, an afternoon and evening watching my favorite sport, football, where most of my favorite teams won, I read a few chapters of my current book, TALE OF TWO CITIES.

This is a rather dark setting of two cities, London and Paris, during the French Revolution. Despite its ominous setting, it is a characteristic of much writing during this period that I term morality themes, mostly how human beings treat each other. In this story, it was less that decent--in fact downright evil.

Afterward, I reflected how thankful many of us are who live in countries, where human decency encompasses compassion for us when we err, even court systems which provide a decent trial of peers. It is by no means perfect, and sometimes errs in its decisions, but it is the best that man has determined.

The setting is 1775 and the "American problem" is vaguely mentioned in the TALE.

My reflections included my personal year of frequent mountaintop to valley experiences, the wonderful vacation despite my infirmities, our humble contributions to those less fortunate than myself, the deepening of my health problems, and the continuing joy of having found fellowship in a caring church family after searching most of my life, which may be no reflection on any certain church as my finding some peace within myself.

Some facets of these experiences have been shared with you, often with humor pointed at myself. Once in a while I whine, but laughter at my own infirmities and shortcomings is far more palatable.

Now we are entering the season of remembering the season where emphasis is good will and giving which are supposed to reflect the message of the belief, not only of the Christian belief, but also other beliefs.

Now, with this long soliloquy finished, I am now transitioning Christmas Season which all to often becomes frenzy, madness, depression and utter lack of its original intent.

We feel most blessed to have arrived at old age, with reasonable stability, to be able to share with those who have not been so blessed. We have changed our focus over the past years to a far more gratifying mission of spending more of what we allotted to so called Christmas frenzy, to the many opportunities help others anonymously.

We have settled into a routine of (1) adopting a Christmas Wish family (more description) later, (2) assisting in fulfilling the needs of 3 families our church Life Group adopts from area schools, and taking close friends to dinner so we all enjoy friendship, (3) taking a few personal couples to a special restaurant for good food and fellowship. (4) Decorations are nil. (5) Christmas Day-duel solitude and reflection. (6) Gifts?

These ideas are further detailed below -if you care to read them:

(1) One of the charitable ventures we choose at Christmas is sponsored by the area daily Baxter Bulletin newspaper of Mountain Home, AR called Christmas Wish. The program started as a way to manage needy persons who slip through the usual charities to find some help. It mushroomed so greatly, it was morphed into a charity whose goal is to provide families with children some semblance of Christmas. Their entire focus is on children, other than some food provisions.

Christmas Wish  participation may be in several ways: (1) adopt a wish, (2) provide items needed, (3) volunteer. Therefore, persons who do not have sufficient funds participate in some way, like volunteering--always needed, or buy some only a  few items that may be needed by dozens of wishes.

How they do it I don't know, but the 400 plus wishes will be fulfilled in some measure before Christmas Day. I love this program, because it gives people several ways to contribute--not just money and shopping. They always need more volunteers who have time to help sort, the multitude of merchandise given them, sorting gifts, calling the families requesting help.

We have chosen to adopt a family this year. My husband picked one family out of the 400+ letters submitted. The family had one boy and two girls, and wanted help with a Christmas dinner as well as clothing and reasonable personal list of items for the children. The program has shopping guidelines  for those who adopt a family which makes the adopted families wishes conform similarly to those not adopted. anonymity is carefully guarded.

My husband (H) picked the Christmas Wish letter he wanted to adopt. Being childless, we are not accustomed to selecting clothing, much less toys. He picked one that the children were older and did not have a long list of toys.

H did his shopping early for the boy-having no trouble with a male teenager. He finished on a couple of hours one morning, and picked up one more item later.

Now to my shopping trip on Black Friday. No, I did not participate in any midnight sprees. A decade ago I did stand in ques to fight over deep cuts in merchandise, often on ourselves vs. the true spirit of giving.

A decade ago I did stand in ques to fight over deep cuts in merchandise, often for ourselves vs. the true spirit of giving. But I did venture to the king of merchandising, WalMart on Black Friday afternoon to shop for a family we adopted via a very successful charity established by our area newspaper.My trip caused more angst and anxiety, than pleasure, as I obsessed on being sure I got the appropriate requests an sizes right.

 I can barely shop clothing for myself being very short and chubby. The females on our Wish request were a subteen and barely a teen, both, apparently large. I drove the ladies at the dressing room desk nutz! nutz! nutz!, before I left. I also bought two, what I perceive to be, wallets for them. Then I had Best Friend (BF), who works for the Baxter Bulletin, re-check my purchases the same evening.

Sunday BF and I returned to WM for one additional "feminine" gift for the girls-makeup kits. This week we will carry our bounty to the Christmas Wish center for distribution.

(2)  Our Life Group has adopted three families, one from each of three schools in our area. H an I provide a fully cooked Christmas Dinner boxed by a local grocery chain. We bought 6 which is 1 extra, and one for us. We have given funds for other in the group to shop. We also contribute to the purchasing of gifts, while blessedly we have others who like to shop, usually in Branson, and wrap packages.

A Life Group shares in all facets of a project. Some cannot provide funds themselves, but they will shop, or wrap packages, deliver, etc. Some are able to do many things. We choose to give monetarily on gifts, but have tackled some sticky problems like last year we found a good used bicycle for boy. H cleaned it up and touched it up. We happen to know a citizen who renovates bicycles. Everyone shares as they can; no one is judged by what they do, or don't do.

(3) Then we take some couples from our circle of friends to dinner at a well-known fine restaurant, instead of buying gifts. This way we have the joy of their fellowship and friendship. This has proved more satisfying than gifting.

(4) After years of storing and putting decorations outside and inside, we gave away most of our outdoor decorations to a neighbor with children. We can enjoy them from afar. They live behind us. I put up two tabletop LED Christmas items, IF there is a clean table for them. If not, no big deal.

(5) Christmas Day, we lounge around, and I cook a box precooked Christmas turkey from local grocery chain. It has servings for 8-12, which we share around the neighborhood and with best friend, who is food editor where she works. She COOKS all year, as anything she prints she first runs a trial effort. Not to cook a huge dinner for two is relaxing, and she probably enjoys a day from doing work, but she does love to cook. Occasionally, we have all bought dinners at the local VFW, too.

(6) After years of trying to get appropriate gifts for each other, a couple united from diverse heritage, education and culture, we agreed to personally purchase one "gift" for birthday and one for Christmas. These are not necessarily done at the specific date, nor is there any price limitations. However, I usually mention my choices. My birthday is Oct. 13 but this year I purchased a new lens for my camera in August so I would have it for our Sept. vacation. Christmas will probably be a camera body which will also fit the same lens. No doubt this purchase will be made after Christmas.

And if something else pops up, we help, too. This goes for the whole year. Yes, we have been scammed a few times, but we learn to discern, without judgment.

For me personally this year, my part in these efforts has been somewhat tiring, but it is a pleasant "tired." 

Hanging over our heads is the limitation the present heart medication is effective has expired; I can tell the next step, whatever it may be, is looming, probably this coming year. I have had a few fibrillation episodes through this drug routine, but they have been short. The episodes are becoming longer but so far, no more frequent.

I hope to be back with another episode from our trip, probably the Badlands.