Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A Family Christmas Eve

 I am sharing a post from 1918. I hope you enjoy it.


When we were little Christmas was an expectant time. We went to bed early so that Santa Claus could come and leave us presents. We had written letters to him assuring him that we had been good. We let him know what gifts we wanted.

It was so hard to go to sleep. We would try and the harder we tried, the harder it was to relax enought to finally drop off. But eventually it happened.

Christmas morning was glorious. We would get up and file to the living room. That is where the Christmas tree was with all the presents beneath it. There was an order to opening gifts that has been followed from then on. I will tell you more later.

Some Christmases we went to spend the day with my mother's family on the farm. It was fun getting so many people together. But most years it was just our family and that was special.

One Christmas when I was 5 or 6 I awoke to hear the sounds of nuts cracking. That was Daddy. I cannot pass the nuts in the store at Christmas without thinking of him. He loved them so and Christmas was the only time they were available.

There were voices. Had Santa been there?

I got out of bed and went quietly to the door. There were Mom and Daddy wrapping gifts and putting them under the tree. Most people would say that was proof there is no Santa Claus. Of course I know better. He is real.

Every year Santa left a giant Hershey bar for each of my brothers and sisters. Mom and I got big boxes of chocolate covered cherries. They are still my very favorite.

Another year my brother and I woke up early. It was about 2:00 in the morning. We went to the living room and there was the tree with all the presents under it. We were much too excited to go back to bed so we decided to wait quietly until everyone else was awake.

We spent the time guessing what was in each package. The round one had to be a basketball. It was fun. The problem was that even our whispering got louder and louder. Mom got up and shooed us back to bed.

Then there was the year my brother and I decided to play sick and stay home from school before Christmas. We knew where Mom was stashing the gifts and we were going to take a peak. Mom was working at the time so she took our youngest sister to Grandma's. We were alone. Yay.

We went into the closet and went through everything. I found two dresses that I assumed were for my sister and me. Mom sewed most of our clothes. She had outdone herself with these and they were gorgeous. I even tried mine on. Perfect fit.

That was a terrible Christmas for me. I discovered that a major part of the fun is the expectation and surprise in the packages.

When I was about 15 I went to my boyfriend's house on Christmas Eve. I had a wonderful time with his family. He was to take me home so I would be home by 11:00.

There was a terrible blizzard that night. I lived at what amounts to be the top of a steep hill. He drove home the way we usually went. His car could not get to the top of the hill. He tried another way. No luck. We went around and tried to get up the hill past the cemetery. It was steeper than the rest.

Then we decided that perhaps he could go part way up and then turn into a subdivision. By winding through streets that only went up for a block we were finally ably to come out on my street and I made it home. He had no trouble going to his house because it was all downhill.

Because it was so late I went to explain to Mom why I did not make curfew. She understood. She was wrapping gifts for my brothers and sisters and told me I could help so that she could get a little sleep. I was happy to do it.

Then the next morning we opened our gifts from Santa. I was miserable because I knew everything the other kids were getting. I do like surprises.

As we got older the kids started buying gifts for our parents and each other. In order to make room under the tree we opened those gifts on Christmas Eve.

When I was a teenager I realized how much my parents loved Christmas and what they did to make sure that our Christmas was a good one. We did not get gifts for birthdays and other occasions. There were special things we did but money was hard to come by.

At Christmas my parents went all out. They would go into debt or sell something that was precious to them just to make sure that our Christmas was a good one. And they never ever let on. I knew but I never mentioned it to them. That was my gift to them.

One year I got my first wrist watch for Christmas. I was being recognized as the soon to be adult that I felt I was. It was before we had digital battery operated watches. It had to be wound by the little stem to keep it running every day. No problem.

The problem was that it felt hot. I told my parents but they just chuckled and told me that I would get used to the feeling of wearing it soon. I kept complaining and they kept being amused.

Then one day I showed them the blister on my arm where the watch had burned it. They took it back to the store. It seems that the watchmaker had not put in that teeny tiny drop of lubricant that keeps the gears from creating the friction that eventually caused my burn.

As we got older and began having families of our own we still tended to go to Mom and Dad's for Christmas Day. Mom always told us she was cooking and we were all welcome. Just don't get between her and the television during the football game.

Daddy never understood why any of us moved into our own homes, much less why we would want to spend Christmas Day at home. As my family got older I wanted my children to develop happy memories of our Christmases like the ones I had. So we began to spend Christmas Day at our house. Daddy did not understand.

Now Mom understood about Christmas Day. However she had a strict rule about Christmas Eve. Everyone in the family was required to be there, no matter what.

We had baked goods, candy, cakes, and pies. One year she even decided to make every fruit cake from the recipes she had been collecting for decades. I always took some of the things I had made. There were cold cuts and chips, pickles and relishes, vegetable trays... all easy to eat and no work at the time.

We all sat and talked and laughed. The kids played and told the adults what had been happening in their little lives. Daddy just sat in his chair and reveled in having his family around him. Mom even was able to enjoy herself because all the work was done for a time and she could join in without interruption.

We are a large family. We were not blessed with those soft genteel voices. As we talked the noise level would rise. So we talked louder. The noise level would keep rising and we would keep talking louder. To new members of the family it was disconcerting but they would learn to adjust.

Then came time to open the gifts. We all took our gifts to each other to Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was reserved for Santa Claus.

Daddy played Santa. He did not dress up or anything. He was the person who passed out the gifts. The first gift always went to the youngest member of the family. We would all watch as the gift was opened then ooh and aah at the gift. Then the next in line would receive the next gift and the same oohs and aahs were issued.

After each person in the family had received a gift in the order of their age and the appropriate responses were given, the gifts were not necessarily given in order. But each gift received the same presentation... we watched as it was opened and then appreciated the wonderfulness of it.

As I said we are a large family and there were a lot of gifts. Gift opening took a long, long time. We loved every second.

I miss those huge Christmas Eves. Mom and Daddy are gone. Some of the children are no longer with us. There have been divorces and marriages that have changed who is a present member of the family. Two of my brothers have died. But the spirit of Christmas lives.

I tried to keep the big Christmas Eve celebration going. But people would move too far away so they could not come. Soon it was just my children and grandchildren. There were still enough of us to have a raucous, noisy party.

