The “Monday Book Review” (“The Other Wes Moore”) was scheduled for January 4, 2021 but for some reason WORDPRESS decided it should go out on Tuesday, December 22, 2020. Just thought I’d add this note of explanation so you’d know I really do know it isn’t Monday!!! Although, in truth, somedays I’m not sure what day it is.
On Christmas Day in this Covid year,
Let’s Zoom Zoom Zoom.
There are other ways to spread cheer.
Let’s Zoom Zoom Zoom.
Mailing cards and I O Us.
Certificates for grub and booze.
Another time to meet and schmooze.
For now let’s Zoom Zoom Zoom.
Presence and presents both can wait,
‘Til a later, safer date.
Only then can we clean the plate.
For now, Zoom Zoom Zoom.
Sing a carol, deck your halls,
Post some pictures on your Platform walls,
Use the phone and make some calls.
Use Zoom Zoom Zoom.
Better days are on their way.
Might be April, possibly May.
Until they come, at home let’s stay.
Just Zoom Zoom Zoom.
Peace and blessings I send to you.
Thanks for all you say and do.
You took care so I say, “Woohoo”!
Let’s Zoom Zoom Zoom!!!!
By Pat Bush – November 2020
“We . . . would like to start a petition that all teachers get paid $1.71 million . . . per day.” John Kransinski, after homeschooling.
“Use this time to spread kindness, check in on your family and friends, and, of course, no biting.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
“We’re realizing how much we need each other, how we’re all in this together. Don’t you hope we remember that on the other side?” Alfre Woodard
“Laughter is a symbol of hope, and it becomes one of our greatest needs of life, right up there with toilet Paper.” Erica Rhodes
“Just a reminder that when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear.” Rosanne Cash
SOURCE: AARP May 2020
Graphics by Pixabay
Just when I think I’ve heard it all . . . I hear there is more ridiculous stuff to learn. Sourtoe Cocktail has an unbelievable ingredient: a human toe. I kid you not!
You won’t find the Sourtoe everywhere, but if you are near Dawson City, Canada drop into the Sourdough Saloon and order one up. It will come with a mummified human toe and one ounce of your choice in alcohol. Apparently, people from all over the world stop in the Yukon territory to obtain the drink, a certificate of proof and bragging rights.
Paying the extra eight Canadian dollars for the toe is surely the easy part. While you leave the toe behind it must touch your lips to receive the certificate. To date over 91,000 have qualified.
“You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips must touch this gnarly toe,” states the special bartender. If you should accidentally swallow the toe count on paying a fine of about $1,900! The toe supply comes from frostbite, gout or accidental amputation and each is utilized for about four years before it starts to wear down.
Photo by Bing
My close friends, family and regular readers know I have a fascination with death which includes careful reading of obituaries. I don’t see it as morbid. I see it as a window into life, but be that as it may, it is no surprise that I received the book “Mobituaries” for Christmas this year. The book by Mo Rocca was just published and it is a delight to read. It really is not about obituaries, but about people and things that Rocca believes did not receive the sendoff they had coming. Some examples are dragons, Medieval science, Lawrence Welk and the station wagon.
I recommend this book for easy, fun reading. It is over three hundred pages of humor and history. I learned new information and was guided to look at old information in a different light. The book is well researched with all consulted works documented.
Mo Rocca is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and host of The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation. He is a frequent panelist on NPR and has done acting on Broadway and writing for TV including The Daily Show.
Thanksgiving has always been special in our family. We enjoy being together, we love to joke as evidenced by the turkey in the video below singing about his “mother-in-law.” Yes, it was a gift to me from Floyd one of my sons-in-law. And, I must say we also like to eat, but Thanksgiving, the American holiday, is more about being grateful.
This year I am especially thankful that my granddaughter, Kate and her husband Tom, are here from England. We have not been together for over a year. Welcome home for Thanksgiving Tom and Kate!
Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!
Title Graphic by Pixabay
How observant are you? It’s all in how we look at things.
Should I go or stay
How long can I hold on
It is time
Time to go
Thanks for all the responses. This is yesterday’s poem with a slightly different look. See it now? Christine did, but is too much a lady to say it. Pat got it in shorthand with a little help from her friends. Gerri gave it a try or two.
Again, this was a little exercise just for fun. I hope you enjoyed it. I did. If it had a message at all it’s that what passes for poetry can be a bit of BS. This little ditty took less than five minutes to write, but may sound like poetry to some. Or not.
Should I go or stay
How long can I hold on
It is time
Time to go
How observant are you? It’s all in how we look at things. Are you missing something here? Let me know.
It is thick and sticky and hot
Like walking around in snot.
The Ohio River Valley feels
like walking on the Devil’s hills.
I’ve heard of Hell’s front porch
and here we sit and together scorch.
We have had to learn the heat index
because it trumps the temperature’s effects.
About climate change, we don’t worry.
When it is mentioned the politicians scurry.
Ten such days this year we can bear
but what about 2050? We don’t care.
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.”
“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” William Gibson
Graphic & Photo by Pixabay
Also known as “All Fool’s Day” April Fool’s Day is corny and can be irritating I suppose but I’ve always loved it due to memories of my maternal grandfather, Pappy. https://crookedcreek.live/2016/12/11/gee-ky/
The origin of this day for pranks and hoaxes is not entirely clear but it has been around for a very long time. According to some sources it has been fun in Britain since the 18th Century.
