Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Vacation - NOT

Since the bronchitis bug has struck again, I'm on sick leave to the sick bay (home) till improved + news of the Christmas Day death of my half brother has shocked me. According to all accounts he had just received a "clean bill of health" from the VA. I am beginning to think "clean bill of health" just means a person is still breathing.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Today, Christmas Eve, is the day before man has designated to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ.

This day in 2009, would have been Mother's 101st birthday [if my math is right!]. In tribute to her devotion and beliefs, which she tried to instill in the hearts and memories of her children, I am publishing a popular reading. My" less than thorough research" determines this was a part of a sermon to which I am providing a link at end of the reading

One Solitary Life

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a
carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher.

He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put His foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place He was born. He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself...

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned
over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. While He was dying His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth – His coat. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen long centuries have come and gone, and today He is a centerpiece of the human race and leader of the column of progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.

[This essay was adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”). If you are interested, you can read the original version here.

I found this link interesting because it also gives viewpoints of Albert Einstein and Thomas Jefferson on Jesus, along with other readings.

Here is a
YOU TUBE presentation by Bing Crosby.

On ths Eve of Christmas I wish everyone, regardless of beliefs everywhere: Joy, Peace and Good News (Tidings) on Earth.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Memories - 7

25. This memory is a lesson in transition from childhood to the greater scope of giving and loving one another. No doubt the charm of Christmas is the children, their unabashed innocence and excitement. The exception may be Ebenezer Scrooge before his visits by apparitions of Past, Present and Future. Before his transformation his love of people of all ages was null and void.

I do not remember the exact age when this lesson was imposed. Since my memory was the lesson included my two younger siblings. I don't remember if it was BSC or ASC, before or after Santa Claus ceased his chimney visits.

There was a trend in the '40s where public service groups collected toys, new or lightly used, and redistributed them to less fortunate children. I believe it was before the Marines' Toys for Tots program which dates back to 1947. In my hometown the fire department provided this service, maybe others. I might have been 10-11.

As you can tell from my memories my family always had a Christmas to cherish. If there were monetary problems, we siblings were blissfully unaware. There was always Christmas cards, gifts and too much food. Mother particularly loved Christmas cards. Remember this was pre-Internet, pre-e-mail. My parents often heard from relatives and former friends or acquaintances in Christmas cards with handwritten notes.

I distinctly remember the day in late November my Mother announced we siblings had to relinquish a toy to the local toy drive, or we would not receive our most cherished gift wish for the year. I was shocked! I was being bushwhacked and held hostage for my toy possessions, given to me by self-same parent! By this age I and my playground rascals had a name for this: Indian giver! [No doubt a politically incorrect phrase today.]

And her follow-up statement really seemed like blasphemy and punishment! The criteria we were to use was a toy in mint condition, i.e., we had not played or used it to any degree. I almost fainted right there in my saddle oxfords!

Furthermore, the decision deadline was imminent. No doubt Mother needed time to shop or mail-order our Christmas presents which I did not comprehend. Decisions like this require some thought and procrastination!

The reaction of my siblings I don't remember. I was too busy wallowing in misery over Mother's edict. I retired to my room of the overflowing toy box of treasures, in mourning to decide which toy I would relinquish. I had toy separation anxiety complex!

My still childish mind finally faced the decision as I mulled over the conditions of the edict. I reasoned, 'at least she did not say I had to part with my very favorite toy, because it would show wear and tear' --no doubt, the wrong attitude--I had not absorbed the lesson. I began to sort through my ample toy selection.

I'm sure my donation was a little used, mint condition doll. My doll playing usually involved religious adult rites like baptism and communion which I witnessed regularly in church services. I selected a lightly used doll to comply with Mother's unexpected, shocking edict.

Although I received and even asked for dolls, I rarely played 'dolls' per se, like my sister . I was too involved in misadventures like playing in the sand pile in my Sunday-go-to meeting dress, drinking water with my dog out of the fishpond, a la Gideon's army selection, or making mud pies [Mother rued the day she taught me to make mud pies!]. A regular happening of my misadventures was some form of discipline, depending on the gravity of the situation.

This tradition was followed for several years, probably as long as the fire department had the program. Later organized charities provided similar services to less fortunate families, especially families with children.

Long before today I realize all the ramifications Mother's edict related to Spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of giving and all the moral teachings of life not usually taught in public school classrooms: it is more blessed to give than receive, the best gift is a part of self, lesson in helping the less fortunate, giving the best we have, not grudgingly, etc., not the least of which a Loving God gave a Son-how can you top that!.

Today, I realize this year's decision made by my close circle of friends, my church Life Group, and individually link back to that lesson over 60 years ago Mother decided to teach her children. 'It is more blessed to give, than receive.'

My husband and I have truly enjoyed the planning, the gifts, the food. We have been involved in similar, but less intensive programs previously as members of various organizations or churches. This year we enlarged and embraced the idea --the joy of giving personally.

Do I miss putting up a Christmas tree, the yard decorations, the pile of gifts orgy, the congregate feeding feast frenzy? Not really! We have no children and at our advanced age, keeping traditions requiring much attention channeled inwardly, we had little time for the true Spirit of Christmas!

And what will we be doing Christmas day? The dog will have some gifts--always fun with her! We plan to pick up four dinners at the local VFW which serves a community Christmas dinner, two for ourselves and two for our neighbors, one of which is a shut-in. We will leave a donation to the many programs the VFW provides our community.

For all who spent time reading this litany of Christmas memories and a few miseries, we wish you the merriest, blessed, joyous Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

FOTO (less) Friday & Christmas Memories - 6

24. If ever there was a doting shopper gone wild, it is yours truly. When I shopped for Christmas gifts,everything that moved and breathed was included, i.e. pets. In fact if I had to choose what I considered fun in shopping it is pets.

Of course, we usually had a dog, but I in the persona of my dog gave gifts to the pets of my friends, whose pet populations outnumbered our own.

For many years we kenneled our pets at a local kennel which also groomed animals and had a small shop of pet items. I routinely overextended the budget in their shop. Their selection was not the usual bones, and toy assortments found in large box stores.

Luckie is getting a couple of presents this year. One gift is a fuzzy chipmunk that is approved by some pet group. Another is a new collar if I can find one I like. I've been looking for the right color and design for about 4 months.

Since the 1000 year ice storm, the chipmunk (and squirrel) population has diminished with the removal of trees. Luckie seems depressed some days when she spends time at our windows scouting for her favorite varmints.

