Anniversary

Welcome Back Readers!

I’ve missed you, but I thought of you often as I worked on Crooked Creek, trying to make it better and perhaps more relevant. Most changes will barely be perceptible, but some require an explanation.

In the very beginning I declared Crooked Creek to be a “Politics Free” zone https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/03/declaration/ and I’ve pretty much avoided the subject of religion, as well. That will change to a certain degree. While I don’t plan to get into partisan politics, in today’s turmoil I feel lead to include my thoughts on the state of our nation and its people. There may be times when I choose to include my religious experiences, too, but don’t worry, I have no plans to preach!

As of today the blog, Crooked Creek, is four (4) years old. It contains a total of 466 posts and has 459 followers. Readers have been from eighty-three (83) different countries which amazes the author.

Thank you to those who have contributed a poem, idea or book review for followers to enjoy. I am also appreciative of each and every reader and I have enjoyed the input from those who have chosen to comment. It gave me encouragement and made all the efforts involved worthwhile.

Thank you for these four years together and I look forward to exploring with you in the future.

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Photo by Mike

 

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

The Internet

“Fifty years ago, two letters were transmitted online, forever altering the way that knowledge, information, and communication would be exchanged,” wrote Joshua Bote in USA TODAY October 29, 2019. Those letters were “l” and “o” and perceived as “hello” when the system crashed before the word “login” could be typed. They were sent by a professor at UCLA to another computer at Stanford Research Institute.

At that time only four universities had computers. They were room-sized and required under-floor air conditioning. In 1971, the first email was sent by an MIT researcher and was also the first time the “@” sign was used to designate a specific recipient of a message. I remember the early days when researching medical papers I had to go through a university (@edu) library which would search and produce the Internet address for the requested information.

The World Wide Web (WWW), as we know it, didn’t get invented until 1989 and it was 1991 before the first web page was published. Over the years other services that we are all so familiar with were created, Amazon (1995), Google (1998), Facebook (2004) and Twitter (2006) among others.

Now the internet is as much a part of our lives as driving a car or brushing our teeth. We can access information on any topic, find the answers to burning questions, listen to music and see movies. When I see my granddaughter, a college senior, doing research and taking tests Online, I recall trips to the library and searching through a card catalog. Once the desired journal or paper was located we photocopied it for preparing our research papers. I am glad that she and all students have it easier than we did “back in the day.”

I am sure that I am not alone when I say I love the Internet, warts and all. We know that it can be corrupted, both operationally and politically but we would never go back to a time without the WWW.

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Graphic Courtesy of Pixabay

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

Guest Poet

autumn

summer fades into autumn

as it slowly drifts away

past fields of purple ironweed

and the smell of fresh mown hay

where cattails rise from soggy ground

and sunflowers nod their heads

and cottonwoods resign themselves

as their leaves begin to shed

so as the winds begin to change

and autumn shuffles in

summer fades with the passing days

and a different feel begins

summer has only a little while

to wear her robe of green

then let it drop and watch it fall

along with the falling leaves

 

Poem By Sylvia L. Mattingly 

September 22, 2016  

 

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Sunflower Photo Courtesy of Gerri Nelson 

Year of the Woman 2018

Since the “Year of the Woman” 1992, 1993, 1994, etc., at least one woman has remained in a position of power, Ruth Bader Ginsberg. We owe tribute to her. She deserves all the recognition and honor that has been bestowed upon her to this point and more. This eighty-one year old may look frail, but I see her as strong as steel. Ginsberg is not the only woman who has served on the Supreme Court or even the first. She is not the longest serving Justice, either, but she was appointed in 1993, almost twenty-five years ago and she serves with strength and dignity. 26219909_10159808716480297_2166951116171513033_n

#Me Too

Is it possible that the so-called “me too” movement currently sweeping the US will be the turning point for women? Is it likely that women will finally be treated with equity? I want to be optimistic, but I am not, at this point, even hopeful. What will it take? I do not know, but I do know what is at stake. 