Even some newspapers and other media get involved in the action. My favorite story is about a BBC show in 1957 that said, “The Swiss had a very good crop of spaghetti this year” and then showed photos of people harvesting spaghetti from trees. Some gullible people fell for it!
I always try to fool people on this day in honor of Pappy who loved to fool me each April 1st. I remember our tricks on one another which are too banal to describe here but I hope you have fun today whether you are the jokester or the recipient of a practical joke.
“When I was about ten years old, I gave my teacher an April Fool’s sandwich, which had a dead goldfish in it.” Alan Alda
Graphics by Pixabay
Did I “get you?”
Crooked Creek is not going away, although you may wish it would at times! Thank you Readers, for letting me play a prank on you for one of my favorite days.
Graphics by Pixabay
Crooked Creek’s last post; I have decided to discontinue this blog.
Graphic by Pixabay
There are times when I just feel that I cannot keep up. No, I’m not talking technology, I manage in that way. It’s other little things that let me know I’m out of touch. Like a recent text from my granddaughter, Elizabeth.
What does this look like to you?
If you answered bacon on someone’s leg, then you are with me. If you responded “band-aids” then you are with it, up-to-date, cool, keeping up, so CONGRATULATIONS.
My almost adult (she will be 21 next week) college student granddaughter had an accident recently which required a few stitches. Good Grandmother that I am I check on her frequently and good granddaughter that she is she keeps me up on how she is doing.
This morning she sent this photo with a text that read “Bacon can fix anything.” I sincerely thought she had put raw bacon on her cuts and started lecturing her on the dangers of tularemia and trichinosis. She is a Nuclear Medicine Technology student who happens to be on the Dean’s List so certainly not dumb, but regardless I was concerned.
It seems one of her friends thought these band-aids would be fun. Apparently, it turned out she was right because Elizabeth certainly enjoyed my reaction.
When I googled “bacon band-aids” they came up in the dozens from Amazon to eBay to Walmart! Who knew?
So now I can no longer believe my eyes?
My name is Elliott Mattingly. You may have heard of me, I’m pretty famous or is it “infamous” that I hear so often? https://crookedcreek.live/2018/01/13/cats
My Human (a.k.a. Sue) likes to make fun of my butt. I resent it and I do not know how to get even with her. If I could talk I’d tell her that her butt is big, too. Since I can’t talk, I’ve been searching and searching for a way to get her back. I could puke as Zoe does but I’m too refined for that although I do enjoy watching the Human clean it up.
I do everything that I can to keep in shape and she knows it because look at the photos she takes. She must think I’m pretty good looking, but still she has to mention my almost 22# weight and my big butt.
I decided to steal her blog for this entry. Never mind how I learned to type, but can’t talk, just work with me here. My diabolical plan to really get even with her is something I did learn from Zoe. Zoe can never be caught to go to the vet. I don’t know why she doesn’t want to go, but that’s her problem. I’ve seen how upset the Human gets trying to catch her so I decided that could work for me.
Last week we had an appointment with our nice vets at the Shelbyville Rd. Animal Clinic. When the carrier appeared I ran under the king-sized bed and the human looked so ridiculous trying to get under there for me. She begged, pleaded really for some time, then she got mad and demanded I come out. I just sat and looked at her, licking . . . well, I won’t say where. I was quite pleased when I heard her calling the vet to reschedule. I tried to catch the date for the next appointment but wasn’t able to hear it. I’d just have to be on the lookout for that carrier to reappear.
And today it did! I retreated under the big bed again and we went through the whole scenario from last week. I am good! Or so I thought listening to yet another call to cancel and reschedule. This could be fun for a long time! Zoe watched the whole thing and I’m pretty sure she was impressed and taking notes.
So things got quiet for a while and I thought the Human must have left the premises so I wandered out to hop onto my window seat to watch the birds outside. I jumped, but instead of landing on my target two big human hands caught me midair and before I knew it I was in the carrier! No amount of crying and cussing made any difference, we were in the car and backing out of the garage so fast it made me dizzy.
I’m back home now and a little embarrassed at the scene I made. Dr. Patterson was so nice and I really enjoyed the exam and care, but the best news was that I have lost almost two pounds! It was worth all the fuss and bother to get that news. I knew the Human was jealous because she never has even a pound to celebrate!
“Time spent with cats is never wasted.” Sigmund Freud
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.
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!
“No one can drive us crazy unless we give them the keys.”
Happy Thanksgiving Dear Readers!
And, Thank You to my son-in-law, Floyd, for this turkey which I enjoy each year!
“We should all get together and make a country in which everybody can eat turkey whenever he pleases.” Harry S. Truman
Theme graphic in title by Pixabay
I’ve often been accused of thinking and talking too much about death. I do contemplate the subject and read and talk about it quite a bit, but I want to declare that I am not morbid. Death is inevitable for each of us, so why not acknowledge that and get on with laughing, loving and living? That’s my philosophy.
Can death be funny? If your first instinct is to answer, “No,” think again. If you’ve ever watched the late eighties movie, “Weekend at Bernie’s” you know better!