If an unfortunate chippy is spotted, it is a black flash of color out the back dogie door. Despite entering middle age (7-8 years old) Luckie can still jump and move with urgency and speed. Since she is part German Shepherd I've kept an eye on her movement for any arthritis or hip dysplasia. I have noticed she doesn't jump quite as high.

She also has a red Christmas scrungie with jingle bells to wear around her neck Christmas Day, at least long enough for a picture!

And since the picture for this blog will not be taken until Christmas Day, this is FOTO (less) Friday! I did notice a clump of red berries on one nandina.

May try to make some night Christmas displays, too. City Hall has an excellent display this year, thanks to a generous donation of displays by a private citizen.

[To add to those who by ow consider I am affllicted with temporary or permanent insanity, I have had a pet baby shower (when I purchased a puppy), and pet birthday party.]

POST SCRIPT: Several readers expressed interest in the earmuffs of a previous post. My husband bought them locally at Orscheln Farm and Home Store. There are several in our area. The nearest one had a cheaper model but the store in Mountain Home AT and the reall McCoy. He stocked me up for another year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Memories - 5

21. Dad's Christmas Spirit was almost totally opposite Mother's. However, if an expenditure met his criteria, such as needy, deserving persons he could be unexpectedly generous. He was the sole breadwinner in a family founded in the Great Depression. He was very frugal, almost to a fault. In retrospect I'm sure his salary was stretched thin with a family of five, so his frugality was necessary.

Dad worked long hours. When the lumber and hardware chain enlarged to include furniture, Christmas was a big selling season. He worked longer hours.

The Christmas season began for him, usually on Christmas Eve when he made last minute purchases of a certain perfume, and a lacy nightgown for Mother. She knew every year it would be the same gifts. One was her Christmas Eve Birthday, and the other was Christmas.

Although not a part of his individual shopping, often the so-called family Christmas gift arrived on Christmas Eve, like the previously mentioned first B&W television.

He was raised in a family of eight children on a sandy loam farm which produced mainly peanuts. Like most small farms in Texas it was self-sustaining with chickens, milk cows, and hogs, an orchard of fruit and pecan trees and a vegetable garden. Staples like flour and sugar were purchased.

I remember some Christmases at his old home place and also some sad memories like the family reunion when Granddaddy died. Four of his siblings moved to California during WWII years for jobs. Sad occasions were about the only time we saw them.

When they all retired, some uncles with families visited Texas occasionally. My parents made at least one trip California when my brother & wife were assigned Navy duty in Hawaii. It was a grand trip for them as Daddy really disliked touring, especially driving.

22. My husband's (H) family lived in a SC setting, and primarily worked in the tobacco fields. From stories they observed about the same traditions - Christmas tree, Santa, etc., maybe not as lavishly as others; nevertheless the Christmas Spirit was evident. In his youth there was a large extended family and friends.

After joining the Navy, H had the Christmas Spirit year round. He sent part of his paycheck home to help out or save for him. He had few needs as the he had room and board in exchange for his service to his country.

He was always good for small loan of $10-20 bucks till payday, a practice he still does today. After we married, we both had adjustments to make monetarily for awhile, until we re-established ourselves with stable income.

Until recently he really would get in the Spirit with outdoor decorations. The glow of lights from the Coward display probably was seen like city lights, seen from hundreds of miles away! This year he bought lights for one tree. One year vandals disassembled one display and tossed in a drainage ditch.

He loved to shop. Like Daddy, when he found out what pleased someone, he purchased multiples every year. A gift in point was GORGONZ work gear earmuffs. Best friend (BF) and I wear earmuffs all year when wind speeds are high. For some reason wind causes earaches and torments to our allergy sensitive ears.

However, a change in our Christmas traditions has eliminated much shopping. But since BF and I lose most of the multiple earmuffs from one Christmas to the next, I recently sent him in search of more to replenish my stock. I was down to two pair, from six. Unfortunately our local supplier had discontinued the heavy duty ones with a similar but lightweight version. I suspect they will break sooner, but there is still the Internet. [photos from Internet].

If you are searching warm earmuffs that don't muss your hairdo, and can be easily worn with additional caps or hats, I highly recommend GORGONZ, and I'm not getting paid for advertising.

23. One TeleCare male worker also comes to mind as having exemplary Christmas spirit year round. He is a retired Air Force office, who, in my opinion, missed his calling as a chaplain. He has a quiet, calm voice and unequivocally does errands or other service without judgement of need. He is very active in his chosen Christian belief and church, again, performing service to others.

So, there is my Venus viewpoint of three [Wise(?)] men and Christmas Spirit!

To continue my infatuation with the Twelve Days of Christmas, I found this parody which seems a tad disjointed but still humorous. If you are interested in parodies you can google "twelve days of Christmas parody" and find pages, including some reserved as adult humor only. Some of the adult ones would be just as funny without the vulgar language.

The Twelve Days After Christmas

The first day after Christmas
My true love and I had a fight
And so I chopped the pear tree down
And burnt it, just for spite.
(Then with a single cartridge, I shot that blasted partridge)
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me.

The second day after Christmas
I pulled on the old rubber gloves
And very gently wrung the necks
Of both the turtle doves
My true love, my true love, my true love gave to me.

On the third day after Christmas
My mother caught the croup
I had to use the three French hens
To make some chicken soup.

The four calling birds were a big mistake
For their language was obscene
The five golden rings were completely fake
And turned my fingers green.

The sixth day after Christmas
The six laying geese wouldn't lay
So I sent the whole darn gaggle to the

On the seventh day, what a mess I found
The seven swans-a-swimming all had drowned
(I think there's a "my true love gave to me" in here somewhere)

The eighth day after Christmas
Before they could suspect
I bundled up the Eight maids-a-milking
Nine ladies dancing
Ten lords-a-leaping
Eleven pipers piping
Twelve drummers drumming
(well, actually I kept one of the drummers)
And sent them back collect.

I wrote my true love "We are through, love!"
And I said in so many words
"Furthermore your Christmas gifts
were for the (Soprano) Birds!"
(Everyone else)
Four calling birds, Three french hens, Two turtle doves
And a partridge in a pear tree!"

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Memories - 4

19. Being the foodaholic that I am, a Christmas e-mail from my sister appeals to my sweet tooth. I h ad two calorie laden suckers (cookies) at a seminar I recently attended--no doubt they were intended to bribe us in sticking around for ad lib discussion. It worked. Cookies for Santa were regular tradition at our house. I never noticed they were my parents' favorites. They did magically disappear by morning.