Now I have moved away. I came back to the part of the country where I was raised and away from the big city that I hated. My children and grandchildren had to stay where their jobs are. My Christmases are quiet now. But I have all those happy memories and they are more than enough.

By the way, for any who doubt, Santa Claus is real. He still leaves presents (and chocolate covered cherries) for me under my tree.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

After School Programs.

 When I was a little girl we rushed home from school every day to change from our school clothes into play clothes. Homework was unheard of so we were free for a few hours to do as we pleased.

Some days I went back to school to visit my teacher. Unlike today the teacher was not out the door before the students. Miss Hayhurst always welcomed me. Sometimes we would talk and other times I would read or play with the toys in her room. I was not always the only one either. School was a pleasant place.

There were days we played outside. Tag and hide and seek were fun games. If there were enough of us we could play baseball. Playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians were favorites. Sometimes just watching a spider build its web kept us interested for a long time. The only limits we had then were our imaginations.

I advocate imagination. It is a sign of intelligence.  In your imagination nothing is impossible. Imagination has brought us our famous inventions and medical innovations.

Westerns were the programs on television after school. We lived in a little town. Only one television station was available to us. The nearby larger town made the schedule of programs by choosing from the three networks.

We watched The Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy, and Roy Rogers were on every day. I also liked Mickey Mouse Club which we could watch at my grandparents' farm. They had a different television station feed.

Recently we were able to watch Roy Rogers shows on a TV channel that shows old programs. I am enthralled watching Roy Rogers when he is riding his horse Trigger. He is so smooth. You cannot tell where horse stops and rider begins.

We did not have programs to keep us busy after school. We made our own. Today's children are deprived.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

 It is that time again. Thanksgiving is over. Time to start thinking of Christmas.

My Thanksgiving was quiet. Most of my children live in a different state. The son I live with and I had turkey and all the "fixins". He is trying to eat a Keto diet because of his diabetes and it helps a lot. But he cheated for Thanksgiving.

We had turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, homemade cranberries, cream-style corn, dinner rolls, and of course pumpkin pie with whipped cream. As expected I ate more than I should. It was great.

Now I have leftovers for days. I like leftovers so that is no problem. My son has a delivery service for his Keto meals so I only have to fend for myself. I will eat leftovers until I cannot take any more.

But I wanted to talk about Christmas. My gifts have been mailed so that is done. All I have to do now is wait for Christmas.

The best part of the season is the Christmas movies. I have been watching so many already. There are the classics like Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas. There are cartoons like How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer. Newer classics like Mrs Miracle and Elf. I watch Bad Santa and Fred Claus. 

Whoopi Goldberg in Call Me Claus is a must. Christmas with The Kranks is a favorite. The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3 are necessities. Home Alone 1 and 2 I watch but I do not care for the rest of the Home Alone movies.

There are so many others. I usually finish watching them in time for Valentine's Day.

Then there is the music. I just finished listening to Louie Prima my favorite big band sound. 

I have favorites. Blue Christmas by both Elvis and Porky Pig. Oh Holy Night by the Vienna Boys Choir. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by Bruce Springsteen or Michael Jackson. Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano. Mrs. Fogarty's Christmas Cake by The Irish Rovers. 

Yellin At The Christmas Tree by Billy Idol. I am Santa Claus by Bob Rivers (sounding like Ozzy Osbourne). Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon. Santa Claus Is Watching You by Ray Stevens. Both versions of Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt.

Oh I could go on and on and on. There is a lot of great Christmas music.

We will have a ham for Christmas. With "fixins" of course and pie. 

I wish a Merry Christmas to each and everyone. Be safe with your celebration. May Santa bring you all that you desire. And remember to give a bit of joy to someone who needs it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Accident Update

 As you know my son and grandson were in that horrible accident at the beginning of the year. Both are doing well. They are up and still doing therapy for their injuries.

Last week my son and his doctor discovered that a bone in one leg was not as strong as it should be. That means it will not heal properly.

So surgery was scheduled for Wednesday, November 25. They will put a larger and more sturdy plate to replace the one that is there now.

His son is spending Thanksgiving with his mother. His daughter is spending Thanksgiving with my youngest son and his family. So my son would be in the hospital for most of Thanksgiving day before going home that afternoon.

This morning he got a call that his surgery was rescheduled. Now he will go in the day after Thanksgiving. He will still go home Saturday.

Now he will be able to spend Thanksgiving with his brother and his daughter.

Have a happy Thanksgiving. Remember to give thanks for all the good things in your life.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Election: Finale

 Our elections are over. Joe Biden has been projected to be the next President of the United States.

A lot of people took to the streets dancing and singing. Some were happy that Donald Trump will no longer be president. Some were happy that Biden will. I believe most were celebrating a combination of both.

At the same time supporters of Trump are not happy. Claims have been made of voter fraud and miscounts of votes.

It took longer than usual for election experts to make the projections of who would win. There were a variety of reasons for that. It was a hard election to call.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic more people voted by mail than ever before. Depending on the rules set by election commissions in each state those mail-in ballots were counted at different times.  

Some states allowed preparing the ballots for counting before election day. That means verifying the signature on the outside envelope by making sure the person is registered to vote, the signature matches the registered voter's signature, and that the voter has only voted once. Then the ballot is removed from the envelope and put in a pile to be counted on election day.

Some states do not allow any work to be done with mail-in ballots until election day. Of those some states allow counting to begin when in-person voting begins and others wait until in-person voting is finished.

All those votes need to be added to the total vote count.

Some states have early voting. They allow people to vote in person several days before the election. Their votes cannot be tallied until election day.

Of course on election day people can vote in person. The lines of voters can be quite long especially if they are observing the distancing required because of COVID-19. 

Once the polls close counting begins. As the count occurs some totals are reported. Experts begin to look for trends. Once they have enough information they project a winner. That is not an official winner. It is only an educated guess.

In any election there can be a close number of votes for the candidates or maybe some problem with the voting. The voting rules take this into account.

Either candidate or both can challenge the voting. There is a fee to be paid then the problem can be investigated. Discrepancies are looked at. There may or may not be adjustments made to the count depending on findings.

Finally the vote counts are certified. The counts are deemed legal and final.

In our presidential elections there is another step. Electoral college.

Each state has a number of electors based on its population. There are a total of 538 electors. All states except Nebraska and Maine use a winner take all method of assigning votes to electors. The winner of the most votes for each state determines who the electors vote for.

