Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Here Kitty, Kitty

My children like animals. They usually have a dog or two as pets. My daughter goes overboard and will try to get any pet she sees.

When my two older boys were small and all the children I had we got them each a kitten. It gave each of them something to cuddle and learn to care for.

My second son was about two years old and my oldest was four. They loved their kittens and with help they took good care of them.

Then we went for a time without seeing the kitten that was the pet of my second son. Since we did not let them outside much I was bit worried about something beginning to smell if you know what I mean.

But I started hearing mews when I was in the kitchen or if I went down to the basement to do laundry. Thinking that the poor thing must be trapped in the walls somehow I began to search.

I tried to determine where the sound was the loudest to see if I could find a hole in the wall that might have been the entrance for that poor kitten. Listening carefully I determined that the basement was the place to look.

We had a freezer in the basement to store larger amounts of frozen goods. The sounds seemed louder near there so I looked behind the freezer for an opening in the wall.

It took a few seconds for me to realize that the sound was coming from the freezer itself. Maybe it was caught in the motor area. Nope

I opened the freezer door. That poor little kitten exploded out of the freezer. My son had wanted to have it where he could find it so he trapped it in the freezer. I can still picture him in my mind going "Here kitty, kitty" so he could grab it and store it in a "safe" place.

I grabbed a soft towel and wrapped it and held it to try to warm it. It was so cold. The tail was frozen solid. I thought it would probably die.

It huddled down inside the towel. It shivered and shook. Gradually it began to move around. Once it got warm it moved out of the towel and went to lay in the bedroom it called home.

Believe it or not the kitten made a full recovery. Its tail was a little limp but other than that it was fine.

I was glad because I was planning a surprise wedding shower for my soon-to-be sister-in-law. We had contacted her mother who gave us a list of people we should invite from their family and of course our family would be there. I had a lot to do to get my house ready.

My sister-in-law was totally shocked when she came in my door and saw everyone there. She truly had no idea. The best thing was when she looked up after being there several minutes and said, "That's my mother!" She was overwhelmed by the surprise.

After we nibbled on the snacks and my sister-in-law had opened all her gifts we just sat around talking. Her mother was very nice and we were getting to know her as she got to know us.

My son's kitten hopped up onto my sister-in-law's lap. As she absent-mindedly stroked the cat I regaled my guests of the story of the kitty in the freezer. It was a good laugh.

Suddenly my sister-in-law screamed. "The tail came off!"

She was sitting on the couch in horror holding the kitten's tail as the kitten jumped down and went to hide to get away from the chaos.

Obviously the tail had frozen and was damaged so badly that it died and fell off. It was just an inopportune time to do so. If you have read anything about my family you will know what comes next.

We all laughed uncontrollably. After I relieved her of the dead tail of course.

Looking back I wonder if the dead tail was an omen. The marriage did not endure. My brother never remarried and he died a few years ago. My sister-in-law did remarry a very nice man and is extremely happy. We no longer have the kitten of course. But I still have my son. (I keep him in the freezer so he will not get away.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

What I Gave For Christmas

Where I live the nearest stores are about 25 miles away. By the time I get there I am ready to be home. So shopping is a real chore for me. I have discovered a solution however.

I shop on my computer. I like to look around at different places on the computer anyway and I have come across some unique sites. I can find an interesting gift idea and comparison shop without ever leaving my chair. That way I can get the best deal possible.

Another advantage is that I can shop for Christmas all year. I spend only a few dollars each month so I do not have that huge expense all right before the holidays.

And I keep wrapping paper on hand so that I can wrap the presents as they come. That task is not quite so overwhelming when I do it that way.

This year I gave gadgets. They are fun appliances that no one would ever get themselves but they will be quite useful.

My favorite is the hot dog warmer. It works like a toaster. You stand two hot dogs on end in the proper spots. There is also a place for two hot dog buns so they are warm and slightly toasted. You can adjust the setting for the desired "doneness" like a toaster too. I thought it was so much fun I got myself one too.

One person got a cotton candy machine. It makes cotton candy out of hard candies. It should be a good way to use up some of that leftover Christmas candy, don't you think?

There is a breakfast sandwich maker. It makes a breakfast sandwich like you might find at a fast food place. You place the lower half of, oh say, an English muffin on the bottom. Perhaps a slice of Canadian bacon on that with a slice of cheese on top of it. Then there is a special plate you insert for your egg which will cook as you wish it to. Place the top of the English muffin on all of that. Close the lid, and turn it on. Voila! A breakfast sandwich.

A dispenser of treats is next. It has two compartments so you can have two types of treats available at all times. You can fill them with candy like M&M's or Skittles. Maybe cereal like Cheerios  or Captain Crunch. Or two different kinds of nuts like peanuts or cashews. Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds would be good choices too.

Two of my great-granddaughters are getting butterflies in a jar. A jar like the ones used for canning has an artificial butterfly in it. When you push the button on the front of the jar the butterfly flits around the jar. It lands for a time and its wings undulate like a real butterfly would do. Then it flies some more before finally coming to a rest.

The youngest of my great-granddaughters is only three months old. She would not be able to operate the butterflies. So I got her a Tribble. If anyone has seen Star Trek you will recognize that Tribbles are a little animal that makes a loving pet. They are practically all fur. People irresistibly fall in love with them. The only problem is that they reproduce often and can quickly fill a confined space in no time.

A smoothie machine converts any fruit or vegetables into a healthy and delicious drink. I make a lot of smoothies in the summer but I have to use my blender. I almost wish I had one of these myself.

A fancy idea for a punch bowl caught my eye. It is tiered and the punch flows constantly over the edges of the tiers to the one below. It will be very pretty when used.

Another machine for using fruit will make frozen treats similar to soft ice cream. I believe it will require ice cream of yogurt or something as an ingredient as well.

My youngest grandson is still too young to appreciate these gadgets. He is getting a giant whoopie cushion. You are all familiar with the rubber thing that you blow up like a balloon then place under the cushion of the chair. When an unsuspecting person sits on it, it makes an extremely rude noise.

He will also get a hot potato type game. It is a round ball operated by batteries. Players sit in a circle. Then the ball is switched on and passed around the circle. When the ball goes off it will emit a mild electric shock. The person receiving the shock is out of the circle until one person remains. It is not as cruel as it sounds. I have given them to my other grandchildren and they loved them.

I also make "stockings" for each person. They will contain a lot of candy. I also buy a lot of this online. I can get candy that you do not see in the store and bulk prices which helps my budget. There are also small toys. Again I buy them in quantities and they cost less. I may see something interesting at the store and I will pick those up as well.

An example of small toys would be finger traps that are simply woven material. You place a finger in each end. When you try to pull your fingers out they are trapped. Small tops, yoyos, parachuting soldiers, key rings, small flashlights with a picture when they shine, pinwheels, magnifying glasses, finger puppets, marbles, bells, whistles, kazoos, small games, puzzles, well you get the idea.

I always used the stockings as something the children could have right away when they came to my house on Christmas Eve. They would have something to do while they waited for everyone else to arrive. My oldest grandson told me one time that the stockings were his favorite thing. So I keep making them because they are fun for me and the kids like them.

Because my family is large there are duplicates of course. I have fun trying to find something unusual to give as a gift each year. I can only hope they like them as much as I did.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Vacation At The Farm

 My mother-in-law and father-in-law had a farm. They weren't farmers. They only had forty acres and those acres are located on hills that are next to impossible to grow crops. But Mom held onto that land with her fists. It was paid for and that gave her security that she had not felt at any other time in her life.

My father-in-law worked in town at various jobs. When he worked at the meat packing plant they had good money coming in. At any rate he took care of his family to the best of his ability.

They always had a big garden and Mom canned most of the yield. She stored the canned goods and potatoes from the garden in a cave dug into the hill. Dad kept a tractor to do the heavy work. You can see that they were farmers at heart.

My children considered the farm to be "home". Whenever we would go to visit there they had such a good time.

We lived in a big city. There is not much freedom to be a normal child in the city. The dangers are many and I did not want them getting into trouble.

As a matter of fact my children said we put them at a disadvantage by raising them with the values we knew growing up. They were city kids with rural values. I think we were right but I can see that it was hard for them because they did not feel like they belonged.

But they belonged on their grandparents' farm. Grandma cooked on her combination gas/wood stove. Her food was basic simple food... the kind kids like. She would sit and tell them stories about when their father and aunts and uncles were little.

Grandpa gave them rides on his tractor. He had a big scoop that attached to the front of it and they loved riding in that. Grandpa smoked small cigars. That fascinated them because people they knew smoked cigarettes.