Christmas Cookie Rules...
** If you eat a Christmas cookie fresh out of the oven, it has no calories because everyone knows that the first cookie is the test and thus calorie free.
** If you drink a diet soda after eating your second cookie, it also has no calories because the diet soda cancels out the cookie calories.
** If a friend comes over while you're making your Christmas cookies and needs to sample, you must sample with your friend. Because your friend's first cookie is calories free, (rule #1) yours is also. It would be rude to let your friend sample alone and, being the friend that you are, that makes your cookie calorie free.
** Any cookie calories consumed while walking around will fall to your feet and eventually fall off as you move. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.
** Any calories consumed during the frosting of the Christmas cookies will be used up because it takes many calories to lick excess frosting from a knife without cutting your tongue.
** Cookies colored red or green have very few calories. Red ones have three and green ones have five - one calorie for each letter. Make more red ones!
** Cookies eaten while watching "Miracle on 34th Street" have no calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one's personal fuel.
** As always, cookie pieces contain no calories because the process of breaking
Causes calorie leakage.
** Any cookies consumed from someone else's plate have no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to their plate.
We all know how calories like to CLING!
** Any cookies consumed while feeling stressed have no calories because cookies used for medicinal purposes NEVER have calories. It's a rule! So, go out and enjoy Christmas Cookies - we only get them this this time of year!

20. Fruitcakes! Some family members, including myself and Mother loved fruitcake. We even cooked a few, but none beat the world famous fruitcakes of the historic Collins Street Bakery in Corsicana, TX. If you haven't seen their advertising somewhere over the last 60+ years. it would be surprising. We attributed the unique flavor to the native Texas pecans were liberally used. Some vendor usually left one with Dad each Christmas.

Coincidentally, when I found my biological family which resided in the countryside around Corsicana, my bio. maternal grandmother worked at the bakery at some point until she retired. I have toured the original historic bakery which still is the center of the fruitcake activity; there is a long pictorial history inside the building.

The retail outlets for the Bakery are the only source outside mail order or through their website. There is an outlet store also on I-45 and Hwy. 287 between Dallas and Houston, just outside the Corsicana exit and another outlet in Waco at I-35 and Hwy 31.

If fruitcake wasn't already calorie laden, Mother's favorite way to serve it was soaked in plain eggnog. I never calculated WW points; I would probably faint. AND if we had been a drinking family I'm sure a little rum or brandy might have been served on or with the fruitcake which is already soaked in some alcoholic mixture. [Photo: Internet]


Further indulgency of my infatuation with the Twelve Days of Christmas, a parody that could be entitled A Student/Teacher Twelve Days of Christmas!

On the first day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"do a Project on your family tree"

On the seccond day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"read about bugs and do a project on your family tree"

On the third day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree"

On the forth day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"write about birds, buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree"

On the fifth day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"Do all these things, write about birds, buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree"

On the sixth day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"Please stop delayin!, do all these things, write about birds, buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree"

On the seventh day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"Read Charles Dickens, please stop delayin!, do all these things, write about birds, buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree"

On the eighth day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"learn arabian, read Charles Dickens, please stop delayin!, do all these things, write about birds, buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree"

On the ninth day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"calculate all the fractions, learn arabian, read Charles Dickens, please stop delayin!, do all these things, write about birds, buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree"

On the tenth day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"You cant be sleepin!, calculate all the fractions, learn arabian, read Charles Dickens, please stop delayin!, do all these things, write about birds, buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree"

On the eleventh day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"examples to be cited, you cant be sleepin!, calculate all the fractions, learn arabian, read Charles Dickens, please stop delayin!, do all these things, write about birds, buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree"
On the twelvth day of Christmas my teacher said to me
"Theres lots more work a-coming!, examples to be cited, you cant be sleepin!, calculate all the fractions, learn arabian, read Charles Dickens, please stop delayin!, do all these things, write about birds, buy more pens, read about bugs, and do a project on your family tree!!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

FOTO FRIDAY and Christmas Memories 3

Did you ever have a Christmas that nearly wasn't? I am not talking about sad disasters where the house and contents burned; or poverty or illness left no consideration for Christmas activities.

13. Since Mother mail-ordered most of my parents' Christmas expenditures, she really sweated some slow shipping merchandise. You could tell she was "sweatin' it" as Christmas Day drew near, because she periodically swung by our front door and anxiously watched for the mail truck .

Deliveries were later as the mail capacity increased. Believe it or not, there was a period of time of 2x daily deliveries. As I remember, only once did she have to wrap up a picture for a present.

Remember, there was no Internet in those days, but there was Sears and Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, and ad infinitum mail order catalogs. There was no UPS or Fed-Ex tracking, as there was no UPS of Fed-Ex! Air mail shipping was not in the budget.

14. Dad worked a manager for a small lumber and hardware chain in Texas well over 30 years. Although salary was modest and benefits nil (unions are not prominent in Texas), managerial personnel received excellent bonuses, particularly if their location was perceived as a "jeweled crown" in the chain. Dad's store was a jeweled crown. His bonuses were lucrative for those days.

Persons receiving monetary bonuses in the 40's and early 50s expected and planned Christmas and otherwise unaffordable spending on receipt for such bonuses, the only unknown being the amount. This practice is humorously the focus of National Lampoon's A Griswold Family Christmas. I'm sure most of us have seen this movie with nostalgia. However, there was a Wal-Mart in the movie. There was no WalMart in the time-frame of Dad's bonuses.

The lumber/hardware chain was family owned. As time passed younger siblings assumed positions of authority in the hierarchy of the chain. One year with no notice, the chain discontinued monetary bonuses and gave out some token gift like fruitcakes.

It was a cause of grave concern at our house as most of Christmas was already purchased. Unknown to us siblings was the other obligations a couple must meet, Christmas or not: mortgages, taxes, daily living expenses. There was much consternation between my parents, even a few tears by Mother who felt Dad had been shortchanged for all his hard work. He worked 200% for the chain, often going back to work after eating supper. It was unfair.

Since I was older, Mother told me about it in explaining it in simple terms. We had Christmas; it probably was not as extravagant and there was no big family purchase as in previous years. I doubt my younger siblings noticed any difference. And the importance of bonuses did not sink in my young mind. By the time I entered the workforce, bonuses were nil and void, or mere tokens of what used to be.

15. My husband's sister told me the story of a Christmas long ago. My father-in-law apparently loved his liquor, sometimes at the expense of his family. When I met him this no longer was the case. The family worked in the tobacco fields, and payday was weekends.

