Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Legend Of The Banshee

In the very early days of Ireland the Tuatha De Danann were the inhabitants. When invaders made it clear that this race would be destroyed, the Tuatha De Danann went underground. They lived in mounds that are now called Sidhe. Sidhe is pronounced as shee.

Sidhe is also used as a name for fairy. The fairies are said to have come from the Tuatha Da Danann.

Bean is pronounced as Ban. It means woman. So a Banshee is a woman fairy. But she is not just any fairy. She has a specific function. She announces the death of a family member and mourns the death.

There is another fairy that is usually associated with Scotland called the bean-nighe. or bean-sith. Her name means washer woman. She is found washing bloody clothes, armor, and even body parts belonging to the soon-to-be deceased.

Because people are born of woman, the Irish believe that it is only fitting that a woman accompany them to their place in the afterlife. As seen by the name a banshee is always female.

It is thought that the banshee might have originally been a member of the family she cries for. She will have only one family and she is extremely loyal to that family. She has even followed them when they emigrated to other parts of the world.

The banshee might have been a member of the family who died in childbirth. Because of her sorrow she wanders the Earth in constant mourning.

It is also considered that she was once a woman who was paid to mourn at the funeral of an important person. She would caoineadh (keen) long and loud to usher the deceased out of this world. These keeners often bonded with the family and stayed on with them after death.

The eyes of the banshee are deep red. It is from the constant crying and mourning of the dead.

Originally the banshee only wailed for a family of the six families who were considered to be the most prominent Irish clans. Down through the years there has been a lot of intermarrying among the families so you might hear her even if you aren't sure of the family she mourns.

The appearance of the banshee varies depending on the telling. She might be young and lovely, mature and handsome, or old and haggish. Those three descriptions coincide with the three aspects of Mother Nature.

She is dressed in the costume of a young peasant girl of ancient times. There may be a bit of color in her clothing. She may be dressed in white or off white, similar to a shroud. Or she might be dressed in black or gray. Often she has a green dress with a black cape over it.

Her hair is most interesting. The color may be gray, white, black, or red. It is very long and floats around her as if she were floating in water. Apparently it is her one vanity.

A Banshee can often be seen combing her hair with a silver comb. If you see a comb when you are out do not pick it up, especially if it is silver. That will give the banshee the right to whisk you away then and there.

Remember the cry of the banshee is meant to alert the family to an impending death. She does not kill them. She simply waits for the person to die. She mourns before and after the death. Often she will mix in with the mourners at the funeral. Then she escorts the person to the proper place in the afterlife. If more than one banshee howls a person of great impotance has died.

She is accompanied by a coach-a-bower (coiste-bodhar). It is a huge black coach with a coffin on top. It is drawn by headless horses and driven by a Dullahan (headless rider).

Hve you heard the cry of the banshee? What a tale that would be..

Friday, November 25, 2016

Telephone Etiquette

Right now my time is being consumed by my son coming home. Please keep that in mind because I am so happy about it and a lot of my posts will probably be about him. As this one is.

I mentioned that he occasionally had 48 hour passes to come home. He had to sign out at a certain time and I would pick him up. Then he had to call to let them know when we arrive at home. There are to be no stops or visits in the process.

When it is time for him to leave he must call to let them know that he is leaving. Again no stops on the way. He must be back on time or he is violation of his terms and can be sent back to prison.

Also during the time he was here they made random calls to make sure he was actually here. The calls come any time of day or night. He recognizes the phone number so he answers the phone.

It is the way he answers that might interest you. I will not use his real name but I need a name so you will get the full picture. I chose Joe Blow.

The phone rings. My son picks it up and says, "Federal prisoner Joe Blow. How can I help you?"

"Joe Blow, Federal prisoner. What took you so long?"

"Federal prison vacation home, Joe Blow speaking."

"Hello? I want to report a prisoner running down the street in his underwear."

