Colors

As we age most of us expect our vision to worsen. We expect to wear glasses and to eventually have cataracts that require surgical removal. Some unfortunate individuals have eye diseases that greatly impair vision, such as macular degeneration. One thing that might blindside (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) seniors is color-blindness more accurately called color vision deficiency.

Researchers from The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute administered color vision tests to several hundred adults ages 58 to 102 and found that 40 percent had abnormal results. The rate was significantly higher in those over 70 and rises with age after seventy. The type of color vision abnormality is different from inherited color-blindness which usually involves red and green.

I first realized I had this problem a couple of years ago. In my experience purple almost always looks brown. Often pink looks yellow. The amount and type of light greatly affect how I perceive these and other colors. Purple inside looks brown, but moving it into the sunlight sometimes reveals the true color.

If you have this problem you probably are already aware, but there are simple tests available Online. A word of caution, some sites charge a fee and others may result in unwanted email followup.

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“Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.” Stevie Wonder

 

 

Photos by Pixabay

Old Age

Of my nearly four hundred readers I know there are all ages. While this post is about old age, please read on even if you are young. I’d like to hear from all demographics.

At what age are you old?

I’ve heard that 70 is the new 50. I’m not sure what that means but I believe it refers to a change in the way people think of old age. I remember many years ago when Medicare started to cover heart transplants they would only pay if the recipient was 55 or younger. After a while, it was determined that this was unfair because the rule was based upon chronological not biological age. Some people at sixty or seventy were actually younger and more likely to have a good outcome than other people at fifty. The rule changed.

I think this is a good example of the dilemma we face when defining old age. I recently read an article about a man who drove a red Mercedes convertible around his community in Florida. He often took his fiancée along on these drives. Does this make you think of an old person? Probably not. What if I told you he uses a walker? Does that signify that he is old? Perhaps, but the fact is that this man is 107 years old and his fiancée is 100!

What do you call old people?

This has become an important question and there are polls which indicate there is little agreement on a suitable moniker. Let’s look at a few choices. How about “retiree?” Some people have never had a job to retire from such as Moms who worked at home their entire lives. Thanks to changing Social Security rules people no longer retire at sixty-five as they were apt to do in the past. Many people are very healthy and active after retirement, are they old?

“Older?” Older than who? “Senior?” Isn’t that a person ready to graduate high school? “Aging?” Aren’t we all from infancy?

“Elder?” “Sage?” “Mature?” “Perennial?” You can see the problem with each of these so what do we call old people? One term I read about that has potential is “Super Adult!”

So that we don’t go through our golden years without a suitable title academics have come up with some terms used in research and publications. Some use “Young old” (60s & 70s) and old old (85 and up). The most formal are “third age” (retirement) and “fourth age” (infirmity) and I do find these more accurate.

Please tell me your opinion regarding which of these terms is most suitable for those of us who are definitely not young.

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Photos by Pixabay

 

Before GPS

Years ago I was invited to my Aunt Jane’s ninetieth birthday. The celebration was taking place in her hometown which I had not visited in many years. When I asked a relative for directions to the venue I received something like this:

“Before you get to Lawrenceburg turn left. There used to be a REA building there. Go a little ways and turn again where the movie used to be. The building will be on your left. It is not very big.” 

Another time when lost in Tennessee I stopped to ask a friendly looking farmer for directions and I was told to “Turn right where the big green barn used to be.” 

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“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” William Gibson

 

Graphic & Photo by Pixabay

Kids 3

Kids Are Listening

Never doubt that kids are listening to what adults are saying. They may appear to be in their own little worlds, but they hear us. An example of this (based upon contemporaneous notes) goes way back to 1993 when I was visiting the cemetery at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church with my daughter and toddler granddaughter, Katie. 

As my grandmother had done before, https://crookedcreek.live/2019/05/14/kids-2/  I walked from grave to grave telling my daughter of the lives and deaths of those buried there. There were the graves of two generations of grandparents, many aunts, uncles, and cousins as well as my parents and a young brother. Katie played nearby running around and singing. 

At one point she interrupted my dissertation and was told by her Mom to wait her turn.  A few moments later we asked Katie what she had wanted and this is what transpired: Katie squatted down in front of a random tombstone and began, “See and when my uncle, he came to work and he had a wreck and see he died.” She was listening and learning and at a little over two-years-old, she was replicating my actions and words in this place of sad memories. 

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“Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Charles Swindoll

Hollyhock Photo by Pixabay

3 of 3

Staying Alive 6 of 6

Over the past five posts, we have reviewed some ways to achieve longevity. I have had some fun with the topic of “Staying Alive.” It seemed fitting that since I discuss death so frequently I owed you these tips on survival. Some of the content has been tongue-in-cheek, but that doesn’t mean the advice isn’t sound. It should be obvious that there are many other measures we can take to increase our chances of living longer. A few that come to mind immediately are not smoking, regular medical checkups, good nutrition, safe driving habits, and a multitude of others. 

If this series has helped you to be a little more mindful of a few ways to live a longer, healthier life, then I am happy.  All together now! Hit this link with your sound turned up:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNFzfwLM72c

 

A special thanks to the Bee Gees for helping us to wrap up “Staying Alive!”

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Theme graphic by Pixabay

Music

Memories of Music

Other than church hymns, my earliest memories of music are of Elvis, Little Richard, and Fats Domino. There were others, such as the Everly Brothers (I really liked “Wake Up Little Susie”) that I enjoyed, but mainly I remember these three from my early years.

I, like every girl of that era, loved Elvis. His mellow and sensuous voice seemed to be singing just to me. The other two were more for dancing. That was the time of the jitterbug and sock hops and Little Richard particularly got everyone to their feet. 

As we age music tastes and styles change, but my love of Elvis’ voice remains. Some of the other oldies are still favorites: Credence Clearwater Revival, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, and Neil Young.

 

What Music Do You Recall From Your Early Years?

Please share with us your favorites. 

“Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.” Ludwig van Beethoven

 

Photo by Pixabay

Minnie IV

My Mother

I’ve introduced Minnie to you before. If you missed those posts, I’d suggest you use the Search feature on the Home Page to search for “Minnie.” She is a person I’d like you to know more about and her stories are worth your time. 

Over twenty years ago Minnie, my Mom died and after the visitation and funeral services came time to settle her estate. The business was tiresome, frustrating and seemed to drag on for longer than it should have. I’ve since learned that even that gigantic chore had an emotional benefit. I thought I knew all about Mom, I had cared for her for the past few years and had dearly loved her for my fifty-five years of life. I had a few more things to learn as I began to clear out her home for sale and she had a few more smiles to present. 

Minnie’s House

Besides old photos and clothes and all the household items anticipated, there were boxes, a basement full of boxes. How did I not know that my Mother had kept nearly every box of every item she had ever bought in her eighty-one years of life? I exaggerate only slightly. The boxes contained not the original items, most of those were nowhere to be found. What they did contain was the instruction papers or booklet that came with the fan or mixer or vacuum, neatly folded and attached to the box flap. 

Other plentiful items were plastic rain bonnets, yellowed obituaries, new unused wallets, and keys, keys, and more keys. There were keys everywhere in the house. Some were in little-zippered pouches, some were on chains or tied with ribbon and still, others were just laying there, all alone without other keys to keep them company. My job was to try to determine what the keys locked and unlocked. I eventually gave up, but not until I had spent hours of investigative work thinking about my Mom and wondering if she was somewhere laughing at my confusion.

I’ve already planted keys, lots of keys for my daughters to find after I die!

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Pixabay Photo

 

“No one can drive us crazy unless we give them the keys.”

Douglas Horton

 

 

Home?

Home Sweet Home

It is a pretty sure thing that most, if not all, who read this have a place to call home. It may not be considered “sweet” but is probably warm, private and comfortable. Do we fail to appreciate our homes? Probably. I know I do at times. Once in a while though, I really pause to look around and genuinely appreciate each convenience and comfort, but it is easy to take these things for granted.

The Poorhouse

When I was a very little girl growing up in Anderson County, KY I remember a place called the “Poorhouse.” This big house sat up on a hill on the way to Lawrenceburg. There was a front porch that wound around the building and when we passed this place in nice weather there were men and women sitting in rocking chairs on this long porch. They looked old to me, but then all adults did at that time in my childhood. 

Looking back I can still see those figures sitting on the porch and I now have more idea about how they became residents and how much stigma must have been connected to moving to the poorhouse. This was before Medicaid and supplemental programs to help the poor live independently. Such programs have changed the face of poverty but have not erased it.

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Homelessness

Homelessness is a problem all over the world but today let’s look at the U.S. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness in January of last year there were 553,742 people homeless in this country. This number, which represents 17 persons out of 10,000, is actually down since the last year counted. Some states such as Georgia have decreased their number of homeless but others, including New York and California, have increased. Thirty-four percent of homeless citizens are living unsheltered in such places as underpasses or abandoned buildings. I find it interesting that our places with the highness homeless rates are the nation’s capital (110 per 10,000) and Hawaii, a place we consider paradise (51 per 10,000).  https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness-report/

At Risk

The most common reason for being homeless is obviously financial. The National Coalition for the Homeless points out some of the factors that contribute to financial difficulties. These include foreclosure, loss of work and job unavailability, decreases in public assistance and lack of affordable housing. 

Many homeless individuals suffer from mental illness and/or addiction. Domestic violence often leaves families without safe homes. A decrease in available healthcare is another factor among many others. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/

So What?

What can we do? For a start:

  • We can let our government representatives know that we care about this issue and that we are watching their decisions.
  • We can contribute money to agencies that provide shelter for the homeless. 
  • We can donate blankets, clothes, food and other essentials to homeless charities.
  • We may be able to volunteer to provide services directly to the homeless. 

What other ideas do you have to alleviate homelessness locally and nationally? 

 

“We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Unemployment is a weapon of mass destruction.” Dennis Kucinich

Photos from Pixabay

Rocks

Rock & Roll       

Hard as a Rock

Rock On!

Dumb as a Rock

Rock, Paper, Scissors

As you can tell I have rocks on my mind. I’m sure some who know me might say I also have “rocks for brains.” And, today that might be appropriate.

When I went to Great Britain recently, I was so grateful and amazed to see Stonehenge for the first time.  https://crookedcreek.live/2018/10/10/stonehenge/

For good reason visitors are not able to touch the huge rocks that make up this wonder. I was very fortunate that our hosts on this trip knew where there were similar stones nearby that could be seen up close and that could be touched at will. 

Kevin and Helen Elliott took our party to Avebury where the rocks in the slideshow below were personally accessible. I loved seeing all the random rocks, so similar to those with which Stonehenge was built but not arranged in the same pattern. I felt a strange reverence when I touched these stones from so long ago. 

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Around these huge rocks were grazing sheep, burial mounds like those surrounding Stonehenge and in a few places even roads that traversed the mounds.

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On this same trip while in the home of friends in Wales, I became aware of a different type of stone called crystal. While there I was given a rose quartz crystal that I now treasure. I am not yet knowledgeable enough to say much about crystals and their possible powers, but I am beginning the process of learning. I wanted to share this with you while we are on the subject of rocks, which are not technically the same thing, but they are both contained within the earth and no doubt carry many secrets of the past. What powers they may hold, I hope to learn. 

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“In my work, and my life, I feel a desire to merge. Not in terms of losing my own identity… but there’s a feeling that life is interconnected, that there’s life in stones and rocks and trees and dirt, like there is in us.”  Bill Viola

Sisters

My Sister

Really, I never had a sister in the biological sense, but I came close. My cousin Pat was born six weeks before me and I never let her forget that she was the older. Her Mom, Lucy, was my Mom’s sister and they were very close. Pat and I were sisters in every sense of the word. 

Pat, beat breast cancer and then succumbed to leukemia a few years later. I was unable to go to the hospital to visit her due to my immunodeficiency, but I talked to her on the phone most days. Recently while cleaning up files on my computer, I ran across letters that I wrote to Pat during her last weeks on this earth. I am always more able to express myself in writing. Some letters were snail mailed, but most my husband delivered to her daily. I even wrote her obituary, per her request, and sent it to the hospice facility via that route. 

Reading the letters again has made me smile and cry and I’ve selected one, shortened, but not edited (sorry about some of the language) to share with you today. 


March 5, 2013 (a.k.a. first night of chemo)

Hi Pat,

Thought of you as soon as I opened my eyes this morning, knowing that you would be waiting for the THE CALL to come to the hospital and begin your clinical trial.  I don’t know how you feel.  I can only imagine and w/o prior experience such as yours the imagination can’t come up with anything close, I’m sure.  