Those days were the days of layaway everywhere and anywhere. Any mercantile business had a layaway plan, some with a carrying charge, some free.

One Christmas, FIL cashed his paycheck, bought his favorite beverage and forgot to swing by and pay off the layaway in time for Christmas. Of course there was some explanation to the siblings and the gifts were quickly paid off, but it was not Christmas.

When I married, FIL was one of my favorite in-laws; he could spin a tale like all us Texans, using hyperbole and exaggeration as all Texans do. I loved him. He spent several weeks with us, after my mother-in-law died. It was one belly laughing tale after another. Being new in the family, I believed every one of them.

16. When Mother died it was very close to Christmas. She was the essence of Christmas to us. She so loved every aspect of Christmas. She read the Biblical Christmas story to us. She read all the popular Christmas literature to us. Among these perennial readings was 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. We all sang the traditional carols while Mother played the piano.

Christmas was a very muted celebration. By this time we all were grown and married, so siblings had their own traditions, but these traditions included a trip to see our parents. We siblings clustered around Dad, but there was no joy, mainly a dinner.

17. Christmas in Morocco among Americans was quite and muted. In an Islamic country celebrations attributed to Christians were not allowed. We exchanged gifts, had lavish meals, but no external decorations, caroling, or public displays.

Not my best photography, these shots teach a lesson of the ignored elements that combine and intertwine with others to make a successful picture: natural element of wind, a lightweight tripod, and human fallibility. The photo at the top of this post was the best of the series, and it cries for some attention.
The following photo(s) ["Straight Out of the Camera"] were taken with a tripod mounted camera on a windy night. The exposures were extremely slow, but metered by the camera, i.e, not timed exposures. They are not very extremely sharp, the point being a general purpose tripod does not assure crisp exposure if there is a strong wind (there was) and a remote shutter release is not used (it wasn't). These are my husband's outdoor lighting of a few years ago.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Memories - 2

11. My best friend (BF) told me of a Christmas custom started by her mother-in-law(MIL). For lack of a better name I'll label it The Hat Box. As I remember, one Christmas MIL put BF's gift in a old tattered hat box and hide it.

At the family gathering, BF was instructed to follow a string to retrieve her gift. Someone was very creative with the string as it winded throughout the 2-story house and maybe a basement, through closets, and every imaginable and unimaginable nook and cranny. BF said it was better than any maze puzzle or mine field problem, provided much exercise up and down stairs, and humor to the family gathered.

Voila! it ended at a tattered old hatbox which contained her gift. The Hat Box became a tradition at the family Christmas gathering. The duty of the Hat Box gift was passed to the recipient of the previous year. The gift was sometimes white elephant, humorous, or great value, which enhanced the mystery.

After hearing of the tradition, my group of friends adopted a similar HAT BOX, but it took us a long time to find a tattered hat box at a yard sale. Our hat box is literally held together with scotch and duck tape. However, we did not include the "follow the string" tradition.

Currently, The Hat Box resides at my house. I think my husband received it last year. However, we have suspended celebrations this year to dedicate ourselves to serving others less fortunate than ourselves.

Of course, there is always those less fortunate than ourselves, but it is so apparent this year in our area. Regularly, the food pantry shelves are empty. Utilities are shut off for non-payment. Homes with elderly and children are too hot or too cold.
Families cannot afford medical care. Persons are living in cars, some inoperable.

My group of friends have jobs or are retired with various incomes and retirement pay. Yes, some of it is fixed income, and some employees are being furloughed, but we all have some income, and all of us could probably cut things we consider necessities which are not..........hmmm, like TV Cable service, or at least a lower priced tier???!!! Ever heard of a radio? No fees, music, sports, etc. all free.

There are elderly persons, and perhaps poor families who still listen to TVs in their homes, or it has long since become silent. During the 1000 year ice storm earlier this year, we did not have a single portable radio in the house, but at the time 5 TVs....overkill and non-functioning for 10 days as electricity was off.

12. The idea of service was the genesis of the Christmas Dinner, BF and I organized in 1996 and continued for about 5 years. I was recovering from kidney cancer surgery. BF, I and others were sitting around discussing the approaching holiday season. I said, I was considering volunteering in a nearby town that served a Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day, sponsored by the owner of a nursing home.

BF said, "Why don't we just do one in Bull Shoals?" We looked at each other; a light bulb beamed brightly. The first year was somewhat disorganized. The same nursing home owner donated food and tutored us in preparation and organization.

We morphed it to fit our locale which has many persons living alone without any family. Although we directed our publicity to this group, no one was turned away. Deliveries were to housebound only, and we decided to include the county jail; inmates do not get home-cooked food, only packaged frozen meals.

The meal was free, and we served noon to 3 or 4 p.m. We asked for reservations, but no one was turned away. We delivered to area shut-ins and the county jail. My memory is somewhat faded, but I think the first year we served over 100 people.

Each year the Christmas Dinner attendance grew exponentially. We had musical entertainment, plus the kitchen crew sang, "and a partridge in a pear tree" every time we asked a question and BF, the kitchen sergeant and chef, had no answer. It's a wonder the participants came back next year!

Finally, when our attendance reached over 400, we realized capacity to continue was exceeded in every area. The personnel, facilities and seating space were not capable of handling any greater demand. Since the location was City Hall, the event unfortunately became somewhat politicized. It was time to pass the baton.

Gratefully, the local VFW took the baton and the event continues today.

The first year I remember taking my meal and sitting by a small elderly man who was eating by himself. He told me how delicious the meal was and added, "I usually just have cheese and crackers on Christmas Day." I suppose our feeling of fulfillment with this event has led us to the decisions we have made for 2009.

I know I am happier not knocking myself out with our traditions of frantic shopping for "stuff" and a meal most of us do not need.

I dispensed with my Christmas newsletter and Christmas cards--not because of postage rates, but I doubt anyone wants to hear how many times I visited doctors, and all my ailments. This is my impression of 2009. We did have a nice week's vacation at a resort near here which would be fodder to a funny movie, a la National Lampoon's Griswold Family Christmas Vacation, which I have already seen this year, as I do every year. I have the DVD.


To continue my infatuation with the 12 Days of Christmas, here is an alcoholic parody which I caution no one the attempt!