"Federal prisoner Joe Blow. I was beginning to think you forgot about me."

"Federal prisoners R Us. How can I help you?"

"Federal prisoner Joe Blow. You know I feel neglected when you don't call."

"Sorry I took so long to answer. I was down digging my escape tunnel."

I have no idea whether they think he is as cute as I do ( as he does). It seems as if they rather enjoy a sense of humor.

He was recently fitted with an ankle monitor. He is home and he will no longer be staying at the halfway house. They still make the random calls because it is the rules.  I do not understand why because the monitor will show them where he is.

He still has to go in for periodic reporting. But he is home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Attempted Stowaway

My son was here for another 48 hour pass from the halfway house. I am really enjoying him being here.

Once he arrives he has to call in to let them know he is here. Then they make random calls while he is here to make sure he is actually here.

Then when we are leaving to take him back he calls them to report that he is leaving to go back. As we were putting on our coats today he called them. We all then went to my vehicle for the ride to the halfway house.

My son got in the back. I got in to drive. My older son went to the passenger's side to get in and the boys started to laugh.

I had no idea what the joke was so I just sat there with a dumb look on my face. My son opened the door and in hurled this big furry thing.

I put my arm up to block it from scrambling into the back as it rushed through the truck.

That was when I got a good look at it. It was the neighbor's dog. Apparently he wanted a ride.

My son pulled him out of the truck. He rushed back in before my son could stop him. I was able to keep him from escaping to the back yet again. I guess he knew that was where he should ride.

My son managed to get him out again. The dog was struggling to jump in again but my son managed to hold him down a little. He was certainly enthusiastic.

Finally my son managed to get in without the dog and closed the door. We all sat and laughed for a few minutes.

When we were finally ready to back out and begin our journey we did not know where the dog was. The boys saw him on their side of the vehicle. I suddenly saw him run in front of the truck and around my side. I had no idea where he was and did not want to back over him.

We looked and looked but would not open a door because we could not take a chance on him lunging into the truck again. Finally we saw him across the street where his master was working in his shop.

We left without our attempted stowaway. He was persistent though.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Miss Hayhurst

Mrs Cittercup was my teacher for kindergarten and first grade. Isn't Mrs Cittercup a great name? I do not remember her much. I do remember that we learned to read, print, add and subtract in kindergarten. In first grade we learned cursive writing, multiplication and division, and we were reading out of the same reader that I read after we moved and I was in the third grade.

I would love to say that it was just because I was so intelligent that they had to teach me all those things at such a young age. The thing is that every child in my grade learned the same things I did. And that was every child in town and from the farms around the town.

I really believe that most children learn if they are expected to learn. Those little minds are just waiting to be filled with knowledge.

Toward the end of the first grade we moved to another town. As it was before, there were three grades to a room... kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. The same teacher taught all three grades, including music and recess.

The teacher here was Miss Hayhurst. I remember that she drove a Pontiac. Is it not strange that I remember that?

Miss Hayhurst was a middle-aged woman. As far as I know she never married. She had no children. But she was so loving and caring. Not the mushy kind of stuff like hugging and kissing. It's just that every single one of her students knew they were special. You never saw so many teacher's pets.

Miss Hayhurst was always in our classroom before the school day started. She welcomed us to come in early and visit with her. After school she remained to grade papers and do whatever it was she did. We often went home to change to play clothes and have a snack then we would go back up to the school to hang out in our room. It was encouraged by Miss Hayhurst. We loved spending time with her.

In the early 1950's they were experimenting with Salk vaccine for polio. We were bussed to the nearest "big" town to join the children from all over the area to be vaccinated. The boys from our room rode the school bus with the other children. Miss Hayhurst did not want to ride the bus so the girls from my grade (all three of us) rode with her in her Pontiac. How exciting. We felt terribly adult.

