Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What Do You Remember? (Part 1)


I was thinking about the events that have happened in my lifetime. There have been 12 presidents for our country and another is about to take the oath of office. The Catholic church has had seven popes. So far I have had 69 birthdays. Wow.

So then I thought I should chronicle some of the things I remember. For the sake of posterity you know.

Some memories might be about me and my family while some will have affected a lot more people. They could be good or bad or somewhere in between. I am certain I will leave out some. I am more certain that some people will remember them differently. But they are my own memories.

I am a child born of the baby boom after World War II. That means also that the Korean War happened in my lifetime. I do not remember that one either.

I do remember the Viet Nam War. I know President Kennedy addressed the fact that we had troops in Viet Nam in a sort of oblique way. But it was so far removed from us then. We had no idea what we were in for.

As the war escalated so did the need for troops. The draft became a hot issue. Those for it believed that it was the duty of every able-bodies male to fight to protect the country. Those against argued that only the less fortunate were being required to serve while the more fortunate could choose whether or not they wished to go.

I knew many young men who served our country during the time of the Viet Nam War. Most came home alive but none were whole. Physical injuries were only part of the problem. The emotional and psychological injuries often took longer to heal if they ever healed.

Two of my brothers were drafted in the 1960's. The older one was stationed in Korea. You may not realize it but that war had never been resolved. So he was a military policeman at the border between North Korea and South Korea in the Demilitarized Zone known as the DMZ. Theoretically there is no fighting but in actuality shots are often fired. It is a dangerous place to be.

The second brother went to Viet Nam. He wrote to tell us some of the terrible events he experienced. He was killed in Viet Nam. It was the only time I saw my father cry.

Our family was fortunate because his body was quickly recovered and returned to us for a funeral. Not all families can say that.

A military funeral is a beautiful ceremony. It is also extremely painful. The pageantry and precision is astounding. The sounds of the gun salute and Taps is heart-breaking.

It seems there has been a skirmish or war happening ever since then. How I long for peace.

Of course I have not mentioned the Cold War yet. Russia and the United States emerged after WWII as the two most powerful nations of the world. Both were vying to be number one. The tension that resulted prompted political actions and animosities.

Because the atomic bomb was considered to be the greatest peril to the world huge military systems were built. There were Air Force bases set to be in the air at a moments notice. Missile sites were strategically placed to both launch offensive weapons and defensive weapons.

Air raid drills were commonplace. In school were we taught to duck and cover. That meant that if an atomic bomb was headed our way we were to get on our knees under our desks and clamp our hands behind our heads to cover them and place our foreheads on the floor. That would protect us from the bomb?

I have heard of people who claim they were traumatized by duck and cover. I thought it to be a fun interruption of the day.

Fire drills were also an interesting diversion. When the bell went off we knew where we had to go outside so the teacher could get a head count. We would stand in a line on the sidewalk of the next block until the all clear was sounded.

One time we were out in the middle of the winter. There had been a heavy snow overnight and many sidewalks had not been shoveled. It was very cold. Of course we were not allowed to go to our lockers for coats so we felt the cold.

We were out there for probably about 45 minutes. The had been a call that there was a bomb in the school. We had to wait until the police and fire department made sure it was a hoax.

The race to space was something to see. Spurred by the cold war the Americans and the Russians were each trying to beat the other into space.

The Russians Launched Sputnik. It was the first satellite to successfully orbit the Earth. Then they launched Sputnik II with Laika the Dog. Laika died in space.

Not to be outdone the US launched Explorer I. Our first satellite discovered the Van Allen Belt. We followed with animals usually monkeys. They also died either in space or on impact returning to Earth.

Then came manned flights. We sent a man into space and more or less successfully brought him home. The Russians and Americans were running neck and neck.

We were encouraged to watch all the launchings on television. We did not need encouraging. They were thrilling to see.

The most thrilling of all was when They landed on the moon and actually got out of the space capsule and walked on the moon! Can you imagine?

During this time there was one manned capsule that caught fire on the launch pad. The three astronauts inside died. Later on another ship was launched with seven crew members. It exploded after take-off. There were no survivors. If there any such accidents from Russia we have no evidence that I know of.