I thought about our long past together and not together.  There are unanswered questions, like who broke who’s pot and did someone really drop a puppy and make a crack in his nose?   We went from innocent little girls to not so innocent middle sized girls.  We laughed and giggled all night.  It was especially hazardous at your house, because we knew your Dad had to get up hours before daylight to deliver bread.  It was for Bond, right?  He’d yell at us.  Your Mom would shame us, but we just could not contain the fun we were having.  I can’t remember our doing this at my house, but surely we did?

Then there was the teen stage when we worried about boys, hair, our weight and pimples.  I married and got pregnant, in that order and you got a job and became a business person.  How in hell did we both end up being nurses?  I cannot believe that I had the nerve to do that LPN thing and then it all came so naturally.  I decided there was no “practical” reason to be a practical nurse, so kept working at the RN and then we were both hot stuff; starched white uniforms, caps and feeling pretty damn proud of ourselves. 

Well, then as I told you on the phone today, I broke my pretty china nurse which you gave me when I graduated (the first time or second?).  Her arm is broken – osteoporosis?  But, it will be glued and good as new.  

I hope that your treatment will result in the same, or at least, comparable healing.  I used to pray for things I wanted badly.  I don’t do that anymore, but I keep you in my thoughts and send warm positive thoughts which I hope will somehow bring you peace and comfort. 

Oh yeah, our current stage of life is getting a little like Minnie’s and Lucy’s relationship in their later years.  I’m really ticked off at you for getting cancer a second time.  You had the good boob job and have the good hair and then you go and mess up both.  OK, I know it’s not your fault, but really, after beating the big “C” once, here you go getting it again.  I’m counting on you getting older (and me, too, of course) so that we can explore all the things that old women love.  

No, not knitting or any of that sort of bullshit.  We’ll go on long drives and wonder how we got there.  We’ll be gorgeous like Betty White and we’ll gossip about all our relatives (but mostly our in-laws).  We’ll wear polyester pants w/ elastic waistbands and go to all-you-can-eat buffets.  Then we’ll burp and complain about the food and have some more.  We’ll talk about what smart RNs we were and how arrogant and pushy the docs were and how things would be different in healthcare today if we were still there.

So, please try your best to get well, OK?  I need you.  I only have one sister and you have that honor.  

Love, Sue


 

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“Is solace anywhere more comforting than that in the arms of a sister.” Alice Walker

Silent Ailment

Hearing Loss

When a person has problems seeing or walking it is obvious and most people make allowances for the person who has such disabilities. When a person is hearing impaired it is less obvious. Often the person with a hearing deficit seems to not be paying attention or to be ignoring the conversation.

Prevalence

Hearing loss is common for people over the age of sixty-four (64) and often progresses for a decade or more. In America, it affects more than 48 million people and is more common than either diabetes or cancer.

Causes

Hearing loss can be acute from head trauma and illnesses such as infection. More likely, however, the cause is exposure to prolonged loud noises, an illness such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure. Genetics can play a factor and some medications can contribute to hearing loss. 

Treatment 

Treatment may include surgery, medication or cochlear implants (for younger patients) but is more likely to require hearing aids. Hearing aids come in various styles and the cost may range from around two to seven thousand dollars. This is a good reason to shop around and do serious research before investing in aids. It also helps to have realistic expectations for hearing aids. They amplify sounds. They do not restore normal hearing. Hearing aids take time and patience to learn how best to use them.

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It also helps if family and friends understand that they can assist the hearing impaired by 1. Getting their attention prior to speaking, 2. Making sure they are positioned so that their lips can be seen and 3. Speaking clearly, but not shouting. Most people with hearing loss are particularly impaired when there is more than one person speaking at once. 

Decibels

Sounds and therefore hearing are measured in decibels. A hearing loss of thirty decibels or more is considered significant. The sounds in our environment can be measured in decibels. 

You can measure decibels easily by using a smartphone app. Restaurants are notoriously noisy and knowing the decibel level can be helpful in choosing which to patronize. I use VenueDB on my iPhone, but there are several for both Android and IOS phones. https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/47805-The-best-phone-apps-to-measure-noise-levels I recently measured one of my favorite restaurants at eighty-two (82) decibels. That can be appreciated by knowing that a lawn mower registers around 90. 

NOTE: some information contained herein obtained from WebMD. 

“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food or the sound of a loved one’s voice.” Joseph B. Wirthlin

 

Photo & graphic by Pixabay

A Castle in Wales

Chepstow Castle

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In beautiful Wales, there are many well-preserved castles. This Medieval one was built a year after the Battle of Hastings. For nearly 1,000 years Chepstow Castle has sat atop a cliff overlooking the Wye River below.

I felt almost a reverence as I walked onto the grounds and looked up at the stone walls and towers. I kept thinking of the people who lived there long ago and wondered what their lives must have been like. Walking along the chambers and climbing the stairs I wondered how life was for children who were born there.

I’ve chosen some of the 50+ photos that I took at Chepstow Castle and shared them with you in the slideshow below.

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“I had always been interested in mythology. I suppose my brief stay in Wales during World War II influenced my writing, too. It was an amazing country. It has marvelous castles and scenery.”

Lloyd Alexander

Stonehenge

Wonder of Wonders

Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England is approximately 4,500 years old. That in itself creates a sense of wonder. As I walked among these huge stacked stones recently I wondered what life was like in 3000 to 2200 BC. And, before the circle of stones was built there were hundreds of burial mounds in the surrounding area. The people buried there lived perhaps centuries before Stonehenge. What brought these early humans to this particular spot? What did they feel or sense there that made them leave their mark for us to wonder about? What force propelled these builders to spend over 100 years finding, transporting and stacking 25-ton stones (13×7′ in size) in a circle? We still wonder not only why, but how. 

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“The past is a stepping stone, not a millstone.” Robert Plant

 

Sleep Tight

Dianne Mattingly Bynum at five years of age.

As told to her Mom years later.

Bedtime was a mixture of feeling both happiness and dread. After our prayers, Mom or Dad and at times both, would tuck us in and give us a hug and kiss.

That felt so good. Then we heard those words I dreaded, “Sleep tight” and Dad would usually add “don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

Before they left the room I had already grabbed my little sister’s gown or pajamas and was holding as tightly as I could. I wasn’t worried about bedbugs. I had never seen a bedbug. I was worried about something much more significant, losing my sister! 

Ever since they put her in my bed and told me to take care of her, I’ve slept tight every night to be sure she doesn’t get lost. She’s such a little girl (I’m big) that she could get lost so easily.

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Sisters, Dianne & Allison, Today

 

“Childhood is a short season.” Helen Hayes

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

CPR in the Hospital

CPR

Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can be life-saving especially when performed in a hospital with all the talent, knowledge and equipment that is available. It has become routine for patients to be asked on admission to the hospital some form of the following question: “Do you want emergency measures to be performed if your heart stops?” 

That question can be daunting in myriad ways. If one is being admitted for a routine procedure it can be a bit of a shock. If the patient is critical and/or of advanced age then it might be even more upsetting. Three things can help at this point, #1. Expecting such a question, #2. Being an informed patient about just what “emergency measures” entails and the risks involved, and #3. Having already considered this question and having discussed it with your loved ones. https://crookedcreek.live/2017/01/25/death-decisions/

Expectations

The first thing we all need to acknowledge is that we will one day die. Sobering as that thought might be, it is essential to know that regardless of how we answer the question above we may not be saved by CPR or any of the extraordinary measures taken if our heart stops beating. Perhaps worse yet might be to survive and be dependent upon breathing machines, feeding tubes and narcotics for pain relief. Cardiac arrest can cause organ failure leaving such organs as the liver and kidneys unable to function. Neurological deficits as the result of brain damage from lack of oxygen can occur. Unrealistic expectations can cause physical and psychological pain for both the patient and their family.

An Informed and Prepared Patient

An informed patient will have realistic expectations, will ask questions and will be prepared to make an informed consent. When a patient decides that they do not want heroic measures they can have a DNR (do not resuscitate) order to alert staff that the patient does not want CPR performed. Some hospitals now use the less promising acronym DNAR (do not attempt resuscitation). Before making this decision it is imperative that a patient know what resuscitation is and is not. It does present a chance at survival but it is nowhere close to a guarantee. The average chance of successfully resuscitating a healthy young person, i.e., to be neurologically intact, is only 30 percent overall. 

Once you have researched these issues and are armed with scientific information the next step is to discuss your wishes with your loved ones. Finally, prepare the legal documents that leave no doubt if the time comes when you need to inform your healthcare provider of your decision.  https://crookedcreek.live/2017/01/19/death-intro-ii/

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In the end, what matters most, quantity or quality of time here on this planet? 

 

Graphics by Pixabay

Race in America

A Tough Subject 

racism | ˈrāˌsizəm | noun       prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior: a program to combat racism. the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races: theories of racism.  Source: Webster’s Dictionary. 


White Privilege 

This is a subject I approach with much trepidation. I fear I will not state my opinions and thoughts clearly. Being misunderstood on such a sensitive topic is a real danger, but I feel this subject is important enough to take that chance. Reader opinions will vary just as our life experiences vary.

I, as a white person, know I have advantages and some I am not really cognizant of most of the time. The dominant race is always assured of unearned assets and privileges even though members may be poor or uneducated as was my early family.  This notwithstanding I know I am a recipient of white privilege and I desire to even the playing field when I can. It begins by acknowledging that advantage.   

Racism

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The sender of this Christmas card which I received as a child meant no harm but it clearly demonstrates racial prejudice as does the advertisement from an old catalog of the same era. I am aware each is offensive, but that is why I have included them, to demonstrate that racism is a part of our collective history. 

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I realize this delicate subject can bring about controversy but that is not my intent. I will talk about my own experiences and evolution and each reader can, and I hope will, examine their own feelings on this delicate, but vital, subject. 

Childhood

I was born into a rural white community. My first memory of encountering a person of color was when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I was with my parents when they stopped at a small store in Harrisonville, KY. I had never been there before and I was shocked to see the dark-skinned proprietor. Mr. Buesey smiled at me and extended his hand offering me a cookie. I did not take it, because I thought surely the black had rubbed off on the cookie. Although I remember nothing else about this experience, to this day I regret my childish reaction knowing I must have hurt this kind man’s feelings. 

The next such memory I have must have been at around the same age because I still had a curiosity about the permanence of that black color. I was shopping with my Mother and Aunt in the big town of Frankfort, the capital of KY. When I saw a little black girl about my age I apparently had the courage to attempt to solve my question because I reached out and touched her arm. Again, I know I was rude and regret it. I definitely was not raised in an environment where I came into contact with other than white people on any regular basis. 

Growing Up

All this changed when I moved to the small town of Taylorsville. While black children went to a separate school, I did see people of color around town and began to feel more comfortable. I hope I was also more polite. I was in High School before black students were allowed to integrate our “white” schools.

As an adult, I recall the busing era of the seventies when my own children were in school. I remember the demonstrations, the marches and the shouts at buses filled with black children being brought into the suburbs to integrate schools. I am ashamed to say when one of my daughters entering the ninth grade was assigned to an inner city High School we moved to another county. We were a part of white flight even though it was not the integration that concerned me but the fact that my child was being taken into an unknown community many miles from home. Regardless, I was part of the problem, not the solution. 

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Change

So much has changed in my lifetime and especially in my own mind and heart. I wish my journey had been different. I wish I had been brought up in an integrated community and that it had not been necessary to work to overcome a racial bias I did not even realize I had until later in adulthood. 

Our country has a long way to go to overcome racism and even further to achieve racial equality. This is my opinion.  

“It’s the people who don’t recognize the racism within themselves that can be the most damaging because they don’t see it.” Sterling K. Brown


Recommended reading about racism in America: the distant past “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriett Beecher Stowe and a contemporary account “White Rage” by Carol Anderson. 

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Looking Back Again

Maybe it’s my recent milestone birthday, but I keep looking back. Please walk with me as I recall some things of years past. 

Do You Remember When?

  • Gas stations were Service Stations? The attendant checked your oil and cleaned your windshield as well as pumping your gas. I remember my Dad driving into the station and requesting “A dollar’s worth please!” That was approximately three gallons back then. 
  • There was one vehicle per family rather than per driver?
  • Funeral homes provided ambulance service?
  • Doctors made routine house calls?
  • Horses were used to farm?
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  • Babies were born at home?
  • The deceased were “laid out” at home? That was before the parlor became a “living” room. 
  • Farm homes had smokehouses? They were not for smokers of cigarettes and cigars. They were for preserving (smoking) and then storing meat for the table.
  • You didn’t own a computer? 
  • You learned to used email?
  • Your phone wasn’t in your pocket?
  • You didn’t know who was calling until they spoke? 

