Sunday, November 10, 2019

Veterans


Like many families, my family has a lot of people who served in the Armed Forces. Most of them came home and went on to have families and decent lives. Some were 'lifers' and some only served as long as necessary. I am proud of each of them and I thank them all for keeping our freedom.

My father was in the Navy during World War II. He was wounded but still made it home and had a large loving family. He did not talk about his time at war.

My oldest brother served in Korea on the DMZ as an MP. Things were not as peaceful as we are led to believe. It is, after all, still an active war zone. He came home and eventually married. He and his wife divorced and had no children. He did not talk about his time in a war zone.

My second brother served in Vietnam. He wrote letters to us. Many had tears on them as he told of buddies who had been killed.

He told us before he left that he would not be back alive. He made arrangements for the dispersal of his things. He was right. He did not come back alive.

My brother did not have a chance to marry and have a family. He was unable to continue his life. He was not much more than a child himself.

As the saying goes 'War is hell'. It hurts so many. Most of all it hurts those who served. They seldom speak of experiences. Usually, the most they will say is that they served and where.

They may have physical wounds that we can see. All of them have inner wounds that they do not often share.

Thank you to all the veterans.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Creamed Spinach

We had our first snow today. We have had flurries a couple of times but today the snow melted before it had a chance to make things white.

Today's snow is still lying on the ground. It is not much but it is there.

I had to go to the doctor today so I was unlucky enough to drive in it. The driving was not bad. At least the deer stayed off the road in respect for the first snow. Turkeys were another matter. We all know they have no sense.

I am sure the snow will melt tomorrow. The weather forecast calls for warmer temperatures.

As I was driving home I kept thinking that the snow on the bright green patches of plants reminded me of some sort of food. Then it dawned on me that it looked like creamed spinach.

No wonder I was so hungry when I walked into the house.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Romantic


My husband came from a farming family. They often had little money. He had good parents who taught him the value of hard work and treating people with respect. 

My family moved often. We often had little money. I had good parents who taught me to work hard and to treat people with respect.

We did not know it at the time. We had only been seeing each other for a short time. 

At that time seeing each other meant going to an occasional drive-in movie or driving 'the loop' downtown. The loop was the activity most often because it was cheaper. And all our friends were doing the same thing.

One night we were driving the loop and my husband wanted to take a break. He drove to a little neighborhood grocery store near where his brother lived. He told me he would be right back and ran into the store.

He came back out with a small paper bag. In it were two large oranges. One was for me.

He presented it with a great flourish. He thought those oranges were the most exotic things he ever had and wanted to share them with me.

It was the most romantic thing that ever happened to me.

What was your most romantic moment?

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Halloween

I love Halloween. I have so many happy memories of trick-or-treating when I was a child.

We would go out as soon as our mother would allow. Then we would get the best treats: cupcakes, cookies, candy bars, popcorn balls, candied apples, bubble gum, coins, various candies in small bags, wax lips, assorted fruit... you get the idea.

When I was grown and my children went out I still dressed up in a costume to give out candy. We even made our own scary tapes to play on the porch to set the mood.

These days children do not trick-or-treat here. I live in a very small town. The few children who live here go to the next town where there are more people.

Halloween began as the Irish celebration of Samhain (pronounced as soween). It was around the time of the harvest and also the time when the boundaries between the worlds of living and dead were blurred. 

The dead were believed to cross into our world. Some would cause mischief or tricks. To ward them off people left treats on their doorsteps thinking that would satisfy the otherworldly visitors and keep them from committing mischief against them.

Soon local troublemakers saw an opportunity. They would cover their faces in grotesque masks to scare the people. They helped themselves to the treats left on the doorsteps. Trick-or-treat was born.

My favorite Halloween story tells of the birth of the jack o'lantern.

Stingy Jack was well known around his part of Ireland. He liked his drink and was thought to take liberties with other people's property. He cheated, deceived, and misused anyone he could. Stingy Jack did not particularly care what others thought of him. All that mattered to Stingy Jack was Stingy Jack and his comforts.

Now the devil had been keeping tabs on him. Stingy Jack was a prime candidate for the devil's domain.

One night after a night of heavy drinking, Stingy Jack was stumbling home. He came upon a body lying in the road so he stopped to see if there was anything of value in the pockets.

Suddenly the body moved and jumped up. Stingy Jack realized that it was the devil and Jack's earthly time was to end. But he was not ready to go.

Stingy Jack asked for a last wish. The devil saw no harm in granting a final drink to Stingy Jack. Off they went to the pub. Stingy Jack was a frequent patron and knew the bartender well. As the duo walked through the door the bartender smiled. When Stingy Jack got the best of somebody, the bartender got a nice part of the take.

Stingy Jack proceeded to have a sample or more of every type of drink in the pub. When he finished he told the devil to turn himself into a silver coin to pay the tab. He promised that he would get the coin back so the devil could change back into himself.

The devil turned himself into a coin of silver. Stingy Jack grinned at the bartender who grinned right back. Stingy Jack dropped the coin into his pocket which just happened to also contain a crucifix. The crucifix took away all of the powers the devil had. He begged and begged to be set free.

Stingy Jack, being the kind-hearted soul he was, said he would set the devil free IF the devil would promise not to take his soul for 10 years. Of course the devil agreed.