My youngest son was still in diapers when we visited one time. He followed Grandpa everywhere. Then I saw him puffing on what looked like the butt of a cigar. Horrified I grabbed that dirty thing from his mouth. He had found a piece of tree branch that looked like Grandpa's cigar. If Grandpa was doing it he would too. And Grandpa loved having his grandson copy him.

Grandma made ceramics. It was something she enjoyed and she picked up a bit of extra money. She kept s picnic table under a tree just outside the window in the living room. Cardinals nested in that tree every year.

 When grandchildren were visiting she provided them with paints and unpainted or often painted ceramics to have fun with. They loved it and it kept them occupied for a long time. There was a ceramic frog that had been painted so often I wondered why the new layers of paint stuck.

They did not keep livestock any more either. Of course there were usually chickens. Occasionally they would fatten a calf or hog for butchering. The kids had a good time feeding the chickens. There were laughs all around when they would toss clods of dirt that exploded into small clumps and the chickens pecked at those too.

The gliders were where we sat on a warm evening to enjoy being outside. The gliders moved back and forth in a way similar to a rocker but the ride was so much smoother. We would sit and talk to catch up on family news. Or maybe we would just glide and say nothing. It was that relaxing.

When we would go to visit Sunday afternoons were fun. Family who lived in the area came to see us. Cousins that my children seldom got to see were there. It is a large family.

Once I was going to run to the store when everyone was there. Mom was so worried about me watching for the children. I was so busy watching for kids that I backed right into the ditch.

I laughed as did almost everyone else. But Dad muttered about women drivers as he went to get the tractor to pull me out. He was having the time of his life feeling useful but of course he could not show it.

Dad always had a dog. Usually they were males but once he had a female. As females dogs will do she had puppies. We had promised the boys (I only had the two older ones then) that they could have one. When they saw the puppies they each had a favorite. We decided that they could each have one.

My sister-in-law decided to go shopping while the family was gathered. She was being careful of the children because her mother always worried about cars around the kids. She was carefully watching all the children as she backed out of the driveway.

Suddenly she felt a small bump as at the same time she heard screams of horror. She had been so busy watching children that she had run over one of the puppies. She felt so bad because she was an animal lover. She cancelled her trip to town and there was a funeral. My boys ended up with one dog instead of two.

The farm was sold after both Grandma and Grandpa were gone. Their little ramshackle house was torn down as it should have been but it hurt. The last thing to go was my sister-in-law's trailer house. It was just this past summer that it happened.

The man who purchased the farm is very nice. He has built a very nice home for himself there. He has let the whole family know that we are welcome to go there any time to walk the hills like we did when Mom and Dad were still the owners.

All that is left to remind us of home now is Mom's beautiful weeping willow tree and Dad's yard light. And it is still home.

Friday, December 19, 2014


I have been listening for years (and I do mean decades) about the pro and cons of fantasy character stories for children. Some say the tales cause irreparable harm. After all a child might think Superman is real and jump off the roof trying to emulate him. In a case like that I personally think the child who is old enough to navigate his way onto the roof is not too bright if he thinks he can fly.

They also like to say that children are devastated to learn that their parents were lying to them about fantasy characters. The children can never trust their parents ever again.

I happen to believe that imagination is a sign of intelligence and should be encouraged. Without imagination inventors could not envision new concepts and we would still be chasing animals with sharp sticks and hunting for nuts and berries and we would have no toilet facilities. (I think I may be becoming a bit obsessed with that.)

I love to sit down with a two year old and begin a fantasy conversation. They are so receptive at that age. I will start with maybe wondering where someone is. Let's choose the dog. Maybe it's under the water dish? Did it hide in a dresser drawer? Under a pillow on the couch? Is it inside the walls? The child joins right in with some amazing possibilities. It is fun, funny, and stretches their minds.

I bought a book about fairies. You know that fairies do not like to be seen by humans. But they must be able to flit about so they disguise themselves. Did you see that leaf skitter across the lawn? It was a fairy. The shadow that you see from the corner of your eye when nothing is there is a fairy.

Often you will see toadstools arranged in a circle on the lawn. It means that the fairies were dancing under the moon. Every place they stepped left a mushroom.

Most nations have fairies of some sort. Gremlins from Germany like to tinker with mechanical things. They often cause malfunctions. Our family's Gremlin was named Petey. Boy did he cause a lot of problems.

The Djinn are from the Middle East. We think of them as being trapped in a magic lamp. If we rub the lamp to release them they are so grateful that they will grant up to three wishes.

The elemental sprites like naiads and dryads represent certain elements such as water and trees. They are lively and naive sprits who will waste away if taken from their homes.

The Irish have a whole group of fairies. They are known as the Sidhe (pronounced Shee). The Scottish counterparts are called Sidh (or Sith). They include the mound people, leprechauns, Banshee, Fear Dearg, Puca, and many more. Some are quite large and some are very small. Each type has its own magical properties and reasons for existance.

One of my favorite fantasies from childhood on is a "Tinkerbell". Tinkerbell is the fairy from the Peter Pan stories. I'm sure you have seen a Tinkerbell. Have you seen the light flickering on the wall? That is her. Some people try to say that it is nothing more than refracted sunlight. We know better.

Our first encounter with a fantasy character is usually Santa Claus. As Christmas nears many parents take their children to a store so they can sit on Santa's lap to tell him what they would like for Christmas. Some of us wrote our first letters to Santa to let him know we were good all year and would he please bring us our hearts' desires.

The Tooth Fairy is familiar to most children. I will never forget when my brother (one year younger that I was) came home holding his tooth that had come out. He wanted to know if the Tooth Fairy would come if he left it under his pillow. What??? Nobody said anything about any tooth fairy to me! I had already lost several teeth and threw them in the garbage. Life is not fair.

Uncle Sam is the figure who represents the United States. He is an older man, slightly dignified but not too much. Most of the time when we see pictures of him we see him pointing at us in a forceful way saying, "I Want You".

The Easter Bunny hippety-hops down the bunny trail for Easter. He delivers colored eggs and sweet treats to good girls and boys. It is a sign that spring is here and the world is waking to give us all the colors that make so many of us feel happy.

Now there are negative fantasies too. The boogey-man is one. He is the meanie that hides and plots to grab little children when they do not mind. I do not believe in him so my children were not familiar with him.

There are little jingles that children like to recite. Like "step on a crack, break your mother's back". It is very hard to avoid cracks when you must walk on a sidewalk that has not been repaired in a long time.

And the little chants we did when jumping rope are fun. "Sally and Johnny sitting in a tree k.i.s.s.i.n.g. First comes love then comes marriage then comes Sally with a baby carriage." If you made it that far then they went on to count how many babies there would be. Those flights of fancy are just plain fun.

As you can see I think these fantasies make childhood fun as it should be. They can be serious when they are adults. None of my children have been traumatized by knowing these fantasy characters.

Do you disagree with me? Prove me wrong.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Musical Names

Have you ever come across a name that sort of sings when you say it? I consider those to be musical names. My real name is very gutteral and dull sounding so I have great appreciation for musical names.

For instance when we were quite young my brother had a friend with a musical name. It was only musical if you said his whole name so that is what we called him. Logan Cole Kennison, Jr. We never used just his first name. His entire name was just too much fun to say.

In a book my grandmother discovered two names that she loved. They were the names of Indian maidens. One was Nalinlee and the other was Ondelea. Both very musical. One is now my sister's name and the other is the name of a cousin.

My mother loved lyrical names. Her favorite was (now you must say the entire thing) Haile Selassi of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She also liked the names of two baseball players. They were Felipe Alou and Jesus Alou. Their poor brother was only Manny Alou; not quite as lyrical.

The legendary late night show host Johnny Carson enjoyed introducing a guest who had a musical name. It was Gunther Gebel-Williams the famous lion tamer from Ringling Bros and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Over the years I have appreciated names that belong in a song. Even though I realize that a name is simply something that distinguishes me from the person standing next to me I can feel the beauty of a great name. Here are a few I have "collected".

It may sound a bit like a sneeze but that is part of the charm of Nikita Khrushchev.

American Actress Barbara Bel Geddes

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Country music singer and songwriter David Allan Coe

Many of the United States presidents have musical names. My favorite is William Henry Harrison

Oliver Wendell Holmes of the United States Supreme Court

Pollyanna Whittier is the little girl from the book Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. Sequels were written by several authors and a movie by Disney (starring another musical name, Hayley Mills) are all favorites. Pollyanna was the girl who found something to be glad about in every situation.

Most of us think of Maya Angelou as a poet. But she was also an actress, author, dancer, and singer.