John Cleese’s Philosophy
Is death funny? It is. Death is certainly present in my life, and there’s humor to be mined from it. Somebody was saying to me last week that you can’t talk about death these days without people thinking you’ve done something absolutely antisocial. But death is part of the deal. Imagine if, before you came to exist on Earth, God said, “You can choose to stay up here with me, watching reruns and eating ice cream, or you can be born. But if you pick being born, at the end of your life you have to die — that’s nonnegotiable. So which do you pick?” I think most people would say, “I’ll give living a whirl.” It’s sad, but the whirl includes dying. That’s something I accept. John Cleese
“Die with memories, not dreams.” Word Porn
A Good Read
Would you like an entertaining, easy-reading book? If you have an interest in medicine and if you love the Smokey Mountains, you’ll definitely enjoy “Medicine Men” by Carolyn Jourdan. Ms. Jourdan is a sophisticated Wall Street Journal bestselling author, who apparently never forgot her mountain roots. Her father was an “extreme Appalachian” doctor and she tells his stories as well as those of many other such physicians who she interviews. It is a fun read which made me want to return to the Smokies for a visit.
I heartily recommend this book which can easily be read in a day. As simple and funny as the stories are they stimulate thought regarding profound subjects and questions.
“Mountains are the beginning and the end of all natural scenery.” John Ruskin
Theme photo in title by Pixabay
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.
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
I am not a movie critic. I’m not even a movie buff. I probably see fewer than 6 movies per year at the theater.
I loved the movie I saw yesterday with a friend. It was packed with great actors, Candice Bergen, Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Mary Steenburgen. Don’t be put off by trailers referring to the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” because it isn’t really about the book, but about four close friends who have an informal book club, hence the movie’s name.
“Book Club” is a comedy with a lot of philosophy woven throughout. It was funny. I truly laughed out loud more than once. In my “I’m not a movie critic” opinion it has a specific audience in mind. If you are female and of, let’s say a mature age, you will likely be entertained.
Theme graphic in title by Pixabay
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.
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.
Then I spotted a tree that was apparently very glad to see me!
Fairy tales can come true?
It could happen to you. . .
Please don’t let it be true!
Beauty and the Beast
In spite of learning so much more about Beauty and the Beast, I still suspect that Beauty and many other females in fairy tales suffer from Stockholm syndrome. I would prefer this story:
A close review of old stories for children, even nursery rhymes, and songs, contain thinly veiled topics that few would find healthy for young children. Some subject matter that comes to mind includes poverty, patriarchy, arranged marriages, cannibalism, incest, and beastiality. (I sure wish I had not used Google to find the correct spelling of that last word!)
The country of origin seems to have little influence on whether the tale is age appropriate. Beauty and the Beast was written in France as we learned in the last post, Aesop’s Fables are from Greece, Hans Christian Andersen was Danish and the Brothers Grimm were German.
Again I am guilty of jumping to conclusions without complete information because when I started reading full versions of many nursery rhymes I found that I was only familiar with part of the story. For instance, I had only heard the first verse of Baa Baa Black Sheep. Did you know that the last verse is about a zebra? There are workable theories that this rhyme is based on slavery or unfair taxing, but we won’t go there today.
Again I had not read or heard all of Little Bow Peep. Did you know that when she found her sheep it “made her heart bleed” because of the loss of their tails? I’m not sure what it is about tails but The Three Blind Mice had theirs surgically removed by the farmer’s wife!
Poor Humpty Dumpty is mortally crushed in a fall. Everyone knows I suppose that Peter held his wife captive in a pumpkin shell and Jack sustained a skull fracture which Jill tried to replicate as she came tumbling after.
Maybe it is the nurse in me, but I see emergency departments filled with these casualties. Perhaps you’re seeing it reported on cable news or from the viewpoint of law enforcement.
I would be willing to bet that you have either sung “Rock-a-bye Baby” or had it sung to you. Did you, like me, picture that sweet fragile baby crashing to the ground when the windstorm breaks the limb upon which its cradle was hung? Could it be that the words really do not matter at all? Is it conceivable that the only thing that matters is that someone is lovingly singing a lullaby?
You may wonder what these four posts entitled Beauty are about and if so my job here is done. I want you to wonder, to question. I am interested in thoughts this series might have prompted. I would like to know your opinions, your favorite or least favorite children’s story, whether you reached any conclusions. Please share in the comments. Thank you.
Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes is brilliant. It seems much more like an adult tale than a child’s, but regardless there is such a valuable lesson contained in this story. It isn’t sing-song verse nor does it rhyme. It does not frighten but manages to carry a profound message.
Part 4 of 4
Theme photo in title by Pixabay
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.
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.
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.
“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
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
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
Torn Between Philosophies
Exercise, Diet, Meditate
Life is Short, Eat the Cake
Photos and graphics by Pixabay
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?
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.
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.
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
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
Reader Feedback to Follow in Next Post!
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.
Part 2 of 4
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.
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.
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.
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
Tip of the Day
OK, one does not have to be an expert to give advice. Experience gives one lessons worth passing along. I have lots of experience, 74+ years of it. Here’s my advice from an experience early this morning: If it’s 11 degrees out, you’re in heavy traffic and the morning sun is shining brightly onto your very dirty windshield THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO USE YOUR WINDSHIELD WASHER!
I have lots of experience and you would think that in 74 years I would know better. The first thing I thought of (once the solid ice melted) was to pass along this to you.
Have a safe day!
Theme photo in title by Pixabay
“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!”?
Please share some of your own observations with us.
Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.
For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.
Part 3 of 4
Photo by Pixabay
Recollections of Travel
Traveling in the South was a real treat for many reasons including the soft accents and colloquialisms. I will never forget being in an elevator in Montgomery, AL when a smartly dressed woman walked through the door and requested I “mash 6” for her. I’m sure my mouth was agape while I figured out she wanted me to push the button for the sixth floor!