Twelve Drinking Days of Christmas
On the first day of Christmas the barman brought to me
A large Long Island iced tea

On the second day of Christmas the barman brought to me
Two margaritas
And a large Long Island iced tea

On the third day of Christmas the barman brought to me
Three vodka Red Bulls
Two margaritas.. hic!
And a larsh Long Island iced tea

On the fourth day of Christmas the barman brought to me
Four Tequila slammers
Free vokka rebbuls
Two margaritash
And a larsh Long Island Ishe Tea

On the fiff day of Chrishmas the barman brought to me
Five G and Ts
Four Tequila slammers
Three vodka bedruls
Two maggaritas
An a larsh lonilanishe Tea

On the Sicksh day of Chrishmas the barman brought to me
Six Harvey Wallbangers
Five G an' Ts
Forty quila slammers
Three rodka vedbuls
Two maguerites
And Allah's longilandicetea

On the seventh day of Chrishmas the barman brought to me
Seven gin martinis
Six Warvey Hallbangers
Five T and Gs
Four Tequila shlammers
Three vodka redbulls
Tomb aga ritas
An a large tong island ice lea

On the eighth day of Chrishmas the barman brought to me
Eight Bacardi breezers
Seven djinn martinis
Six Heavy bangers
Five Giant 'E's
Four Sequila Tammers
Vree todka redbulls
To mar guerillas
And a large long island ticed ea.

On the ninth day of Chrishmash the braman bought to me
Nine Black Russians
Eight Bacardi thingies
Seven mingatinis
Six wavy headbanges
Five Geeantees
Four Tacky slimmers
Free vodka redbulls
Two macaronis
An a large long island eyesh..HiC!

On zzhe tenf day of Chrishmash the barman brought to me
Ten pina coladas
Nine Rack blussians
Eight breecardi barzers
Seven gin tarminis
Six Harvey Ballwangers
Five G and Tease
Forty killer's lambers
Bree rodka vedfulls
Two senoritas
An a long larsh island eyeshtee

Onalevenf dayachrish mush the barman broughtamee
'Leven double visions
Ten pinka ladadas
Nine Rush Blackans
Eight Big mardi geezers
Seven gym art teenies
Six Warvy Hurlbangers
Five Geeunteesh
Four tuck eel us lamb us
Free rodkul vedpas
Two garmoritas
And an eye long large Iceland tea

Onna shwelf dayak rishmusha barman brought to me
Zhe bill.... thasha fur kurralorra money
Hopee tayksha shek forra:
Twenny pina coladas
Twennysheven black russkis
Furrytoo bacardi whatsish
Furryfife Grandma teenies
Furtyshix Heavy Wallbingers
Furtyfive Gin and Its
Turtythoo Sick iller tammers
Twenysheven Vodbul Redkas
Twenny garmartiras
And eleven long Island Iced Teas

Merry Chrishmush. Hic!

If you wish to read a humorous, but somewhat vulgar rendition, follow this link.
Post Script: Apologies for typos and incorrect spellings. It seems the spell check feature has died in my composing and HTML windows today. Wonder what Blogger had messed up now. I am using the older composing version. Maybe it is no longer allowed.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas Memories - 1

Beginning today, I am going to describe personal, nostalgic memories of Christmas traditions, both in my personal life, or told to me my persons in my life of 73 years. Some days may have more memories or others, but my personal intent is seven memories per week through Dec. 31.

My family has destroyed untold 1000s of photos, mostly by my shutterbug Mother; there are few remaining photos. We siblings simply had no storage as we have much smaller homes. I have had to do the same due to severe allergies to dust, mold and mildew.

Because I am somewhat behind, I will list 10 today.

1. My parents loved being Santa Claus and could hardly wait for their children faces when we first viewed the gifts Santa had magically left while we slept. Therefore Christmas morning started at 4- 5 a.m. with a mandatory breakfast.

I loved it as I was an early bird, anyway. Even when the magic of Santa faded into reality, we bowed to my love of early breakfast on Christmas morning. I continued the tradition into my marriage for a number of years, until I realized how much more my husband enjoyed arising much, much later.

2. My first Christmas gift from my husband was Penguin chrome ice bucket, which I still have and occasionally use, despite have ice maker and dispenser available. It still works great. In the 60s instant ice cube makers and dispensers were not standard equipment on refrigerators.

3. We had turkey, ham or occasionally roast beef on Christmas Day, and usually Dad's special cornbread dressing. To date, nothing compares to his cornbread dressing. According to him, he learned to make it from his mother. He passed it on to me, but since early cooks were not, "measure" scientifically written recipe enthusiasts, its approximate proportions of cornbread to dried bread, turkey or other broth, etc. do not compute into the taste I remember from my childhood. I suspect there is magic in the fact Dad made it, in my memory.

4. Christmas Eve we put the treats out for Santa. We had a fireplace with gas logs which heated our large living room. We extinguished the logs so Santa would not be treated to a hot seat upon arrival!

5. The chimney had a metal plate loosely affixed to the lower opening, since ventilation was not required for gas logs. The wind often rattled the plate. Mother convinced us it was Santa's notice of pending arrival.

6. Dad once said his Christmases were so much less materialistic than ours. He and his 7 siblings were excited to have apples, oranges and a few pecans in their Christmas stockings.

7. Mother was raised by 2 old maid aunts. Her mother died the week after her birth from the uremic disorder which often followed childbirth, before prevention became available. Her father was an itinerant soldier and/or carpenter so relatives basically took care of his only child. The aunts moved from Kansas to Texas when she was quite small, to be near other kinsmen.

Although the aunts were relatively poor, all the relatives doted on her. One aunt took in washing and ironing. The other aunt worked in a dry goods store, and took in sewing. I remember she had dolls and stuffed toys, often handmade.

8. Besides Santa, we had a few gift-wrapped, less expensive presentsto unwrap; gift tags were from our parents. The transition to these wrapped gifts being our "main" gifts, was probably their method of transitioning Santa to the revelation of who really bought and brought those gifts.

9. As we grew older we saved our small allowance, sometime augmented by a few dollars from parents, to buy gifts for our family unit.

10. My greatest disappointment was realizing Santa was my parents. Today this revelation usually gets hashed to death on the school ground in kindergarten or first grade. However, in my day, you usually made it to about the 4th grade before either school yard banter, parents or both, revealed the truth.

The Christmas tree was located at various spots in our huge living room. One year it was placed in a corner which abutted my bedroom. Those of you who have followed my blog know I regularly fake sleep and naps. I actually have always had trouble falling asleep.

This Christmas Eve was no exception. The excitement stimulus of Christmas kept me awake. Our parents checked to see if we were asleep; as usual, I was faking it.
I heard the rustle and bustle of placing the toys under the tree; one doll cried. I KNEW. I kept the secret for a year or two, so as not to disappoint my siblings. Then my Mother took me aside and told me, but requested I not share, so my brother and sister could enjoy Santa. This is one secret I kept, because I vividly realized the immediate disappointment in knowing the truth.