Miss Hayhurst appreciated our differences. She got to know each one of us and took a genuine interest in our little personalities. She was the teacher who recognized that I could memorize fairly long poems and recite them. She also recognized that I am a real "ham" (my term not hers). I loved performing in front of audiences. Hence the recital of poems by me at the programs the school periodically held for parents.

She suggested to my mother that she expose me to the classics such as Shakespeare and other classical writers and poets as soon as I was old enough. She did that sort of thing for all the students. And I know that part of the reason I was open to those suggestions was to please Miss Hayhurst.

A very pretty little girl moved to town. She was in the same grade as one of my brothers. They also were in Miss Hayhurst's room. Anyway this little girl also had the prettiest clothes. She had cute little outfits with can-cans (crinoline petticoats heavily starched) that made her full skirts stand out so fully. And there were so many of them. Most of us had just a few dresses and to be honest they were rather shapeless and drab. Ugly plaids (which I still hate) were the norm for most of us.

Miss Hayhurst was looking for creative suggestions for a project for us all to work on. I came up with the bright idea of making a book about her clothes.

Each day we would spend a little time on our books. Each of us wrote our own. During art class we would draw and color her clothes of that day. Then in writing class we would write a description of the dress. We kept each page in order. When we had seen all of her pretty dresses we made book covers out of construction paper and crayons. Then pieces of yarn tied everything into a book. It was fun.

I have always been a very competitive person. I am a good winner because I do not lord it over someone else when I win. I also do not get angry if I do not win. If I have done my best then I am happy. Plus I can enjoy someone else's talent.

So I was that nasty kid in school who always had to be done first and have the best grade. If we had a test I attacked it with gusto. Then I would happily march to the teacher's desk to hand it in before anyone else was done. Learning comes easily to me so I almost always had the best grade possible.

Often when we arrived in the morning I would notice something different about Miss Hayhurst. Maybe she was combing her hair differently or she had on an especially attractive sweater. I would write a quick note to her before handing in a paper. When I would receive the graded paper back Miss Hayhurst would answer my note with a polite thank you.

Miss Hayhurst had a lovely singing voice. In the morning before we started classes we would say the pledge of allegiance and a prayer. We still prayed in school those days. And it was before the "under God" was added to the pledge of allegiance. Then we would sing a good morning song to Miss Hayhurst who would answer by singing the same song back to us.

Our classroom had everything that was available in those days. There were books to read. There were toys to play with. There was even a table similar to a pool table except that it was deep and filled with sand for us to play creatively. Besides our desks there were little tables placed strategically around the room to encourage us to break into smaller groups sometimes to learn to socialize.

We would have a snack of milk and perhaps cookies mid-morning. Then we would pull out the small rugs we had all brought to leave at school. Those are what we laid on for our rest period. My favorite place to put my rug was under the sand table.

After our rest we would have some sort of activity that allowed us to move about. Our favorite was when we could get out the little instruments and march around the room as we played our instruments and Miss Hayhurst played the piano. Some of the instruments were triangles, cymbals, blocks of wood hit with a stick, washboards, cowbells, kazoos, slide whistles, and tambourines.

However the ones we all raced for were the birds. When the birds were filled with water they made the best sound when we hummed into them. There were only three of them so you can imagine the rush.

Can you see what made Miss Hayhurst so special and loved? I have had many teachers but she is the only one I loved. And I was not alone. Every child should have a teacher like Miss Hayhurst to nurture things that parents might miss and to build the confidence that each child must have to be a complete person.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Easy For You To Say

We missed it. International tongue twister day was Sunday.

A tongue twister as a phrase that when said quickly (often three times) causes you to say it wrong. Most of the time the result is funny. Sometimes it can be colorful or even a bit off color.

Tongue twisters can be difficult for me because I have an ever so slight lisp. I did not even know I had it until I was in college and an instructor suggested I might benefit from speech therapy. So dealing with a lot of "s" words make me self-conscious now.