At stake is every inch of progress made to date. At stake are healthcare and childcare and the overall economic stability of women and their families. In 2016 the pay gap for women was 20%! According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research if progress continues at the rate of the past fifty years it will be 2059 before there is pay equity between women and men. For women of color, it will be well into the next century. https://iwpr.org/issue/employment-education-economic-change/pay-equity-discrimination/

What is the answer? If only it were that simple, but there are many changes that must be made and while men are important to this cause and their support is essential, it is women who must step up. 

Step Up

  • Run for office
  • Vote in each election
  • Expect (demand) more
  • Educate girls
    • We might begin by recognizing their strength and intellect ahead of their appearance
  • Support other women politically, in business and personally. 

These are a few things that come to mind at the moment but there are many more. Let’s not be afraid of the fight. The suffragettes endured real physical pain for the right to vote and if you aren’t sure about that, I challenge  you to see the 2004 movie, “Iron Jawed Angels” now available free on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOrD0tH_WaM fullsizeoutput_18b5

If you have not seen this movie, please watch it, show it to your daughters and your granddaughters. While we’re at it, let’s include the men and boys. We all need to know this history. 

“Paradoxically, the most constructive thing women can do is to write, for in the act of writing we deny our muteness and begin to eliminate some of the difficulties that have been put upon us.” Dale Spender

Whether we write, speak or teach . . . . No matter how we lead, the important thing is that we be not mute! 

 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

 

Frogs

I Love Frogs

All my life I have been fascinated by frogs. Sometimes I wish they were not so slimy and there are poisonous ones I would not want to encounter, but overall frogs are intriguing creatures. Once as a child, I was climbing a tree and put my hand on a big piece of bark to steady myself and that bark scurried away from my hand! It was a perfectly camouflaged tree frog. 

Have you heard a tree frog’s voice? They are amazing. If you think all frogs make the same sound, you are so wrong. Only the male bullfrog can “croak” using his throat pouch that enlarges and vibrates to make that familiar sound. Other frogs have individual sounds and you can experience some of them, including American and Canadian frogs here: http://www.naturenorth.com/spring/sound/shfrsnd.html There are several other sites on the internet which present the sounds that various frogs make and a favorite of mine is: http://allaboutfrogs.org/weird/general/songs.html

I cannot help but smile as I listen to the recorded frog sounds. I hope that you enjoy them too. Frogs whistle, peep, grunt, ribbit, and bark to name just a few of their distinctive sounds. Please tune in to the links above and listen to their serenades. Even as a frog lover, I was not aware of spring peeps until my daughter pointed them out a few years ago. 

Frogs Are Vital

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Frogs are more than fun. They are sentinels that warn us of crucial information regarding our environment. Amphibians, including salamanders and toads as well as frogs,  are sensitive to gases like oxygen because of their very porous and sensitive skin.  This means they are also very sensitive to pollution even from their egg stage because the shell is soft, unlike eggs of birds and snakes. 

Amphibians have been declining with some species disappearing completely. Other signs of environmental compromise include extra or missing legs on frogs. They are compared by many scientists to the canary in the coal mine. We must respect and pay attention to frogs and their cousins. 

“Don’t be a fish; be a frog. Swim in the water and jump when you hit ground.”                    Kim Young-ha

 

Part 1 of 2

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

Russia 2

Preparation

Traveling to Russia in 1994 was no doubt very different than today. At that point, Russia had just become more open to travelers due to “perestroika” but was not yet well prepared for those travelers. Before leaving home certain shots and immunizations were recommended. While at the Health Department meeting these requirements I received a handout warning against eating raw fruits and vegetables or anything, including using ice, that might have come into contact with unpurified water. There was a warning to use bottled water for toothbrushing and to not open the mouth while showering!

The Trip

The trip from Louisville to St. Petersburg, Russia took almost nineteen (19) hours with about fifteen (15) actually in the air. Along the way, we landed in Germany and then in Poland, which did not allow passengers to deplane. Officers came on board and checked our passports and visas and then would not allow the pilot to take off for two unexplained hours.