Of course I later recognized Santa as a seasonal tradition of the Spirit of giving.

Photo: internet. Several Penguin ice buckets are for sale on e-Bay, if interested. Despite my item's age, it ain't worth much more than when it was purchased.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Today I have a simple lesson in salvaging a photo. I recently attended a seminar on digital photography given by a photographer making a living in landscape photography, and anything else like seminars for income.

One jewel of information that was given in answer to a question, the question point of which I've forgotten, was NEVER THROUGH AWAY DIGITAL IMAGE because you may find a way to use it creatively, in teaching, or just practice with your photo editing programs.

As we've made many trips over nearly 30 years to Little Rock, AR, we passed a lot of beautiful vistas, rural scenes and life unique to Arkansas. One shot is an eye-catching barn north of Marshall, AR located in a pasture near US 65 on a dangerous, narrow curve. In trips some 20 years ago the barn had a dilapidated more picturesque look, but now a new roof has been added.

There is no shoulder to safely pull over and take a photo, without a very long and somewhat dangerous walk on the edge of the highway.

As passenger, not driver, with my point-and-shoot Canon, I have taken a "out of the front car window" shot the last few trips to Little Rock.

Today I decided to "play around" with my photo-editing program, PhotoImpact Pro v.13 (I have recently purchased Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 but not yet learned it). One tip given is to not attempt to use every feature of artistic endeavor on one picture.

This photo is the best of several shots and trips. The last one, a beautiful red pickup drove into my viewfinder obscuring all but the roof line.

Below (in order) is the "straight out of the camera shot #1 which is very blurred.

The second is an attempt to software focus correction. Ssoftware focus feature,which is a complicated mystical mathematical formula, can be repeated to the point of unpleasant visible pixelization. I stopped just short of visible pixelization, but there is a tad there if enlarged. I saw no noticeable improvement in focus.

The third attempt I gave up on focusing, went back to #1, made some lighting, contrast and color enhancements, and then applied a creative technique which looks like rain. Rainfall often makes a scene appear soft and out of focus.

If I continued to work on it, I would tint the sky a darker shade of gray to emphasize the rain. It was a very dull day light-wise. A day I call losing the light, better described as no light, meaning sunlight.

I might do some to really far-out techniques of which create certain kinds of art, like watercolor, oil or Impressionist paint, etc. or I might make the "rain" lines not quite as "thick." All of these techniques are available in medium to advanced Photo Editing programs.

Lastly in keeping with my infatuation with the Twelve Days of Christmas is one of many parodies on the song. I've read it before and laughed, but as my best friend said, and I myself thought as I read it again, it is not so funny in our current economic slow-down, as similar decisions are being made in a modern sense today.

Partridge Memo to All Departments During the Christmas Credit Crunch
Effective immediately: the following economizing measures are being implemented by the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' subsidiary

1. The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree, which never produced the cash crop forecasted, will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance
2. Two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are, therefore, eliminated
3. The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French
4. The four calling birds will be replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked
5. The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals, as well as a mix of T-Bills and high technology stocks, appear to be in order
6. The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day was an example of the general decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by Human Resources will assure management that, from now on, every goose it gets will be a good one
7. The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes, thereby enhancing their outplacement
8. As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEOC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a-mentoring or a-mulching
9. Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps
10. Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords, plus the expense of international air travel, prompted the Compensation Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work congressmen. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant as we expect an oversupply of unemployed congressmen this year
11. & 12. Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music, and no uniforms, will produce savings which will drop right to the bottom line

Overall we can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and related expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

Regarding the lawsuit filed by the attorneys association seeking expansion to include the legal profession ['Thirteen lawyers-a-suing'], a decision is pending.

Deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to remain competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the right number.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas Decisions

Christmas is celebrated by traditions and cultures. Originally designated and arbitrarily set as the birthday of the Christ, it has evolved into a day of good will and festivities, not necessarily related to its religious significance.

As a child it was the biggest celebration of the year. Mother was really into Christmas. Her birthday was Christmas Eve, which usually meant all her gifts served a 2-fold purpose: birthday and Christmas. Dad was less into Christmas rituals, but he worked 7a.m. to 7p.m., 6 days/week. He left most of Christmas up to Mother.

Shopping for gifts meant mainly mail order, because Mother did not drive. Wondrous, mysterious packages arrived at various intervals, starting before Thanksgiving. Occasionally Dad carried her to the business district, shopping in the evenings. Early in my life Texas had a "blue" law- no sales on Sunday.

In our early years Santa Claus brought us our gifts, with only a few gift-wrapped under the tree. Mother keep lists of what she spent on each of us, trying to be sure her three children had the same value and number of gifts. That must have been a juggling act of the budget, in and of itself.

As my parents entered old age I noticed much less decorations and celebrations. Of course their married children were into their own celebrations; usually I was residing somewhere distantly, like Dallas TX, Baltimore MD, Morocco, Denton TX. I was single until age 33, but I loved to roam, much more than any other family member.

Now that my husband and I are entering our older decades, I see why their celebrations became smaller and less taxing on energy. Moving to Arkansas in our forties, we continued our own celebratory traditions, which involved extensive decorating, gifts, and inviting friends for feasts of gluttony. My husband decorated the neighborhood with lighted displays.

For several years my best friend and I organized a free Christmas Dinner, cooked and served at City Hall. The purpose was for persons living alone to have some fellowship on Christmas Day. Our town has numerous retirees, many of which live alone. The first year we served over 100 persons. Each year it grew until we were serving over 400, at which time it became too large for us and our volunteers. The local VFW took over the program.

During this time we continued our personal traditions, sometimes postponed to New Year's Eve or Day.

Nearly 30 years have passed and our celebrations have become burdens, not only to us but most of our circle of friends. And somehow, I find our previous years have sugar coated the original meaning of Christmas into glitzy, weary, shopping forays and eating orgies. It is time to get off the insane Christmas Tradition Train and redesign our Christmas traditions to more nearly conform to peace and GOOD WILL to all.

Prodded by the visible misery of the economic downturn in our area, my group of friends are foregoing the usually gifts, many of which went unused, and the food orgies. None of us are in the Fortune 500, but are blessed so much more than many around us who are without jobs, losing homes, sleeping in cars, and depressed.

Instead our designated Christmas funds are being channeled into various needs in our community. My best friend adopted a family from the Christmas Wish program sponsored by her newspaper job. Another friend is donating to the local food pantry, whose shelves are often empty these days, and also Heifer International.