I will give you a few of my favorite tongue twisters. See if you can say them with no mistakes.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

 Mares eat oats and does eat oats,
and little lambs eat ivy.
A Kid will eat ivy too, wouldn't ewe?

I'm not the pheasant plucker,
I'm the pheasant plucker's son,
but I'm busy plucking pheasants
till the pheasant plucker comes.

She sees cheese.

 A fly and flea flew into a flue,
said the fly to the flea 'what shall we do?'
'let us fly' said the flea
said the fly 'shall we flee'
so they flew through a flaw in the flue.

Betty Botter bought some butter but, said she, the butter's bitter.
If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter.
But a bit of better butter will make my bitter batter better.
So she bought some better butter, better than the bitter butter,
put it in her bitter batter, made her bitter batter better.
So 't was better Betty Botter bought some better butter.

She sells sea shells by the sea shore. But if She sells sea shells by the sea shore then where are the sea shells She sells?

Rugged rubber baby buggy bumpers.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear,
Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair,
Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't fuzzy,
was he?

A Tudor who tooted the flute
tried to tutor two tooters to toot.
Said the two to the tutor,
"Is it harder to toot or
to tutor two tooters to toot?"

A big black bug bit a big black bear and made the big black bear bleed blood.

Six thick thistle sticks

Moses supposes his toeses are roses.
But Moses supposes erroneously.
Moses, he knowses his toeses aren't roses
As Moses supposes his toeses to be.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
He would chuck all the wood a woodchuck could
If a woodchuck could chuck wood

A certain young fellow named Beebee
Wished to marry a lady named Phoebe
"But," he said. "I must see
What the minister's fee be
Before Phoebe be Phoebe Beebee"

Do you have a favorite?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Running Hot And Cold

I have moved from one house to another, one town to another so many times in my life.  I hate moving.

First you have to pack up all your belongings. Wrap the breakables. Find good sturdy boxes. Try not to fill the boxes so full that they were too heavy. An over-filled box is likely to lose its bottom and strew contents everywhere.

You begin labeling all the boxes so you will know where to put them when you get to your new home. After several thousand boxes (yes I exaggerate a bit) you stop labeling because it takes too much time.

Some pieces of furniture need to be dismantled. Beds for instance. You must make certain that mattresses stay with the bed frames they are meant to stay with.

Washers, dryers, stoves, and refrigerators need to be emptied if necessary. Breakable parts will be removed so they do not jiggle around and break in transit. Any foods that have to be frozen or refrigerated have to be stored so they will not spoil. You of course try to keep those foods at a minimum.

Finally everything is packed and ready to go... you hope.

Then you must load them into whatever vehicle you have chosen to carry your belongings to the new destination. Large heavy items in first. Keep it orderly.

Then larger boxes are fitted in. Be careful with the ones that hold breakable items. Nothing heavy on top of them. Soon smaller packages are being loaded wherever they will fit.

You make a last tour of the empty house. Did you empty the medicine cabinet? Is all the silverware out of the drawer? All the closets completely empty? What about that high shelf in the basement? Is all the trash disposed of?

Look at the check list. Did you discontinue the paper delivery? File a change of address for your mail?

Finally you are ready to roll. The truck heads out for the new house. The rest of the family climbs in the car and follows.

Let us say that this move is a fairly short one. You reach the new house fairly quickly. Now the reverse begins. You unload the truck.

Everyone is too tired but it has to be done.

Almost half of the boxes were not marked so you decide to stack those into an out-of-the-way room. The rest are carried to the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, or wherever the markings say they should be.

Furniture is unloaded. At least you know which rooms the furniture belongs.

Beds are re-assembled. Once the mattresses are on the beds it is a good idea to add sheets, blankets, and pillows. Otherwise you will be too tired to do it later.

Large appliances come last. They are put into the rooms they belong. You try to hook up washers and dryers right away simply because you do not want to do it tomorrow.