The electoral collage meets in December to cast their votes for president. A candidate needs at least 270 electoral votes to become president.

Why have an electoral college? The founders of our country recognized that the large cities would have more votes than rural areas. New York City and Los Angeles could conceivably be in charge of the country and those of us elsewhere would have little say in the running of our government.

This election was record setting in many ways. The main thing I see is that each candidate received more than 70 million votes. That is amazing to me.

So on January 20, 2021, the President of the United States will be Joe Biden.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Veterans Day

 November 11 is Veterans Day. It is a National holiday to honor those who have served in our military. 

It is called Veterans Day because we are showing respect for our veterans. It is not Veterans' Day or Veteran's Day.

Veterans Day should not be confused with Memorial Day. Memorial Day originated to honor fallen service members. They are the ones who did not come back alive.

It was originally called Armistice Day to commemorate the truce called months before the actual end of World War I. The truce began on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. 

In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson declared a celebration for November 11 for parades and speeches to begin at 11:00 AM. 

In 1926 Congress passed a resolution stating that "the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations". Twenty-seven sates had already designated November 11 as a holiday. With the signature of the President it became a national holiday. The United States flag was to be flown on all federal buildings. Schools and churches and other gathering places were encouraged to participate.

In 1938 Armistice Day became a recurring holiday to honor the veterans. In 1954 at the urging of service members Congress amended the 1938 Act to include veterans from all wars not just World War I. That same year President Eisenhower changed the name of the holiday to Veterans Day.

The Uniform Holiday Bill was signed in 1968. Trying to extend holiday time off several holidays were to be celebrated on Mondays. The first observation of Veterans Day on the fourth Monday of October in 1971. It was so confusing that President Ford changed it back to November 11, 1975.

Traditionally there are parades, speeches, and other celebrations on November 11. Government offices are closed. The President will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

This year most places will not have the conventional parades and gatherings. COVID-19 has restricted a lot of public activities. Maybe next year.

My father was a proud veteran of World War II. Several other family members have served our country. On Veterans Day I will remember them all.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020


 Did you vote yet? If you did thank you. If not there is no time like the present.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020

What Happened?

Have you ever had something happen that you were unable to find out the outcome? Did you ever find out?

We lived in a very small town in Tennessee. Our street was one block long. At the end lived a very nice woman and her family. Next door lived her daughter and grandson. On the other side lived a woman who was distant and seemed un-approving for some reason. Directly across the street were a man and woman who were quite a bit older.

My husband was an over-the-road truck driver. Usually he was only home on the weekends. I had 4 small children. More often than not my kids, the younger children of the woman down the street, and her grandson from next door were at my house. Lots of happy noise.

I believe the children annoyed the people across the street. Disapproving looks and grumbling from the man were constant.

The woman went on a trip out of town to visit one of their children. She seemed to have been gone for quite a while. The man continued with his routine. Mowing the lawn, sprucing up the house, and puttering around in general.

One afternoon the man knocked on my door. I knew the children were not bothering him because they were all inside. So I answered the door.

He asked me if I could call a doctor. He was holding his arm so I wondered if he was having a heart attack.

Then he held out his arm. He had a blood-soaked towel wrapped around it. He wanted to show me. I did not want to see. He showed me anyway.

He had been working in his back yard with a table saw. Somehow his arm was caught. He had cut completely through the bone. His arm was still attached by skin on one side.

I told him to re-wrap his arm as I grabbed another towel to wrap around that. I gathered my kids and we took him to the hospital.

They took him right in. I settled down in the waiting room with my children. Someone needed to be there for him.

After several hours of hearing nothing, the man's son rushed in. I told him what little I knew. 

We stayed with the son until he was called back to see his father. I took my wonderfully patient children home for a good meal.

A few days later the son came to my door. He said they were able to re-attach his father's arm. The son was taking him home to recuperate.

My family moved back to the big city a few months later. I never heard from anyone in the man's family again. 

I have so often wondered about him. I do hope things went well for him.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Do I Have It?

 COVID=19 is somewhere in the mind of each person. A random cough and you think. "Do I have it?" A little information may ease some minds. Keep in mind that this is only a few facts. To determine conclusively you will need to see a doctor and have a reliable test.

A cough is usually a symptom of a cold, the flu, or the corona virus. I looked at all three to know what to watch for if the need should arise. I am not suffering from any of the three.

A cold. 

It is an upper respiratory infection. It affects the nose, throat sinuses, and windpipe. It is spread by contact with another person with a cold and through droplets in the air from a person with a cold.

The three main causes of the common cold are rhinovirus, coronavirus (not THE coronavirus), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and parainfluenza. There are other causes but these are the prevalent ones.

The symptoms of a cold are: cough, sore throat, sneezing, and a runny nose.

 Cold symptoms usually start 2 or 3 days after a person has been exposed to the virus. People with colds are most contagious for the first 3 or 4 days after the symptoms begin and can be contagious for up to 3 weeks. Although some colds can linger for as long as 2 weeks, most clear up within a week.

Treatments for a cold include:  drinking lots of fluids to stay hydrated (include water, juice, clear broth, warm water with honey and/or lemon), rest (stay in bed if possible), if your throat is sore soothe it, work to not stiffen up, relieve any pain or soreness,  and moisturize the air. In most cases antibiotics do nothing to alleviate a cold.

Influenza or the flu.  

The flu is caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. These viruses spread when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk, sending droplets with the virus into the air and potentially into the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Stomach flu viruses cause diarrhea and vomiting.

The most common symptoms of flu are: fever, aching muscles, chills and sweats, headache, dry and persistent cough, shortness of breath, tiredness and weakness, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, eye pain, and vomiting or diarrhea, The vomiting and diarrhea are more common in children.

Most of the time flu can be treated at home. If you have the following symptoms call your doctor or go to the hospital: Difficulty breathing, chest pain, ongoing dizziness, any pre-existing conditions that get worse, and severe weakness or muscle pain.

Dangerous symptoms for children requiring medical assistance are: difficulty breathing, blue lips, chest pains, dehydration, seizures, worsening of pre-existing medical conditions.

Some fairly common complications are: pneumonia, bronchitis, asthma flare-ups, heart problems, ear infections, and acute respiratory distress.

The best way to treat the flu is to get your flu shot before you get the flu.