 

A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. Marcus Garvey

Meema Pants

Recently I was in Lenscrafters looking into new glasses. The young man working with me was very attentive and professional. After completing my business I started to leave the store when an employee who I had not noticed loudly proclaimed “Meema!” He was looking at me, but surely not talking to me. I was wrong. This young man walked over to me and told me that my pants reminded him of his “Meema in Florida.” I was speechless, but he was not. He proceeded to tell me how much my pants made him think of his grandmother who wore similar ones and always with brightly colored tops. I was wearing a black sweater. 

I told him that I was sure his grandmother would love to know he’s thinking of her. I left the store and returned home deep in thought. Before I exited my car I took this photo of the pants fabric with its tiny embroidered work. IMG_7365

I have a “donation” box in my garage where I collect clothes for a homeless shelter in Southern Indiana. Suffice it to say that by the time I reached the inside of my home, I was sans the Meema pants. 

“Older women are best because they always think                                                  they may be doing it for the last time.” Ian Fleming

 

 

Birthdays

Birthdays

Today’s approaching birthday has been causing me much consternation. To my dismay, this day points out that I have been present on this planet for three-quarters of a century. On my thirtieth I cried all day, on my fiftieth I laughed a  lot at all the teasing I received from co-workers, friends, and family. On my seventieth, I enjoyed a nice weekend at French Lick, IN with my daughters. But, this one is different, in fact, I was thinking it might be lethal, until I learned something significant in USA Today on June 24th.

Superman is 80 this month! 

This news helped so much. If he can keep on flying faster than the speed of bullets surely I can continue to walk, blog and enjoy each day for a while longer. So, my daughters and I are going to have a slumber party to celebrate my big 75 and I look forward to adding to this three-quarters of a century! 

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“You are as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fears;                                                      as young as your hope, as old as your despair.” Unknown

 

Theme photo in title and graphic by Pixabay

Black & White

Her wardrobe is almost exclusively black and white, but I did not notice this over the several months that I had known her. In fact, it wasn’t until that day when I was looking deeply into her eyes. She was grieving the death of a family member and needed someone to listen to her sorrow. 

While she spoke of her loved one’s last hours tears brimmed over her lower lids and as I watched in empathy I almost expected her dark eyes to stain the tears and leave a trail on her cheeks. Her eyes were inky black. Solid black so that I could not discern the pupil from the iris. It was then that I noted the contrast of her white hair. At 78 she was beautiful in black and white. 

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, ‘Joy is greater than sorrow,’ and others say, ‘Nay, sorrow is the greater.’ But I say unto you, they are inseparable.” Khalil Gibran

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Year of the Woman 1993

1993

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In 1993 I turned fifty-years-old. I felt old. I was teased and received all the gag gifts that go with such a milestone birthday. But there was a bright spot, it was the “Year of the Woman!” What could be a better birthday present than that! 

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But wait, 1992 was supposed to be the “Year of the Woman” too. And, according to a Wall Street Journal article, 1994 was redux. Surely with all the elections and appointments of women, it did come to pass . . . surely. No doubt all this attention to the female majority in the US resulted in equal pay . . . no doubt . . . surely. 

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What happened? Does anyone even remember the first “full-fledged” female bishop? How about Carol Moseley-Braun? Joyce Elders? Lani Guinier? 

The battle for women’s suffrage began in Seneca Falls, NY in 1848 and it took seventy-two years for the 19th Amendment to be ratified. My mother was one year old at the time. If living she would turn 100 next year. My what progress must have been made in all those years. Surely women now receive pay equal to men. Surely a woman has been elected President. Surely women have an equal place at the table where important decisions are made. Surely . . . 

What went wrong? Who failed? We need to ask these difficult questions. In the next post we will take a closer look at the progress made since the Year of the Woman of the nineties. 

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them, we may be them, may we raise them.” Stacey Bendet

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Looking Back

Do You Remember?

  • Sprinkling laundry and refrigerating it in a plastic bag before ironing? Do you even remember ironing?
  • Cars not having air-conditioning, turn signals, seat belts nor heaven help us, cup holders?
  • Dialing a telephone, i.e., spinning that dial with one finger?
  • Car hops who delivered your food order which you then ate in the car?
  • Visiting folks without calling before dropping in?
  • When you kept up with relatives and friends by writing letters, known today as snail mail? 

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  • Blue Laws which required businesses to stay closed on Sunday? And, then later when they were allowed to open only after church “let out” at noon?
  • Women not wearing pants to church or much of anywhere else? I remember the first nurse who wore a pants uniform in our city. There was an article and photo in the local newspaper!
  •  When cameras had both film and flashbulbs? 

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  • When schools had recess?
  • Books were not audible?
  • When passengers smoked on airplanes during flight?
  • Farmers (usually the wife) killing their chickens for food? 
  • When unwanted pets were “dropped”?  Sadly, it still happens today. Here’s one named Jackson that was fortunate enough to be found and adopted.IMG_6272

I Remember

And the list could go on and on.  I make no judgment. For the most part, I like the ways things are today and I love technology. That does not mean I don’t grow nostalgic at times thinking about how some things were in the past. 

Life is Short

There are things in life that just don’t seem worth it, especially when you consider that life is short. The older I get the more things I find not worth the effort, time or discomfort. I realize that this is in part due to simply being a senior, but I want more credit than that. Much of what I’ve decided life is too short for is due to experience and wisdom. 

Life’s Too Short

  • To wear a bra
  • To eat (or drink) kale
  • To not see the ocean as often as the opportunity presents itself
  • To not dig in the dirt
  • To not pause for nature

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  • To not “look up at the stars” as Stephen Hawking said
  • To spend it worrying about the past

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  • To waste time on Facebook
  • To not spend time with loved ones including friends at every opportunity 
  • To not laugh
  • Did I mention wearing a bra?

How about you? Are there things you would list?

 

“I find it delightful that the optimal way I can live my life from moment-to-moment is also the optimal way I can prepare for my death, and equally delightful that acknowledging our future death is a prerequisite for living a truly joyful life now.”  Ram Dass

 

Photos by Pixabay

Russian People

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Women 

While in Russia I met many interesting people. There were men who were bus drivers and pastors and volunteers, but it was some of the women who I really felt that I got to know. The interpreter, Natasha (yes, really, Natasha) was a beautiful young woman in her early twenties. She never lost patience with my questions and never seemed to tire of explaining what it was like to be Russian. She was proud of her country and especially that unlike when she was young, now she has the opportunity to meet travelers from all over the world.

Then there was Maria who was about thirty or so, it was very hard to tell because she wore a scarf that appeared to cover a shaved head. Her five-year-old son, Eugenia, was with her. He was wearing undershorts and a soiled button up shirt. After talking with her through Natasha for a couple of days, I learned of her sad history.

She said that she had been born and raised in the Islamic tradition, but was no longer sure of that status. Her mother died when she was a child and her husband and father were both recently deceased and she had no “papers” to prove that she was a citizen. The government had taken her father’s apartment and she was left without a home or income. She and Eugenia had been living in a cemetery for weeks at this point with some food provided by a friend. She was looking for work and offered to clean the church (Central Baptist of St. Petersburg, membership of 1,200) for food for her son.

There were many older women who dutifully cleaned the church, so there was no work there for Maria. They were caring, giving women who had little to give, but soon though, Maria and her son had clothes and food and a few other necessities. There were those who offered to help her in trying to obtain the papers necessary for livelihood. I had no way of knowing the outcome for Maria and Eugenia. I look at their photos and wonder what their lives are like today.

Unfortunately, there was another group of women in Russia who worked in what some call the “oldest profession,” prostitution. Apparently many women were all over the country trying to live by selling intimate services. Below is one of the cards left throughout the hotel where I stayed. This is not a profession. And, it is not a choice many women make other than out of necessity. Based upon recent news from Moscow, the situation has not changed for this population of Russian women. 

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Apartments/Schools

In St. Petersburg it seemed that everyone lived in an apartment. I saw no private homes, although I am sure there were some grand ones for those high up in the government, mafia members and others with access to wealth. 

I walked through an apartment complex that must have housed at least a thousand residences. There were no sidewalks, simply paths through the knee-high grass. There was a school that could only be identified by a couple of crude pieces of playground equipment, otherwise, the school looked like another apartment building. 

I visited a couple from Kentucky who lived in a ninth floor apartment and the elevator was out of service. I was rewarded by seeing a mama cat and her kittens living on the seventh-floor landing, making the climb work the effort. 

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Pushkin stock-vector-vector-portrait-alexander-pushkin-471393209

Alexander Pushkin was a poet and playwright who lived from 1799-1837 in St. Petersburg. There was a little town named after him and I was fortunate enough to be able to visit not only the park-like village but also a small hospital there. The facility looked more like a US nursing home of years ago. The beds were small and uncomfortable looking. Many of the patients who chatted away in Russian with clueless visitors looked old but it may have been due more to life conditions than chronological age.

One thing that I will never forget in that hospital was a very large printed, framed portrait of our then current US President, William J. Clinton.

Part 4 of 6

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

St. Petersburg, Russia

Russia

Language

The Russian language is very difficult. I worked for months before the trip to learn as many words as possible. I listened to tapes (yes, cassettes) and gradually learned approximately 100 Russian words. Today after all those years, I remember about three or four: “No”, “Goodbye”, and “Thank You” for sure. Often when the people heard a visitor say a few words of Russian they then assumed that you spoke the language.  That could create problems without enough words to explain. 

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Currency

The currency when I was in Russia was very weak.  A ruble was worth less than 1/10 of a penny. Each day would begin by standing in line at a money exchange kiosk. 

St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad)

Transportation 

There were few private autos in Russia during the 1990’s, but there were trolleys, buses, subways and a few taxis. Public transportation was dependable, but very crowded, especially the buses which were cheapest. Commuters were jammed tightly together but never looked one another in the eye.

The Metro (subway) was one-third mile underground. The escalators were efficient in transporting passengers to and from the trains. The trains ran at 100 MPH and were clean and safe. The interpreter I was with said that pick-pocket thieves were on the lookout for tourists, but I experienced no problems nor suspicions.

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The Arts

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The Hermitage

The Hermitage is one of the world’s most premier museums. It is filled with priceless art and at the time I visited it had no temperature or humidity control for protection of these precious pieces.

Patrons were asked to remove our shoes and use soft slippers provided to reduce noise. We were allowed to walk around with few to no guards or docents to prevent damage to the irreplaceable works of art. 

Music and dance are adored in Russia and I was fortunate to be able to enjoy both while in St. Petersburg.

The ballet Swan Lake was performed in a historic theater by a newly formed dance company which now performs all over the world. The theater was grand, but showed signs of age and lack of maintenance as evidenced by the restroom picture below. 

I also had an opportunity to attend a folk music show with traditional dance, costumes, and instruments. It was the first time I had seen or heard the three-stringed instrument called a balalaika. 

 

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Photo by Pixabay

Part 3 of 6

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

Russia

Brief History

During the “cold war” I grew up hearing about the evil Russians who lived in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). The country’s shortened name was the Soviet Union and even that sounded ominous. People with enough money to afford underground bomb shelters had them built. There were discussions about the hard decision of what to do if during a nuclear attack a neighbor wanted to enter your shelter. What would you do was the question, since you likely didn’t even have enough supplies to sustain your own family for long. My family didn’t have to worry about that dilemma, but I worried about what would happen to us. Hearing of new threats on the evening news or hearing adults talk about the possibility of a Russian bomb was very unsettling for children. It didn’t help that we had bomb drills at school where we were taught to duck under our desks for protection from the falling bombs!

Communism

Communism came to Russia, then called a Socialist Federation, in a revolt led by Vladimir Lenin in 1917. Joining other Socialist Republics in 1922 the country became the USSR. Millions later died of starvation or while working in forced labor camps under the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. During World War II he led the Soviets in siding with Hitler but ended up losing over twenty-five million Soviet citizens. The Cold War between the US and the USSR followed this period. 

The last leader under the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, introduced a new openness called “glasnost” around 1986. He was elected President in 1990 and led the reformation of the Communist Party, called “perestroika.” Up to this time, Communism had discouraged all religions including the most prevalent Russian Orthodox. Boris Yeltsin was next elected and took the country further into democratic reform and to a free market system. 