The kitchen stove needs to be attached to its power source. You probably will order pizza tonight just because it will be easier but the stove will be ready for business the next day.

The refrigerator is easy to install... put it in place and plug it in.

I have heard that you should allow any appliance that contains a cooling agent to settle for 24 hours before plugging it in. I never had any problem with that though.

Until one move when my children were small.

I immediately plugged in the refrigerator when it was carried into the kitchen. I had not brought any perishables so I would have to run to the store first thing the next day. Which I did.

I filled the refrigerator with meat, eggs, milk, vegetables, and all the other goodies we normally keep in the fridge. We were all set.

Late that afternoon I was ready to cook supper. When I opened the door of the refrigerator to take out the meat I was hit with a wave of warm air.

All the meat was partially cooked! I cracked an egg... also partially cooked. The vegetables were all wilted from the heat. I had to dispose of all that food.

Apparently because I knew better than experts I had plugged the appliance in too soon and somehow reversed the way it operated.

We unplugged it and waited 2 days before plugging it back in. It worked normally for two more years when we moved again. We decided not to take it with us. It was an older appliance and we thought it best not to take any chances.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


I believe strongly that voting is a responsibility. It is how we choose the people who represent us in our government.

It is our duty to educate ourselves on what issues will benefit our country. Then we need to learn how the candidates view those issues. How will they get to the business of overseeing our welfare?

So in the United States today is the day to elect our highest official. In many states lesser but no less important government representatives are also running for office.

Please take the few minutes to vote for your candidate. I have my choices ready and will go to the polls when they open. I hope you are ready too.

                                                   I WANT YOU TO VOTE!

Friday, November 4, 2016


Grandma was quite a character. She was a quiet woman but she could surprise you at times with the things that she did.

Grandma could cook. She was the best cook I ever knew. Even better than my mother. I do not like pancakes but I always hoped she would make them for breakfast when I was there. That was because she made her own syrup out of water and sugar.

Grandma made homemade bread every day. And I mean every day. She cooked and baked on an old wood stove. Anyone who has had food cooked that way knows how much better it tastes.

Grandma had been cooking since she was a small girl. Once in a while on Sunday when they were making Sunday dinner, Grandma would ask one of her daughters to take the homemade biscuits from the oven. They would start to look for pot holders or a towel to hold the pan to keep from getting burned. Grandma would give an exasperated sigh and grab the pan with her bare hands and set it on the table.

I remember being shocked when I was in high school. Grandma had had a stroke. After a long hospital stay she was finally home. She went to take biscuits from the oven and had to bounce the pan from hand to hand. She felt the heat.

Grandma said that while she was in the hospital the doctors and nurses talked about her like she was a baby. She was unable to speak. The doctors told everyone that she would never walk again. She laid there and thought to herself; "I'll show them!" She got tired easily at first but she could walk just fine.

She was a farmer's wife with all the work that entails. She cooked a lot of fried chicken. She would send my uncles out to catch and behead a couple chickens for dinner. She used a wire that had a hook bent at the end to catch the leg of a chicken so the person could get it in their grasp. Then the boys were supposed to chop off the heads with an axe.

Now getting a chicken to lay its head calmly on a chopping block while you cut off its head is an impossible task. They wiggle, they squirm, and they have extremely agile necks. My uncles would have a time trying to do the chore.

Finally Grandma would get tired of waiting. She just grabbed the chickens by their heads, spun them just so and wrung their heads right off their necks. It took seconds.

There was the time the cow got gas. Cows do not belch so gas stays inside and grows. If not taken care of the cow will die.

Grandpa had gone to town and would be gone for a couple of days. If he had been there he would have "stuck" the cow and it would have been done. Sticking the cow meant taking out his pocket knife and stabbing the cow in the spot where the second stomach was. It released the gas and all was right with the world.