Ethel Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore were part of the family that is often considered American theater royalty. These two are the ones with the musical names.

Mata Hari was executed in France as a spy for the Germans during World War I. Her real name, Margaretha Geertruida "Margreet" Zelle MacLeod is almost as musical.

Rip Van Winkle was a man who shirked all work. One day on a foray into the Catskill Mountains he meets a group of friendly men playing nine-pins and drinking moonshine. He fell asleep and returned to his village to find that twenty years had passed. Perhaps the melody of his name helped him sleep so long.

His  full name is William Somerset Maugham but drop the William (which he did) and his name is so musical. He was a British playwright and author.

Henry David Thoreau is best known for being a leader of the Transcendental movement. He was an author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, and on and many ons.

Carrie Ann Inaba is best known as a judge on Dancing With The Stars. She is a dancer and choreographer with a name she can dance to.

These are only a few of my collection. I am constantly collecting new names. Maybe you know one I would like.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Child Abuse

My sister was pregnant. I was thrilled. I love it when the family has new babies. It continues our family. Each new member is to be cherished just as each other member of the family is cherished.

When my sister first introduced me to the boyfriend who was to become the father of her baby I stood with my fists clenched at my sides. I wanted to hit him so bad. I had no real reason but he did not seem to deserve her.

But he grew on me and we actually became very good friends. He was excited about having a baby. It was fun helping them plan for the newest member of our family.

Then about a month and a half before the baby was to be born the father up and married someone else. He completely abandoned my sister. When my nephew was born his grandmother was forbidden to go to the hospital to see him. Luckily the father's brother had married my sister's friend who had her baby in the same hospital at the same time. Grandma was able to sneak down to say hi.

My sister is a good mother. She was happy with her son and there are more than enough males in our family. He would not lack for male role models.

Then just as suddenly the father started to come around. He wanted to be a father to his son who was four years old. My sister recognized that her son has a right to his father. It was a good thing.

What was bad was that my sister once again became pregnant. But the father stuck around for this son. Then he took  off. He went back to his wife. Where he should have been to begin with.

I have to inject here that I still liked the guy. We had work associations so I saw him often. My sister was off limits as a topic for discussion.

About five years later my sister and I were working together and rode to work along with a friend of hers. On our way to work one night my sister very quietly mentioned that she was in contact with the boys' father again. All I could say was, "Thank God you cannot get pregnant again."

He was divorced now leaving three lovely daughters and a step-daughter behind. What a mess.

But it seemed like he was going to stay with my sister and the boys. As a matter of fact he had a house built in a southern state on the mountain that his family owned. He moved my sister and the boys down there.

My mother followed after a couple of years. She wanted to retire to warmer weather. She had her own place but she watched the boys after school until their parents came home from work.

Things were going smoothly until the day that the boys' father brought home his new wife to introduce her to his family. My sister kicked him out. Mom moved in with my sister to help with the boys and give financial help too.

The father visited often. He would come after the boys were home from school.

One day Mom was in her room and she heard a scuffle. She went out to tell the boys not to fight. There she saw my oldest nephew on the floor with his father on top of him, choking him.

Mom demanded he get off which he did. (Everyone respected and listened to my mother.) As Mom was trying to put things in order as to what to do in what order my nephew grabbed the phone.

He called the police and reported that his father had attacked him. They came right out. I should mention that my nephew was about 12 years old.

When the police arrived they sat the father down and asked all the right questions of everyone. Then they asked my nephew what he wanted to happen next.

He said he wanted his father out of the house and not be able to come back. The police agreed with him and told the father to leave.

Then they explained to my mother how my sister could get a restraining order. Which my sister did the very next day.

The father was not even allowed to visit his mother who lived not far away if the boys were there.

We were all so proud of my nephew. He was proud of himself. And the first thing his little brother did was make a bowl of cereal and take it to his bedroom to eat it. His father never allowed that.

After Mom died my sister and the boys moved back to where we lived. The boys grew up and became fathers themselves.

The oldest has three boys of his own. They all live in the state where their father is from. My nephew has made peace with his father now that he is big enough to keep him in line.

The younger one has a little girl. They all live near my sister. He has little interest in seeing his father.

The abuse was not an ongoing thing. My mother and sister would not have stood for that. The father had been drinking that day and apparently thought that gave him the right to be a bully. But my nephew stopped it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Shopping

I must brag. I have all my Christmas shopping finished. All the packages have been mailed. I am so proud of me. This is the second year in a row.

I used to be notorious for last-minute shopping. There were several reasons for this.

The first is that I enjoyed the Christmas crowds. I liked being in the middle of a bunch of people and elbowing and pushing them. It got some of my aggressions out of my system.

Also it was difficult to go shopping because I had four children. Whenever I went somewhere I had to find someone to watch them. My parents and siblings were helpful but I hated to impose too much.

And I married a man whose family had never really done Christmas the way my family did. I think it was more of a nuisance to them than a pleasure. So he did not enjoy shopping and did not like to go with me.

He somehow developed the impression that if he was not ready for Christmas it would wait for him. Oh let's go shopping tomorrow... or next week. It was like pulling teeth and I usually ended up going by myself.

I love picking out the right gift for a person. I want it to be something they would like and I would like to give them. It takes time and thought but I want to be happy with the gifts I give.

Then they all have to be wrapped. Sometimes I do ribbons and bows but usually I just wrap them with pretty paper and a bit of scotch tape.

Now I live so far away from my children. I have to mail the gifts so I try to be at the post office right after Thanksgiving.

I also live at least 25 miles from any stores so shopping is no longer that much fun. But I found a way. I shop on-line.

I can watch for those special gifts and buy them all during the year. When they are conveniently delivered to my house I unpack the delivery carton and wrap the gift. That way I do not have to sit down and wrap them all at the same time. Then before Christmas they are ready to put into a carton and mailed for Christmas.

I can make Christmas stockings for all of them in the same way. There are companies on the computer that sell small toys and fun candies. Many of them come in quantities and they are cheaper that way. The stockings are boxed and mailed too.

So I am done for this year. All packages mailed. Pat me on the back. I am proud.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Music

I have been listening to Christmas music. I have favorites just as I am sure you do. I like traditional carols. Jingle Bells and Silent Night are my favorites from school days. Not terribly imaginative I agree but there you are. O Holy Night as sung by the Vienna Boys Choir is about as pretty a song as you will ever hear. The Little Drummer Boy by Bob Seger is another classic.

The thing is I have an affinity for silly songs. Some are not necessarily meant to be silly but if they make me so much as chuckle they qualify. Sometimes they have to be sung by a particular artist to be a favorite. Others seem to pale by comparison.

So I am going to make a list for you. It might be boring to you but at least take a glance. You can always go to YouTube and see if you find them as entertaining as I do. If I mention the singer then try to get that one. It does make a difference.

Santa Baby and Santa Baby (This Year) by Eartha Kitt. Who else has that deliciously suggestive voice? Others sing this song but it belongs to her.

All of the (Someone) Got Runned Over By A (Something) songs:
                  Grandma                                          Reindeer
                  Grandpa                                           Beer Truck
                  Grandpa                                           John Deere
There are others but you get the idea.

Santa's Coming In A Whirlybird by Gene Autry. I have loved this since I was a child. There are other ways he will come too. Of course Rudolph (Gene Autry also sang the original of Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer) leads the sleigh reindeer. But Santa has a pick-up truck and a semi truck. There is a stagecoach too. They are all in songs.

Yogi Yorgesson was actually a comedian named Harry Stewart. Yogi had some especially funny Christmas songs. My favorites are The Hat I Got For Christmas Is Too Big, I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas, Yingle Bells, I Was Santa At The Schoolhouse, and The Christmas Party.

I Am Santa Clause by Bob Rivers is a parody of Iron Man by Black Sabbath. Nuff said.

Run, Run Rudolph by Chuck Berry is just fun old rock and roll for Christmas.

The Irish Rovers sing Merry Bloody Xmas (too funny) and Rock Along Christmas is another rock and roller. My favorite by The Irish Rovers is Mrs Fogarty's Christmas Cake.

The Chimney Song by Bob Rivers tells of something that has been stuck in the chimney since Christmas.

I Feel Like Christmas from Santa Clause 2. It is the movie in which Santa must get married or not be Santa anymore. It is a take-off of Shania Twain's Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

Gayla Peavy sings I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas and Angel In The Christmas Play.

I Farted On Santa's Lap by The Little Stinkers is just one of the many views of Christmas through a child's eyes.

The Man With All The Toys and Little St Nick are surfer Christmas songs by the Beach Boys.