COVID-19 and the flu share symptoms. It makes it hard for a definitive diagnosis. A doctor will recommend a test to be sure. You can even have both at the same time.

There are some differences. They are caused bu different viruses. COVID symptoms appear about one to fourteen days after exposure. Flu symptoms appear one to four days after exposure. COVID sufferers often experience a loss of taste or smell. COVID seems to be more contagious and to spread more quickly than the flu. Severe injury to the lungs is more frequent. The mortality rate is higher for COVID.  

Blood clots are a complication for COVID. In children COVID has caused multisystem inflammatory syndrome. 

The flu an be treated with antiviral drugs.  So far no drugs have been approved for the treatment of COVID. 

To prevent catching any of the three diseases there are things you can do. Wash your hands thoroughly several times a day for at least 20 seconds  using soap and water. Hand sanitizer can be used if soap and water are not available. Cover you mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Disinfect doorknobs, electronics, light switches, and counters and tables daily.

Additional precautions for COVID include avoiding large gatherings, avoid close contact with other people, and wear a face mask when you must be out in public. 

I hope this helps. 

Friday, October 2, 2020

Who Should Do It?

 It seems that the whole West Coast of the United States is on fire. In fact the smoke from the fires has moved across our country and made its way to Europe. 

People have lost homes and livelihoods. Some have lost their lives. Animals are affected too.

I grew up in mostly rural areas. I know that burn-offs are used to clear land. I know that if the farmers do not tend to their land fires will break out as a control. The same thing happens to forests.  And to be clear (as politicians say) I have also lived on the edge of a forest where fires are raging this year.

If left unchecked timberland will tend to itself. Larger trees will block sunlight from smaller trees. Larger trees will suck up a larger amount of moisture from the ground. A lot of the smaller trees languish and do not grow.

At the same time some of the older trees die. They fall over. Natural occurrences like wind and lightning attack them and they fall.

It seems sad for the older trees. Did you know that a lot of animals and other plants live exclusively in snags? That is what the fallen trees are called.

Dead leaves and dead trees rot and return to the soil. Nutrients from the process feed new trees.

It has been suggested that improper forest management is responsible for the fires burning at this moment. Perhaps there is some validity to that. I do not agree.

It has been said that Finland, for instance, has fewer forest fires because they sweep the forest floors. Not true.

Finland lies partially within the Arctic Circle. The environment is cold and damp. There are a lot of lakes and swamps. Weather patterns are different than those of California.

The Finns DO NOT rake the floors of the forests. When they learned that was being said they made amusing pictures and cartoons about it.

Although the fires are in all the states on the West Coast I am singling California for this discussion.

A large portion of California is on fire. We call them forest fires  Some of the burning is occurring because of invasive grasses not native to California. 

What causes the fires? Lightning striking dry trees and shrubs. Carelessness with campfires and cigarettes. Arson. One fire was even caused by a couple who wanted to announce the gender of their expected baby.

California's climate is dry. The fact that it seldom rains makes a desirable environment for many people. 

They build new homes and a great portion of those are close to the wild. That is a danger zone when the fires start.

Who is responsible for caring for the forestland in California?  There are about 33 million acres of forest in California. State and local agencies own about 3%. Approximately 40% is privately owned. 57% is owned by the Federal Government. 

The US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Parks Service are responsible for taking care of 57% of California's forests. Perhaps they need to rake the floors of the forests to prevent fires?

Monday, September 28, 2020

The Election

Before you read this please be warned that it will be a post about politics. As I often state the primary reason I write this is for my children and grandchildren.  I feel I owe it to them to let them know why I am voting a certain way.

As always I welcome comments. Differences of opinion are always welcome.

However whether you agree with me or not I will delete any nasty statements.  I believe in a pleasant discourse. After all it IS my blog.


It is a year divisible by 4. That means it is time time cast my vote for President of the United States. 

I have voted in every election since I was 21 years old. I believe strongly that it my responsibility to choose the people who represent me. If nothing else they are reminded that at least one person is watching to see that they do a good job.

There are other officials running to be elected but I am going to focus on the office of president.

The two main candidates are President Donald Trump and Vice-President Joseph Biden. Trump is the current president. Biden was vice-president during the Obama presidency. Once you are either one of these officials the title stays with you unless you achieve a greater title. It is a matter of respect.

Trump was elected 4 years ago. According to our Constitution he can serve another 4 years.

Both candidates are older than any other candidates in history. Health and mental acuity are both qualities necessary to run a whole country so age could be a consideration.

I am not happy with Donald Trump. I feel he is a bully. He makes a habit of applying derogatory nicknames to other people including government officials. He has demeaned other races and religions. He has severely tested relationships with our allies while openly admiring dictatorial leaders of other countries. 

Our country was heading toward an inflationary economy with the rich getting richer and the poor being left to fend for themselves. 

Chaos seemed to be the rule of thumb in all governmental actions. The turnover of top advisors to the president is ridiculously high. A certain number of people will need to be replaced in any administration. As of September 3 of this year in this administration 91% of the so-called A Team of advisors have been replaced for various reasons. This does not include cabinet members. Some cabinet positions have never been filled. As a matter of fact many governmental positions have not been filled... at all.

Nepotism is rife. His daughter and son-in-law hold highly-placed advisory positions. Mitch McConnell's wife is Secretary of Transportation. Rudy Giuliani's son is (Sports) Public Liaison Assistant to the president. William Barr's son-in-law is a legal advisor to the president, while his wife who is Barr's daughter now has a job with the Treasury. Both left their jobs with the Department of Justice so their father had no personal ties to anyone in the department while he was waiting to be confirmed. There are more than a dozen other examples.

There are several crises in our country at the moment. Multiple hurricanes and tropical storms have hit our country this year alone. No one can stop that. All we can do is try to make the clean-up and recovery from them as smooth as possible.

The whole west coast seems to be on fire. Our president has stated (and I am paraphrasing) that if the states would keep the floors of the forests free of dead leaves they would not catch fire. He does want to spend a lot of money for the recovery of these states because of that. He neglects to mention that approximately 53% of the forests are owned by the federal government not the states.

COVID-19 has attacked the whole world. In the United States alone we have 200,000 deaths because of it. There have been guidelines issued by scientists and doctors to instruct us in the best way to prevent getting and spreading the disease. Even when he was talking about the best way to act he behaved differently. He refuses to wear a face mask and is now encouraging us not to bother. He asks his devotees to attend large campaign events with no safe distances between people and face masks.