We personally are contributing to Christmas for children in Panama, two families with children through our church life group, and a Christmas church project in Tulsa OK, which is focused on broken families with drug and alcoholic abuse problems. I am buying small Christmas token gifts for our TeleCare clients.

We are investigating a local single mother with children recommended by our Police chief. There may be other projects. After all it is only Dec. 2.

I will probably put up a small Christmas decoration so I can put Luckie's chipmunk toy out Christmas Eve.

We mutually agreed to each buy one gift we want and call it Christmas from each other to each other. I ordered the customized laptop I earned for losing 25 lbs. and since it is pricey, it is Christmas for me, too. [It will probably be Christmas before it gets here, as the FedEx tracking # shows it missed the boat, hmm-air transit date, in China!]

Somehow, this change is comfortable and exciting, for us as opposed to the frenzied activities of previous years, when we collapsed from overeating in a heap before the Christmas tree, to open gifts between, burps and gas releases.

P.S. I, the NitWit, am fixated and fascinated with the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Gravy Train

Countless bloggers I've read since joining the blogging world are animal lovers whether canine, feline or wild. Although I love all nature I am partial to dogs and cats. The only reason I have no cats is I am, or was, allergic to cats, but not dogs.

Like Arkansas Patti [ The New Sixty ]with her beloved dog, Mighty, who once operated an animal shelter, I have a number of dog stories. We now have a shelter dog, Luckie, but once we owned pedigreed German Shepherds. A recent story by Arkansas Patti, CAN CODY COME OUT AND PLAY???, stirred my memory of another German Shepherd, Felicia.

My husband's tour of duty when we married was a reserve training ship, U.S.S. Mills, docked at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. We rented the main floor and basement of an older house in a suburb. There was an apartment above us which was a separate rental.

Next door was a single family dwelling occupied by a family with children and an older, very friendly female German Shepherd, FELICIA, whose name had been shorten by the children to Fleecie. Since the children were young, I suppose they had difficulty saying Felicia, so it was shorten to Fleecie.

Being newlyweds removed from familiar settings, we made friends as best we could, including the dog, especially myself.

Since my husband's duty shift and my pharmacy shift rarely coincided, we spent time alone in an unfamiliar setting and culture.

Our kitchen served as an entrance; the kitchen window looked out at the neighbor's home and side entrance where the dog usually camped. Sometimes I sat on my steps and petted Fleecie and often fed her food scraps. The neighbors did not mind at all.

I noticed certain times of the day Fleecie appeared at my door even when I was not sitting on the steps. If I ignored her, she disappeared for awhile.

As months passed and winter set in, I notice Fleecie had difficulty getting up and down--my first initiation in the Shepherd culture of hip dysplasia and arthritis.

The owners took her to the vet for evaluation. They came over and asked me not to feed the dog because she needed to shed weight to prolong her life with less pain. Of course, I complied and only petted her.

After a period of time the owners asked me if I was still feeding the dog; I replied. 'NO" but I petted her and inquired why the question. They said, "She is not losing weight and we are barely feeding her."

I thought a minute and said I noticed she disappeared at a certain time of day every day about 4 p.m. She was not confined to a yard, nor tied, but only strayed once a day and always returned to her rug mat by her owners' side door.

Several weeks passed. I saw the owners outside one day when I arrived home. I asked them if they ever solved Fleecie's diet program. They said,"yes, and you won't believe it!'

Frustrated with their efforts for naught in Fleecie's weight loss program, one day the owners followed her, when she disappeared at the appointed 4 p.m. time. They were amazed the dog had appointed rounds throughout the neighborhood at houses where food was waiting when she arrived. This route was not just one block but involved several streets and quite a number of houses. The treats were not a few kibbles, but mounds of food scraps, dog treats and large bowls of dog food.

The owners followed her more than once mapping her route. When they had all the houses marked, they retraced the route and asked the owners to please refrain from feeding Fleecie.

The owners filled me in on Fleecie's well organized gravy train. The persons contacted were so disappointed, but apparently complied as she lost weight. Their comments were like mine: "She is such a sweet, friendly dog to adults and children. She would not hurt a flea!"

Before we were transferred the couple had marital problems and filed for divorce. We heard the couple didn't fight over the children, but there was much contention over Fleecie. Even though I am overboard in my love of dogs, I wonder how the children felt that their parents fought over the dog above them. Perhaps, it was explained to them, there was no need to fight over the children as they had reached an amicable agreement. I only hope so.

PHOTO: very old snapshot of our third German Shepherd, Gabriela, "Gabby" for short, a sable Shepherd. Felicia was the more common black and tan color.

Friday, November 27, 2009


While you view this admittedly haphazardly assembled post, we'll be toodling home from Little Rock like two stuffed piggies, Arkansas Razorbacks.

We left Luckie at her un-favorite spa Tuesday in the rain. By the time we traveled 15 miles, it quit. By Little Rock the sun was shining.

Tuesday I received a H1Ni1 shot at my asthma, allergy, COPD clinic; husband got his hearing aids adjusted at Fort Roots VA hospital in N. Little Rock.

We stopped in Clinton, AR at Western Sizzlin' on our trip to Little Rock and later had a small hamburger in Little Rock at Hardee's after checking in at La Quinta Inn in W Little Rock.

At Western Sizzlin' a mother with three children ( 2 sons, 1 daughter) were seated near us. Mother told her children to shut their eyes and bow their heads while she said grace. As soon as she started the prayer, the two sons grabbed their forks and stuffed their mouths. I nearly laughed out loud. Daughter was obedient.

We had two meals at Luby's Cafeteria including Thanksgiving Dinner.

This time of year on Arkansas we carry twice as many clothes as we use as we never know when it will turn colder, like FRIDAY. Hence our room is really topsy turvy. We know how to move in and get comfortable--trash it up and throw stuff around like we do at home--RIGHT?

1. An interesting cloud formation as we were leaving Luckie's spa, Mountain Home, AR, taken out the front car window (window tint at top)

2. Western Sizzlin' sign in Clinton AR

3 . Husband reading e-mail and surfing 'Net

4. & 5. An interesting species of tree very prevalent around Little Rock. >
It appears to be some kind
holly which is now turning red.

6. My Thanksgiving Dinner. Did I say I was on a diet? It is the gym for 56 days now

7,. 8., & 9. Fountain in front of Towbin Hall, Fort Roots, North Little Rock, AR.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thankfulness #23 -30

Since we are leaving for Little Rock Tuesday I am completed my Thankfulness posts today. We will be staying until sometime Friday. This is a trip of necessity and we usually choose to spend at least two nights for our convenience and well-being.