When looking down at Russia prior to landing in St. Petersburg it was hard to comprehend the country’s size, nearly twice as large as the US and containing eleven (11) time zones. Local time was eight hours ahead of EST, which made phone calls home complicated, so I only called once to say I had arrived safely. It is just as well because phone calls to the US were difficult to make, unreliable and very expensive. 

The population of Russia at this time was 149.5 which was actually about 5.6 million more than the current population. Education was free and the literacy rate was 99% at that time. 

The Culture

Before the trip, I read a document prepared by Brigham Young University which provided insight into properly interacting with the Russian people. It was entitled  “Culturgram ’94 Russia (Russian Federation)” In it, I learned many things that made me better prepared, but also a bit apprehensive. Here are a few customs that I tried hard to remember while visiting.

  • If you ask “How are you” be prepared for a detailed answer. It is not the casual greeting that we use, but a serious question.
  • One should eat with the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. Hands are kept above the table at all times. Leaving food on one’s plate is rude.
  • Pointing the index finger is impolite, as is talking with one’s hands in the pockets or with arms folded.

Some other information of interest was that flowers are given in uneven numbers except at funerals! Russians prefer social interaction prior to business discussions and when a bottle of vodka is opened it is expected that it will be emptied by those present. Not surprising is that alcoholism is a serious problem. 

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Part 2 of 6

Theme graphic in title and photo 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

Springtime Walk

Back to the Park

For various reasons, some more important than others, I have not been to the Parklands to walk for a long time. Mostly it’s just that during the winter months I’m a wimp about the cold temperatures and it seems that spring has been a long time coming here in Kentucky. Finally this past weekend the temperature was just right and I returned to Pope Lick Park, my favorite along Floyd’s Fork. Other areas of the Parklands are more elaborate and have very interesting features, but Pope Lick is more wild in places and more intimate, except for the soccer fields, but the walk around them illustrates kids and adults interacting in the most positive ways. Whether a team or family event, the atmosphere is competition at its best. 

The Walk

As I began my walk I eagerly looked forward to the signs of spring, but they were not as abundant as expected. Most trees had tiny tender leaves springing forth. There were signs of wildlife, but I saw only a few birds. I did document the extensive work of the resident woodpecker population.  The grass was mostly green, but there were dried grasses all along the trails. 

The further I ventured, the more interesting finds, including some of my favorites. There were cattails shedding like cats, mushrooms living well on dead trees and a sure sign of springtime, May apples. 

The 1.5 mile walk revealed very few wild flowers, or perhaps they are weeds, but they bloomed nevertheless. I wasn’t disappointed, but a little letdown that springtime was not waiting there for me as I had anticipated. 

The Encounter

Then I spotted a tree that was apparently very glad to see me!

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150

Another Milestone!

As of yesterday Crooked Creek has 150 followers. This is the point at which I had planned to update the blog to a new look. But, I couldn’t wait, so that was completed a few days ago.

Thank you to all readers and followers. I appreciate each of you. I also appreciate other bloggers who I follow.  Some have been recommended here and I will continue to do that from time to time as well as perhaps reblog with the writer’s permission. 

Please continue to let me know what you like, make suggestions for topics and tell me when I’m out of line! I appreciate each of you. 

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FOR YOU! 

 

Theme graphic in title by Pixabay

Milestones

Followers/Readers

Today Crooked Creek has 148 followers. That makes me very happy. What would be even better is if most of those signed up as “followers” are real readers. It stands to reason that some percentage “follow” and forget, but if some of my posts are read and cause people to think more deeply (or widely) on any subject then I feel the time spent blogging is worth it. When we look at life’s challenges and even day-to-day issues from an before unexplored angle I believe it often changes our way of doing, of living, of giving. 