I have so much more but I think you get the idea that I will not be voting for Trump.

However I do not believe in voting against someone. If I cannot find someone to vote FOR I would not vote.

Joe Biden has been active in our government for 44 years. That is not necessarily a recommendation. There are a lot of career politicians who do not do a good job.

He has calm demeanor. He can get his point across using reason and knowledge. He is familiar with foreign leaders and has a working relationship with most. He was highly regarded by senators from both parties when he was a senator.

He listens when someone is talking to him. He may not agree but he allows the person to have his say.

He shows genuine empathy for people who are full of sorrow. He generates a strength of character that I admire.

As far as the several crises we are facing right now he has informed ideas of how to deal with them. These include listening to scientists and doctors and trying to follow their recommendations.

When Biden announced that he would be running for president a feeling of calm enveloped me. I felt as if he would be in charge. He would work to take care of everyone and everything important to my country. 

Biden has been accused of improperly acquiring a job for his son in Ukraine. 

He is older than any other candidate ever. He seems to be active and in good health.

I will vote for Biden.

No matter which candidate you choose please vote. It keeps our officials honest.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Family Traditions

The traditions I refer to in the title are not things like holiday rituals or alcoholism. The things I am talking about are more like family legends. They are things we feel are unique to us and we have a lot of fun with them.

The seeds of maple trees have a "tail" on them. It is almost see through and is flat. It is wider at the end than it is at the seed. If you throw them into the air they spin and float to the ground. We call them helicopters. A handful of helicopters thrown at the same time is a sight to see.

My second granddaughter took a handful of helicopters to her second story bedroom. She tossed them into the air from her room. Some went up and floated straight down. Some just went straight down. Some caught little flows of air and went to the sides before floating down. It was spectacular.

My family considers snapdragons to be our family flower. My father delighted in taking a snapdragon to show a child how he could make the dragon open and close its mouth by gently squeezing the sides of the blossom.

When my mother died in a cold January I asked the florist if it would be possible to have arrangements made of summer flowers because she loved them so. It was possible. We were all thrilled to see snapdragons in the arrangements. When I asked my oldest son if he would like to leave anything with his grandmother he told me to take some snapdragons from the arrangements. So Mom was buried holding our family flowers.

Most members of the family like rain. We walk in it and we dance in it. Or maybe we just sit on the porch and watch it come down. A good storm is a delight with rolling thunder and an occasional flash of lightning.

When my oldest granddaughter was about 8 years old she came in and said, "Grandma, I smell rain coming. Do you want to come out on the porch to watch with me?" Of course I went right out and we had a wonderful time.

If you drive by a house where someone in our family lives and it is raining you might very well see people out dancing in the rain. From the oldest to the youngest we spin and twirl to celebrate the cleansing of the earth.

Gremlins are those troublesome little creatures who cause glitches in mechanical items. My father claimed that he brought one with him when he married my mother. The gremlin's name is Petey. Whenever an appliance or a car would act up we all blamed Petey.

Then I married a man of Irish descent. Suddenly we had leprechauns too. They were the ones hiding car keys and misplacing important papers. How many families can be so lucky as to have both gremlins and leprechauns?

I told my second granddaughter about feathers. The belief is that whenever you find a feather, especially a white one, a loved one who has died is watching over you. My granddaughter is constantly finding feathers. She even tells us who is thinking of her.

My granddaughter idolized my mother-in-law and two of my sisters-in-law. All of them are gone now. When my granddaughter found three feathers, all separate but in the same place, she knew they were from her great-grandma and her two great-aunts.

Have you ever seen a slope and wished you could just roll down? We do it all the time. It is freeing to be at the top and lie down and roll over and over until you are at the bottom.

My husband's parents owned a small farm in the Loess Hills. As soon as my children arrived on the farm when visiting the first thing they asked to do was climb the hill behind the house and roll down. Soon after there would be what they called "walking the hills".

Sadly after the deaths of both my mother-in-law and father-in-law the farm was sold. But happily the man who bought it has welcomed members of our family and allowed them to "walk the hills" and roll down the hill. He is a nice man.

As you can see it takes little to make a family tradition. It could be your evening walk as you point out interesting sights in the neighborhood. All that is important is that they create cherished memories that are carried to adulthood. Then they will try to re-create the same memories for their children. And the cycle continues.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Don't You Know All The World Loves To Laugh

I am often the one that makes my family laugh. I do not always do it intentionally but they laugh anyway. Laughter is good for the innards so I am happy to help keep them in good health.

Everyone knows how much I love baseball. My sister-in-law just smiles and shakes her head as she says, "You and your baseball."  But my children are another matter altogether.

We lived for a long time just a few miles from where my favorite major league baseball team played their home games. We went often. My children were able to watch some great baseball and great players. When we were not able to go to a game we would watch on television.

Even after my father died my mother and I had a good time watching baseball together. We would moan when our batter's hit was caught just before it appeared to be going over the fence for a home run. We would cheer when our outfielder caught the ball hit by the other team just before it went over the fence for a home run. We would scream and yell at any perceived infraction to our sensibilities committed by either team or the umpires. It is great fun.

But my children, nieces and nephews, and younger brother and sister were the ones having the most fun. They would sit in the back yard on nice summer days and laugh at us as we screamed at the television.

These days my children still laugh because I am still screaming at the television during ball games. They are joined by my grandchildren. Soon my great-grandchildren will be joining in. At least the dog does not run and hide any more.

I love music. I am the weirdo you see in the supermarket bopping down the aisle when a favorite song comes over their music list. I will being watching TV disinterestedly and suddenly find myself chair dancing to the music of a commercial. And of course I sing long and loud with the radio.

Now I know I cannot sing. If you put the tune into a breifcase and locked it I would not be able to carry it. But I have a lot of enthusiasm. Does that count for anything?

Of course my whole family laughs at me. When I begin to twitch in the grocery store my children used to scatter not wanting to be associated with the crazy lady. Sitting in a restaurant with my grandchildren brought head shaking and comments like, "Don't do that." Listening to music on the computer brings wails begging me to stop singing. (It is my house. I sing.)