Being a Kentuckian, I’ve always wondered why we are considered “southern.” We are far from Montgomery, New Orleans and other southern towns where honeyed accents prevail. In fact, we are squarely in the middle of the Eastern one-third of the US. I know I have an accent, but in my opinion, it is not Southern, but country. I hear it, I’ve been reminded of it and even teased when traveling to cities to the North or out West. I must admit when I was teased I often became, even more country, sprinkling “Y’all” liberally throughout the dialogue. Accents are intriguing.
A long time ago a business colleague and I spent a week in Charleston, SC, training staff at one of the ambulatory care centers slated soon to open. It was going to be a demanding schedule which was a shame because by all accounts Charleston was a beautiful historic city. We knew we would have little time for anything other than work but two things were obvious. We had to have a place to stay and we had to eat, so we optimized both requirements. We chose an extra nice hotel situated on the beach and planned to sample the local cuisine at the finest places.
While I don’t remember every detail of that week, some things do stand out. One was sleeping with the sliding glass doors open to the balcony so I could hear the ocean. The pounding of the waves was magically relaxing after long days of teaching and orienting nurses, doctors, radiology and lab technicians as well as clerical staff. They were experienced professionals but needed to learn the policies and procedures established by our company.
Our treat for the week became the wonderful restaurants, especially those specializing in seafood. Each evening we would choose a different place and linger over dinner while reviewing the events of the day. We were never disappointed in the meals nor the southern hospitality. We tried many types of food, but I kept going back to my favorite, shrimp. I ate shrimp as appetizers and in main courses prepared in various ways. I did not tire of these plump, juicy crustaceans night after night.
On Thursday night sleep came quickly while I listened to the sounds from the beach. Approximately an hour later, I awoke to severe abdominal pain. It was intense as I sat up and turned on the bedside lamp. Within seconds I was aware of itching of my arms and trunk. The itching intensified to the point that the abdominal pain was almost forgotten. As I called my colleague, Gale, whose room was just down the hall, I saw I had red hives, some as big as my hand, quickly advancing over my trunk and limbs. By the time she got to my room, I was tearing at my skin, unable to control the itching or accompanying panic. Thank goodness, Gale was not only intelligent, she was a “take charge” type who also had Benadryl in her room. I probably owe her my life. She forced me to swallow two capsules of 25 mg. each while she shouted demanding I stop scratching. That was impossible for me as the more vascular areas swelled and throbbed with an itch I didn’t know was possible.
In the city hospital emergency department (ED) those accents I had been enjoying all week, became so pronounced I could barely make out was being said to me. Perhaps it was my state of fear and agitation, but the only person I could understand was the doctor who was from Vietnam! As my lips, tongue, and throat continued to swell I could not believe how chatty he became. He did all the right things obviously because I survived anaphylactic shock, but when he had learned the company I worked for and that I was from Louisville he found those facts far more remarkable than my precarious medical situation.
You see, this was during the time that the Jarvik 7, an artificial heart engineered to replace an ailing human heart, was being implanted in Louisville, KY. The surgeon who performed the first such procedure in Utah had moved to Louisville to perform his second and subsequent surgeries at one of the hospitals owned by my employer. The Vietnamese ED physician kept asking questions about that famous surgeon. Did I know him? What was he like? What did the Louisville medical community think of this procedure? If he had known I was recently a nurse manager at the same hospital where this device was being implanted, I doubt he would have been able to focus on his patient at all, i.e., ME!
Thanks to quick thinking on the part of my colleague and in spite of the ED doctor’s infatuation with the artificial heart surgeon I survived to work another day in Charleston even though it was without sleep. After returning to Louisville tests confirmed I was allergic to crustaceans, e.g. shrimp, lobster, and crabs. I have not eaten shrimp, or any other crustacean, since that trip to lovely South Carolina.
For years I grieved the loss of shrimp and lobster. I also went through a stage of blaming myself (called “personalization” by Sheryl Sandberg in her book Option B) for overindulging and thereby becoming sensitized. Finally, I was able to not only accept, but be a little grateful as my research revealed a close kinship between shrimp and certain bugs (arthropods.)
NOTE: Allergy to crustaceans is not the same as a shellfish allergy. Oysters, clams, and mussels, for instance, are not crustaceans. For simplification I refer to crustaceans as the ones with antennae.
Photos by Pixabay
Recollections of Travel
The last several blocks to the Knickerbocker were silent . . . and damp. My husband looked sad, but he did not say a word after I confessed being responsible for his assault. I think I would have felt better had he berated me, but that was not his style. After checking into the hotel we decided to nap before going out to dinner. It had been a long day and we both were weary. When we awakened hours had passed and the city lights reflected throughout the room. I think it was the effect of those bright, cheerful lights that restored our mood. We went for a walk holding hands and putting our bad start out of mind, ready for adventure. After walking several blocks we had not found a place where we wanted to eat dinner and so decided to order room service and a bottle of wine. The evening was turning romantic.
The next morning I noticed the half-full bottle of Cabernet on the table as I headed toward the shower. When I was ready for work, Raymond was dressing for his day of sightseeing. We planned meeting back at the hotel lobby later in the day so we could move on to a different location for the next workdays.