Blogging

fullsizeoutput_1644Blogging is a chore, I will not lie! It is not easy, even after attending a class for new bloggers. It turned out that the instructor was learning as she went along and that was very frustrating.  I must admit that it has continued to be frustrating after almost 100 posts. Some things don’t work as they should. Some things just don’t work at all. It takes me several hours for each post, but I’m sure that many bloggers have less difficulty and perhaps some worry less about small errors. I’m saying all this to say that that it is worth the effort. The internet affords us the opportunity to share our stories and I am grateful for that. If you think you’d like to blog, I encourage you to jump in.

I started out on the WordPress platform with a free domain. I quickly learned that it was not going to be very attractive, so after a while, I bought the “Personal” plan. I’ve never been satisfied with its bland look, so today I upgraded to a “Premium” plan and have to admit that it looks more like what I envisioned. I had planned to make the changes when Crooked Creek got to 150 followers, but today I was in the mood to move forward. So, SURPRISE! I hope you like the new look. 

Writing notepad-3316995_1280

Writing is not a chore. It takes time and effort and sometimes it turns out better than others, but I enjoy writing tremendously and blogging is about the next best thing to writing that book we all have inside us (or think we do). Thank you, readers, for following, reading and commenting from time to time. 

Theme photo in title by Pixabay

Cats Again!

Zoe & Elliott

A few weeks ago in Cats 3 post, I made the following statement:  “In these almost ten years of cohabitation, I’m unable to find one photo of Zoe and Elliott together.”

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/01/17/cats-3/

Those of you familiar with small children may know that they often make a liar out of their parents. When Mom or Dad says the child will not do such and so, the child will immediately do that. 

It seems my cats are no different. After all these years of not lying or sitting near each other, I now have about a dozen photos of them doing just that. Here are a few, just to finish their story. 

 

Medicine 4

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Childbirth

Most mothers since the beginning of time had given birth at home with midwives or other women in attendance. It was a long, painful and exhausting experience. Finally in the 1850s wealthy women were offered some relief from ether after it was used for Queen Victoria during her labor. Following the Queen’s lead ether, chloroform, and even laughing gas in the United States, were administered for decades to women able to afford delivery in a hospital. Because some doctors were better trained than others babies being born at home were likely to have had safer births without the effects of these gases.

Painless Childbirth

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Page 1106 in our 1910 manuscript states that a method of “painless childbirth” had been developed by doctors, Bernard Kronig and Carl Gause, in Germany. Hallelujah! Just what every woman in the world had been hoping for. It sounded wonderful, even the name “Twilight Sleep” (Dämmerschlaf in German) was promising. Doctors from the US went to Germany to learn to use this new miracle combination of drugs that would herald childbirth without pain. Soon gas was out of favor and powerful drugs were in. 

Twilight sleep was said to be “especially suited to the requirement of nervous women.” I find it interesting that men were so sure what women needed in view of the fact that not one of them had passed a bowling-ball-sized human through their loins. To this day many men are inclined to have very strong opinions about a woman’s body and what she should be allowed to do with it, but back to the topic at hand. 

Twilight Sleep

Twilight Sleep was made up of a combination of morphine and scopolamine. Morphine is derived from opium and acts on the central nervous system, causing pain relief. Scopolamine comes from a mixture of nightshade plants. It causes patients to fall into a semi-conscious state resulting in amnesia.

Both drugs are still in use today, but not routinely with labor patients. Morphine is a powerful and useful pain reliever that can lead to opioid dependence in some situations. Scopolamine is used orally or by a transdermal patch to treat nausea, vomiting and motion sickness. You may have used or seen fellow passengers use these patches to prevent or combat seasickness.