Grandma did not know how to stick the cow. So she figured it would be fine until Grandpa got back. The cow just kept swelling and bawling. It bawled constantly and loudly. The swelling got bigger and the bawling got louder. Finally Grandma knew she would have to take care of it herself. She had no idea how to stick the cow. She grabbed a rake handle and shoved it into the proper opening on the cow. There was a great noise as the gas escaped. My mother said the smell was unbearable and hung over the farm for days. The cow was fine.

A wolf had been killing the livestock. Grandpa had not been able to catch it. It was another one of those times when Grandpa had to be away. Grandma heard a ruckus out with the animals. She looked out the window and saw the wolf.

She grabbed Grandpa's double-barreled shotgun. She had never shot a gun but she decided to play Annie Oakley.

She ran out to where the wolf was. She lifted the shotgun in both hands and held it out directly in front of her. She pulled both triggers at the same time. The shotgun kicked back and hit her in the mouth. It knocked out both her front teeth. I do not know what happened to the wolf.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Gonna Buy A Paper Doll That I Can Call My Own

I have mentioned before that I did not play with dolls. I always had a real baby to play with and dolls just could not do the same things.

But I loved paper dolls. They were found in McCall's Magazine. Betsy McCall was her name. Each month she would come out in a different pose with different clothes. I dutifully cut them out every month.

Betsy was usually dressed in a bathing suit or some sort of brief clothing. Never underwear... that would have been indecent. The reason for small clothes was so that the other outfits would fit properly and the original outfit would not show at the edges.

I loved Betsy McCall because her clothes fit so well. In order to change her clothes all you had to do was set the clothing (usually one piece even if it was two pieces like jeans and a shirt) on top of Betsy and fold the strategically placed flaps over her to hold the clothes in place.

She usually had the brief outfit, a daytime outfit, and a glamorous evening gown. She was in a different pose each month so the clothing did not interchange. But that only meant you would have a lot of Betsy's to make a group.

Then there were the paper dolls that came with the Tonette home permanents. They were there to keep little girls who were getting the perms from fidgeting while mothers tried to get the curls in their hair.

I cannot remember if they started that way but the paper dolls and clothes were perforated at the edges so you could carefully punch them out and play with them. There was not as large a variety as Betsy McCall but they were fun too. And they added to the collection.

You could buy paper dolls too. They were not terribly expensive but my family did not have a lot of money so they were usually an unnecessary expense. I did have a few of those.

The best thing to do was make your own. I cannot draw so I could not make them from scratch. Some girls did. But I had the next best thing... catalogs. Sears and Roebuck, JC Penney, Woolworth were but a few. I lived in very rural areas so mail order was the way we got a lot of merchandise.

The catalogs had an abundance of models, both male and female. And they were grown and children. We would cut the ones we like out and look for other outfits in the catalog that would match the pose of our models. They were not always a perfect match of course but close enough would do for our purposes. They had to have enough room in the catalog to be able to add the flaps to make the clothes stay on. It was a great way to add to our collections of paper dolls.

On rainy or snowy days when we were on the farm we would go up into the attic and play paper dolls. It passed so many hours and gave Grandma a break.

One day we made a discovery. My mother and her sisters used to play with paper dolls too. As a matter of fact she was the one who showed us how to make paper dolls from the catalog. Anyway we found some old cigar boxes full of paper dolls.

It seems that when my mother and my aunts had cut paper dolls from the newspapers when they were young girls. Newspapers had new paper dolls every week. And they had their catalog paper dolls. There were so many of them. It was like finding treasure.

My youngest aunt is about 5 years older than me. She had as much fun as me, my sister, and my cousins. We had such a good time with those old-fashioned clothes. We were always very careful to put them back into their cigar boxes and leave them in the attic until next time.

I wonder what ever happened to all those paper dolls. I know my sister and I lost ours in a house fire. But the paper dolls in Grandma's attic probably were discarded when they sold the farm. What a shame. I would like to see paper dolls make a comeback.