When I returned in the afternoon he was sitting there right on time and had even had the car brought around from the garage. As we drove through the city the event of the day before seemed a fading memory. After checking in to the new hotel we ate dinner and did more sightseeing before heading in for the night. Our luggage was properly stored side by side on the luggage racks, but something did not seem right. I had a feeling of foreboding I could not explain. As I began to unzip my suitcase, I knew something was terribly wrong. The bouquet I detected was definitely Cabernet and then I saw IT. The dark red wine had seeped from the corked bottle in MY suitcase!
His Really Bad Idea
Turning to Raymond I tried to remain calm while asking him why he felt compelled to bring along the wine and why it was in my suitcase. Before I screamed, which I very much wanted to do, luckily I remembered his reaction to being hit in the face with the can of soda yesterday and I refrained from both screaming and assigning blame. Slowly he realized what a catastrophe this was. I had no clothes to wear for the next two days of meetings. The smell of the pungent wine had permeated even the items which were not damp. There was no way my clothes could be cleaned by tomorrow morning or even that they would not be stained after dry cleaning. The suit I had worn today would have to do for the next two days! There was no time for shopping either, just time to rinse out underwear for the next day. It was the first time I wished Raymond wore pajamas because I had to settle for one of his tee shirts for sleeping.
The rest of the trip is thankfully a blur. I’m pretty sure Raymond spent his days watching TV in the hotel room. I recall being embarrassed about my repeat outfit and wondering if it had even picked up the smell of wine from our room. We didn’t drink often which would make it even more ironic if word got back to the office that for two days I had smelled of wine! At the end of the day on Thursday, we decided we were ready to go home rather than spend more time in the city as we had planned. When our luggage was stowed in the trunk the smell of wine wafted out and the bellman looked surprised but said nothing. I drove through the night carefully obeying the speed limits and hoping there would be no reason to be pulled over by a police officer. I was sure I could smell the wine in the front of the car, too. It was a very long, slow trip home.
That was the only time Raymond ever accompanied me on a business trip. He never asked. I never asked. In fact, we never discussed IT again.
Photos by Pixabay
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.
Recollections of Travel
While trying to work in the Delta lounge during a long layover, I was distracted by the TV. It was not loud, in fact, the voice I heard droning on was barely a murmur. Perhaps that is why I could not resist listening to his descriptions of the perfect and perfectly beautiful models sliding onto the show runway. Their hair, flawless, shiny, and straight flowed spontaneously. The make-up was subtle in its goal of looking natural. His sensitive voice was fluid and sophisticated as he described the women. He talked about the models wearing fabrics “sort of blue, sort of yellow and sort of print.” The non-colors were equivocal, there or not there, whatever you wanted. As he proceeded to detail the faces with terms like “the non-lip,” the gaunt women walked up and down, staring into nowhere with eyes that weren’t.
Later in the week while attending a medical conference at UCLA, I was listening to a distinguished bone marrow transplant physician, world-renowned for his pioneering work with stem cells. As he spoke, the room became absolutely silent while over one-hundred (100) attendees listened in awe to this brilliant scholar describe his latest techniques and accomplishments.
It was impossible to not notice a movement in the back of the silent room as a woman, too polite to make a distracting click, clack noise with her four-inch heels, walked the full length of the conference room on her tip toes. As she began the trek she looked back and forth, apologetically, at those who observed her progress. She hunched over to appear smaller and assumed an awkward gait resembling a person crippled by some congenital deformity.
The beautiful woman, hobbled by her stilettos, had broken the mood of academics absorbing knowledge and now we were simply enjoying the show.
Photos by Pixabay
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.|
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)
8. April had a baby.
On April 15 the calf, reportedly a male, was born. It was thrilling to watch the delivery and the newborn appeared healthy. Apparently we have seen the last of him, because the camera has not been live streaming for the past 24 hours. As many others, I have been concerned by some aspects of this fun experience. The giraffe pens look small and Upstate NY is not a normal environment for this species. The park has made well over $135,000 with a GoFundMe account, in addition to charging for such privileges as submitting a name in the naming contest. I have boycotted circuses for most of my adult life and am conflicted by zoos, but this is an “animal park,” so perhaps is not even as well equipped as an actual zoo. Not having visited this establishment, I have no evidence that its animals are not being well cared for, but I have questions.
9. Alot is not a word. It is not, even though a lot of people believe otherwise.
10. I am no Oprah. Oprah speaks and people listen. Oprah advertises and people buy. Oprah recommends and people read. Oprah is self-assured and wealthy. I am neither.
11. CPR does not always work. Sadly, I know this first hand.
12. Grandparents are not infallible. Last weekend I saw a grandfather spaying weedkiller all over the yard, entusiastically squirting every dandelion. I thought how sad it was that honeybees would not be safe collecting pollen on those round circles of sunshine. Then only minutes later, to my amazement, I saw the grandmother accompany three little preschoolers into the yard with brightly colored buckets to hunt Easter Eggs.
“So cling tightly to the pursuit, but hold your conclusions loosely.”
What I Know for Sure 1 & 2
- There are few things of which I am 100% sure, but one of those certainties is the fact that I love my family with all my heart.
- Having time alone is a necessity for me, but I sometimes forget how much I need to be with people.
- Native Americans should not be called Indians.
- Dish towels and dish cloths should be laundered separately, i.e., not with underwear.
- April is not delivering in March.
- Love at first sight is a real phenomenon.
- Depression should be renamed.