More next time.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Boys Will Be Boys


My youngest brother has a son who is the same age as my second grandson. They have had a few adventures together. As is often the case with children the adventures are somewhat exciting and, in my eyes, funny.

I have to tell you that I stare at my nephew a lot. He looks exactly like my father probably looked at his age. It drives my nephew crazy and I try not to do it. But it is just uncanny. My grandson looks so much like my ex husband that it is amazing.  So they both look like their grandfathers.

As pre-teens both boys were"into" wrestling. They watched wrestling on television. Often the matches shown only on pay per view were ordered to be shown at my house so they would be part of the group that came to watch them.

If wrestling was not on TV the boys were locking up and wrestling each other. A lot of the children in the family like to wrestle so that is not unusual. But my nephew is large for his age. He is a very handsome young man. My grandson is small for his age and very handsome also. You would think it to be a mis-match but they could both hold their own.

Before Christmas each year I would have all the children come to my house to make cookies. One year I had my grandson and my nephew. We had to go pick up my oldest grandson from, you guessed it, a high school wrestling meet. I thought they would enjoy watching their older cousin who is an excellent wrestler.

It was a long drive. The boys were in the back seat talking and laughing about different things. Occasionally the subjects would get a little naughty but I let them go because that is what kids do after all. And it was not too bad.

Of course there would be the occasional attempt to wrestle back there too. How they thought they could wrestle with seat belts on I am not sure. Whenever things started to get out of hand I would admonish them to settle them down.

Then they began to really giggle and started to talk about sex. I am not a prude and I let them go. After all they were only getting to know what sex was.

So the conversation was about sex. Then it was about heterosexuals. Then it was about homosexuals. Then it was about bi-sexuals. When they started talking about tri-sexuals I could no longer wait. I had to know what on earth a tri-sexual was. When they explained it to me (it was rather disgusting) I said okay and dropped the subject. So did they.

As I said before there were intermittent attempts to wrestle back there. Each time I had to be a little more firm. I was driving and could not break up a fight from the driver's seat. Finally I resorted to my trusty threat of putting them out if they did not stop. They would slow down and look at each other to keep from laughing, but it would stop for a moment.

Finally I said, "That's it! If you don't stop right now I will pull over and put you out of the car!" My grandson's head snapped up, he looked at his cousin and said, "Oops. She means it this time." All was quiet... for a while.

Of course they forgot themselves and started again. I told them they had been warned. I was going to pull off the highway at the next exit. They both paled and sat very quietly as I exited. What they did not know was that it was the exit we needed to take to get to where we were going. I chuckled to myself.

My oldest granddaughter had just graduated from high school. Her parents had a big party. All her friends and teachers were invited along with their families. All of our family was also there. I love family get-togethers. The generations mingling is special.

My son had gotten out all the things that would keep the children occupied. The croquet game was set up. There was a net for volleyball or badminton. There was the trampoline. There was my grandson's basketball hoop. Targets were set up for shooting practice with the BB gun. There was a slip-and-slide for the children to get wet and be cool. The kids' favorite was the go-cart.

I was feeding Cheetos to my niece's little boy. He loved them. It kept me amused because they turned his hand and mouth yellow. Then my niece would pull out another wipe to clean him off. So I would give him another Cheeto. It was a good time.

Apparently my daughter and my brother had told their sons that in order to ride the go-cart they must ride with an adult. I did not know that. I watched the two of them get on the cart together and take off. At breakneck speed they went around the corner of the house, around the propane tank, down the driveway, and onto the road. I laughed as they did war whoops as they went.

I was still feeding Cheetos to my nephew when my brother looked at my daughter and asked where the boys were. I started to laugh because they had been gone for a while and neither parent had realized it. I told them they had gone off on the go-cart.

They were understandably upset. I just laughed at them. I told them they were probably down by the creek where my oldest grandson went fishing sometimes. All the parents grabbed their cell phones and started calling the boys. No answer.

I laughed. They were going to go look for the boys. I laughed. They decided to try calling one more time. My nephew answered his phone. I laughed.

My nephew reported that they were having a little trouble with the go-cart. I laughed. My brother asked his son where he was. I laughed. My nephew asked my grandson where they were. Neither one was sure. I laughed.