Possible side effects from scopolamine listed today include the following:  drowsiness, disorientation, dry mouth, blurred vision, dilated pupils, confusion, hallucinations, difficulty urinating and rash.    https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682509.html

What is wrong with this picture? In retrospect, it does not seem a chemistry degree is necessary to foresee problems with this combination of drugs. The pain relief of morphine was a big plus for the laboring mother, however, it could depress respiration in the newborn leading to a life-threatening emergency. The scopolamine rendered the mother semiconscious during the painful childbirth experience, however, it caused amnesia. The mother usually remembered nothing of the experience including seeing her newborn for the first time nor hearing the first cries. The effects of this drug had significant potential to defer or even diminish bonding between mother and child. 

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Both of these drugs crossed the placenta and depressed the fetus’s central nervous system. For decades babies would be born drugged, and unable to breathe normally. It is no wonder they were held upside-down and spanked to start them breathing. After over sixty years of Twilight Sleep administration, the practice was abandoned in the 1970s due to the harmful side effects. Unfortunately, this was after the birth of my two daughters and I am sure after many of you or your children were born. 

Lakshmipati G. (Care of the Medical Outpatient, (Preface) 1st ed. 2003. pp. vii–vii. Nama publication, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu) has said:  

“Half of what is true today will be proven to be incorrect in the next five years. Unfortunately we don’t know which half that is going to be.” 

Sadly, this is true even today. One only hopes that such truth will be proven in only a few years rather than the centuries or decades it has taken in the past. 

 An Art or a Science?

Whether the practice of medicine is an art or a science has been debated for centuries. Many, if not most, feel that it must include both. For a comprehensive discussion of this subject read Dr. Sadhu Charan Panda’s research. He is Editor, Journal of Community Medicine.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3190445/

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Change, does it occur too fast or too slowly? 

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 The Complete Guide to Prevention and Cure of Disease is still in print. If you are interested in reading all 20 medical books in one volume written over 100 years ago see: https://www.amazon.com/Library-Health-Twenty-Books-One-Scholl/dp/B007GNBQB6/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516977599&sr=1-10&keywords=library+of+health+by+Scholl

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Part 4 of 4

Cats 2

Elliott

Perhaps I should have known something was up when the person who was fostering Elliott insisted that she would deliver him to us in spite of our plans to pick him up. She also discouraged my naming him Zack. She assured me that he knew his name as Elliott. I had thought that Zack and Zoe would be so cute, but I didn’t want to confuse him, so I agreed that he would stay Elliott. As it turned out I don’t think he knew his name for about a year after he came to live with us.

When he was delivered our friends, Mike and Debbie were visiting. I thought the least upsetting for Elliott would be to turn him out of the carrier and into a room where he could be alone without us humans around, so we put him in an upstairs room with food and water and closed the door. In about an hour I checked on him to find that he had chewed or clawed a large piece of trim from the door frame in an attempt to get out. This was just the beginning. 

Dysfunction

When Zoe spotted this stranger in our midst she retreated to the top of our spare refrigerator in the basement. She practically lived in that private loft for the next couple of years. When she did venture down to eat or use the litter box Elliott wasn’t mean to her, but he stalked her. He followed her closely as she scratched and hissed at him. At times she made horrible screaming sounds and at others, she cursed in a low guttural growl. He was just a guy confused by his lack of popularity with this feline housemate. But, Elliott was a lover! He jumped into our laps, he cuddled, he purred. In spite of his concern for Zoe, my husband, Raymond, bonded quickly with Elliott. 

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Within a few days, we took Elliott to the Shelbyville Road Veterinary Clinic to become an established patient where our pets had been cared for about ten years . Unfortunately, the examination revealed that Elliott had a heart murmur. During a later ultrasound, we learned that he had two septal defects, a.k.a. holes in his heart. We were devastated, not knowing what that meant for his long-term survival. The doctors would monitor his condition and advised us to keep him from becoming overweight. 

The Humane Society did the right thing and offered to take Elliott back but it was too late. We loved this cat in spite of all the trouble he brought with him. We were hooked on Elliott. Even Zoe was becoming a little more tolerant even though reclusive. A few years later when we moved to a condo she lost her basement sanctuary and has never been as happy. In fact, she has had a couple of stress-related illness, but she is resilient. She has managed to tolerate this big clumsy roommate for ten years now. 