I'm Gettin Nuttin For Christmas by Spike Jones and Bad Little Boy by Ray Stevens are about mischievous little boys who can expect Santa to leave them nothing. All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth again by Spike Jones tells about a poor child who just wants his teeth to grow in again so he can express himself.

Santa Bring Me A Dinosaur by Bob Brown is another child's Christmas wish.

Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano just makes me feel good.

The Marvelous Toy tells of a mysterious toy that brings joy. It is sung wonderfully by the Irish Rovers but I like it better by the Chad Mitchell Trio.

Blue Christmas is Porky Pig's version of the Elvis classic.

Snoopy's Christmas by The Royal Guardsmen is based on a true story from World War I when soldiers from both sides put aside their weapons and celebrated Christmas together before they resumed killing each other.

Santa Claus Is Watching You by Bruce Springsteen is fun just because he is having so much fun.

And Alice Cooper reminds us that Santa Claws Is Coming To Town. It's gruesome.

Rockin Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee Is just a song reminding us to have a good time.

Santa Claus Is Watching You by Ray Stevens is a warning. Santa; He's everywhere, He's everywhere!

Yellin' At The Christmas Tree by Billy Idol tells of a rather disfunctional time at Christmas.

Santa Got Lost In Texas by Michael Landon makes me think of my younger days.

The Hula Hoop Song is also known as The Chipmunk Song. It is sung by Alvin and the Chipmunks who were the alter-egos of Ross Bagdasarian.

Any of the Christmas songs sung with animal sounds. A lot of people do not like them but I love them. I play them for the dog at Christmas. She likes them too.

I know I have forgotten so many but these are the ones that came to mind. I am always listening for new ones too.

To finish Christmas songs I need to hear War Is Over by John Lennon (okay, yes, Yoko too). There is nothing funny about this song but it means a lot.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Exotic Dancers

I have mentioned before how much I love music and how I love to dance. I have even mentioned being tossed around the floor by an exuberant new father and being taught the polka by a dear friend. I would like to introduce some other dance partners.

When I was married my husband would get up to dance after he had several drinks. He was not a great dancer but I appreciated the effort.

Several of us in the same social circle had the same birthday. We had some wonderful parties. Of course there were always birthday dances among the ones celebrating. They were slow dances because most of the men only knew how to do a slow dance.

But there was one man of the group (I do not know when his birthday is) who could dance. And lucky for the rest of us women his wife did not dance. We made sure they were invited every time we went out.

He told me once that his father had told him that if he wanted to be popular with the girls he should learn the fast dances. Girls like to dance all the dances and most of the boys would learn the slow ones and not the fast ones. A boy who would fast dance would be in high demand. Smart man. It is a good piece of information to pass along to young men.

When the band would play I would dance with almost anyone. I tried to limit it to two dances per partner. Not to be fair and give everyone a chance... there were not that many available partners. I just did not want anyone to get the wrong idea. I was not going to leave with any of them. I did not want any misunderstandings at the end of the night.

There were two men who came in every week. They were a bit older but not old. They were not particularly attractive and both were quite heavy. One wore a cowboy hat. They were very nice but a little awkward socially.

Neither was a very good dancer but they were enthusiastic. The cowboy liked slower dances but the other one (who was much heavier than his friend) liked the faster ones. I would dance two dances with each.

I was often amused because the non-cowboy reminded me of an elephant when he danced. Now I do not mean to make fun of him at all. But he sort of swayed from side to side the way an elephant will do. As time went on he became a better dancer and the elephant sway was gone.

Eventually the cowboy found a girlfriend at church. She did not like the closeness of the friendship between the two men and the friendship was over. Sad. But the other one kept coming in to dance.

Over time he lost a lot of weight. Dancing is fun exercise. He met a school teacher and they also fell in love. They had a beautiful wedding and reception. They continued to come in and dance.

There was a group of women who were all friends. Some were married and not interested in finding a mate for the evening, some were like me and just wanted to dance, and some were pining after a member of the band. We congregated at the band table.

We all liked to dance. Most of the time there were no men to dance with so we danced together. Most of the songs were faster dances anyway so we could dance in a group. Line dances were popular at the time too. We had such fun.

My most interesting dance partner was the cousin of a male friend. he was deaf. He could read lips but he could not hear a thing. I asked him how he could dance and he told me that he could feel the drum beats in the floor. He loved to dance.

He came in every so often and became comfortable sitting at the band table with us. After a time he stopped coming in too. It seems he had also found a young woman and they were keeping steady company. Isn't love grand?

All these tales are interesting. As Fred Astaire would sing, "It only happens when we dance."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Snowball Fight

I was in the 5th grade which means I was 10 years old. I lived in one of the many small towns my family moved to. As a matter of fact this small town is probably the closest to being my home as any.

My grandmother lived there. My uncle and his family came to town on Saturdays to shop and party. I liked living there.

The public school was on the opposite corner of town from where I lived. We usually walked to school but sometimes we were lucky enough to have my mother give us a ride.

In Nebraska we got a lot of snow during the winter. It was not a hardship because we expected it. It was just the way the weather worked.

The school was for Kindergarten through 12th grade like most of the schools I went to. And this school had a large number of students. More than I was used to up to that time.

This particular school did not open the doors to students until time for school to begin. If we got there early we played outside. Tag and other group games kept us busy until we could go inside.

However throwing activities were against the rules. Balls and that sort of thing might break a window. The prohibition against throwing included snowballs. No snowball fights... ever!

There had been a good snow overnight. It was nice and wet... perfect for snowballs. We decided to go across the street to the yard of one of my classmates. We just could not leave that great wet snow untouched.

It was a magnificent snowball fight. We did not even take the time to choose teams. It was every man for himself.

We made and threw snowballs until the bell rang. With all the running and throwing and laughing we were all nicely exercised and ready to settle down for a warm classroom and our lessons.

Once attendance was taken the principal visited our room. He was a short round man with a very deep baritone of a voice. And he was not happy. Someone had broken the no throwing rule.

One of the teachers had arrived at the school to see us having our glorious snowball fight across the street from the school. She took down all our names and marched straight in to see the principal in a self-righteous rage. He would be calling us out of class later when he had decided on our punishments.

We were indignant of course. We had not been on school grounds. We had broken no rules. And we certainly did not deserve to be punished.

The boys were called to the office first. The girls waited in the secretary's outer chamber. One by one the boys came out rubbing their bottoms with wet eyes that were slightly red.

When all the girls were assembled in the principal's office he boomed out in that deep voice of his that we would have to be punished. He explained that we may not have been on the school grounds for the snowball fight but we had been there earlier so technically he was responsible for us and we had broken the rules. WHAT?!?!

He went on to say that he had paddled each boy five whacks with his paddle. He had never had to paddle a girl before. Therefore each of us would get three whacks.

I got to go first. Lucky me. The whacks did not hurt because he did not hit us as hard as the boys. We were girls after all. The secretary had been called in to be a witness. There was to be no suggestion of impropriety you know.

Now one of the girls had on a skirt with lots and lots of can-cans as we called them. Can-cans were starched petticoats that were stiff and made the skirt stand out prettily. When she would lean over the chair to place her bottom in position for a spanking the can-cans popped into the air exposing (gasp) panties.

Finally the secretary came over to hold the skirt down so no panties would be seen. The principal gave her the three whacks and we all went back to class giggling because of his embarrassment. His little round fat face was so red.

Of course we knew which teacher had demanded punishment for our misdeeds. She was such a prune. We set about plotting ways to get her back. Sadly we never did anything but I still sort of wish we had. I also still feel that we did nothing wrong.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


This week we in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving. Traditionally it is to commemorate the pilgrims being thankful for making it through an especially hard winter.

The tradition tells us that the Indians showed the Pilgrims how to fertilize the seeds they planted by planting fish with them. Because the Indians were so helpful they were invited to a feast to give thanks for the bounty of the harvest.

There were many Thanksgiving days held sporadically over the years. Finally President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed the 4th Thursday in November to be a national holiday celebrated every year.

For some it is a religious holiday. For most of us it is a day to gather the family together to over-eat a magnificently scrumptious meal. I love Thanksgiving meals. Mmmmmm.

But I do try to reflect on those things for which I am thankful. There are many.

I am thankful for my children. The only thing that has given me greater joy in my life is my grandchildren. I am so thankful for them.

I am thankful for the family I was born into. I had such wonderful parents and I loved all of my brothers and sisters. I am thankful that I can now love their children and grandchildren.

I am thankful for the family I married into. I cannot imagine being more accepted and loved by people who did not have to love me.