Visit

In July of 1994, I visited Russia for seventeen days. It was worth every dollar spent, every inconvenience and every discomfort that I endured to learn that Russian people were not who I thought, who I had been taught. I will tell you more about what I learned in following posts. 

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Visa Application 02/18/1994

Part 1 of 6

 

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

SOUL 6

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THE ESSENCE OF EACH PERSON 

I believe the soul is the essence of a person. It is who they are at their core. This is not original, we’ve seen this word used by others in this series.

Since “soul” is such a difficult concept for me to imagine and since that word has connotations of both good and bad from my religious upbringing, I needed a different, more neutral word and “essence” works for me. It means a person’s intrinsic nature and immutable character. It is real, everlasting and never changing. Even after the person has died it is as recognizable as their face or their voice. 

My Recent Experiences

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My husband, who died in December of 2014, was a nature lover. He was wise in the ways of animals and birds. He was a master at growing beautiful things. He imparted his reverence for creatures and his appreciation for all living things to each of us who knew and loved him during his eighty-five years of life.  

When my two daughters and I visited their father’s gravesite for the first time we were driving along a country road on our return home. Suddenly, we all three, at the same time, saw a large group of cranes ahead of us flying in a V formation. In my entire life, I do not recall seeing more than one crane at a time and rarely in flight. I pulled my car to the side of the road and we watched this magnificent sight approach and then fly over our car in direct view of the sunroof and then behind us and off into the distance. 

We did not need to discuss or compare thoughts. Each of us knew that we had experienced our loved one communicating with us. Those strong birds in flight represented his essence.

We rarely go the thirty-plus miles to that quiet old cemetery without seeing a deer, a beautiful blue bird, or some other unexpected creature. One time there was even a box turtle on the road to be rescued and repositioned in the grass. It happens at other times, too. Just days ago I opened the front door to see a beautiful squirrel in front of my porch, sitting there to remind me of my husband’s nature and his love. This was the very first squirrel at our home in five years of living here and it was a gift. Let me be clear, I am not saying that any of these creatures are my deceased husband nor his soul. I’m saying they represent his essence. I believe they are there at his beckoning.

These instances happen less often now than in the first year or so after his death. I believe he knows we need them less now than early on. I believe he knows somehow that our family continues to think of him and cherish his memory, but that we have been comforted and are more at peace now with his absence. 

 

For more information I recommended this book: images

 

“Some cognitive scientists believe human response to music provides evidence that we are more than flesh and blood—— that we also have souls. “ Judy Picoult

Post 6 of 7

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

 

Soul 5

 

Questions? Questions!

More questions than answers, perhaps nowhere is this more the case than in discussing the soul. We speculate, imagine, believe, or believe in, a certain idea but we have no facts to back up that concept. One may have had experiences that reinforce personal beliefs, but is that proof? No.

Or perhaps you do not believe there is a soul at all? Many do not. Although said in jest, the statement made by a friend sums up that philosophy. She once referred to death as the “long dirt sleep.” Believing there is no soul, is no fun! How boring that would be. I would much rather speculate, study and discuss possibilities. As one reader/follower commented earlier, that means being “not a doubter, but a questioner.”

So, for the sake of discussion, we will go with the thought that there is a soul. I hope you are not offended as I sometimes refer to “it.” We all know that soul is the subject.  

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When does the soul begin? At conception? At birth? At death? 
Does it come as a vacuum or filled with wisdom to dispense? 
Does it belong to us or us to it?
Can it travel? Can it be in one location while one’s body is somewhere else?
How does the soul communicate?
Is it a generic template or are all souls individualized?
Does it direct? Correct? Control? Comfort?
Does it stay with the body after death, i.e. in the crematoria, in the grave or tomb?
Does it make choices or is it programmed?
Do only humans have souls? What about pets? Other animals?
Can a tree or body of water have a soul?

OK! OK! 

I’ll stop with the questions because we could go on forever. Also, many of you have previously shared some personal thoughts and beliefs about what a soul is like, including the following characteristics: spirit, eternal, underlying part, essence, oneness with others, capable of regeneration. 

Essence

For several years “essence” has been the word I use or think of in relation to the soul. When we meet people and form a close relationship we get to know them on a deep level and develop a sense of who they are at the very core. We get to know them well enough to evaluate their fundamental qualities and we remember that essence long after they have left us whether in distance or death. I also believe this “knowing” lives on in many ways in our hearts and minds, consciously and subconsciously as we continue to live life without that person, that relationship physically present. 

Approaching my seventy-fifth birthday, I have by this time, naturally lost many persons in my life who I loved and who I continue to miss. That’s life, it includes death. If we have one we have the other. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that people do live on in many, many different ways and in the next blog I will explain further, but in the meantime here are a few hints in photos.

 

“The true nature of soul is right knowledge, right faith and right conduct. The Soul, so long as it is subject to transmigration, is undergoing evolution and involution.”                      Virchand Gandhi

Part 5 of 7

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Beauty 3

Food for Thought from “Beauty 2” Quotes

 https://wordpress.com/post/crookedcreek.live/3480

I have thought about those quotes from well-known men and my thoughts follow each in red:

“A beautiful woman with a brain is like a beautiful woman with a club foot.” Bernard Cornfeld    This crook millionaire is dead now.

“The highest prize in the world of men is the most beautiful woman available on your arm and living there in her heart loyal to you.” Norman Mailer  And besides all the women he had relationships with, he married six others, one whom he stabbed twice in the abdomen.

“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.” Tom Wolfe He has a Ph.D. from Yale and has had an outstanding career as a writer. Since he has only had one wife one would assume she must be a really good cook.

“It’s the combination of marrying a beautiful woman three decades younger and my iPad that keeps me young.” Bruce Forsyth    He was married three times and lived to be eighty-nine so apparently, his last young wife, a beauty queen, did keep him young. Or perhaps it was just the iPad?

“Surrounding myself with beautiful women keeps me young.” Hugh Hefner
This old fart finally died in spite of all his beautiful Playboy Bunnies.

“My addiction has always been to beautiful women, being surrounded by them.” Corey Feldman   Yeah, well okay, but you are no prize and you are also only 5’5” tall so it is doubtful they surround you for the reason that you believe.

BEAUTYMaybe only skin deep, but so very essential for the female it seems. 

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BEAST –   Was he really?

As I said earlier I often come to my conclusions and hold steadfastly to them without knowing the whole story. All I knew was that Beauty fell in love with a big hairy animal. I saw that as unacceptable on every level. Why must a female be so needy as to accept this as her fate? One reader pointed out that Beauty was good-natured and kind and that her virtues were rewarded. I had not gotten close enough to give much consideration to anything except what I saw as inequality.  

My Granddaughter (the same one who insisted I watch Frozen) knowing my strong feelings about the lack of egalitarianism in fairy tales as well as life, in general, asked me recently if I knew the backstory of Beauty and the Beast. I did not, but I do now. She explained that he was not really a beast, but a young prince who had been cursed by a wicked fairy. Only the love of a beautiful young girl could break the curse, but he was not allowed to tell Beauty that. She referred me to a group of podcasts that tell an earlier “non-Disneyfied” version of the tale. As I listened to the podcasts I learned that this was a complex story involving multiple cultures, families, communities, and fairies both good and bad.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/tales/id1345709834?mt=2

It was shocking to learn how long this story has been around and how much it has and yet has not changed over the centuries. My interest being kindled I began to research more about the origins and found that the original was written in France in 1740. The original author was Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve but in an interview with the BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-35358487  Dr. Jamie Tehrani stated: “Some of these stories go back much further than the earliest literary record and indeed further back than Classical mythology – some versions of these stories appear in Latin and Greek texts – but our findings suggest they are much older than that.” If this researcher is correct then such stories began as oral tales perhaps as long as 4,000 years ago. 

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Photo Courtesy of Google

Another interesting theory is that the Beast was based on a true story. There are paintings from 1580 of a man named Petrus Gonsalvus who had long hair on his entire body and face, a condition called “hypertrichosis”  or “Ambras Syndrome.” Gonsalvus as a child was abducted to the court of King Henry II who was reportedly interested in peculiarities. He was kept on as a court jester until the death of the King. After a marriage was arranged by the late King’s wife through trickery he was allowed to leave with his surprised (horrified?) wife.  They had seven children, three of whom had the same genetic syndrome and who were removed from the home to please other wealthy royalty.  

The original tome by Barbot de Villeneuve was first abridged in 1756 and then again in 1889. Since that time it has evolved through books, on stage as an opera and ballet and in movies. It has even been on television including The Hallmark Hall of Fame. When I’ve considered The Beauty and the Beast up until the past couple of weeks I had no idea that its history went back perhaps to the Bronze Age. Does that make its story better? Does it make it more acceptable? Apparently, it does for it to have endured so long and to have been enjoyed by so many. 

Number 3 of 4

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Beauty 2

Fairy Tales

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Google Photo

 

In the last post, I promised to give you my “idea” for a children’s book. https://crookedcreek.live/2018/03/20/beauty/

Some reader comments indicate you may be expecting an actual book, but I am sorry it does not exist. I’ve only gotten to the title because I know that actually writing the book would be an enormous waste of time. No publisher would be interested in a book with my title.

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Handsome

Handsome guy, right? My book would have him falling in love with an ugly hag. Can you picture him dancing with or kissing such an old woman? Of course, you can’t because it has never happened and it never will. There’s no money in that story! There is no reality in that story.

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and the 

For centuries, however, the opposite plot has been accepted and even expected. The book Beauty and the Beast has been read to children for generations. The three movies by the same name have been attended by families since the first one was released in the 1940s. I would love to know how many children may have asked their parents why the beautiful girl was in the arms of the big hairy monster. I wonder how many parents were uncomfortable with the storyline.

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HAG

 

 

        

 

 

“Handsome and the Hag”

 

Some food for thought:

“A beautiful woman with a brain is like a beautiful woman with a club foot.” Bernard Cornfeld

“The highest prize in the world of men is the most beautiful woman available on your arm and living there in her heart loyal to you.” Norman Mailer

“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.” Tom Wolfe

“It’s the combination of marrying a beautiful woman three decades younger and my iPad that keeps me young.” Bruce Forsyth

“Surrounding myself with beautiful women keeps me young.” Hugh Hefner

“My addiction has always been to beautiful women, being surrounded by them.” Corey Feldman

Number 2 of 4

Theme photo in title and others by Pixabay

Beauty

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Painting from Beauty and the Beast                                                                                                  Courtesy of Pixabay

Fairy Tales

As a parent, I have often felt quite guilty about not watching cartoons and other animated children’s programs with my daughters while they were growing up. A few were acceptable, but those based on fairy tales definitely were not. A reader recently commented here that fairy tales are often very dark and I agree, however my main objection has always been that females are portrayed as weak and submissive and their value equated with their physical beauty.

Snow White wasn’t even alive until a male came along and brought her to life with a kiss. At least I think that’s what it was about. Sometimes I take a quick look or hear a few words and then establish my emphatic opinion. I’ve recently learned that is often the wrong approach. Regardless, I am sure that black and brown little girls find it difficult to identify with Snow White

When our daughters were small their Father watched cartoons and children’s stories with them on TV. I don’t think I ever watched even Bambi all the way through, but I remember the word “twitterpated” and was surprised when I looked it up just now and learned it did not have the sexual connotation that I had always believed.

I did not have patience with musicals either. A couple of years ago my grown-up granddaughter asked me to watch the animated movie, Frozen, with her. It was not her first time to see it and I felt she wanted to see if I’d softened up any over the years so I agreed. Perhaps it is because our family is not musically inclined but I’ve just never heard any of us break out in song. It is unnatural! The main characters, Elsa and Anna were undeniable beauties, of course. 

Beauty and the Beast

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Photos courtesy of Disneyclips.com

That brings me to the story Beauty and the Beast which I detested long before the smash hit Disney movie was released last year.  I loathe the very name. Why would a beautiful young girl fall in love with an ugly hairy monster? Each time I heard the title I would think, “How could they in this day and age? Aren’t we even trying to encourage little girls to be strong and independent?” Of course, I have not seen the movie. Aware that it was an age-old children’s book I even felt a little superior that, as a parent, I had not read this book and others like it to my daughters. 

For many years I have fantasized about writing my own children’s book and it would definitely have a different theme than those relying on beauty to determine a girl’s worth. I’ve had the title for so long that if I even begin to talk about it my granddaughters chime in with it before I can get it out.