When my children were young I would try to plan activities we would all enjoy. Movies were a good bet but we often did not want to see the same movie. Theaters that show multiple movies worked well because we could see the movie we wanted to see then get together afterward for something to eat.

But there were movies that we all enjoyed. Star Wars was one of those. So off we went to Star Wars. But it seems that everyone had a favorite place to sit in the theater. It works for us.

Toward the end of that movie Darth Vader is killed by his son Luke Skywalker. It was an emotional scene and I cry easily at the movies so I was dabbing my eyes and (I thought) quietly crying. Then I hear son number 3 chuckling. He was sitting several rows behind me and to the left.

He then stage whispers to son number 2. "Hey, Mom is crying because Darth Vader got killed." All heads in the theater craned to see me dabbing at my eyes. Son number 2 chuckled as did son number 1 and my daughter. Then the whole theater erupted into soft laughter. Think how good they all felt inside.

After the movie I had plans for us to go downtown in the big city. Summer weekends they held what they called Ethnic Festivals. It was an attempt to introduce people to other cultures and learn more about their own. It was one of the best ideas they ever had.

Anyway this weekend was the Irish Festival. Seeing that I had four little Irish children we went to the festival. After much searching we found a parking structure that was almost within walking distance.

As we were walking into the riverfront area where the festival was being held there were so many people milling about. Son number 3 took great joy in walking up to as many as he could and saying, "That's my mother. She cried when Darth Vader died."

Most people just had confused looks on their faces. But a few of them laughed. My son was having a good time. Add to that the fact that we had a good time at the festival. It was a great day.

It truly does not bother me when people laugh at me. Know why? I laugh at them too. Ridiculous things happen all the time. The trick is to recognize them for what they are and enjoy them.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Where The Jackalope Play

This is a reprint of an article I wrote for Nature Center Magazine. I have had it on my mind for about two weeks now. Perhaps I am meant to share it again.

Late at night the cowboys sat around the campfire relaxing from the long day. Tall tales were told. Loved ones were remembered. Then the cowboys started to sing.

But what's that? In the distance something was singing back at them. Other cowboys? None in the area. Rustlers? They wouldn't let themselves be known. No... it's the jackalopes joining in.

Are you asking what is a jackalope? It's a supposedly mythical animal that is a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. Or perhaps it is a cryptid. A cryptid is a being that has not been disproven.
It looks like a jackrabbit except that it has horns like an antelope or deer. Occasionally it might have a tail like a pheasant too. Is that a jackalopant? Nope. It's still a jackalope.

A jackrabbit is actually a hare. It is usually bigger than a rabbit and has longer ears. The babies are born above ground and able to see and have all their fur when they are born. They are able to fend for themselves. Take a look.

Deer and antelope are much larger animals. They often have magnificent antlers. Often they are hunted for more than meat. The antlers and heads make trophies for the hunter to brag about.

How did these two kinds of animals unite to form a new animal? Nobody seems to know. Maybe the same way that other hybrid animals of mythology were made.

Now the jackalopes are able to make their own little jackalopes. They are still very rare because they mate only in a storm. Lightning is an essential ingredient to successful mating.

As I said before baby jackalopes are able to fend for themselves from birth. But they are mammals which means that milk from the mother helps the young grow stronger and faster.

Jackalope milk is valuable. It has many medicinal uses, including as a powerful aphrodisiac. It's hard to get though.

The female sleeps belly up so it's fairly easy to get the milk if you can get to her. The milk comes out homogenized because of the powerful leaps made by those strong hind legs. The problem is that jackalopes are either shy or ferocious depending on who you talk to. There aren't too many of them either so it's kind of hard to find them to begin with.

Jackalopes can mimic any sound. We've already learned that they can sing like us. When they are being chased they will often send their hunters on a wild goose chase by yelling, "There it is. Over that way!" It makes it hard to find them.

The best way to catch a jackalope is to set out a flask of whiskey. They love the stuff. They are easier to follow and catch when they are drunk. Just be careful. They're mean drunks and will fight to the end.

Jackalopes are found mostly in the western and prairie states of the United States. Cousins can be found in the alpine regions of Europe. Some of the names they go by there are Wolpertinger, Blutschink, Dahu, Dilldap, Elwetritsch, Hanghuhn, and Rasselbock. In Sweden there is the skvader.

President Ronald Reagan had a jackalope trophy mounted on his wall. He said he had captured it himself. A senator from South Dakota gave him another one a few years later as a gift.

Douglas, Wyoming, calls itself the Jackalope Capitol of America. In June each year they have an official Jackalope Day. Celebration of all things jackalope to be enjoyed. In fact you can even purchase a jackalope hunting license. The season is short so you will have to be prepared. Only one day, June 31 (not a misprint) and the time is only 12 midnight to 2 in the morning. If you go hunting for jackalope, I wish you luck.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Vote For Me And I'll Set You Free

The Temptations sang a song called Ball Of Confusion. The first verse begins;

People moving out, people moving in
Why? Because of the color of their skin
Run, run, run but you sure can't hide
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth
Vote for me and I'll set you free
Rap on, brother, rap on

It is 2020. That means it is time for us to vote for the person we feel is best qualified to lead our country.

In the United States the leader of the Executive Branch of the federal government is the president. In every year divisible by the number 4 (as in 2020) there is an election to choose who will be our president for the next four years.

No person can be elected president for more than two four year terms whether those terms are consecutive or not. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to serve 4 terms. There have been other presidents who took office as the result of the elected president dying who served for more than the two terms but not for more. After FDR's long run people felt that a limit to terms was necessary and a law was passed limiting the amount of time that can be served.

The Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says in part;

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

President Trump has served one term as president. Each citizen of the United States who is 18 years of age or older has the right to vote. During the primaries a 17 year old citizen may vote as long as they will be 18 by the time of the presidential election.

Two people plying for my vote. And there are many differences of opinion from them about running this country. Some statements I like and others I do not. I may agree with one candidate on one issue but completely disagree on another.

My ideal candidate would completely agree with me on all issues. I am certain that millions of other voters feel the same way. And I am also certain that not one of those voters completely agrees with me.

So how do I choose the person I will vote for? I pay attention to what the candidates are saying. 

I then listen to speeches. I watch body language. How do they respond to questions? Do they seem knowledgeable about the major issues? Do they have responsible and reasonable solutions to problems facing the people of my country? Do they seem intelligent?