Part 3 of 4
Theme photo by Akiko Kobayashi (Japan)
To Bury, Cremate, Donate, Plant – Disposal of Human Remains
Another decision that must be made concerns disposal of bodily remains. For many years burial in a family or church cemetery was the norm, however that is changing for both environmental and economic reasons. In 2015 cremation rate in the US was 48.6% and expected to rise each year into the future. Rates vary across the country with over 60% in the West and as low as 25% in southern states. There are other options, of course which actually increase the cost, such as cryogenics, ashes blasted into space or adding ashes to an artificial reef in an ocean.
Interment in a cemetery has fallen into disfavor due to cost, but also because of what many see as misdirected use of land. While I personally prefer cremation and scattering of ashes (also called cremains) back into nature, I must admit that I have always found cemeteries interesting to visit. In old cemeteries I would go further and say that reading tombstones can be fascinating. I know that I am not alone, because many books have been written on the subject including: “Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography” by Douglas Keister and “Gone to the Grave: Burial Customs of the Arkansas Ozarks 1850-1950” by Abby Burnett which was reviewed in The Courier Journal in November 2015. Some of my favorite epitaphs from this book are these: “Killed by a live wire” (1905), “Revenge is my motto” (1869) and “This can’t be death. I feel too good” (1906).
When I was in Russia a couple of years after the fall of the Soviet Union, I toured a large old cemetery that was, according to custom there, divided into sections by profession or status. There were sections for the arts with subsections containing poets, musicians and actors. There were others for military, government officials, Communist Party members, working class (the proletariat) and even the Mafia.
I noticed many tombstones that bore the skull and cross bones symbol and inquired of the interpreter what that meant. Her response? “They’re dead”.
The skull and cross bones, while perhaps peculiar to Russia, are part of the monument period of Terror which represented symbols of fear of the afterlife. This was followed by the Romantic and then Personalization Periods. The Contemporary period in which we now live, leads to what are often attempts at humor. A word of warning about being too creative however, as what is funny today may be confusing or fall flat when it has become outdated. A couple of examples come to mind: A monument depicting a rotary and corded telephone simply said, “Jesus Called”. I’ve seen photos of others that show a calculator, an expired parking meter and even a brownie recipe.
One of my favorite tombstones is from Clay County, TN which explains that the deceased was “killed by bushwhackers” in 1862 in neighboring Fentress County. Unfortunately the photos taken and provided for this post by Steve Baugh have been lost due to my error.
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it” Mark Twain.
Note 1/1/18: Another Option for Disposal https://crookedcreek.live/2017/11/06/infinity-suit/
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.
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.
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.
When we hear of a theft from a hospital most of us immediately think: “drugs.” We hear of employees who slip syringes and pills into their pockets for self consumption or for sale and know they do this at great risk of being caught and punished. Addiction is at powerful epidemic proportions in Kentucky at this time, so hearing a news report of a hospital theft is not shocking.
Once though, twelve years ago I read of a theft at a hospital in Owensboro, KY that was of more interest. In fact, so unique I clipped the article from The Courier-Journal and still have it today to share with you. Here are some of the facts, perhaps you can help me to understand what might have been the motive of this particular hospital heist. The theft took place on Christmas Eve, so perhaps the culprit just needed something to give her family members on Christmas morning? Or maybe the loot was going to be sold at a late night pawn shop to support a drug habit? It is sad to imagine this individual desperate enough to risk being caught by surveillance cameras watching her as she committed this crime.
Those electronic eyes did their jobs well and saw this person clearly as she lifted 50 artificial eyes from a lobby display case. And, the best part of all in this tale? The person arrested was Melissa Jane Wink.
I swear and here’s my proof:
Theme photo by Pixabay
Nurses in Training
As mentioned on the “About” page of this blog, I taught nursing a long time ago. I began teaching in 1978 which was when nurses wore white uniforms, hose, shoes and cap. The cap was symbolic of the nursing school from which one graduated. Mine was modestly winged with a black stripe indicating I was an alum of The Kentucky Baptist School of Nursing.
Teaching men and women who aspired to become a nurse was both daunting and rewarding. When the students were brand new they learned mundane tasks in the lab such as proper hand washing and sterile technique. In the classroom they learned subjects like pharmacology and anatomy.
The most challenging days were when the students were taken into the clinical area for real hands-on hospital experience. I went in before 6 a.m. to review charts and choose one or more patients for each student to care for from 7 until 11 o’clock. They would bathe, treat and monitor the patient and document everything in the nurse’s notes and on various graphs and forms in the chart. Meanwhile, as their teacher, I was running from room to room to instruct, supervise and observe their performances.
Following the hectic morning of caring for patients we would meet together for post conference. During this time each student presented their case(s) for the day. One by one they would state their patient’s diagnosis, age and other demographics, medications administered, tests and lab results and treatments rendered. It was an important part of the clinical experience, because the students were able to demonstrate what they had learned and answer questions from the group. It was, also, a way for each student to learn information from 10-12 different cases.
I will never forget some of the things I learned here, especially during the years I taught Pediatrics, since it was not the field of nursing in which I was most experienced. During post conference, students might share good news about blood work indicating a child’s recovery from leukemia, the troubling account of a toddler intentionally burned by one of its parents, maybe assisting with a spinal tap or accompanying an infant for X-rays.