I am even thankful for the father of my children. He was a remarkable person and even though I no longer wanted to be married to him I miss him now that he is gone.

I am thankful that I am reasonably healthy. Many people my age have begun to deteriorate and have scary health conditions.  I am fortunate.

I am thankful for indoor plumbing. It may sound like nothing to most but I often lived without it when I was growing up and I never want to do it again.

I am thankful for the peace in my life. I wish it for everyone.

I am thankful that I am a happy person. I have so much to be happy about that it would be a shame to waste by being unhappy.

These are but a few but they are probably the most important. What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Robot

My oldest son was easily scared when he was little. A lot of the things people thought would scare him did not but then the strangest things would make him cringe with fright.

For instance there were horror movies on late night television when the boys were small. We stayed up and watched them with glee. My son still likes them. The old Hammer films are his favorites.

His uncle drove a delivery truck for a beer distributor. Often the company had promotional displays for retail stores. One such display was the famous delivery wagon along with the team of horses that pulls it. It was impressive with the barrels of beer on the wagon.  It was probably 3 feet long in total. His uncle took one home with him and placed it so it could be seen by everyone.

For some reason my son was afraid of it. It was on display so it could be seen as you entered the house. My son would grab my leg and clutch it until we were inside the house and past the horses and wagon. Then he was fine.

My brother-in-law bedeviled my son at almost every turn. It was done as a loving thing and he meant no harm. It was what he did with all the kids including his own. My son just reacted differently. So at his uncle's house he never knew what to expect. He was appropriately scared all the time.

It was one of my son's favorite places to visit. I think he liked being frightened. Now that he is grown he tries his best to scare his nieces and nephews in the same way.

My son has always been interested in gadgets. We had some of the very first home computers and my son was the one who used them the most. Of course there were video game systems too. His brother and sister thought they were okay but he loved them.

My son researched what made them work and studied about what new technologies were coming soon. He learned to troubleshoot which is so handy when you are dealing with this kind of thing. He even began building his own computers using what he judged to be the best components. For little money he could have a top-of-the-line computer.

My son is the first to try a new electronic gadget. Cell phones, tablets, readers; all are thinbgs he researches intensely and then buys what he has decided to be the best. It works out well for me because I get his old one of whatever it is.

He even bought a Roomba. Roomba is a flat little robot type of thing. He has programmed it to vacuum the carpets while we sleep. We wake to clean floors. It works well and I highly recommend it.

When I think of him owning a robot it brings a smile to my face. When he was almost two years old Santa gave him a robot for Christmas.

It was a marvel. It was battery operated. It stood about 18 inches tall.

When you turned it on it would walk across the floor in a menacing manner because it was a warrior. At intervals it would stop, its chest would open, and a gun would pop out and noisily fire. Then the chest would close and the robot would advance some more.

My son was terrified. I tried to have him become more familiar with it by handling it while it was turned off. Nope. He wanted nothing whatsoever to do with that robot.

Even my little brother who was only 6 years old tried to cajole him into not being afraid. Nothing worked.

I am not sure what ever happened to that poor robot. Not much scares my son any more. He might even like the robot now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Evolution Of Life At The Bar

When the band I managed moved to a new bar to work it was a real change. The bar was huge with a nice dance floor that was slightly sectioned away from the tables.  Everything was clean and the customers were not as ready to cause problems as before. It was almost like a nightclub.

There were two brothers who owned the business. One was always present and the other seldom seen but his wife was always there. They were young like we were.

The older of the brothers was the one who ran the bar. He was a single man who really wanted to marry but had terrible luck with women. It seemed as if each woman was only interested in his money. He was a super nice person and deserved better.

He became a drug user and died at a young age. It was never stated as such but I believe it was AIDS probably from a shared needle.

When his health began to deteriorate the other brother took over. I was never as close to him as the first brother but I really liked his wife a lot.

She was in charge of the waitresses. She was very pretty and friendly. Everyone liked her. They had two little girls who were also very pretty.

She came to me one evening and asked if she could talk to me. I went to a more private spot with her. She was worried that her husband was having an affair. I was shocked. In the first place he was not a desirable person to me. He was nice enough to look at but his personality was rather surly. I was  not sure what to say but it turned out that she just needed someone to talk to.

As time went on she discovered that it was true that he was seeing someone else. Imagine my horror to find out that it was a good friend of mine who was working as a waitress there also.

The wife filed for divorce. She continued to work there which pleased almost everyone. The two women even developed a sort of relationship that was not unfriendly.

After quite some time the wife began to date a customer. He was very nice and very devoted to her. Several months later they married. It is a good marriage and they are happy. By this time she had left the bar to become a full time mother and homemaker.

The owner and my friend also married. She became the person in charge of the floor. She was surprisingly capable. Their marriage is a bit more turbulent but by and large they are happy.

The major problem is that he would like another child and she does not want children. She feels that the two daughters he has are enough.

She was an adopted child and she was raised with an adopted brother. They had a happy life and she loved her parents.

She did not ever try to find her biological parents. She told me that she had no need. I asked if she was worried that her parents would be hurt if she did.

She told me that they actually helped her brother find his mother. So she just had no interest in those who had given birth to her. And she did not want children.

I was no longer working at the bar. The band had undergone so many changes. They finally left the bar and shortly thereafter the band was no more.

My friend and her husband who owned the bar sold it. They have moved on to better things. I guess we all did. I miss the big happy family that we were at one time.

There were many personalities there. We truly cared about each other.

The death of the one brother was a big blow. We all loved and respected him. The divorce and remarriages were important events to all of us. We all came through the best we could. Not all parties are friends but they are friendly. It is as much as can be expected sometimes.

But, oh my, what a time we had. It was good.

Friday, November 14, 2014


A friend and I decided to take a couple of weeks away from regular life. After much discussion and checking our funds we settled on a cottage north of the thumb of Michigan's mitten.

The cottage was in a small community of cottages just outside of Oscoda. The location was ideal. I could step out of the door of the cottage, turn left and I was standing on the beach of Lake Huron.

I was usually the first one awake in the morning. I could either look out a window at the view or sit on the small landing that served as a sort of porch.

I could look out one window at the serenity of the lake. There is something so soothing and calming about a body of water. I think perhaps it might be a form of meditation because I can just look and not have my mind working.

Another window gave me a view of the picnic area in the midst of all the cottages. There were tables, lots of grass and a few flowers, and bird feeders. Hummingbirds were plentiful at the time we were there and I could spend hours watching them.

I had the same views if I chose to sit outside. The difference was that I also had sounds to accompany the sights.

In the morning there was a very slight sound of surf from the lake. The birds and small animals made all their little noises. Even though the highway was close it seemed very far away so the sounds of travel were muffled. It made for a feeling of well-being as I sat and soaked in the peace.

At night when I looked out over the lake I could see huge waves rolling in to the shore. I had not realized that the lakes enjoyed tides of that magnitude. Watching them roll in is awe inspiring. Again it gave me a feeling of contentment.

We could swim in the lake during the day. The water was warm that time of the year so it was fun to just get in the water and stay there until my skin was pruny.

In the evenings there was a huge fire pit on the beach. The cottage owners provided firewood and anyone staying in the cottages was welcome to sit around the fire. You could roast marshmallows and hot dogs. You could tell ghost stories or tall tales. You could sing songs that everybody knew and if you were lucky someone brought their guitar.

Our cottage was small. We had one living room/kitchen, one bedroom, and one bathroom. However it was comfy. We had to provide our own food but there were dishes and pots and pans. Nothing fancy but it was to provide necessities not luxuries.

They even provided a barbeque grill in case we decided to cook out. It was fun to cook my meals outside as I watched the activity on the lake.

We could see the occasional Great Lakes freighter. They are quite distinctive in shape. There were a lot of boaters. Some were fishing; others were just out for a boat ride in the sun.

As much as we loved being on the lake and in the cottage we did do other things too. Driving through the country is a favorite pastime of mine. Just to look at the trees and houses along a country road is satisfaction enough. But sometimes you make some unexpected finds.

One day we came across a nursery. It was buried out in the country but obviously did a booming business. We were not in a position to buy anything right then because we would not be able to plant right away. But we had a good time looking at all the things they had to offer.

We rented a canoe another day and alternately rowed and coasted along the Au Sable River. At one part of the day a beaver swam along side of us on his way to his dam. He was a cute little critter.

We tried some of the local restaurants too. My favorite was an "all-you-can-eat" buffet place. Most places like this provide you with a bit of meat and a buffet of several types of sides. This one served seafood.

From the buffet you could choose fish, shrimp, roast beef. Then there was mashed potaoes, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti salad, and several other carbohydrate offerings. Vegetables both raw and cooked were plentiful. They even had corn on the cob.