My children’s book idea coming up in the next post! Stick around. 


“Beauty and the Beast” Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmWBIxbn7Nk

Number 1 of 4

Books 4

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First Book Memories, Favorite Books and Authors

So many of us remember our reader, Dick and Jane from first grade! Nancy Drew mysteries are another favorite among Crooked Creek readers. This chart lists your first memories and your favorites according to comments made regarding the past three posts: 

1st Book Memory

“A Tree for Peter”  by Kate Seredy

Dick & Jane (elementary school book)

Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene

“Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

Favorite Books

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith

“The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck

Scriptures from the “Good Book”

Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross

Favorite Authors

Mary Higgins Clark

Harland Coban

Shakespeare

Nickolas Sparks

Jodi Picoult

James Patterson

Francine Rivers

Dean Koontz

Stephen King

Lisa Gardner

Access, Storage and Disposal

Most of you indicated that you love books today even though many of you did not have books readily available in your family growing up. Some obtained books from the library or a “Bookmobile” operated in rural areas. I, too, remember those visiting libraries, but I do not if they still exist. An interesting concept today for urban readers, according to one of you is the placement of small repositories where books may be borrowed or added.

You are a generous group, mostly passing your books on to others or donating them. Some of you resale at Half-Price Bookstores. And, it seems that there are always books with which we cannot part. Only one person shared how their books are arranged and that was by alphabetical order. Readers were about 50 to 50% in preference of paper books versus electronic or audio books.

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Pixabay Photo

Genre

Whether you are reading for self-improvement, to learn new skills, to broaden your mind with history or poetry or simply to be entertained or thrilled you are engaging in an activity that will forever be a part of your life. Even if, like one reader, we need to keep a list of the books read so that we don’t buy them a second time, there are passages that affect us in ways of which we are unaware. 

Thank You Pat, Lula, Rose, Kay, Sylvia and Others

I am honored that this blog is one of the things that you read!  

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“Good books, like good friends, are few and chosen; the more select, the more enjoyable.”  Louisa May Alcott

Part 4 of 5

Books 3

Favorite Book and Favorite Author

For the avid reader, this can be a difficult question to answer. This asks one to consider everything from the classics to beach reading, fiction, and non-fiction, history, poetry, and prose. Rather than doing a detailed evaluation of your reading over the past, let’s make this easy. Which author comes to mind at this moment? Which book?

Fine. That is asking too much, so please share with us your top three favorite books. Likewise, your three favorite authors. That should be easier and the books and authors should coincide, right?

My Favorites

You know I would never ask you to do something that I am unwilling to do, right? You also know I love sharing with you, the readers, so here goes in no particular order.

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The first book that comes to my mind is A Prayer for Owen Meany. I read this book by John Irving many years ago and it has remained a favorite of mine to this day. In fact, after a few years, I simply remembered that it was a fun read and recalled only a few parts of the storyline, so I read it again and then later again. Naturally, the author became a favorite and I have read many of his books and now that I write this wonder why I have not read all of them.

It may be that I especially enjoy Irving’s writing because he is my contemporary. If you are not familiar with his work, you may recall some of the movies based on his writings. The first is The World According to Garp (1982) and another very popular one is Cider House Rules (1999). Do either of these ring a bell?

Irving’s mind and imagination are astounding. They might also be described as bizarre. In my opinion, he is more imaginative than Stephen King another favorite of mine. Warning, if you are offended by sexual content, Irving is not the writer for you.

“Imagining something is better than remembering something.” John Irving in The World According to Garp.


 

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Another writer that I have great admiration for is William Styron who died in 2006 at the age of 81. Styron wrote many award-winning novels and essays. Most are familiar with the movie Sophie’s Choice which is based on Styron’s book of the same name. Being born during WWII, I have always been interested in reading about that era and particularly the Holocaust. Styron received a fair amount of criticism because the main character in his book was not Jewish, but Catholic. I can understand some being sensitive to that since over 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, however, there were others who were targeted, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Romas (then referred to as Gypsies) and the handicapped to name a few. That controversy aside, Sophie’s Choice is a spellbinding and at the same time heart-rending book.

The Confessions of Nat Turner, which won the author a Pulitzer Prize is another of Styron’s that I particularly liked. This historical novel tells in first person the narrative Turner’s leadership of a slave revolt in VA in 1831. 

Styron was a prolific writer and his works included accounts of his own challenges living with depression.

“A good book should leave you… slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.”  William Clark Styron


 

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John Steinbeck was born in Salinas, CA in 1902 and was known for both humor and a strong social conscious. Four years before his death at age 66 he won a Nobel Prize in Literature. Two of my favorite Steinbeck books are described briefly below. 

East of Eden, my favorite book by Steinbeck, was published in1952 and set in his homeland, the Salinas Valley of Central California. It was originally written for his two young sons so that they might know the valley he loved in detail. The writer tells about the entangled lives of two families one of which is believed to have been his maternal ancestors. Steinbeck is reported to have considered East of Eden to have been his masterpiece stating “I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.” 

The Grapes of Wrath published in 1939 won Steinbeck both a Pulitzer for fiction and the National Book Award. It is about a family of tenant farmers living in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. Because of both their financial distress and the years of drought hundreds of families fled their homes to look for a future in California. 

One year after this historical novel was published a movie was made by the same name, starring Henry Fonda.

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”  John Ernst Steinbeck


It was not until I started writing this post, that I realized all these favorites are all American writers. There are others who I love to read, but they are predominately American, too. As mentioned earlier I enjoy Stephen King, but also Tony Morrison, Maya Angelo, Rebecca Wells, and poet Niki Giovanni. 

Before wrapping this post up I must add Gabriel Jose’ Garcia Marquez, a Columbian journalist who became a prolific novelist. He too has won the Nobel Prize in Literature. There is so much more I want to say about Garcia Marquez but will stop by recommending these two books, Life in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude. 


 

Part 3 of 5

 

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Thanks

Thank You Readers

As of today Crooked Creek has 120 followers! While I am happy about the numbers, I am a little skeptical. It seems likely that some (or many) of these “followers” signed up but do not actually read many posts. I suppose my doubt comes from the dearth of feedback. Regardless, I appreciate each follower/reader, each comment and “like.”

A couple of folks have told me that they cannot “like” a post without signing up for WordPress. This is up to you of course, but I don’t believe that it would be obligatory in any way to do so. Many “likes” now come from other bloggers because they are already a part of WordPress. If you have questions, please communicate them to me and I will try to find the answers.    suebmattingly@gmail.com 

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Thank You Donors

While concentrating on gratitude, I want to also thank all the people in the US and around the globe who donate blood and plasma. We are all very familiar with the Red Cross and the crucial need for blood during times of disaster and war. What many do not realize unless personally impacted is that very vital components of plasma also play a role in saving or sustaining life.

If you will pardon the very personal account of some of my medical history I want to share with you how donated antibodies withdrawn from donor plasma have kept me safe for almost seven years. In 2011 I was hospitalized and very ill. At that time I learned that I had some serious hematological issues. There is no need to go into a lot of detail and I won’t bore you with the long names of two significant diagnoses that resulted. It is enough to say that I have a primary immune deficiency because I am no longer able to manufacture my own antibodies to fight off infections. That’s where the gratitude comes in.

The immunologist immediately began a treatment with IV antibodies (immunoglobulin) available through donated blood plasma. I responded fairly well to continued monthly treatment as evidenced by a rise in antibodies in my blood but soon these treatments had to be terminated because of serious reactions. For the following year and a half, I was at risk of and sick with infections due to the lack of antibodies. In the spring of 2013 before my 70th birthday, I was put on weekly self-administered subcutaneous (as opposed to IV) infusions of the same type of human antibodies. My antibody level immediately began to rise and it has been in the normal range for a long time now, allowing me to live with much less risk.

#250

This is on my mind because tonight as I began to document the required infusion information in my log I noted that this is infusion number 250. These years passed quickly and easily for me. All I have to do to maintain the ability to fight infection is invest a couple of hours weekly and endure 3 needle sticks in my abdomen or upper thighs. A piece of cake!

This would not be possible without the altruism of thousands upon thousands of plasma donors. Many of you are already blood and/or plasma donors, as are many of my friends and family and I appreciate each of you so very much. Some of you, perhaps, may not have been aware of all the other crucial needs for blood components. Lives are not only being saved in emergencies, but lives are being preserved for patients from birth (remember the so-called “bubble boy?”) through older adults. Immune deficiency is only one of those conditions, but I hope that my account of this diagnosis has been informative and might lead to more donors.

Sometimes we hear so much of inhumanity and selfishness that it would be easy to forget that there are altruistic people who give not only their time and money to help others through charities but some give even their blood, tissue and organs. Each Thursday evening when I assemble the supplies for my infusion, I am mindful of those who made it possible.

 


If you are interested in further information on this particular subject you may reference:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26174901

or

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2935641/

 

Theme photo in title & graphic by Pixabay

Medicine 3

Sexology Continued

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Conceiving a “Babe”

There is little doubt why there were very large families at the beginning of the 20th Century. The Complete Guide to Prevention and Cure of Disease, which was no doubt the prevalent thinking of the time, provided a very long and detailed chart outlining fertile and barren periods in a woman’s menstrual cycle. Unfortunately, it was dead wrong. The chart lists the days at the beginning and end of the cycle as “probable fertile” and the middle of the cycle which is we now know when ovulation occurs as “probable barren.”  By accident, a couple of the “probable fertile” days may have been in fact fertile. 

Birth control is not a subject of these chapters on Sexology and I am glad. No way would I care to describe here the method most common at that time. We’ll just move on to determining whether the “babe” will be a boy or a girl. This book seems very confident in opinions regarding choosing the sex of a child. 

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Will the “Babe” be a boy or a girl?

We know today that the male sperm determines the sex of a baby. We’ve had more than a   century to study and learn, so it is unfair, I suppose, to make fun of the 1910 thinking. But hey, that’s up to you. Here’s what the manuscript says in direct quote or paraphrase:

  • “The ovary is undoubtedly the predominant factor.” 
  • “Nutritional disturbances” such as diabetes are more likely to lead to the birth of a girl. 
  • “Emotion” is a factor in sex determination and the soul pervades every element of our bodies with either pleasure or pain.
  • To conceive the desired sex, during intercourse (or coitus as Sheldon of “Big Band Theory” would say) ones’ mental recollections should be pleasant and calm. 
  • Experiments were made using cows and horses resulting in eight (8) different conditions that influenced the sex of a calf or colt, including the age, strength, health and work history of each animal parent. 
  • These animal observations were then applied to human parents.

 

 

 

Want a Boy?

The husband must partake of “substantial food, exercise in open air and indulge in light literature.” He should also not “indulge” himself for a few days prior to intercourse. The wife should eat a vegetarian diet, exercise daily to almost fatigue and spend some time with older women. She should also take certain extracts which are listed. 

Want a Girl? 

Do the opposite! The wife should eat animal food, not “indulge her passions” and keep all her “vigor for the desired time.”  The husband should do “exercise to fatigue,” and take a “sitz bath of cold rock-salt water” morning and night. 

Final Sexology Warning 

Above all take “Care of the Passions.” The book cautions that those who are reckless in this respect will “Produce disorders of the nervous system. Messengers of evil or of good are ever passing” through the reflex centers of the brain, stomach, and genitals and “to touch one is to touch all.”  

 

 

 

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/01/23/medicine/

Part 3 of 4

 

 

Medicine 2

Sexology

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It seems to me that Dr. Scholl and his writers hedge their bets in giving advice on Courtship and Matrimony. The recommendations are pretty emphatic but then a little wiggle room for the exception exists.

Those reading this post on a device smaller than a computer may not be able to read the print on the copied page above so I will paraphrase it for you. In summary:

  • Dispositions should be studied before falling in love. To do otherwise is blind folly. 
  • Run around long enough to be sure about the person you are settling on.
  • Courtship shouldn’t be rushed.
  • Long engagements are a spectacle of the couple getting on each other’s nerves.
  • Affinity (vs. aversion?) is essential.
  • Don’t marry someone dumber than you.
  • Grow up before you get married.

I am sorry to report that a page or two of Sexology seems to be missing, but have no fear there is more information to convey. I was both surprised and concerned to learn the following: 

  • Courage in a woman is illustrated by how well she cares for her children, especially when the children are ill for “weary hours, days or weeks.”
  • The mood determines whether pregnancy occurs, i.e., there will be no conception without “sexual emotion.”  
  • Life itself should be a sober hilarity” whatever that means and homes that approach sex with “holy fidelity” . . . prepare children to “dwell in heaven.”