One hot summer day we were gathered in a conference room while I listened dutifully to each student and added or corrected information as they presented their cases. One student went into great detail describing her little boy’s injuries which consisted of many lacerations and a fracture of the lower left extremity requiring surgery. She explained how the child was brought in by ambulance from his home in the country. She was dismayed at how, though he was only 10 years old, his parents let him handle many farm chores. She explained while accompanying his father in the field, he had been savagely injured by a wild animal. She had everyone’s attention and was clearly becoming excited as she continued to talk about the attack.
I sat speechless, a rare condition for me, but I could not make myself interrupt her animated presentation. She went on and on until finally one of her classmates asked the question everyone wanted to know: “What kind of animal was it”? To which she breathlessly responded it was, “A bush hog!”
Bush Hog by Pixabay
For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of spiders. More specifically, I am terrified that spiders will crawl down my collar. My reflexive action upon seeing a spider, no matter how small, is to pull in my neck and hunch up my shoulders making my collar as tight as possible.
Lest you think I have entomophobia, (that is what you were thinking, right?) allow me to present just a few photos as evidence that I love critters. In addition to the grasshopper above, here is a caterpillar which was recently chomping on my rosebush. I removed it by hand and placed it in my fairy garden where it could eat to its heart’s content. One day a couple of months ago, I stopped while shopping to photograph this cute inchworm on a flower near the entrance of a grocery. I think that she is adorable and I would have brought her home as a pet had she not looked so happy there. Speaking of taking bugs and worms home, here’s a cicada that I found on the front porch and it is currently in my living room. Okay, I said that I would always be honest with you, dear readers, so, I must admit that he was dead when I found him, but still, he is here in my house. He’s just too handsome to toss outside. I really do not fear bugs. Okay, honesty check again, there is one that bug that I loathe as much as spiders. To me, the centipede is simply an elongated spider, but I do realize that it has more than eight legs, so does not qualify.
Many years ago, while reflecting upon my childhood, I recalled a day at Vacation Bible School at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Shelby County, near Anderson County where we lived. The day’s lessons, songs and Bible verses were vague memories, but I suddenly remembered our play period vividly. I suppose it is not unusual for children to remember recess, but this was different, in that we preschoolers were allowed to play in the cemetery that surrounded two sides of that country church. We respectfully ran among tombstones, carefully avoiding stepping on the graves, until a little boy noticed a small round hole on the top of one. He inspected closely and declared that he could hear something inside! Although frightened, we all lined up to take turns listening. When it was finally my turn, I knelt down and put my ear to the hole. He was right, there was a loud roaring sound coming from the hole and before I knew it there were millions of baby spiders on the ground and my cotton dress. They were on my shoulders and arms and, worst of all, they were crawling down inside my collar. With this horrifying memory, finally I knew why I have arachnophobia, a pathological fear or loathing of spiders.
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
The heat had subsided and autumn had arrived with the week-end. The skies were the bluest and the clouds the whitest. The sun was warm and I had planned to enjoy a local festival, but alas, it was not to be. Good wife that I am, I spent Saturday doing all the chores my husband and I generally did together. Due to his back injury, I had to do all the household stuff, like laundry, cooking and cleaning, alone. After completing it all, I was ready for something more challenging, something outdoors on that gorgeous day.
Our two acres, which usually looked like a park, no thanks to me, was really in need of cutting. I thought it was a perfect time to try out that new John Deere tractor my husband, Raymond, thought was so great. It was a small garden tractor with tilt wheel and other neat gadgets I had never used. I was sure he would appreciate my help, since I knew how he liked to keep the property looking neat. After twenty minutes of his assuring me that it didn’t really need to be mowed, I was undeterred.
The thing really did run like a deer, but it was not a dear to handle. No matter how hard I chased a snake I was unable to run over it, which of course, meant there was a big snake out there holding a grudge. The orchard part of the property now looked rather like a crazy quilt, but there were dozens of beautiful butterflies on the ground enjoying the fallen fruit and I couldn’t just run over them as though they were a snake! They were like monarchs except electric blue! None were lost, thanks to my fancy maneuvering.
We had a lot of trees in the yard. The big ones still bore my marks from the last time I had mown, thirteen years before, following Raymond’s car accident. The little ones, hopefully, would heal as well this time. Of course those blue spruce seedlings would never see the light of day. Too bad Raymond didn’t tell me that he had planted them, or maybe he had, but I sure never saw them, at least not while they were vertical.
The whole thing took a few hours to complete. At first Raymond watched his “woman” proudly from the deck, smiling at me as I waved to him with each circle I made around the house. Then, I noticed that each time I drove by his posture was a little more slumped. Finally, his head was hung in his hands. I guess he was in pain, poor guy, so I smiled encouragingly, gave him a thumbs up and kept up my speed.
Finally, I was finished, except for the trim work. I hopped off the tractor and headed for the shed to get the weed whacker and a small push mower, but he called for me to come have a coke and rest with him on the deck. While I sipped the cold drink, he explained that both the tools I needed were out of commission. He, regretfully, said that he could not find the string stuff for the whacker anywhere and that the little push mower had already been “winterized,” whatever that meant. Just when I was ready for something more physical than just riding around! I was quite disappointed, because there really was a lot of trimming needed, about two feet around each tree, flower, walk, structure, etc., to be exact.
That night at supper when my husband asked the blessing, as he always did, he prayed something like this: “Lord, if you can’t heal my back soon, please hold off on the rain until it frosts.” Now, what do you suppose he meant by that?