The boys were pretty sure they knew how to get back to my son's house. I laughed. My brother told them to get back right away. I laughed. They said they would. I laughed.

After another long wait my daughter and my brother decided to search for the boys. I laughed. Car keys in hand they started toward the driveway. I laughed.

My son looked up and saw the boys... pushing the go-cart. I laughed. They got to the yard and everybody converged on them. Except me. I was laughing.

It seemed that they had gone into a ditch and the go-cart would not start after that. I laughed. My son looked at his go-cart. The axle was broken. I laughed

So parents were yelling at sons to try to find out what had happened. I was laughing hysterically.

Finally the truth came out. They had been taking turns driving. One of them had tipped the go-cart into the ditch. Both of them spilled out and the go-cart would not start. They were araid to tell anybody so they had been trying to fix it. I laughed.

Parents were still yelling at sons. I had to ask the obvious question. Were they hurt. Oh, no. They were fine. I laughed.

Finally my nephew admitted that the front of his hip was scraped and he had a couple of bruises. I laughed. My grandson insisted that he was fine. I laughed. No wonder nobody takes me anywhere.

When the party was over we all went home. I was watching TV and winding down from the day when the phone rang. My daughter was calling.

My grandson had gone to his room when they got home. My daughter and my grandson's father were watching television. My grandson came downstairs and went to the kitchen. They thought he was getting a snack.

When he was going back up the stairs my daughter noticed that he was holding something so they could not see it. It was a baggie full of ice.

He had a huge lump on the back of his head. He was afraid he would be in trouble if his parents knew. This time my daughter laughed with me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Natural Way To Have Healthier Skin



Your skin is the largest organ of your body. It is on the outside of your body and that means it is one of the first things people notice about you. We all want to project a good first impression. To achieve that one of the things we need is healthy skin.

We all know what healthy skin looks like. It is free of blemishes and wrinkles, it looks clean, and there is a glow to it that makes one think "healthy". How many of us know how to keep our skin naturally healthy?

Genetics play a large part. If your parents have young healthy skin you are already ahead.

One of the most important things you can do for your skin is to drink a lot of water. Water provides the hydration for your internal organs. It also flushes impurities from your system. Those poisons probably cause more damage to your skin than anything else.

Keeping your skin clean is another important factor. Wash with plain soap and water. It will clean any dirt away. Then you can moisturize in your favorite way.

When you cook meat it turns brown. That is an unnatural state for meat. Tanning is basically cooking your skin. I know that a light tan can give a nice color to your skin and I think within limits is not overly harmful. However excessive tanning not only increases your chances of skin cancer but it causes your skin to dry out. Dry skin leads to wrinkles.

The foods we eat also make a difference in our outward appearance. As I always feel I must, I remind you to check with your doctor to make sure that the foods I mention here will not cause an allergic reaction or affect any medicines you have been prescribed. Always be smart about what you put into or onto your skin.

Omega 3 is a fatty acid that hydrates dry skin patches. Salmon is full of omega 3's.Omega 3 may help stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Both are necessary for soft skin with no flaky spots. It is also high in vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12. Salmon is a good source for iron and calcium.

Strawberries have more vitamin C than citrus fruits. Studies have shown that vitamin C helps fight aging of the skin. If you eat strawberries you will have fewer wrinkles and less aged-related dry skin.

Make a smoothie of 1 cup of strawberries, 1 cup of vanilla or plain yogurt, and 1 and a half tablespoons of honey. Blend them together with a mixer or in your blender. Save a bit out to coat your face then drink the rest. Smooth the rest over your face. It is a little bit sloppy so apply it over the sink but a thin coating is all you need. Used a couple of times each week it will help reduce those fine lines on your face.

Vitamin B3 is known as niacin. Niacin along with fatty oils and other B-complex vitamins are found in avocados. B3 is an anti-inflammatory and it helps sooth skin discoloration. Guacamole is easy to prepare and can be used as a dip, a sandwich spread, or as a topping for Mexican dishes.