And, that presents another challenge. Zoe is thin. Elliott is not. Leaving food out all the time is necessary for her, but detrimental to his need to be on a limited calorie diet. So, we continued our dysfunctional ways, loving both cats and trying to provide equal attention and devotion. 

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My Point?

If I have one, I suppose it is that pets are a big responsibility. They require our time and a fair amount of work. They also deserve humans who are knowledgeable about their needs and compatibilities. It is not enough that we care and that we want to rescue at-risk animals. We need to be well informed of their needs. We owe them the same love and devotion they give to us. 

We have done our best to care for both of these cats, but if I am honest I know that Zoe was much happier as an only cat. We didn’t know that at the time we adopted Elliott, so we’ve tried to be responsible to both of them. Now as I care for them alone, I do my best to give them what they need.

The Best Part

We have adapted to the changes in life, a cat added, a smaller home, the loss of a caregiver and we’re still a family. Zoe still curses. Elliott still stalks. But, we have love. 

The cats do yoga with me most mornings. Elliott sleeps with me at night. We have neighbors and relatives who care for them if I need to be away for a few days. I would not take anything for my two cats regardless of the work and expense. They have made my life happier and I trust that is mutual. 

 

Part 2 of 4

 

Theme photo in title by Kate Puckett Elliott

 

Truth

New Horizon 

Last night at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey won the Cecil B. DeMille award.  She gave a momentous acceptance speech that I’m sure many of you heard. She spoke of empowerment and equality.  http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/08/entertainment/oprah-globes-speech-transcript/index.html

One of our readers, Lula, remarked to me in a private message that it reminded her of our Crooked Creek discussions last spring regarding “What I Know for Sure 1-5.” https://crookedcreek.live/2017/03/27/what-i-know-for-sure/

I agree because one of Oprah’s statements, in particular, bears repeating and remembering: “What I know for sure is that speaking the truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

Thank you, Oprah and Lula. While truth has always been crucial, this is a time when women must not only be truthful but also demand truth from others. Truth, spoken by both women and men can bring about, finally, the transformation needed for women and girls to truly be equal . . . in respect, in compensation, in power.

This time is long overdue.

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Courtesy of Pixabay

 

November

Winding Down

November was not a favorite month for many years, but I have learned to appreciate it more. In the past, I thought of it as rather colorless and simply a time to be traversed to reach December’s cold, snow and Christmas. 

This year somehow I have learned to appreciate this bridge month between autumn and winter. The neighborhood trees have been beautiful and one especially has brightened each of my days. I see it, perfectly framed, through my office windows subtly changing colors day by day. Only over the past 48 hours has it lost its bright glow as seen below, as the leaves have dried and withered, many falling to the ground.

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After a several week hiatus, today I returned to one of my favorite places, Pope Lick Park. As I walked listening to the rustle of crisp leaves blowing along the way, I realized that I would miss this month, November. It has been generous with its nature, colors and warm sunshine. It has been much more than I could have anticipated or earned, filled with love and affirmation. 

There were a few birds along the trail today including a noisy flock of crows fussing as I passed. Yes, I know the proper term is “murder” of crows, but they didn’t seem mad enough to warrant using that word! I saw one squirrel who I hoped found the nuts I had strategically placed under some trees. With most of the leaves now carpeting the ground the trees looked stark, especially the sycomores reaching their chalky limbs up to the sky. 

 

So, in a few days, we say, “Goodbye November.” You have been a good month and I look forward to your return in following years. 

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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 ! ! !

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 TRIVIA

“Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” Steve Jobs

It doesn’t take an investigative mind to prove that change happens regularly before our very eyes and ears. Some changes are significant but many are trivial. I suppose my mind today is on the latter, but I really want to share with you some observations. I’m curious whether you have observed the same changes. 

Here are some questions for you:

1. Have you noticed that many celebrities when introduced on TV programs now walk onto the stage applauding, apparently, for themselves? Surely that is a fairly recent habit. 