There was a separate salad bar. It had more than the usual lettuce, tomato and a few toppings. All sorts of fresh garden vegetables as well as sprouts, mushrooms, garbanzo beans, with shredded eggs, cheeses, bacon bits, and various nuts for the top.

What we did was each make a salad, and fill a plate with fish and all the sides we could fit on it. Then we took one plate and piled it high with shrimp to share. We piled another plate with crab legs. We not only ate all that but we had another plate of crab legs for good measure.

It was close to closing time when we arrived at the place. My experience with this type of restaurant is that as closing time draws near they begin to take away the empty containers of food in order to make for a quick cleanup when the customers have gone.

Not this place. They closed and locked the doors to newcomers but kept refilling all the food. A glutton's paradise.

I ate so much there that it is embarrassing to tell you about it. Everything was delicious. When we finally went back to the cottage we moaned and groaned our way in. I have honestly never eaten anywhere close to that much in my life.

My stay at the cottage in Oscoda was one of the happiest times I have spent away from home. I actually cried when it was time for it to end.

canoeing beaver

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Poppy Poster Contest

In the United States we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11. It is a day to honor the men and women who have served in our country's military.

A lot of my family have proudly served. Some served voluntarily and others were drafted.Being drafted does not necessarily mean that they were not proud to serve. It simply means that their choice was restricted as to timing.

Many of our military have returned home after giving their time to no jobs, no family, and other insurmountable problems. Most can regain a fairly normal life but some cannot.

If they had to endure the horrors of war things are worse. I have often said of the Viet Nam War that no one came back whole. If they were fortunate enough to have whole bodies they still had the emotional scars. Usually those are more difficult to treat.

So we honor our veterans... those who were lucky enough to come home alive. There might be parades or other celebrations.

Veterans organizations sponsor a lot of the celebrations. They are the ones who try to keep us mindful that there are people who were willing to give their all for the rest of us. We need to remember.

So one of the things they do is to sell poppies. Not real poppies. The veterans and the veterans auxiliary organizations used to make them by hand. I think they are probably mass produced these days. Then for a donation you can proudly show your support for these wonderful people.

The money they collect is used in various ways. Medical help, job counseling, family services are only a few. I buy a poppy every year to honor the veterans of my family. My father and brother are the main ones but there are so many others.

When I was very young we honored the veterans in various ways. There was a parade and a trip to the cemetery to also honor the fallen as well as veterans who had aged and died. There were activities in the park. It was a beautiful way to remember.

At school we made posters in art class. We were to make a piece of art to show our thoughts about Veterans Day. A poppy was to be a part of the poster. We each took a donation to school to purchase the poppy for our posters.

Our posters were then displayed in various businesses around town. Mine was in the little grocery store a block and a half from my house. I was so proud.

I do not remember too much about the poster. I do remember there was an airplane and the poppy.  Nothing more. But it must have been pretty good.

A committee went up and down the street looking at all the posters on display. They judged them all and chose the top three. Mine took third place.

I was in second grade. These posters were from the whole school and mine was third best!

We were notified at school of the winners. I do not remember who else won but they were all older than I was. I did not even know there was a contest until that day.

My prize was a check for $1.00. That is correct; one dollar. It seemed like a fortune. It was 1954 and a dollar could buy a lot.

On my way home from school I stopped at the little store where my poster was right there in the front window. I told the owners who I considered to be my very close friends that I had won third place. They were proud of me.

The next day my poster was still in the window only now it had a third place ribbon attached to it. Wow. I felt famous.

The owners of the store cashed my check for me that day. I bought a half gallon of ice cream so my whole family could celebrate with me. I also bought myself an ice cream treat to eat on the way home and stuck the change (yes there was change!) in my pocket.

The Poppy Poster Contest is the only prize I have ever won for something like that. It was a big deal.

Remember at least one veteran today. Even if you are not in the United States your country has veterans too. They are important people.

Friday, November 7, 2014

More To Remember

I had such fun the last time I took a trip down memory lane that I decided to do it again. I happen to remember each and every one of these things. I am so old!

Mumbley peg is not recommended for children. I cannot believe that we played and our parents did not realize that we were doing it. There are two versions that we played. Each player had his/her own pocket knife to use.

In the first version each player would stand with legs spread apart. They would take turns dropping their knives to see who could get it to stick in the ground closest to his own foot. The older boys flipped the knife at the opponent's foot to try to be closest but us younger one's were not quite that stupid.

In the second version each player would do trick flips with the knife. If the knife stuck in the ground the player could keep playing. If his knife did not stick and his opponent's knife did not stick they continued. But if his knife did not stick and his opponent's did the game was over.

Pick-up sticks were great fun. Colored sticks that look like toothpicks with pointed ends and about 7 inches long. You gather the sticks together lengthwise and stand them together on end and let go. The sticks will fall into a pile. You must pick up the sticks one at a time without moving any other sticks. Each color is worth a certain amount of points to be added at the end to see who wins.

Most people did not have air conditioners back then. It was a challenge to try to keep cool. If our parents said we could we played in the sprinkler. Sometimes we had no sprinkler so one of us would hold the water hose with a thumb or finger partially blocking the flow of water to make a spray we could run through.

Different kinds of sprinklers make for different kinds of enjoyment. The ones that spray in an arc were fun. They sprinkle from side to side up and over. I liked to lay in the grass and let the sprinkle pass over me as it went from one side to the other.

There are sprinklers that spin the water out. You have to be quick to get a share of water from those. Sprinklers that are like hoses with holes in them are not quite as much fun as the others but they cool you off.

Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the wild frontier. Davy Crockett was the most popular anything for a while. There was a series of Davy Crockett mini movies made by Disney for the weekly show. Everybody was singing the theme song.

Kids had coon skin caps, bb guns, lunch boxes; you get the idea. Anything with Davy Crockett on it would sell.

Speaking of Davy Crockett the company that made Wheaties breakfast cereal had a Davy Crockett promotion. On the back of every Wheaties box was a 45RPM record imprinted into the cardboard of the box. When you had emptied the box you carefully cut the record from the box and played it on your record player. They really worked.

Slinky came into being when a sailor was testing different types of springs to use to stabilize instruments at sea. One of the springs fell from a shelf and followed itself to the table and the floor. A remarkable toy was born.

Original slinkys were made of steel and lasted forever as long as they did not get tangled. Today most of them are made of plastic because it is so much cheaper. Perhaps it is my imagination but I do not think they perform as well as the old steel ones.

Kick ball was a popular game at school. It is played much the same as baseball except that the ball is almost the size of a basketball and you kick it (hence the name kick ball) instead of using a bat. The school liked it because the ball seldom went through a window. We liked it because a person did not need to be as talented as for a baseball game.

Young men wore a hair style that was called a D.A. It was combed back at the sides where the hair met at the middle of the back of the head. There the hair was combed upward to resemble the feathers of the tail of a duck. We were allowed to call it a duck tail but a slightly more risque name for the back of the duck was what really made it a Duck's A**.

Games on the playground were often played in the round with everyone in a circle except for "it". "It" would make a situation so that people from the circle would have to try to catch him. If they could not they would be it. There were games played in lines that were similar.

Some of those games were duck duck goose, pum pum pull away, freeze tag, and drop the hankie. Dodge ball where one person is "it" and everybody else takes turns trying to hit him with the ball and keep away where everybody tries to keep "it" from intercepting the ball sort of fall into the same category.

Jump rope with the little rhymes that accompany the jumping is fun. Almost all girls had a jump rope to jump by herself. Longer ropes were used as two girls twirled the ends as the jumper jumped. More than one person could jump at a time that way.

There were specialty jumps using the single rope and the long rope at the same time or two long ropes being twirled in opposite directions and many variations of each of those.

For a while there was a game called Chinese jump rope using long ropes made of rubber bands. I watched others do it but I never really understood it. It was entertaining though.

Jacks are little star shaped pieces, 10 in all. There is a ball about an inch in diameter. You toss the jacks to slightly spread them in front of you. Then you gently toss the ball into the air... not too far now. Before the ball comes down you pick up one jack. Then you catch the ball in the same hand the jack is in as the ball bounces up again.Set the jack down beside you and do it again. You try to get all ten of the jacks in this manner.

That is not the end of the game however. The next time around you have to pick up two jacks at a time. Next time.three. These are called onsies, twosies, threesies. You will do foursies, fivesies, sixies, sevensies, eightsies, ninesies, and tensies.

Now you may think that is the end. Nope. You start all over with onesies but this time the ball must bounce twice before you catch it. You can stay busy for a long time with jacks.