Make a tea using 5 cups of boiling water, add half a teaspoon of whole cumin seeds, half a teaspoon of whole coriander seeds, and half a teaspoon of whole fennel seeds. Cover and boil for another five minutes. Strain out the seeds and pour into a thermos. Drink small amounts during the day. This will help eliminate the accumulation of undigested food in your stomach. The release of the toxins caused by undigested food will keep impurities from damaging skin cell DNA.

Whole wheat bread contains niacin. It reduces inflammation of acne and rosacea. That will allow your skin to heal a little faster.

Seeds and nuts are so good for your skin. They contain natural oils, fatty acids, and antioxidants. Antioxidants are needed to help your skin stay clear. They are also full of vitamins such as vitamin E and minerals. Zinc and selenium are plentiful. Zinc helps hair follicles divide properly and protects against damage caused by free redicals. If you do not get enough selenium your hair might fall out. It assists your body in the proper use of proteins. The essential fatty acids help make cells healthy. Healthy cells protect you skin from harmful waste products and help transport nutrients to skin.

Omega 3 is a fatty acid that helps cells maintain moisture. Moist skin looks full and smooth. Almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, flax seed are just a few of the seeds and nuts you can eat. They are good to snack on and relatively low in calories. They sprinkle nicely on top of meats, cooked vegetables, and salads.

If you work outdoors or just enjoy the feeling of being outside, remember that the sun burns off vitamin E which is a necessary antioxidant. Make sure to keep vitamin E replaced. You can find vitamins C and E in cosmetics but they do not absorb as well into the skin as nutrients from within your body. Plus they are unstable and at the mercy of oxygen and light.

I would never recommend partying to excess but if it happens your skin will look as bad as you feel in the morning. Almonds can help refresh your skin with the nutrients listed above.

Remember too much sun damages your skin and causes aging of the skin. Selenium makes skin cells more resistant to sunburn cells that produce faulty DNA and can lead to skin cancer. A good source of selenium is Brazil nuts.

Apricots can actually reverse wrinkles. Vitamin A is converted in our bodies to retinol which helps produce new cells. The new cells will be smoother looking. You could look years younger.

Green leafy vegetables are rich in iron as well as vitamins and minerals that feed skin cells. Spinach and seaweed are at the top of the list. Besides eating them soak them in cold water for a while. Then dry them most of the way. Lay them on you skin (they are safe for your face and eyes) to cool and refresh.

Olive oil is used for cooking, salad dressings, and skin softeners. It contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. You can simply rub it into your skin to keep it moist and supple. It will nourish from the outside. It works well as a lip gloss and skin soother. Another benefit of olive oil is that it inhibits the growth of facial hair. Nursing mothers can use olive oil on their nipples to prevent dry cracked skin and it will not harm baby. And remember to eat olive oil too. Beautiful skin begins from the inside.

Other oils can be used. The best ones for healthy skin will be labeled cold-pressed, expeller processed, or extra virgin. They do not have added solvents that lose nutrients.

Soy products are shown to significantly reduce wrinkles especially if you have a lot of wrinkles. In the study the women taking part took supplements containing soy. A more fun way to get the benefits of soy is to eat edamame another name for the seeds in the soy pod. They are a good snack to eat while reading a good book in the evening. They are used in cooking when making stir fry, soups, and casseroles. They are also good in salad.

If you wish to diminish scars, scratches, and dark spots eat hummus. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus. They contain amino acids that are necessary for tissue growth and repair. Chickpeas do not have much flavor by themselves but they have an interesting texture if you would like to snack on them.

Eat eggs. They contain vitamins and selenium. They are good for your body and your skin as well as nourishing damaged hair. Much has been made of the cholesterol in eggs but not only are they revising opinions about the amount of eggs a person can safely eat but they are realizing that eggs are very good for you.

Green tea is one of those things we keep hearing about for benefits to overall health. Most of it is true. It has anti-inflammatories and protects cell membranes to keep the cells from breaking down. A recent study indicates that green tea may help prevent or reduce skin cancer. It can reduce the damage due to ultraviolet light (like sunburn). You can drink green tea either hot or iced. Add a bit of lemon or lime to your tea and it will remain in your body a bit longer so you can absorb more of the good things in it. It makes a cooling mask for the skin. Green tea bags or sterile cloth wet with cold green tea is a refreshing pack to place on your eyes. The tannins will help reduce puffiness.