Ten years passed with Stingy Jack continuing in his evil ways. The devil appeared as he said he would. Stingy Jack knew his time was up. The devil had Stingy Jack by the arm ready to take him to Hell. Stingy Jack asked if the devil would climb the apple tree they were standing next to and pick an apple for him to eat on the way. The devil heaved a heavy sigh and climbed the tree.

While the devil was picking a nice apple Stingy Jack hurriedly surrounded the tree trunk with crucifixes. The devil was stuck in the tree.

Once again the devil found himself pleading for his freedom. Finally Stingy Jack made the devil promise to never take his soul. The devil begrudgingly promised. Stingy Jack took the crosses and happily went home knowing that he had outsmarted the devil.

Stingy Jack continued his evil ways but eventually he died as everyone does. He sat and waited patiently for his turn to enter Heaven. When he approached the gates he was turned away. He was told that he was far too evil to be in Heaven.

With resignation Stingy Jack went to Hell. He knocked on the gates and the devil met him there. The devil reminded Stingy Jack of their agreement and told him that since he could not have the soul there was no place for him in Hell. He was doomed to wander in nothingness for eternity.

It was Stingy Jack's turn to plead. Eventually the devil agreed to give him an ember to light his way through the darkness. Jack placed it in a hollowed turnip or rutabaga to keep from burning his fingers.

Stingy Jack came to be called Jack Of The Lantern or Jack-O'-Lantern. At certain times of the year, such as Halloween, when the world of the dead is close to the living Jack-O'-Lantern is seen wandering.

In Ireland during Halloween the living tried to make sure the dead cannot cross back. They began leaving meals on their doorsteps to keep mischief away. If they had to be out in the night they would wear masks and costumes to fool the spirits so that they would not be molested.

Carved pumpkins called Jack-O'-Lanterns are placed on the doorstep to remind spirits of Jack-O'-Lantern and his plight. They do not want to be caught in between the worlds of the afterlife so they avoid any house that is protected by the Jack-O'-Lantern.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Pay It Forward - Revisited


Recently I told you how happy I felt when a complete stranger paid for my meal at a fast food drive through. I was so surprised that I simply drove on through with a smile on my face.

I wished I had extended the favor for the car behind me. I was just too surprised.

The other day I was in town. As I often do when I drive that far I stopped to grab some fast food so I would not have to cook when I got home.

When I pulled up to the window to pay I asked how much the order for the car behind me would cost. I am limited because I have only my retirement funds to spend. I could handle the cost.

I told the cashier that I wanted to pay for the car behind me. She asked if I knew the person. I said no. Did I want her to have my name. No. She took my money.

I went to the next window only to be told that they were in the middle of cooking something that I had ordered. Would I please pull ahead and wait? Of course I would.

As I was waiting the women whose order I paid for drove by. They both had big smiles and waved in appreciation.

I was happy. They were happy. It was a pleasant experience.




Saturday, September 21, 2019

Secret Shopper


When I was working as a cashier we were told that the company had secret shoppers. Secret shoppers are paid by a company to shop in their stores and then rate the service they received.

At least one cashier I worked with was notified by our manager that he waited on a secret shopper. He was given high marks. It went into his record.

Not long ago my son and I went to pick up a pizza at a service station in the next little town. They are the closest thing to fast food near us.

Standing ahead of us in the line was a man purchasing beer. The cashier asked him for identification as the law requires. He furnished his drivers license and she entered the date into the computer as her company requires. He paid his money, took his beer, and left.

Almost immediately the man came back in. He handed the cashier an orange piece of paper and dashed back out.

The cashier looked at the paper. Then her mouth popped open and she had a shocked look on her face.

She had been visited by a secret shopper. She passed with flying colors according to the orange note.

It was her conscientious sense of duty that earned the orange piece of paper. At the same time she was given the extra "pat on the back" that showed her that she was appreciated. She felt so good.

Once more all it took was an orange piece of paper to make someone feel good about herself. It might be nice if we all gave out a nice note to someone who only did a job the right way.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Pay It Forward


I was having a ho-hum day. I had to go into Sioux City to pick up my medicine. While I was there I picked up some groceries.

Since I hate shopping and especially grocery shopping I do most of it on-line. They gather up my order. All I have to do is wait while they bring it to my car and load it. All it takes is a few minutes and I am ready to roll.

When I finished all I had to do it was the later part of middle afternoon. I still had a half-hour drive ahead of me to go home. I decided to have fast food for supper.

I was sitting in that long line and noticed a woman who looked particularly grumpy. I felt bad for her and wondered why she felt that way. I was soon right behind her in the line.

When I got to the window to pay for my order I was informed that that nice lady had paid for my order.

She waited ahead to make sure I received my paid-for meal. Then she drove off with a backward wave.

I learned some things that day. The first is something I already knew. Do not make assumptions about someone until you have facts. I thought she was grouchy and I was wrong. Lesson re-learned.

Second: it made me extraordinarily happy that she did that for me. I smiled all the way home. I hope my wave back at her was a sufficient thank you.

Before you ask I did not pay it forward for the person behind me. I was so surprised that I did not even think of it until it was too late. I intend to do it in the near future however.

If you want to make someone smile pay for their coffe or pay it forward at the fast food place. I can tell you I felt so good about the whole human race at that moment. To do that for another person would make it worth the extra cost.