Those are a few of my criteria. I go online. All the candidates post their platforms. I can read each one and decide whether I agree or disagree. I can decide whether they have a real plan or are full of hot air.

When the day to vote arrives I go to my local polling place and cast my secret ballot. Actually this year I am voting absentee. My request for my absentee ballot has been submitted. I will return my completed ballot to the county auditor in person. That way I will not have to depend on shaky mail delivery.

One person close to me says my vote does not matter. Nothing will change.

I believe that as the number of voters declines the politicians take that as an indication that they can do as they wish. If nothing else I want all of them to know that someone (me) is keeping an eye on them. I wish more people felt the same way.

My children all have strong political opinions. Some of them are totally opposite from mine. That is their right and I encourage them to have those opinions. We have some lively discussions.

I also have grandchildren who vote. My two oldest grandsons are the political beings. And they each support a different political party. Luckily they like each other a lot but they do have some good discussions.

They come by it honestly. My parents were active politically as was my father-in-law. We were all taught to care and take part.in the operation of our country. After all we are The People.

 So please register and when the time comes VOTE.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

These Times

 I have not been writing much for several reasons. We are living in extremely trying times. I hesitated to write about them. Then I remembered this is for my children and their children. It needs to be recorded along with my feelings about it.

COVID-19 has been devastating all over the world. It is a virus that even experts in the field of virology and infectious diseases aren't sure of the correct ways to handle it. 

As of the latest information available on September, 2020, deaths worldwide are more than 890,000. In the United States 192,000 have died. It is devastating.

I live in a remote little town in Iowa. Right now the county I live in has dropped from the highest percentage of new cases in the state to second. The only businesses in town are a bar and a gas station. Both are closed because employees have contracted the virus.

I am considered high risk because of my age (73). The son I live with is diabetic and extremely high risk. We stay home except to pick up groceries which we have delivered directly to our car and to pick up medications which are also brought to the car.

We do occasionally take a drive through the country to keep the cabin fever away. It helps immensely and we don't come into contact with other people.

The rest of my children are in another state. We are in contact by phone. 

My son who had the car accident is also high risk because his immune system is still compromised. The same is true for his son. They are both fine and still recovering now.

My other son and his wife are both working again. Their state is still having problems with the virus so they take precautions. Both their children are married with children. So far so good. 

My daughter and her husband also have two children. All four are working. My grandchildren will probably take their college courses online.

I hope that the children will all be schooling online. I know that if my children were still of that age they would not be attending a school. Their well-being is too precious to me.

So far we have endured this corona virus for 3/4 of the year. I have hope that next year will be better.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Safe Home

Safe home. The Irish say that to wish you a safe arrival when you leave to go home. I like the saying.

Recently several famous people died. Regis Philbin, Olivia de Havilland, John Saxon, and John Lewis. There have been more than 150,000 deaths in the United States from COVID-19. Car accidents, health emergencies, poor health, and age account for more deaths. I wish them all safe home.

I know I left out a lot of people. I cannot list them all. I do not mean to diminish the importance of anyone's life. There just is not room here.

Rick Watson wrote a blog I have read for a long time. He was humorous, caring, industrious, giving... a lot of the adjectives used to describe a truly good person.

Rick died not long ago. I felt the need to remember him and his family but could not bring myself to do so until now.

Rick and Jilda were married for decades. It was obvious to all how much he adored her. I know that is a comfort to her.

Rick and Jilda had full lives. Besides tending to a small farm, they both had jobs. They were close to extended family especially those who lived nearby. Often people would 'dump' their dogs and Rick and Jilda would see to it those dogs got good homes. More often than not, the home was with Rick and Jilda.

Rick and Jilda lovingly tended the graves of their loved ones who preceded them.  And every year on the appropriate holidays, Rick would collect money from other cemetery visitors to help pay for the expenses of upkeep throughout the year.

Raising a garden, berry bushes, hosting dinners and holidays for family, writing and performing their music at various festivals, Rick was always busy.

I never met Rick in person. I only knew him from his blog. I do know I will miss him. I send my best wishes to his family and friends.

Rick, Safe Home.

Friday, April 24, 2020

I Am Partly Back

I suppose it is time for me to post again. I am not back fulltime yet but I hope to be sooner rather than later.

My grandson has been home for about a month. He still needs aids like crutches and a wheelchair to get around. He is doing so well.

Everything is healing as to be expected.  He is strong and healthy (and cute as can be). He has a long way to go.

My son went from the hospital to a rehab center. He was supposed to have therapy there but it did not happen. I suppose part of the reason is the virus but not all of it.

One day he received a letter stating that two people in the center had tested positive for the virus. After a couple of weeks they decided to move all those with normal temperatures to a separate floor so he was moved.

Several weeks later my son was sick of being there. He checked with his doctors and lawyers to be sure that he would not hurt his benefits if he went home.

He heals fast like his father did. All his bones are mended. Some of his muscles and tendons have atrophied from inactivity. Therapy should fix that.

So my son is home. Nurses and therapists visit him there. He is happy to be home. He and his son are able to be together again.

Please all of you stay safe and healthy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

My Son And Grandson

As I told you my son and grandson were in a car accident. This is the car.

My son was cut out of the car. Then they dragged my grandson through the driver's side of the car.
Both were unconscious.

My son had 6 broken ribs. Both of his arms were broken. Both of his legs were broken. There are several compression fractures in his back. And they are treating blood clots in his lungs.

He has had 4 surgeries to repair and anchor bonnes in his limbs. One wrist and one ankle required surgery. He is full of metal plates and screws.

My son was in ICU for a week and a half. He is beginning to mend.

Right now he is waiting to be transferred to a medical care facility. He will continue his healing there. When he is ready he will be transferred to a rehabilitation facility to begin physical therapy. it will take some time.

My grandson was taken to the same hospital as my son. Once he was stabilized they transferred him to Children's Hospital. Even though he is bigger than a lot of men he is only 14 years old. His bones are still those of a child.

He had five breaks in one leg. Five hours of surgery and a metal plate and a bunch of screws later his leg is mending. He also has several compression fractures in his back. Several bones in his foot were broken and there is a pin to stabilize his toe.

My grandson has begun his physical therapy. He hopes to be out of the hospital in a couple of weeks. His MMA instructor is planning to supplement physical therapy with keeping his upper body exercises.