The carotenoids that make pumpkins orange are plant pigments that fight wrinkles. Vitamins C, E, and A are in there with powerful enzymes that help cleanse skin. Now pumpkin seeds are a good snack full of fiber but the pulp is where the real benefits are.

Make a smoothie using 2 cups canned pumpkin, 4 tablespoons vanilla yogurt, 4 tablespoons honey, and 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice. Remember to save a bit for a facial. The facial will hydrate and soften your skin.

If you prefer pudding add to the above ingredients 2 tablespoons cream cheese and half a teaspoon vanilla extract.

The zinc in crabs and oysters will keep your skin free from pimples. Zinc helps reduce the inflammation so that pimples do not form. Remember to keep your skin free of the oils that clog the pores in the first place.

Most citrus fruits and fruits like mango, nectarines, and peaches contain the natural form of vitamin A called beta-carotene. It strengthens collagen which is skin's supportive structure. It lifts the sunken areas that create unhealthy looking shadows and gives a healthy glow to your skin.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes are starchy carbohydrates. We have been told they are bad for us. The thing is we need a certain amount of carbs to keep us at our top condition. These foods contain vitamins A and C. They are full of antioxidants, starches, oils, and acids that are necessary to good health. If you have ever seen a person who has completely cut all carbohydrates from their diets you noticed that their skin looked gray and their hair lost its luster. Some even lose their hair. Eating a proper amount of potatoes and sweet potatoes will improve those conditions within a week's time.

One of the fruits richest in antioxidants is the pomegranate, more than red wine or green tea. You can eat fresh pomegranate or make a scrub to fight aging. Cut off the crown of the pomegranate and score the rind into sections without cutting all the way through. Place in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. Break the rind away from the seeds. The seeds will sink and you can strain them out. In a blender put 2 tablespoons of seeds and 1 cup of uncooked oatmeal. Transfer it to a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of honey which is an antiseptic, and 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Apply to your face and rinse it off after 10 minutes.

Mushrooms are full of zinc and selenium. They help keep your skin smooth and reduce discolorations of the skin.

You can eat your way to beautiful skin in no time at all. The benefits are that you will feel better on the inside too. After all that is where beauty begins.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Honor Among Thieves?


Here is another story from my son. He wrote about it in a letter when he was still in prison and I just never got around to posting it.
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I was eating lunch the other day with my friend in the prison cafeteria when another guy came and sat with us. This guy said he was going to start a class after the 1st of the year on how to invest. We listened and said we would like to take the class.

Then he asked about some details like if we ever owned houses. My friend said he still owned a house in the city.The guy told us how in his class he was going to teach people how to turn $10,000 into $1.2 million tax free in 7 years!

He told my friend that if he wanted to they could meet at the library Sunday and show him how he could take a mortgage out on his house and use the money to do this while he is in prison. My friend said he would meet him Sunday and talk about this.

We all left. My friend and I walked and talked for a while before going back to our housing units. We both said we were going to check this guy out because this sounds like a giant hustle!

I've got some people that check people out all the time so I went to them and asked about the guy. They knew him and told me "yes he ran a class on investing before. He went to the hole (solitary confinement) for stealing all his students' Social Security numbers so he could steal money with them. Also he was a Rat that told on everyone on his case."

The next day I saw my friend in the cafeteria again. He talked to his bunky. His bunky was one of the students the guy tried to scam out of his Social Security number. So we got a good laugh out of it and said we would figure out what to do about it later after we had a few ideas.

Well the next day I was with another friend and my bunky at the cafeteria. The tables have 4 stools each. All of a sudden the con artist comes and sits on the empty stool next to me.

I say Hi and then just sit and wait for my friend's unit to come in. They were the next unit.

In less than a minute my friend walks in. He goes through the line, gets his food, and my bunky gets up to let him sit down.

My friend asks me if I said anything. I said no but as you can see I've got my glasses on so I can see a con artist from a mile away and looked at the guy.

I told the guy we checked him out and we know... HE'S NO GOOD!!