My husband has a Little Rock VA appointment at the hearing clinic on Wednesday. We usually make at least 2-3 days out of this 300 mi round trip. To do it in one day is just too tiring on both of us. However, since Thanksgiving Day would be the day we normally would return home, we decided to spend an extra night and enjoy Thanksgiving Day in Little Rock, returning home on Friday. We had no other plans, anyway.

I will have my trusty laptop with me, but not sure what we might decide to do, if anything!!!

Thankfulness: [see Holding Patterns by Sandi]:

23. When I remember the original Thanksgiving in our country, the 51 survivors out of 100, were simply thankful they survived one year. So I am thankful my husband and I, despite chronic disease and aging, have survived another year.

24. Because our survival is often dependent on improved medical knowledge from methods of treatment, diagnosis, and medications, I am thankful for all who pursue these fields in health care, both practice and research.

25. It is said President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Day of Thanksgiving at Gettysburg, where grotesque parts of bodies still lay unburied from the greatest battle and turning point of the Civil War. To me this was the most horrific of wars. I pray the union of our states is never again be severed for any reason.

26. I am thankful, despite our distance from kinsman, we regularly are in touch with relatives via various marvelous forms of communication: cell and plain old telephones, various Internet programs, video conferencing which can be done with various chat/video Internet program, e-mail, voice mail, snail mail and newer methods are continually emerging.

27. I am thankful, I have never truly known hunger and poverty in any degree, much less that which exists on much of our planet. Even now some fellow citizens suddenly find themselves without jobs, homes, and sustenance. There are persons in my area sleeping in cars, some of which have little or no fuel to move.

28. I am thankful I have been exposed to military life as a wife and observed the unique, often nerve wrecking, family breaking pressures by the positions and assignments of a spouse. And it is much more stressful today, as there were not two wars. Pray for all our military families.

29. I am thankful for comforts that make independent living in older years easier: lift chairs, monitoring devices, care services, motorized carts/wheelchairs/lifting devices, only a few.To date I only use one of these. I read of new gizmos every day.

30. I am thankful for the blogging phenomenon. It probably will fade or evolve into something different, but that is the fun of it all. Blogginh is a positive creative activity in many ways. It can also be destructive, too. I try to say less, not more, and generally consider my opinion, not too important, if not positive .


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankfulness #17 - 22

Apologies to Sandi of Holding Patterns for not being able to link with MrLinky. I've had this problem before-I'm sure its me, but I have provided a link in each posting to your web site.

17. I'm thankful my small community has a gym I can visit two blocks from my house....and a grocery store.

18. I'm thankful for finding a warm church family in which we fit, after seemingly searching a life-time, which I attribute to my not searching hard and long enough, not any one's fault by my own.

19. I'm thankful in my older years we are not strained financially to meet our daily expenses.

20. I'm thankful I still have eyesight and hearing, although somewhat diminished; I still can enjoy taste and touch; I still can communicate. I have peers who have lost a lot of these innate senses.

21. I'm thankful that technology continues to enhance my life, whether it is wireless networking, or improvements in all areas of medical technology. I remember when there were few to no inhalers for asthmatics and only a few, now obsolete, oral medicines.

22. I'm thankful to be an American. I have lived overseas in a third world country, which was an experience for which I am grateful, but made me appreciate my own country, yet not be too provincial.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
[Psalm 100:4-5]

No matter our prosperity, or perceived lack thereof, I am sure we can enumerate thankfulness to fill a calendar year. One of the bloggers I follow is listing an item a day of thankfulness. [See Holding Patterns by Sandi].

In a year of less than desirable economic prosperity, 10% unemployment, personal and family bankruptcies, homelessness and all the accompanying trials and difficulties, I believe we still can find thankfulness, so I am going to try to catch up with Sandi with 16 today, and then try to post 1-2 each post weekly until I have 30, hopefully on Nov. 30.

Thankful list:

1. Parents, now deceased, who adopted me and taught and guided me into adulthood with decent moral values, and invaluable education.

2. A husband who puts up with me.

3. Numerous pets who have brought joy into my life.

4. Many friends, wherever we have lived.

5. The privilege of living in a third world country which taught me respect for other cultures.

6.Having a younger brother and sister helped understand value of a family unit.

7. Finding my biological family at a relatively late age is a major marker in my life, plus two more brothers and another sister.

8. Having survived several major medical crises in my life helps me understand the stress such events have on the patient and family.

9. Having the privilege and confidence of local voters to serve my city on city council for 3 terms.

10. The ability throughout life to learn and develop additional skills of interest, whether computers, photography, arts and crafts.

11. The Internet as a tool of learning, research, virtual friendships, communication.

12. To have witnessed a man walk on the moon via television and to remember the introduction of the first b/w television into general markets.

13. To have witnessed my Mother's gifts of one of the first automatic dishwashers, an electric sewing machine, a Bendix washing machine & dryer, electric typewriter.

14. To have witnessed the introduction of computers.

15. To have witnessed our nation undergo two attacks on our homeland (Pearl Harbor and 9/11) and emerge with resolve to remain an united Nation.

6. To remember how our Nation united and backed our President and others resolve during WWII even while still suffering the remnants a Great Depression.

Comments on#16:

I remember sitting by the console Philco radio listening to President Roosevelt's speech after the attack on Pearl Harbor. I did not understand it all, except through my parents I knew it was serious.

I remember Victory gardens and war bonds; we had several of each.

I remember rationing of sugar, tires, and other commodities. Dad became so proficient at patching intertube tires, we grew to expect at least on flat on almost any trip. The longest trip was 120 mi (round trip) to grandparents and great aunts in same town. These trips were infrequent, usually very special occasions.

We had practice blackouts and curfews; there was an Army camp outside our town. I remember driving home from church one night with only parking lights on. When we arrived home we either went to bed or listened to radio in the dark.

Yet through it all I observed more community and national support in so many ways that I do not see today. Women went to work. to help sustain the family. Women and those who were not drafted, or did not volunteer made bandages, knited sweaters, scarves or sock, packed care packages and worked with the USO.

Today I see very limited exhibition of patriotism. It seems patriotism might offend someone. Too bad! At this house we have worn out more flags than I can count. Further, my military retiree husband insists the old ones be properly disposed. Sometimes he does the job or we give the tattered flags to the VFW.
PHOTOS: My sister's driveway entrance in Texas.