Now that we have all that cleared up we will in the next post move on the section entitled “Can Parents Control the Sex of the Child?” Most parents of teens today would quickly answer, of course not, they will do whatever they decide regarding having sex, but on closer scrutiny, I believe that the advice refers to choosing the sex when a child is conceived.

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/01/23/medicine/

Part 2 of 4

Medicine

The Bookshelf

Bookshelves barely exist today. Those that remain often contain old books left over from a former era or perhaps ones with some sentimental memory attached. I must admit that I still like the feel of a real book and I like to highlight and make notes in margins. I can do that with my Kindle but it just does not feel the same. I will admit though that clicking on an unfamiliar word and having the definition pop up on the screen is a valuable feature of electronic readers. 

1970s Print

This framed print from my office is a drawing by Robert Conley.  Conley’s art was in tribute to nurses who cared for his terminally ill wife in the 1970s. I love it for many personal reasons, but I’m sharing it today to point out two essential medical books of that era. The Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR) and The Merck Manual seen here were essentials in any clinical area. The PDR was published each year and contained page after page of details about each prescription drug available.  It was heavily used by doctors and nurses alike. The Merck Manual explained diagnoses and treatments. I am willing to bet that you do not recall seeing either of these in the past thirty years and younger readers will not likely remember ever seeing a doctor referencing a book of any kind. 

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The reason, of course, is that now all this information and so much more is available and up to date electronically. This easily accessible data saves time and, no doubt lives. One only needs a handheld device to answer any inquiry. 

1910 Manuscript

Recently I ran across a few pages I had photocopied from an old book at some point long ago. I have no recollection why I had them or had kept them, but I’m glad that I did. Especially since that out of all “Twenty Books” in the “One Volume” I had chosen to copy Book VIII entitled “Sexology.”

Library of Health – Complete Guide to Prevention and Cure of Disease

Edited by B. Frank School, Ph.G, M.D.

Graduate of Jefferson Medical College and Philadephia College of Pharmacy

Table of Contents:

Anatomy, Physiology and Preventive Medicine, Curative Medicine, First Aid Measures, Diagnosis, Nursing, Sexology, Simple Home Remedies, Care of the Teeth, Occupational Diseases, Garden Plant Remedies, Alcohol and Narcotics, Treatment by Fifteen Schools of Medicine, Beauty Culture, Physical Culture, the Science of Breathing and the Dictionary of Drugs. 

Historical Publishing Co.          Philadelphia, PA


In the next few posts, I will summarize some of the wisdom contained in this 108-year-old manuscript. So if you have questions about courtship, matrimony, procreation and more HANG ON! The answers are on the way. 

Part 1 of 4

 

 

Cats 3

Here We Are in 2018

In these almost ten years of cohabitation, I’m unable to find one photo of Zoe and Elliott together. She has never warmed up to him. He has never learned that she likes her personal space. 

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Monetary Liability

I am not exaggerating when I say that the medical care for the two cats combined is a few thousand dollars. Even though I have all the records and receipts I don’t want to know the actual total. I do recall that Elliott’s heart ultrasound was $350 back in 2008 and that his workup last year for a period of lethargy when I thought he was surely terminal was about the same. He was apparently just faking it since all his tests and exams were normal.

These charges are fair and are part of the deal when we take animals into our lives. The total includes annual exams and vaccinations as well as illnesses. Add to that food, litter, treats, toys, brushes, nail trimmers, bathing (Elliott loves his spa days, Zoe not so much) and laser pointers which are so much fun for cat and human and the investment is not insignificant. This fact is important to know before taking on the responsibility of a pet.

Are They Worth It?    

Absolutely, many times over, but if money is tight this may not be the time to adopt a cat (or other pet). 

Hard Decisions 

To the vets’ chagrin, Elliott has continued to gain weight. None of the counseling, handouts or warnings has worked. Not even four pounds when we adopted him, this week he topped the scales at nearly twenty-two pounds. It wasn’t that I did not understand the instructions or the cardiac condition that made being overweight a risk. I did. I do. But when there are two cats who live together and one is skinny and the other obese it is a dilemma. The only way to limit Elliott’s food is to put the cats into separate living areas and that is next to impossible in this space. So, the decision I have made, right or wrong, is quality over quantity.

Elliott was rescued on a railroad track when he was a kitten. There is no way to know how he got there or how he survived long enough to be saved, but he has been happy for all the years since. 

We are lucky that his murmur has not worsened in spite of the weight. He is a big fat happy boy whose heart is full of love. 

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Number 3 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

NOW

Halloween 21st Century Upgrade

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In 1999 Dianne married Floyd Bynum and soon after they began to host a Halloween party each year.  They sensationally exceed anything we did back back in the day.        

Their Open House is always decorated inside and out with lights, color, frightful moving objects and sounds. They create original costumes and outdo themselves with festive and sometimes scary food. 

Since the party is always on Halloween night regardless of the day that falls on, we get to enjoy Trick or Treaters who come to the door in droves. I love to see the kids of all ages with creative costumes ranging from preschoolers dressed as their favorite cartoon characters to teens, sometimes dressed as TV personalities or political figures.

This annual party is for friends, neighbors, and relatives of all ages. When October begins I start looking forward to what imaginative invitation will be received. These are a few of my favorites. 

Some of my costumes over the years have included a bag lady, “cereal” killer, camouflaged hunter and the wolf who ate Grandma, but these days I make do with a Halloween tee.  Speaking of costumes here are just a few: 

 

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If there was a prize it would have to go to Kate as Garden Statue from “Dr. Who”          Photo by Allison Puckett

 

 

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Kate as Corpse Bride                              Photo by Allison Puckett

 

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Photo by Allison Puckett

 

 

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Elizabeth as Cleopatra

 

It’s a little late to plan a big party this year, but if you are not tired of Halloween you have through Sunday, November 5 this year to take in the Louisville Jack O Lantern Spectacular at Iroquois Park. I promise you that it is worth the effort. The display of artistic pumpkin carving must be seen to be believed. Check it out! http://www.jackolanternlouisville.com

                             Jack O Lantern Photos by Allison Puckett

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE ! ! !

THEN

Halloween Then

Country in the 40s

The earliest memory I have of Halloween was when we still lived on Crooked Creek. Trick or Treating had not been heard of back then, or at least not in rural Anderson County. I am surprised to recall going to a Halloween Party at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church. I have no idea whether this was a regular event because I only remember that one. Even some adults were dressed in costumes or “false faces” which is what we called masks. I told my mother that I wanted to dress up as Nancy, a little girl in the daily comics. I always looked for Nancy in my grandfather’s paper, but only after he had finished all the sections. I learned very young that nobody messed with Pappy’s Courier-Journal which he read each day from the front page to the back.

 

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Nancy By Ernie Bushmiller 

 

My mom agreed and I have no idea what we came up with for a costume. All I remember is, and this part is hauntingly vivid, she hung a sign around my neck that read simply “Nancy.”

Town in the 50s

We moved to Taylorsville when I was around seven years old, and I’m not sure Mom was any more creative by then, but I certainly recall being introduced to the Trick or Treat tradition by my new friends. What a dream come true that a bunch of kids could put on false faces and go from house to house for hours collecting free candy! This town life was proving to be incredible! Such innocence.

The Burbs During the 60s

As we all know, time passes swiftly and soon I was the mother of kids to dress up for Halloween. Raymond and I lived in a new subdivision in Jeffersontown and it was the perfect place for our two young daughters to go out begging for treats. What fun we all had! In our family, Halloween became a time almost as celebrated as Christmas. We planned ahead, decorated, stocked up on candy to hand out and of course let our girls decide who or what they wanted to be on that scary night. Their dad and I would take turns going out with the Trick or Treaters or staying at home to hand out treats to the many children who rang our doorbell.

After a very long search today I was able to locate and scan pictures of Dianne and Allison on two of those years when they were still quite young. It is interesting to note that the oldest, Dianne, dressed up as a princess both years. Do we see a pattern here?

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Amid all these happy memories one particular Halloween stands out that went awry. Our youngest, Allison, who was always quite . . . we’ll say, “active”, ran toward a neighbor’s door, tripped over a bike and ended we up at the old Kosair Children’s hospital where she received a few stitches in her chin. For years she showed off the scar as a badge of her fierceness.

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In a few years, innocence gave way to suspicion and worry, after reports began to surface regarding all kinds of perverted “tricks” being played by adults. The TV news warned of poisons and sharp objects being imbedded into candy and other treats. At that point, parents began to ban eating anything collected until they had carefully examined each item. It even came to the point where local hospitals were x-raying the treat bags as a free service. In spite of this Halloween has survived and is still a fun time for most families with small children.

The truth is, we like to scare and be scared. We like a time to pretend we are someone or something else, maybe someone daring like a superhero or frightening such as a vampire or serial killer.

Did you Trick or Treat as a child? If so, what was your favorite costume or memory?

WINDS of CHANGE

“Change is going to happen, just as the wind is going to blow.” 

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How to live in The Winds of Change 

When I was a kid I could make a phone call on a rotary pay phone for a dime. As I got older it went up to a quarter. Long distance phone calls whether from home or a phone booth were very expensive and required the help of an operator. For you younger readers an operator was a person, nearly always female, who physically plugged in connections to your party. 

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Do you have a rain barrel at your home? I don’t expect many, if any at all, will respond “yes” to that question, but I have seen one or two in recent years as homeowners become more green. When I was a little girl we had rain barrels to collect water used for washing clothes. That water was filled with “wiggle-tails”  (insects) which swam around jerkily near the top of the water. Looking back I strongly suspect they metamorphosed, i.e., changed, into mosquitoes. I also vaguely remember having a baby duck which I let swim round and round in a rain barrel until it grew too big. 

One day I was upset that my older brother and his friends were swimming in one of our farm ponds and I wasn’t allowed to join them. I don’t remember being given a reason but would bet it had to do with being too young or more likely, being a girl. So, my Mom’s answer to my unhappiness was to lift me over into a rain barrel and order me to “Play and have fun” while she watched to be sure I didn’t drown. Is it any wonder that I remain a non-swimmer to this day? 

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Pixabay

 

Please bear with me for one more example of change from my childhood. My maternal grandmothers cooked everything from scratch. My paternal grandmother (Grandmother) milked her own cow morning and night and made butter from part of the milk. My maternal grandmother (Mammy) even picked the nut meat for baking out of walnuts and hickory nuts that she gathered from her yard. I recall hearing her sharing a recipe once and the only part that I remember is that she said to “Add lard about the size of a hen egg.” I wish I had been inquisitive enough to ask whether other of her recipes, which were never written down, might have required a different size egg, e.g., a goose egg or perhaps a bantam egg?

SUMMARY: Over the past few weeks, we have looked at change in various ways.

  1. Is change good?
  2. Is it inevitable?
  3. Do we basically stay the same in spite of the changes we experience around us?

Several readers have commented about the aspects of change you find either uncomfortable or reassuring. 

THE ANSWER: is blowing in the wind, my friend. It is blowing in the wind. Please listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G58XWF6B3AA

And, what does this mean to you? Are we part of the answer? Are we helpless, buffeted endlessly by the winds of change? Bob Dylan, one of my favorite musicians, by the way, is ambivalent therefore the interpretation is up to each of us.

Katherine Whitehorn* made this significant point worth remembering: “The wind of change, whatever it is, blows most freely through an open mind …”

 

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“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  William Arthur Ward

 

*British journalist, writer, and columnist born in 1928. She was known to be a keen observer of the changing role of women.

Part 4 of 4

Theme photo by Pixabay

 

CHANGE

Change Happens

Depending on our age we may have seen tremendous changes in our lifetime. I doubt that change is as evident to younger adults or that they have time to give it much consideration in their busy lives. As a retired person though, I have time to contemplate such trivial topics. This subject came to me yesterday as I walked past a soccer game and observed young parents dividing their attention between their kids playing on the field and the screens of their smartphones. I thought back many years to when I watched my children playing and while my mind may have wandered (ok, it did wander) I would not have been distracted by an electronic device as we are today. As I continued walking it dawned on me that because of these ubiquitous phones we no longer need to wear a watch, although we are likely to be wearing an activity tracker that includes the time along with our number of steps, miles, heart rate and other data. The same is true of alarm clocks, maps, calculators, newspapers, cameras and so much more made redundant by this one small gadget.