I said I know he was trying to con my friend out of his money. I know he tried to steal other people's Social Security numbers in his classes before and went to the hole for it. And I know he told on everyone in his case. I told him that if he tries to con any of my friends again I was going to hurt him real bad.

Then with that out of the way I said I don't care if you hustle these rats like yourself or these cho-mo's (child molesters) but you need to learn what all good con men know... who you can hustle and who you can't.

With all that out of the way I said now that we are at an understanding I still want to take his class. It never hurts to learn a good hustle.

We got up and left him looking like he was going to cry.

My other friend said you could have at least let me know what was going on. I said sometimes you just have to go with the moment.

We all had a real good laugh.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Curse Of The Vampire


We were moving into a new house. We moved a lot. This time Daddy was working for a farmer. Part of the pay package was that we got to live in one of the extra farmhouses the farmer owned. That was a common practice at that time.

At that time there were only five of us kids. I am the oldest, about ten years old at the time, and the youngest one was about three. Needless to say we had a lot of stuff to move.

Daddy was pulling a trailer behind his car with as much as he could fit in at the time. He and my uncles would bring a load, empty it, and go for the next load. Mom and those of us old enough to help were busy putting things away.

It was a fairly hot summer day. In the 1950's people did not have air conditioners. The house had good ventilation though. A nice breeze blew through and helped keep us as cool as possible.

Mom decided finally that we had been working hard enough. It was time for a break. There was no furniture there yet so we had nothing to sit on. The floor was dirty from all the traipsing in and out. We flattened a couple of big cardboard boxes and sat on them to have a snack and something cool to drink.

Mom was entertaining us by singing a few songs. Then we asked for a story. We didn't want one of the same old stories she always told. We wanted something new.

She could not think of any. We begged. Finally she started to tell a story and quickly realized we should not hear it. She said it was not a good story for us. We begged and she finally gave in.

Her story was about Dracula, the vampire. We had never heard of vampires before. It was an exciting story. When it was over my little brother was fast asleep and the rest of us had to go back to work.

We worked hard all day. At the end of the day we had not even had time to put the beds together so we slept on the floor. Our rooms were upstairs. The boys were directly across the hall from us girls. The top of the stairs was right outside our doors.

It was a sweltering night. We had all the windows open to catch any breeze that might pass by but there were not many of those.

The main problem was that it was dark outside. Vampires come out after dark. They prey on the blood of poor unsuspecting victims. We were all afraid to go to sleep.

My mother assured us that a vampire could not come into the house unless someone invited it in. We were taking no chances. She told us to leave the lights on which we did.

Having the lights on accomplished two things. Number one; it was dark outside and we could only imagine what was lurking out there just waiting to attack. Number two; moths were attracted to the light. They flew up and banged against the windows. We all knew it was vampires trying to get at us.

Mom tried to calm us. It didn't work. She tried being firm. It didn't work. She finally ended up sitting at the top of the stairs between our bedrooms until we finally fell asleep.

I have been afraid of vampires ever since. See what you did, Mom?

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Promises, Promises


It is that time of year again. People are deciding what resolutions to make for the new year.

Resolutions are supposed to be the promises we make to ourselves to try to enrich our lives. We mean to begin the improvements as the new year begins.

A New Years resolution can be as simple as promising to say "I love you" more often. It can be as difficult as swearing not to kill your spouse this year. There is a lot of room in between as well.

The problem with deciding to make this year the year you will stop smoking is that it could be a hard promise to keep. Most smokers have done so for a long time. Sometimes it takes a long time to quit. And as we all know if something is difficult we do not necessarily put in the effort needed to accomplish our goals.

Most New Years Resolutions are abandoned within a few days. We make them with good intentions but our flesh is weak. So we think maybe we will resume dieting next week when the holiday goodies are all gone and the temptation is less. Somehow next week never comes.

So with the above in mind and with personal experience I resolved many years ago to make no resolutions. It has worked quite well. I do not disappoint myself. I feel no sense of failure.

What I do is if I see a problem that needs fixing I try to fi it. This might happen in May or September. Deal with it when it happens. It seems to work better for me.

To those who do make resolutions I wish you the utmost luck. And I hope you are able to accomplish what you wish to do.