As you can see they are both lucky to be alive. Remember to let the people you care about know you love them. You just do not know when something terrible might happen.

I will still be mostly absent from blogging. Some things are more important.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Hospital Blues

My son and his son were in a horrible accident. They were driving home from my grandson's MMA class. We still don't have many details about the accident itself.

When first responders arrived on the scene both my son and my grandson were unconscious. They used the jaws of life to get my son free. Then they pulled my grandson through his father's side of the car.

My grandson is a tall boy. From his size you would think he was a grown man. But he is only 14 years old so the took him to Children's Hospital.

His leg was broken in 5 places. Bones in his foot and toes were broken. He had surgery to repair them. It was a long surgery. A couple of days later he began complaining that his back hurt. An MRI revealed several compress fractures of vertebrae. His mother is with him and friends and family are in and out to do what they can.

He has healing and therapy ahead of him. Thankfully he is fine otherwise.

My son has multiple breaks in both arms, multiple breaks in both legs. 5 broken ribs, both ankles are broken, three compression fractures in his back, and broken bones in his feet and toes. He has had surgery on one leg and arm to stabilize the bones. He had a second surgery to repair some more of his injuries. Two more surgeries are scheduled for next week.

When they release my son from the hospital he will have to go to a rehabilitation facility where they have the things necessary to take care of him. He is looking at a lot of therapy.

I write this not looking for sympathy. It is to explain that I am taking a break until things are more stable.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Shall We Caucus?

I will bet you wish you knew someone who took part in the Iowa caucus. They have still not announced the results and it is about 16 hours later.

You do know someone. I was there. In my small town we had exactly 21 people taking part in the Democratic caucus.

I felt it was not run as efficiently as I would have liked. I like a little more order than I saw there. This is only my observation and not meant to cast aspersions on the process.

The doors were closed at precisely 7:00 PM as instructed by the rules.  A cover letter was read that explained what we were going to do.

There were local representatives for 3 of the candidates. Since they were residents of our town they would also be voting.

Each representative spoke to the reasons we should vote for their candidate. If someone wished to speak about a candidate who did not have an official representative we were welcome. Two of us did.

Then we were given a card and a pen so we could write the name of the candidate we were voting for. We then were grouped by candidate.

The groups were Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Tom Steyers, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. That was it.

In order to be "viable" and move on to the next level a candidate had to have at least 15% of the total of votes attending. Bernie Sanders and Tom Steyer were eliminated and their supporters chose other candidates.

In the end Pete Buttigieg had the most supporters. To close the caucus a delegate was chosen to go to the county level and represent the top candidate from our precinct.

So that was the result in my precinct. I have no idea yet what happened in the rest of the state.

I normally keep my political beliefs to myself because I choose not to share them. I will share that my candidate was viable but did not come out on top. I hope he did well in the state. I also hope that people will vote in their primaries too.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Planning Ahead

This is the time of year that we tend to look to the future. Making a few plans is good. It gives us something to work toward. As long as those plans are realistic we might even outline how we will accomplish our goals.

However we should not spend so much time on the future that we forget about today. Life is for living. If you are walking down the street and see some beautiful flowers enjoy their beauty. Smell the fragrance. Touch the petals and feel their delicate silkiness. If a small child is playing take the time to observe the joy the child is feeling. You will smile with joy yourself. If you have a good meal take the time to taste and savor it. If you have good dinner companions have a lively conversation with a lot of laughter.

Dreaming of far away luxurious vacations is enticing. You might even be able to take some of those exotic trips. But there are so many places to go and things to see near home.

Plan some time away from home. You need not go far. It need not be for a long time. You could go to a local museum or have a picnic at a local park. After all some of the best things to see are near to where you live.

Maybe a day trip. Go to a ball game in a nearby town. Visit a famous landmark and buy a few souvenirs. Many state parks have special celebrations at certain times of the year.  Take part in them.

Even a weekend can give you a real break from day-to-day doldrums. Spend a weekend camping and bird watching. Pick a nearby city. See what are the interesting places there and visit them. Eat at restaurants You might not try other times.

Too often we do not take advantage of places close to home. We always think we will do it later. Later is now.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Susan from thecomtemplativecat had a post today that posed some evocative questions. I will print them and give my answers. You might find it interesting to see what your answers are.

If you could live one year of your life over again, which year would you choose and why?

I do not think I want to relive any years. While I enjoy my memories I prefer to look to the future.

If you could learn to be an expert at something without putting in the work, what would it be?
Walking. My knees give me a terrible time of it.

If you could learn a new language instantly, which would you choose and why?
Gaelic. I have taken a couple of online courses but it is difficult when there is no one else to practice with.

If you could give $1 million to any charity, which would you choose?
With that much money I might form my own charity to help children to eat and dress to feel good about themselves. I would follow through to help them establish themselves
 as adults.

When was your Robert Frost moment a la "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..."? The poem (read it here) says you can't go back and that is true. "Way leads on to way" and so forth. But if you could, would you? What is the difference you think it would have made?
I would take the one most attractive. I like overhanging trees and color. I do not think it would have impacted the world one way or the other but I would have been happy to be there.

Time travel: where would you go and when? Why?
Who would you want on your fictional character bowling team? You get to pick four.
I would have liked to be present in Appomattox Courthouse at the end of the Civil War. Two great generals who had great respect for each other discussing the end of a terrible war had to be a great thing to see.

What would you want for your last meal?
A nice juicy steak, baked potato, and Brussel sprouts. For dessert a devil's food cake with fudge frosting like my mother used to make. Maybe some watermelon cubes to nibble on after.

What's your favorite song?
How on earth can I choose? I love music and there is so much to choose from. It would simply be whatever I am in the mood for. One day it might be Louis Prima and the next The Sex Pistols. The Everly Brothers or Credence Clearwater Revival. Vivaldi or Booker T and the MGs. LaVerne Baker or Taylor Swift. Teddy Bears' Picnic or In A Gadda Da Vida. The Irish Rovers or The Vienna Boys Choir. Or anything else.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I am probably an extrovert. I do not like to be ignored.

If you came over to my home and I offered you a drink, what would you want me to serve you?
Water would be fine. Iced tea (not sweet tea) is also good. When I was younger and drank alcohol occasionally I liked Long Island iced tea too. But a nice cold beer was good too.

You can answer these just for yourself if you like. I think they are good questions.