I might have first genuinely appreciated the changes that a lifetime can hold while talking to my stepfather when I was fifty or so and he was in his eighties. We were in the milking barn at his dairy farm and he was sitting comfortably in a leather recliner watching an automatic feeding system advance food to each cow patiently waiting in her stanchion. As the conveyor belt moved food and hay down the length of his modern barn I recalled my childhood seeing my father in his small barn where he did everything by hand including milking each cow twice a day. This was change, this was progress, but it still made me a little sad.

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Is change Good?

Overall, change is good though, right? For the most part, I believe that it is, but we cannot deny that with progress has come loss. In my own lifetime, certain things come to mind that I wish I could experience again, for example not only being with Dad as he worked the farm, but wading in Crooked Creek with its sandy bottom and creepy crawfish, swinging with my cousin, Pat, on our grandparents front porch, riding my bike all over town with my best friend, Jeanie. Those years of innocence and discovery are the ones I miss most from my youth. I also miss the simplicity of my daughters’ childhoods growing up in a subdivision filled with other young families where they played outdoors with friends and each day held new experiences. We cannot go back, but I am grateful for memories of each phase of life. I may be through making scrapbooks, but I’m not through making memories even though they are peppered with jokes about age, lamenting the loss of height and trying to keep up with medical appointments.

I refuse to be intimidated by change, by technology or by the things that have been lost over time. Change may not always be welcome, but it is inevitable.

How about you? What are your thoughts about change? Again, more to come!

“The secret of change is to focus all of yor energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”  Socrates

 

Part 1 of 4

 

Photos by Pixabay

Update

Update to “One Fear Explained”

A few days ago while putting gas in my car I spotted a spider on the pump. Not just any spider, but the worst kind: big, black, and hairy. It looked at me and I knew that I would not be able to complete my task. I asked the attendant in the little glass cage if he would help me and he graciously agreed. While he topped off my tank and replaced my gas cap I sat in the car with the windows rolled up. I let my window down a crack to say, “Thank you” to the nice man and he casually asked how long I’d had arachnophobia. My reply, “Since I was a preschooler” prompted him to say, “WOW! That long!”  So, now I drove home not only frightened but insulted by my hero. 

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What I Know for Sure 4

The Last Seven

As you may have noticed, this subject has been difficult for me. Quite honestly I am surprised, because I’ve been nothing in life if not sure of my opinions, but therein lies the problem, I believe. Opinions are easy to come by, easy to hold, easy to change. Knowing something for sure is utterly different. Knowing means possessing proof, irrefutable facts, it is a reality, the unwavering truth. This reality is harder to come by. In previous posts, I came up with thirteen (13), if you allow me to include those I threw in facetiously. In order to meet the high bar set by Oprah, in number only, I was determined to come up with seven (7) more things of which I am sure. After much contemplation, here they are:

14. The love of an animal is pure. They give physical comfort, make no demands, don’t pout and are quick to forgive. 

15. Death comes to all living creatures. No matter how we try to avoid this fact it is a reality. 

16. There are no perfect marriages. Some are happier than others, some have more trials, but regardless of the effort put into a marriage, it is not possible to live with another human being without some rough spots and adjustments along the way.

17. White privilege is real. The greatest advantage I’ve been given in life, I have done nothing to earn. It was provided to me at birth simply as a result of having two white parents. 

18. Time spent in nature is rewarding. The sounds of birds, crickets, and water flowing, the feel of breezes that touch one’s face, the glimpse of a small furry animal scurrying along the ground, even the faint fragrance of a wildflower are healing and rejuvenating to the spirit of who we are or were meant to be. 

19. I cannot turn over a new leaf. No matter how many times I try, simply acknowledging that I need to make a change is not incentive enough. For me to make a change, it must involve serious consequences.

20. High heels are detrimental to a woman’s health. Created in Persia (Iran today) to be worn by men riding horses, a raised heel served the practical purpose of keeping the feet within the stirrup. High heels today serve no purpose except to hobble women, making them more vulnerable not only to assault, but to back pain, falls, and injuries to the foot and ankle. Yes, I am aware that they can be beautiful and that women who are strong and agile, can look stunning wearing them, but I maintain that they are not worth the risks involved. 


We have explored and exhausted this subject for now at least. You, the readers, have contributed many things that you know to be true and they are listed below. Please feel free to comment, adding more things you have decided are true over the past month. I believe that something can be true to one of us, yet not all of us. We are individuals and we do not think, feel or believe the same. Thank you so much for sharing with me and with each other. 

What Readers Know for Sure:

I am but a microscopic speck in the great macrocosm of the universe.  
My existence has had a purpose
Life IS worth living
I am a morning person  
I know God is real
A true friend lifts you when you’re down, listens to your problems, is caring and encouraging.
Columbus Day marks the beginning of recorded history in America.
Millions of European migrants came here bringing their music, art, science, medicine and religious principles that shaped the United States.
A leopard can’t change its spots.   
You can’t go back, only forward.
You can’t change the past.
One hand washes the other hand.
You can’t change a person’s thinking when it comes to religion or politics.
What I believe for sure, you may not.
My mother, brothers, and sister have loved me unconditionally.
I have the inner faith and strength to get through very difficult times.
Teachers can change a student for a lifetime.  
Seasons follow each other.
Spring starts from the ground up.
The moon and stars follow the sun. 
Full moons cause strange behavior in people.
Everyone is either predator or prey.
Every action has a reaction.
The human body is the most incredible organism.
Every person has a story.
Every person can choose how to react to their story.
We move through seasons and chapters of our lives individually.
Some decisions are more difficult than others.
When inflated, balloons float up.  
We all die alone, even when others are around us.
We are on this earth as we know it today, only once.

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What I Know for Sure:

I love my family with all my heart.      
Having time alone is a necessity for me.
Native Americans should not be called Indians.
Dish towels should be laundered separately.
April is not delivering in March.   
Love, at first sight, is a real phenomenon. 
Depression should be renamed. 
April had a baby.
Alot is not a word.
I am no Oprah.
CPR does not always work. 
Grandparents are not infallible.   
Adventure Animal Park will continue to make money on April through May. 
The love of an animal is pure.
Death comes to all living creatures.
There are no perfect marriages.
White privilege is real.
Time spent in nature is rewarding.    
I cannot turn over a new leaf.
High heels are detrimental to a woman’s health.   

The flowers bloom, then wither . . . the stars shine and one day become extinct . . . This earth, the sun, the galaxies and even the big universe someday will be destroyed . . . Compared with that, the human life is only a blink, just a little time . . .  In that short time, the people are born, laugh, cry, fight, are injured, feel joy, sadness, hate someone, love someone. All in just a moment. And then, are embraced by the eternal sleep called death.     Virgo Shaka

Part 4 of 4

Theme photo by Akiko Kobayashi (Japan)

Death – Obituaries

Your Obituary

In our last post I asked you to consider writing your own obituary. I realize this exercise may be daunting for some. I recall teaching a class on “Death and Dying” in the community many years ago when one man, a church deacon in his 60s, was visibly upset by the prospect of writing about his own death. We become accustomed to employing diversionary tactics when thinking about dying. We talk about “passing away,” “going to sleep,” (which can frighten young children), “gone,” and of course that favorite one “if something happens.”  Acknowledging death is inevitable is not obsessing, but accepting it as part of the landscape, just as the seasons of the calendar, so are the seasons of life. It is my hope we will experience life more fully when we realize it is fleeting. 

I have not heard from anyone who worked on the suggested assignment, but if you did you may have looked for help on the Internet. There are countless sites offering advice or even templates so that you can just fill in the blanks. I am sure many are good sources, but one that impressed me with its variety of obituary types was https://www.obituaryhelp.net.  Some prefer to leave this task to funeral home personnel who have training and experience in the proper structure of obituaries. If a formal format is preferred, then providing the names, dates and personal information to the funeral home will be all that is required of the family when you die. Since obituaries should honor and reflect the life of the deceased, writing one’s own ahead of time might be more personal. This can be detailed or perhaps just a theme, special quotes or anecdotes you want included.

Some general guidelines for writing your own obituary include:

  • Write in the third person. 
  • Keep it short. Some obituaries are so long they are not likely to be read in their   entirety, if at all. Another reason to trim it down, is cost. Newspaper charges for this service are expensive.
  • The cause of death may or may not be included.
  • Keep your draft updated. It may be a good idea to add notes for your family as you think of things over time. 

Some Favorites

I have read obituaries for years and often been teased about this routine, long before I reached my current age, which is well within the obituary reading range. It isn’t so much I am looking for names I recognize, although that is part of it. I find obituaries to be interesting reading. It is true there are accounts of tragedies, infants and children, those who died without any “next of kin,” but there are also the ones that are inspiring or entertaining. At one time I had a collection of hundreds that were keepers and somewhere along the way they became lost or perhaps I became embarrassed, but now I only have a few dozen. One I no longer have referred to the deceased as having “Slipped the surly bonds of earth” and that line fascinated me so I did an Internet search and found it was from the poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr, “High Flight.”

Another newspaper page that I recall, but no longer have in my collection listed two separate obituaries that could only happen in Kentucky: both “Bubba” and “Buford” died the same day. A favorite from November 2016, has verses of songs interspersed throughout. These included the music of The Beatles, The Spinners, Poco and Steely Dan. The obituary itself is full of fun, travels and adventures of a 68-year-old.

Nicknames are sometimes fun to read while imagining their origins. Some I recall include:  Baldy, Tooter, Snuffy, Catfish, Peanut, Honest Frank, Blood and finally, Poboy & Buster for the same man. Curiously, of these clippings only two females had nicknames, Mu and Big Mama.

Looking Ahead

As you continue to work on your obituary please also think about your preferences for a memorial service or funeral considering music, speakers and perhaps who you would like to deliver a eulogy. Following those topics we will discuss disposal of remains and suicide in future posts. 

Eventually, grief will be discussed comprehensively, but we may decide to hold off and move on to lighter subjects for a while. Feel free to provide feedback on this, as well as, anything you have to share. 

 “High Flight” John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, —and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of —Wheeled and soared and swung high in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung my eager craft through footless halls of air . . . Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace where never lark or even eagle flew – and, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod the high un-trespassed sanctity of space, put out my hand, and touched the face of God.  

Minnie II

 Before Women’s Suffrage

My Mother, Minnie Alice Sea, was born on June 19, 1917. She was named after “Miss Minnie Murphy” a school teacher who was admired by my Grandmother, Lillie Alice Thompson Sea. When my mother was born, women were not yet allowed to vote. That came about while she was a toddler and even then, many women were denied that right, because they had no way to get to the polls unless their husbands, or some other male, allowed them to ride along to the voting place. According to stories from that time, men were concerned a wife, for instance, might vote differently from them and thereby “cancel out” the man’s vote. So, unless a man could be certain the woman he was transporting would vote the same as he, that woman was not likely to have the opportunity to vote at all.

My Mom, as most women of that era, lived in a patriarchal society. She revered her father who was Postmaster, a deacon in the Baptist church and a small business owner. He ran the Gee General Store where the US Post Office for Gee, KY was located and he sold gas as well as groceries, farming supplies and even medicinals like paregoric, camphor and Carter’s Liver Pills. In that store located on a gravel, rural road my grandfather, E. M. Sea, was sought after by people of the community who respected his opinion on such topics as religion, politics, war and the economy. It is no wonder Minnie and his other seven children never questioned his authority nor his wisdom.

Marriage

As was the custom in those days, my Mom finished school after the eight grade. She worked with her father in the store and post office and, surprisingly, she learned to drive before many women were allowed that privilege. She married Richard Baugh, my Dad, when she was sixteen and he was twenty-five. She gave birth to their first of four children a few years later. The baby boy was born at home with the help of a doctor who my Dad fetched from Lawrenceburg, KY in his old Model T Ford in the middle of the night. He loved telling about how the doctor’s medical bag was in the window behind his head and while my Dad was driving way too fast, downhill, to their house in the “holler” the bag bounced out and hit the Doc in the back of his head. He thought it was a funny story judging by how many times I heard it retold.

For a woman who began life under circumstances that might have made her dependent and timid, Minnie surprised many, including herself, I’m sure. Beside her roles as wife and mother she learned many others in her eighty-one years, leaving her mark on this world in small, but lasting ways.

Work History

For several years she raised turkeys and chickens and grew a summer garden and canned its yield to cook for the family throughout the winter. After moving from the farm, she worked in a large factory on an assembly line for several years. Having experience in the family store while growing up made jobs at a small grocery and a dry cleaning store easy for her. She was good with people, always smiling and usually laughing.