2. What about the experts interviewed on news or talk shows who when asked their opinion begin their response with “so” and then proceed? So, when did this trend begin and does anyone think it adds to the information provided?

Words are inanimate so they do not have the power to change, but we at times change their pronunciation for no obvious reason. The first time I noticed this was during the Vietnam War. Out of the blue, that country was pronounced differently for a while. 

Let me make clear that I am not talking about the mispronunciation of words. I have the utmost empathy in such circumstances since it has never been a personal strong suit. I don’t know if teachers still have students read aloud in class, but back (way back) in my day it was expected. Like it was yesterday, I recall my humiliation standing in front of the class and reading in Ms. Miller’s fourth grade. Suddenly I came to a big word that I had not encountered before but I forged ahead and read, “She was deter-mind-ed to succeed.” 

3. Have you noticed the different pronunciation of any of these words over time? Is there a big authority somewhere who arbitrarily one day simply proclaims, “We will henceforth pronounce __________ differently!”?

WORD

ORIGINAL

CHANGE

Vietnam

vee-et-nahm vee-et-nam

harassment

huh-ras-ment har-uhs-ment

divisive

dih-vagy-siv di-vis-iv

Appalachia

ap-uh-ley-chee-uh ap-uh-lach-ee-uh

Chili

Chil-lee Chil-lay

Please share some of your own observations with us. 

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Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.

For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.    

Margaret Mead

Part 3 of 4

Photo by Pixabay

 

CHANGE vs. SAME

Change vs. Same

You have heard the saying, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

This epigram has been running through my mind because we are discussing the subject of change. On its face, it does not seem to be true. Change is all around us from daily chores to possibly even the climate of planet Earth. 

One thing that has changed in past few decades is the ease with which we can do research. I must be honest and say that if I had had to go to a library and flip through a card catalog I would have been less interested in the origin of this saying, but access to the internet, being at the tip of my fingers, I quickly learned that it is attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr. He was a writer born in Paris, France in 1808 who apparently believed that change does not affect life in any permanent way. Do you agree? Do we, as a people, a society, stay essentially the same in spite of the changes around us? Are there basic beliefs that we hold regardless of the change that we experience?

While considering how true Karr’s long-lived statement might be I was surprised to learn that it has had a significant influence on music across many genres.  Just a few examples are work by Kenny Chesney, Jon Bon Jovi, Machine Head, and rappers Ludacris and Jay Z. Here is an example in some lyrics from “Put Your Records On”  written by Corinne Bailey Rae, et al. 

“Three little birds sat on my window, And they told me I don’t need to worry, Summer came like cinnamon, so sweet, Little girls, double-dutch on the concrete, Maybe sometimes we got it wrong, but it’s all right, The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same”

All right, I acknowledge this music connection proves nothing except that perhaps it works well with rhythm and rhyme.

Change is undeniable, but the last part, “the more things stay the same” is more debatable. When I was young, I remember I-65 being completed and riding with my grandfather (Pappy Sea) to Elizabethtown to visit relatives. The new road was great, straight and smooth, but it didn’t change Pappy’s driving habits. He still thought that his new-fangled turning signals, i.e. “blinkers,” were there to alert other drivers that he intended to change lanes. He didn’t look in his mirrors for other cars, just as he did not on country roads back in Anderson County.

Things Stay the Same

What other examples are there that things do indeed stay the same in spite of change? Some that come to my mind are: Status of women, inequality of people of color, animal cruelty, world hunger, weather disasters, gun deaths in the U.S. 

Realizing that I am coming close to violating my own “no politics rule,” I am trying to think of more positive examples so here are a few: cuteness of kittens and puppies, innocence of children, beauty of sunsets, sweetness of babies, sound of ocean waves, fragrance of roses, crispness of autumn leaves, silence of falling snow.

More to come!

 

We change, but do we change?

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Part 2 of 4

 

Photos by Pixabay