Written September 15, 1990 and Edited for Blog September 3, 2016
It is September and the summer to autumn metamorphosis has finally begun. While it will not officially be autumn until after this week-end, the long awaited relief from the five month, ninety-plus temperature marathon arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, I will not be in Kentucky for the first cooling breeze promised for tomorrow. As I ride through heavy rain to the airport I anticipate the hot humid Florida air at the end of the flight.
After an unexpected hour on the ground before takeoff from Louisville and the usual delays in Atlanta, I finally arrive, over an hour late, in Jacksonville. This is no big deal since I do not have anything scheduled until eight o-clock tomorrow morning. So why do I feel in such a hurry? It’s the traveling thing. It’s what I have done for the past eight years as I travel in my job. I rush. I act hurried and harried. If I am flying, I must be in a hurry, right?
As I rush inside to rent a car, I reflect on a very satisfying day. Autumn is almost here. The staff back at the office is hanging in there while another person is recruited. I heard about my granddaughter’s first tooth. There was a very enjoyable lunch just prior to leaving for the airport. And, also, there is this great new dress that I am wearing. What a dress! Compliments all day long! Now don’t get me wrong, it was the dress that about a dozen people had complimented, not me. I am enjoying the dress’s compliments vicariously and thinking, “I FEEL GOOD!” (Hear James Brown now, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1wOK9yGUYM). At that instant my heel turns violently and I am catapulted sideways, then forward, before gravity wins and I land with my body at several unlikely angles. I have crash landed in Jacksonville.
As four people run toward me they order me to not stand up, like I can! One retrieves a shoe as he passes it two traffic lanes away, a man coming from my left picks up my purse on the way and a woman brings along my bag which has skidded about six feet to the right. These three, plus a man wearing tennis shorts and with a lovely British accent, help me to a sitting position on the curb, while all are talking at once. Several American accents are noted and I find myself thinking about that, while at the same time, trying to assure everyone that I am really okay, because they seem to genuinely care. Why would they care so much? It must be the dress! Why are they not rushing on about their own business? Surely they are in a hurry. They are flying, aren’t they? Well, at least three of them are. One man is apparently a driver for a van of some sort. The others, who look like passengers, actually offer to give me a lift to my hotel. I am not even ready for a lift from the curb.
The airport police come from all directions in blue uniforms, some airport personnel in regular clothes too, and even the young woman from National, where I had just rented a car, comes out to sit by my side on the curb offering comfort. All appear so concerned that while I am quite sure that my ankle is broken, I really do not want to tell them. I want to be okay for them!
I start to joke about the situation and they pick up on it and we banter while waiting for the EMS. Sirens can be heard in the distance and I look up and see a large white truck with red lights flashing on top and when it pulls up, the words “U.S. Air Force” can be seen on the door. I ask if the EMS has to be Air Force because we are at an airport and the answer is lost in the sound of more sirens as a red fire truck comes into view. I assure them I am not in need of the Air Force nor am I on fire and ask them to please do whatever their policy requires for the report and let me go. I am, after all, in a hurry. The EMTs glance at my ankle and take my pedal pulse. By now the pulse of my foot has been taken by about eight people. I am not sure who all of them are and some had felt of the wrong foot, but I didn’t say anything, because what can it hurt?
At this point an officer asks for my driver’s license. When I remind him that I was not driving, he reminds me that he is fulfilling my request to complete the report to let me go. I hand over my license and think how glad I am that I did not have a cocktail on the plane. Can you imagine the report reading “Middle-aged WF smelling of ETOH falls off curb”? So, I imagine that instead it goes something like this, “Cooperative WF, wearing a great purple dress, turns ankle.”
I decline a ride to the hospital in the Air Force truck. Some ice and an ace wrap would have been good, but that will come later at the emergency department. As I drive painfully away with muscles throbbing and flesh changing colors, a crowd of smiling well-wishers wave me out of sight. Where else, except in the south, could one have had such a pleasant experience?
Written September 18, 1991 and Edited for Blog September 2, 2016
When I was little I was fond of saying that I was “born on Crooked Creek,” much to my mother’s chagrin. She told me that it didn’t sound right, so I reconstructed the sentence and started saying I was “born down on Crooked Creek.” but I didn’t notice Mom’s expression improving.
When I was in second grade, we moved to town, the metropolis of Taylorsville, KY, population something like 650, and that’s when I thought I had figured out the problem. There I learned that most of my new friends had been born in a hospital, not at home, as I had. For some reason I was sure that my Mom was embarrassed about not giving birth to my older brother and me in a proper environment. I didn’t know why she was so worried about that when there were other, more important, differences to be concerned about. I decided to keep very quiet about our not having a bathroom or running water back there in Anderson County.
One day, not long after moving, someone from the First Baptist Church visited to invite us to worship services. I knew a lot about church, having already been baptized and all, and I knew this visitor was very important to my Mom, so I was on my best behavior. I was pretty nervous, wanting to impress this man wearing a suit and neck-tie on a weekday, so that my Mom would be proud. Finally he turned his attention to me and asked that perfunctory question people ask of children, how old was I? For some reason, instead of answering with one simple word, I felt the need to blurt out, accurately I might add, that I was born eight years ago down “on Crooked Creek Road.”
Mom always worried about what people would think, but it was a long time before I learned that her embarrassment had nothing to do with giving birth at home, but rather in a creek or on the road.