Kick the can. For this game you need a tin can. "It" watches as another player kicks the can as far as possible. "It" then runs to retrieve the can as the other players hide. As "it " finds the hiding players he places them in the area designated as jail. They must remain in jail until all players have been captures unless one of the other players comes out of hiding to rescue him. The problem with that is that the other player leaves himself vulnerable to be caught as well. When all players have been jailed the first player captured is "it".

Cars were distinctive in the "olden" days. You could immediately identify a car just by looking at it. But they still went through a lot of changes in style.

Most cars used to have running boards. Those are the metal "sidewalks" beneath the doors on either side of the car. I am not certain what they were for. Perhaps at one time they were strong enough to provide a step up to enter the car.

Tail fins made a car look longer and oh so cool. The bigger the car the better.

Back then the really cool cars sat low to the ground and were called low riders. Really cool cars were lower in the back than in the front.

The last game for this time is hopscotch. A series of squares is drawn on the sidewalk or street using chalk. In the beginning of the game you just hop on one foot to the end of the squares, hop to turn around and hop back. There are spots where two squares will be side by side. Each foot goes into one square at the same time.

For subsequent turns a marker such as a rock is used to toss to squares beginning with the first square. You jump over that square and complete your round. When you come back to that square you stand on one foot (two if you are in side by side squares), bend over, and pick up the stone. You hop in that square and out of the drawing. Using the marker will continue until you have done it to each square.

If you wish to continue you can mark two squares instead of one or set up any challenges you wish.

So how many do you remember? Do you have any to add?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Measure Your Face

When I was a young girl every girl was to have one goal in life. Catch a man, marry the man, and have children. My parents did not emphasize anything so silly but we were taught that concept in school.

Glamor magazines and women's magazines told us how to make ourselves more attractive so men would notice us and of course they would be interested if we looked good enough. There were so many beauty tips and instructions on how to act so that men would be interested.

Of course all of this instruction included the fact that men had very fragile egos. A female should not be too smart or the male would be intimidated by her. A female should be demur. If she was too forward or confident it would scare the male.

When I was in the 7th grade we were required to take a home economics course for a semester. This class was packed with all the things needed to turn us into well-rounded young "ladies".

We learned to make a cake from scratch. I had been doing that for my whole life so it was boring. We made a magnificent apron. If I ever decide to sew I would make another because it was an apron that was useful. It even covered the sides of the body. If the cook absent-mindedly wiped her (and of course it would be a her) down the sides of her body the apron actually covered the necessary area.

We made a skirt. Mine was a dismal mess. One side was about 6 inches above my knee while the other was about 3 inches above my foot. It was terrible. It was a pretty color though and my mother was able to make something from the material.

We learned to dry and arrange flowers to make a comfortable home for our man. We learned to properly set a table and serve a meal. Serve from the left, remove from the right. That is how to place a dish in front of the person. Is that not a helpful thing to know?

We learned how to behave on an outing with a man. Listen attentively and always look at him when he speaks. Of course you must not be too forward. Always defer to his wishes. And men like to be considered the protector so you must seem rather helpless. Poor fragile men.

An important thing to know was to change your underwear daily because men have a more developed sense of smell. We must not offend.

Cleanliness is next to something that will be important to that man. We even had to learn to wash our hair. One of the girls had an expensive sweater on that day so she removed it to keep from ruining it. That happened to be the day the janitor walked into the room unannounced. She screamed a lot.

It seemed to me that by the time we were 12 years old we should already know how to do all those things (with the exception of drying and arranging flowers). I thought it was a frivolous class.

But the class was required. There was one thing that I learned there that was fun and funny. It is how to measure your face.

We were told that this was the measure of beauty. It was used to determine if a model had a photogenic face. I hope you try it. It is fun and seems to work quite well.

First you hold your hand up with fingers open. Move your thumb next to your forefinger. It should reach ever so slightly below your first knuckle. This is your measuring tool.

From the earlobe to the top of your ear should be as long as the distance from the end of your thumb to the end of your forefinger. Did you try it? Amazing isn't it?

From one corner of your mouth to the other should be the same length. The tip of your nose to the spot between your eyes is the same. Each eye should be the same from corner to corner.From your eyebrow to the hairline (your forehead) will also be the same.

But the most important measurement is that your face from the side hairline to the other side hairline while going across your eyes should be exactly five units of measurement.

Now I know that models are not supposed to be full-faced these days. That was a long time ago. But how well do you match up to the beauty standard of those days? It was truly important if you wanted to catch that man.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Another Granddaughter

I have another granddaughter to introduce to you. She is my son's step-daughter. He was present was present when she was born. He no longer is a couple with her mother but he has remained close to her as one must when you share children.

My granddaughter adores her father, my son. She does know her biological father but has chosen to stay away from him. From what she has told me there were some physically and emotionally abusive behaviors.

When she was very small she could always be found at my son's house. She told me she was taking care of him. Her mother and grandmother lived just down the street but she preferred to be with her dad. Any females who came around were subject to her scrutiny and often lost.

When her mother moved to another state with her husband my granddaughter of course went too. But every chance she could she would have her dad purchase a ticket and she would fly to the city where we lived. She would stay as long as possible before she went home.

There was a lot of chaos at home and she really likes a calmer atmosphere. She is a quiet girl and absolutely no trouble. She is anxious to be helpful and does not wait to be asked to run the vacuum cleaner, for instance.

Ater a few years my granddaughter's family moved back to where we lived. She was at her dad's house again.

One year at Christmas we were all together for Christmas Eve as usual. The children usually sit on the floor because adults get a place to sit first. My granddaughter was sitting by my feet because she was feeling extra close to me that year.

I always give the children what I call stockings. Seldom are they actual stockings. They might be a small waste basket, a mesh laundry hamper, or something large enough to hold a few goodies. In them I put candies and small toys. They are for the children to play with until everyone has arrived. It keeps them from getting restless and they are not begging to open gifts.

This particular year I had included a small plastic animal in each stocking. They were supposed to be stress relievers because they were filled with fluid and it is supposed to be relaxing to squeeze them.

My granddaughter was having a good time with hers. She laughed and laughed when it made funny faces as she squeezed it. She squeezed it again and again. Then when she squeezed it yet again it suddenly exploded!

The fluid went everywhere. It was all over my granddaughter and me and the floor. She was shocked and so apologetic. I kept assuring her it was not a problem but I was laughing so hard I am not sure she heard me.

Like all the grandchildren she liked to come for the weekend. We often went on excursions to a state park or something. It is nice for kids in the city to get away from the hustle and bustle.

My granddaughter liked to watch for wild animals. What she really liked more I think was the peace and quiet.

My granddaughter also liked Grease. One year I discovered that the play would be in our city for her birthday. I asked her mother if I could take her.

We made a night of it. We went out to dinner at a nice restaurant. Then to the play. She got a souvenir sweater and was very happy.

Then it was time to go home. Her mother had asked me to drop her off at her grandmother's house because she would not be home. My granddaughter became more and more quiet the closer we got.

Finally she asked if she could go home with me. I could not take her because I had to go to work the next day but she was extremely upset.

After some coaxing I got her to tell me why she did not want to go to her grandmother's house. She was worried that her uncle would be there. He had a drinking problem and would go to his mother's house to cause trouble. My granddaughter was afraid.

When we got to her grandmother's house I took her in. Her grandmother is a nice person. I was exchanging greetings while my granddaughter put her things in a bedroom.

The uncle came in from the kitchen and was very drunk. He was happy to see me and gave me a hug. I had known him since he was a little boy. He then became bossy toward his mother.

I talked to him and quieted him each time he started to pick at his mother. He returned to the kitchen. I told my granddaughter's grandmother that I had to go home because it was late and I had a long way to go. She begged me to stay.

I stayed. I know that the family has violence issues. Like most drunks the son was happy to have someone to talk to so he talked to me off and on for quite some time. The grandmother managed to sneak away to call the son's wife. The wife would call and ask him to come home.

I stayed until after he left. When the wife called to say that he was asleep I told my granddaughter and her grandmother goodnight and went home.

My granddaughter has grown into a beautiful young woman. She is intelligent and gets good grades at school. She plans on going to college next year after she graduates from high school.

I hear from other people that things are not good at home for her. She and her mother are at odds. Her mother likes to party and my granddaughter has no patience for the commotion that it causes.

My granddaughter is working two jobs to pay for the extras needed by a young person. She is so industrious and wants to better herself.

Recently my granddaughter was chosen as Homecoming Queen at her high school. It is wonderful to see her being recognized as the special person she is.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


So I was lying in bed this morning as I love to do. I was looking at the sights out my window. The phone rang.