The highlight of her long work history came when she was hired by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in the Revenue Department where she remained until she was sixty-seven years old. I will always remember a day when I visited her at the Capital Annex in Frankfort, KY. She beamed as she introduced her friends around the big office. Then she proudly showed off her desk complete with an adding machine and file drawers and even pointed out her very own stapler! My Mom, from Gee, KY had arrived in her dream job. And, to make the situation nearly perfect, the Governor of KY was a woman named Martha Layne Collins.

My Mom (Minnie)

Minnie I

Minnie at Church

Deciding to rush from work to join Minnie tonight and not wanting to make her late, I had actually arrived early. I knew how much it meant to her to attend the meetings just as she had attended church regularly for her eighty-plus years of life. Too late I learn she is disappointed, because when I am not here the Preacher stops by and brings her to the service. She feels special, I supposed, arriving with the Preacher. As I look around for familiar faces arriving in all manner of garb, I made a mental note to be late next time so she could be escorted the way she preferred.

Attendees 

There is Dr. Lee, as reticent as ever. It is my opinion she is not stuck up, but rather, she has difficulty in social situations. Her athletic shoes look strangely out of place, not for the venue, but for her. Charles enters looking troubled and carrying the dogeared spiral notebook in which he writes throughout each service. I used to think he was a serious Bible scholar critiquing the message, but today I overheard him saying something about bills as he flipped madly through the pages. Strangely, he seemed concerned about NOT receiving bills as he queried others about the status of their bills. Mr. and Mrs. Harvey arrive together and she looks more frail than in the past. Minnie had told me “Mrs. Harvey is on the verge of dialysis, but she is resisting.” I didn’t know dialysis was an optional treatment.

There’s Lena walking straight to a seat which will accommodate her should she care to lie down during the service.  Some people are extremely bothered by her habit of reclining at any time and in any setting, but others hardly seem to notice. There’s a lady coming this way who I do not know. Carefully groomed, she has small delicate hands with perfectly polished nails. She doesn’t look left or right as she gets settled in the seat next to Minnie who pointedly doesn’t look at her either.  Instead, she is looking enviously at the woman being escorted into the service by the Preacher.

The room is almost full now. Some faces are less familiar, but just as interesting. The piano player is getting out song books for the worshipers to share.  Finally, when all are quiet and poised for the singing to begin, my favorite makes her entrance. Esther truly is an aristocratic sight as she makes her way first to greet the musician. She is wearing a navy blue blazer, oxford shirt, neatly creased trousers and low heeled pumps.  Her navy purse is perfectly balanced hanging from one stately squared shoulder. She stops by each person, graciously offering her hand as she bends down ever so slightly, so she can look them directly in the eyes. As she comes closer I can hear each greeting, “So glad you came,” “Thank you for coming,” “It is so good to see you!”  As she completes the circle, addressing the last person, she regally exits the room to be seen no more this evening.

Singing

Hymn books are passed, the song leader takes her place and the piano begins a cadence not unlike a funeral dirge. The hymns are old and familiar Protestant fare, including Rock of Ages, On Jordan’s Stormy Banks and The Old Rugged Cross. Charles scribbles in his book, Lena starts to ease toward a recumbent position, Dr. Lee’s face is immobile as she holds her head and song book erect. Minnie and the two Harveys are each on a different note and none are the same as the one the song leader is singing. The Preacher grins goofily at his congregation while singing loudly in the note the leader was determined to maintain.

Praying

Prayer request and praise time is next in the order of service and the Preacher begins this portion by sharing how thankful he is that he is “healthy and able to do the Lord’s work,” while looking around the room at blank faces and ailing bodies. Next, he invites the congregation to share prayer needs and praises. A small black lady in the front row said she would like prayer that she could “walk good again.”  The Preacher responds, “Yes, Mrs. Long.”  Another woman tearfully asks prayer for her great nephew who was paralyzed in a recent football accident.  The Preacher was visibly moved and replied, “We will certainly pray for him.  How hard it must be on the whole family. You know, it is so tragic for this to happen to a young man. Girls can just take this sort of thing better, but a boy knows he needs to get out into the world and work, provide for a family.” The worshippers nod in agreement. The prayer requests continue ranging from paltry to profound amid sounds of hymnals hitting the floor and people coughing and muttering. Finally, the Preacher closes prayer time with a long prayer imploring God to hear, to have mercy and “If it was in His will” to grant the requests just made.  He didn’t mention the gentleman who had just shared that his “ass hurt.”

Preaching

The Preacher resumed his goofy grin and began the meat of the service. He started by telling some personal anecdotes, his eyes sweeping the room for reaction. The lady with the nephew didn’t disappoint. She kept her smiling eyes glued to his face and her hearing aid tuned to his every word. Charles kept reviewing his notebook. Lena was quietly supine. Dr. Lee stared straight ahead. Just as the Preacher began to read from his text for his main event, Minnie turned to the woman beside her with the nice manicure and suddenly shook her roughly by the shoulder shouting, “Wake up! Don’t you know you are not supposed to sleep in church!” The pretty woman’s head bobbed back and forth with the shaking making me wonder whether she was asleep or deceased. Either way, I was embarrassed. The Preacher didn’t miss a beat. Dr. Lee’s expression didn’t change. Charles didn’t take his eyes off the notebook. Mr. Harvey smiled broadly. As the Preacher’s words piled higher and deeper, I let my mind wonder like many in the room had done from the beginning.

Finally the service was over and I took Minnie by the hand, leading my Mother back to her room as the attendants, one by one, escorted the other nursing home residents to their rooms.

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Written 7/1/98      Revised December 2016

Maggie

I am trying to follow as you approach the traditional pearly gates. Your steps are small and carefully placed as you painfully make your way toward the splendor of light, white swirling clouds and music from unfamiliar instruments.

Your thin and arthritic hands grip tightly the walker, which you are holding closer than usual. Your shoulder bones show through the cotton gown and your head is not quite as erect as I am used to seeing. The white hair and the frail old body are the signs of your years and you appear as Mother Time herself.

Are you afraid? Sad? Shy? Are you remembering us and longing to return to planet earth? Would you? If you could, would you turn and hurry back this way rather than continue toward the unknown?

Do you see your sister up ahead? Are you making your way toward the arms of your mother?

Your steps are slowing now. You stop and rest as though to consider something important and I think I see the slightest turn of your shoulder, but I can’t be sure, perhaps it is only my own selfish need.

I don’t know how, but I can see your face as you continue to walk away from us. Your eyes are filled with the purest joy and I see both the delight of a little girl who knows she is special and the wonder of a mother who holds her infant daughter . . . and we have only your memory while heaven has a new matriarch.


Recently, I ran across the words above that I had written at 11:30 p.m. on January 12, 1998, immediately after the death of my dear old friend, Maggie.

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Theme photo by Pixabay

Transition

Gee to Spot

As shared in an earlier post, I was born in 1943, in a four room house, on Crooked Creek Rd. in Anderson County, KY.  It was before zip codes were introduced and the mailing address was simply “Gee, KY”. My maternal Grandfather ran a general store in Gee, not far from our house. In addition to selling groceries, chicken feed, nails and gas from the one pump out front, he was also the Post Master of the Gee Post Office located in one corner of the store. Later, when he retired, the Post Office was moved down the road a few miles to Spot. Yes, that is right, “Spot, KY” was the new address for folks living on Crooked Creek Rd.

Our house had no plumbing or electricity, but before I was one year old, electricity was installed. This feature lead me to believe that I had super powers, because for the first few months my Dad would hold me up to the dark, bare bulb hanging in the middle of the ceiling. I was too young to understand that it was my father pulling a string that made the bright light appear, rather than the touch of my hand.

War

As I grew, however, I soon learned that mine was not a magical life, after all. I heard a lot about the “war going on over there” and I thought that meant the enemies were right over the hill in front of our house. As I sat on our front porch swing I kept waiting for Japanese helmets to appear on the horizon. Gas and sugar were rationed, but there was enough love to go around. I received a doll for one of my first Christmases. She didn’t hold up well. Her hair fell off and her “skin” deteriorated and I was told it was because all the good materials had to be used in the war. I kept Mary Rose with me throughout many decades, but finally let her go in 2013 and I still regret that decision. 

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Mary Rose

Family

In addition to my parents I was fortunate that my grandparents lived nearby and they were very influential in my early life. My older brother fulfilled his role by doing all the tormenting things that big brothers do so well, such as on occasion hanging me by my feet from a tree in the front yard. My baby brother was born with an intestinal malformation that would have been easily corrected today, but which proved fatal before his second birthday. A few years later, I had a second cherished younger brother who I protected fiercely.

Town

When I was in second grade we moved from Gee, leaving my beloved grandparents behind. It felt like a different world living in town, the big city of Taylorsville, KY.  The transition from a two room school holding grades one through eight to a large school system which included a High School and cafeteria did not start off pleasantly. My first day was in February and it was cold and the wind was whipping my carefully brushed hair every which way. Mom was guiding me through a short-cut to the school when suddenly our feet were plunged into ice cold water. Our short-cut had been concealed thin ice.  This awaking was just the beginning of my new school experience.

Our new house was big with two stories and a bathroom. It took some time getting accustomed to using the toilet inside that nice house. I still see my Dad mowing the big yard with pride and can smell the fresh mown grass which seemed to make his smile wider.  That was a good thing, because my father suffered from what was then called “involutional melancholia,” now known as chronic depression. Electric shock treatments took away much of his personality along with his smiles for many years.

What to Wear to Court

As I prepared for Traffic Court this evening I knew that all my paperwork was in order, but I was not so sure about proper attire for this occasion. I discussed it with a couple of friends. One vetoed the idea of borrowing a neighbor’s cane and trying for a sympathy vote. She wisely noted that I might appear less than fit for driving. Another friend, known for her fashion sense, warned against wearing jeans, so I decided on navy pants and tailored shirt appropriate for the weather. I got to the East Government Center early hoping to get the proceedings over quickly. I took along something to read while waiting, making sure that it was a book that would declare that I was an intelligent and responsible citizen.

I was not prepared for passing through a gauntlet of Sheriff’s Deputies, one who ran a wand over my body, front and back, and another who looked through my purse inquiring if I had a gun or knife. At this point, I was directed to the end of a line of other offenders that snaked along one wall of a long hallway. When another fifty or so folks had joined us, one of the drab brown attired Deputies gave us detailed instructions of what to expect once inside. He was apparently quite experienced in performing this duty, because he had incorporated several humorous lines and our lack of mirth did not discourage him from using all of them.

Finally, the courtroom was unlocked and we were allowed to file in and be seated. The Judge, in his somber black robe, was quietly pleasant. The handsome Prosecutor, wearing suit and tie, smiled easily. I watched the parade of defendants file in front of the judge alphabetically and I wondered whether they had given much thought to their attire. There were lots of tee shirts, many pairs of jeans, a couple of floor length skirts and several pairs of short shorts. I won’t even go into the array of colorful bra straps springing from halters and other skimpy tops dotting the crowd. All in all, the group was neat and clean and respectful.

When a Deputy asked if anyone had a medical issue requiring special consideration before the Judge began, a mother spoke up and reported that her teen-driver son had “stomach flu.” The young man rolled his eyes and made a gesture with his hands that probably meant “Please Mom, just go away.” The inquiring Deputy requested that mother and son go to the back of the room away from the rest of us. He quickly became my favorite of the four Deputies.

It was while I was waiting for my letter of the alphabet to be called front and center that I suddenly realized that I was the oldest person in the room and not by a little. That was when fear struck me for the first time. Wasn’t it reasonable for the Judge to expect that a woman of my age should know that owning a car requires buying one of those little sticker thingies for the license plate each year?

September 14, 2016

Theme graphic by Pixabay

I Am a Tree

A tree, old and weathered
I bear not leaves,
but the marks of time.
On my limbs you can see
rope scars where swings used to be.
I am a tree.

A tree, tall though bent
I bear not fruit,
but the signs of time.
On my trunk, crudely carved,
initials and hearts you can see.
I am a tree.

A tree, in winter I appear cold and dead,
but deep in the earth my roots are warm with life.
They feed my tired trunk, give strength to my weakened limbs
and the sap of life itself which awaits the returning spring.
I long to be renewed, to return to the real me.
I am a living tree.

 

Written 1992 by Brenda Sue Baugh Mattingly