Since it was only about 7:30 AM I quickly put on my glasses to see who would call so early. The number is the cell phone of my youngest granddaughter.

I quickly answered. "Hello?" There was no response. "Hello?" No response. "HELLO?' Still no response.

Then I can hear screaming and yelling. In the background someone seemed to be crying. "HELLO!"

I still heard no answer. Suddenly the phone hung up.

I immediately called back. No one answered. I tried again. No answer.

So I called her mother. I told her what had happened. She said my granddaughter was at school. We live in a different time zone so I had not considered that. 

Her mother said she would call the school to see what was happening. She would call me back as soon as she had spoken to my granddaughter.

After a grueling 45 minute wait the phone rang. My granddaughter had been on her school bus when her phone called me. The noise was apparently normal children-on-the-school-bus noise. 

My granddaughter did not realize that her phone had dialed me. It was in her pocket. Somehow it also hung itself up. She was surprised that it happened. 

Her mother thanked me profusely for contacting her. Of course she was my first thought after my granddaughter. If it had been my child I would want to know. Thank goodness nothing serious happened. It was one of those cases of better safe than sorry.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Rhode Island

My granddaughter is an athlete. She likes most sports but her first love is softball and she excels at it. Because of that she was invited to participate in SAG.

SAG stands for Student Athlete Games. It is an event held every four years I believe. Students are chosen for both athletic and scholastic prowess. Young people from all over the world are invited to take part. It is quite an honor.

My granddaughter's parents decided to take a vacation and tag along. They invited me and I was excited to go. The games were being held at the University of Rhode Island.

My granddaughter would be staying in a dorm with other participants. Of course we needed a place to stay so we reserved a motel room. It was in nearby Fall River, Massachusetts.

The opening ceremonies for SAG were held the morning after we arrived. All of us attended mostly to see my granddaughter march in with the others.

Because the university was built on land from the Indian tribe native to the area they always opened important ceremonies with a blessing from the medicine man of the tribe. He intoned the blessing while inhaling the smoke from his ceremonial pipe and issuing toward the various points of the compass. I have to say that the smell of the smoke was familiar and perhaps had a hint of illegality to it.

After a few speeches the participants left to do what they were there to do leaving us to find something to do.

We decided to visit the home of Lizzie Borden first. You know Lizzie Borden. Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had don, gave her father forty-one.

When we got there a tour was in progress so we visited the gift store to wait. Of course we made a few purchases. Then the tour guide came in to get us ready for our tour.

In rushed a young man in his very early twenties. He was so excited and had a photo he wanted to share.

He had been on the tour the day before and took a few pictures. He picked up what he thought was a ghost in one. I saw the picture. I am not sure what it was.

So he wanted to know if he could go back in just long enough to take some more pictures. They told him to go ahead. He said, "Alone?" Yep

So our tour began. The guide was an older man who looked a lot like Lizzie Borden's father. He accentuated that by dressing like him and delivering the narrative in the first person.

He took us through the whole house. We saw the kitchen and the bedrooms upstairs that are available to rent for a night. Then we saw the rooms where the Bordens slept. We saw where Lizzie's step=mother was killed and her body was discovered. We saw the living room where her father was killed as he napped on his sofa. They even have a dress form standing in one bedroom that is dressed in the dress Elizabeth Montgomery wore when she did the Lizzie Borden movie.

In a question and answer session afterward two women were very proud that they we cousins of the Borden family. Their last name was Borden. They were miffed when the man said that there were no other Borden males in the close family tree. Someone asked if he thought Lizzie was the one who committed the murders. He thought that was the case.

My son knows how much I like lobster and there we were right in the midst of lobsterland. He wanted to treat me to a lobster dinner and maybe try it himself. We went to a seafood restaurant.

My daughter-in-law wanted no part of anything fishy but she went and ordered "normal" food as did my grandson.

My grandson has a real weak stomach. Or should I say a strong gag reflex? The poor thing had to sit with his face to the wall because everyone around us was eating oysters. He suffered through that whole meal just so I could eat my lobster. He is so sweet.

We drove to Boston to spend the day steeped in history. We visited the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. It is an impressive building on a little point of the ocean. There is a large paved area outside to wander on and look into the water.

The building is classy just as I would expect something designed by Jackie would be. The many exhibits are informative and I learned a lot.

What I liked the most however was the misty rain that was falling when we were looking at the ocean before we left.

We had so many other places we wanted to see. The problem was that we got hopelessly lost. With us not knowing the city and construction and one-way streets we spent literally hours trying to find something/anything we could recognize to get out of there.

We did stop a couple of times to ask directions but no one else seemed to know where we were either. It was such a disappointing day.

Across the river from where we were staying was a naval museum. My father served in the Navy in World War II. I was very interested.

There were five vessels I think. Daddy was on a battleship so I really wanted to see that one.

We were able to go on all the ships there. We could climb around and explore what the sailors experienced. Up and down steps that are little more than stationary ladders. Below deck smelled horrible.

In the movies they always show the sailors sleeping in bunks. Ha! The sailors on these ships slept in hammocks. Unless they were of an elevated position of course. They get bunks.

We climbed on the guns and took pictures pretending to operate them. It was great fun and I felt close to my father that day.

In between all the sight-seeing we were doing we attended the softball games my granddaughter played. Her coach was a very young man from Australia. All the girls had crushes on him. My granddaughter simply told me, "He;s kinda cute."

She also went to other sporting events when she was not involved in other things. And there were the inevitable pizza parties in the dorm. She had a great time too. Although she was upset that we went to Lizzie Borden's house without her.

Former President of the United States Bill Clinton was the closing speaker for SAG. We certainly did not want to miss that.

As we were walking across the campus to the building where he would be speaking we spotted my granddaughter with a group of her peers. They were playing some sort of game similar to soccer but it was not that. My daughter-in-law immediately wanted to join. My son stayed to watch. My son and daughter-in-law were very young when they had the children so they fit in well most of the time.

My grandson and I continued on to the building. He looked at me and said, "I wish they wouldn't do that." Of course I wondered what he did not want them to do.

He said that they tended to forget that they were the parents. It embarrassed him.

That was when I told him that the hardest thing a parent has to do is to let go. It is so difficult to see your babies grow up to be not babies. I told him to try to give them some slack. Now that he has a little girl I am anxious to see how long it takes him to understand what I meant.

Bill Clinton is a hypnotic speaker. Even though you know he is speaking to hundreds of people you feel that he is speaking just to you. It is a gift.

After his speech he answered questions. He sat in a comfortable chair and seemed totally at ease as he fully answered each question. He was not hurried in his comments and often added even more. No wonder he was elected president.

It was a wonderful trip. I think everyone had an exceptional time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's Just Like Riding A Bike

 My mother was a remarkable woman. When she decided she really wanted to do something she learned how to do it. She just put her mind to it and did it.

Mom grew up on a farm. When they went somewhere of any distance they rode horses. She rode a horse to school.

When Mom was about 50 she decided she wanted to learn how to ride a bicycle. She did not have the opportunity when she was a child. When her children had bicycles she was busy raising us and did not learn. So she never learned to ride a bike. Now she wanted to.

She went out and bought a bicycle. It was a bike made for a female which I felt was a small mistake. For some reason boys' bikes seem to balance better. But that was what she wanted.

Every day Mom went out for a period of time and attempted to learn to ride. Sometimes she had family there and sometimes not. But she kept at it.

Mom finally got to where she could ride a bit. She was wobbly but she was riding.

My sister had just bought a brand new car... not used but brand new. It was her first new car. She drove it over to show my parents because she was very proud.

Mom was practicing her bike riding but stopped to ooh and aah over the car. My sister went into the house to get a drink before Daddy came home from work so she could show him. Mom kept practicing.

Soon Mom came into the house. My sister was sitting in there where it was cool. Mom looked a little pale. Maybe this bicycle stuff was too much for her.

Mom had to tell my sister that she had been riding her bike in the street. She was doing so much better but was still not in complete control of the bicycle. Mom had a "little" accident.

My sister was concerned that Mom was hurt. No she was not.

She had been riding up and down the street. She was feeling pretty good. Then when she was almost finished she was in front of the house. She lost control and started to fall.

My sister's brand spanking new car broke the fall. The handlebars of the bike went right through the windshield of my sister's brand spanking new car.

Now when I heard about this the loving big sister in me took over. I laughed so hard that I almost could not breathe. I could not laugh at Mom... it just is not done.

Mom did learn how to ride and was a good rider after much practice. To my knowledge she never "took out" another car.