Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas–the message that lives on.

Imagine living in a long ago time when nighttime covered the land in a dark shroud, and there was no smog or street lights to dim the bright stars overhead. Imagine the awe of looking at those stars, and wondering what they were, and why they belonged to the darkness of night. Then imagine the wonder of a special star–the star that led to a special place, and a special babe. A babe that would grow up and bring a message of hope and joy.

The bright specks in the nighttime sky are no longer mysterious but have become even more awesome. Centuries of changes have made the world a different place from that of long ago, but the birth of that baby is still a time of celebration. Customs from other celebrations brought feasting, the giving of gifts, and the use of evergreens for decorations, into long ago Christmas festivities. Later, SantaClaus became a big part of the celebrations. All of these are now a traditional part of the season. And amidst all this, that message of hope and joy live on.

Christmas has a special feeling of excitement and anticipation.  Reverent church services honor the awesome event we will be celebrating. Social events, helping Santa with  his gifting, and  preparing for visits with friends and relatives, are all part of a four-week Christmas season. Not a Holiday Season but a Christmas Season. 

Elaborate decorations add to the excitement. Three important holidays are crowded into less than six weeks. From Thanksgiving to Christmas Day there are four weeks of glitter and bright lights, of silver and gold ornaments and bright poinsettias– all transforming the stores into magical places. Houses ablaze with color, and trees blooming with twinkling lights, turn each night into a time of beauty. It is part of a festive period, but each of this cluster of holidays celebrates a special event and should not be merged into a mere season. Less we forget,  Christmas is Christmas. 



We are only a few days away from Christmas Day, the day that celebrates the event that began on a starry night centuries ago. It was once such a raucous celebration that it was banned. Later it became a solemn candlelit Christ's Mass that evolved into our present-day Christmas. Although Christmas is not special to everyone–there are other beliefs and other special days which are celebrated by those to whom each is special–it should not lose its identity and be demoted to merely being a part of a Holiday Season. Christmas is a special day-we must keep it that way.

                          Beautiful lighting is this century's contribution to Christmas traditions.

There are street parades,
 water parades, and yards
sparkling with colorful lights.

Its a season when chaos reigns in shipping centers as shoppers frantically hunt for gifts. Santa is visited by hoards of the young–and a few of the not so young. Criminals prey on the unwary. The ringing bells give hope to those who are unfortunate.

When Christmas Eve arrives put it all aside. If it's a clear night, go outside and look up at the twinkling stars overhead. Don't be surprised if they look brighter and closer than those of other nights. Let all the trappings of the holiday season melt away. Gaze at those stars and image that long ago time when one shone brighter than all the rest, and guided the way to the newborn babe who came into the world to deliver a message of love and hope. That is the reason we celebrate this day.


Merry Christmas to all.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Rocking Chair Journey: A Day in Infamy

Rocking Chair Journey: A Day in Infamy: December 8, 2013––December 7, 1941 On a Monday, seventy-two years ago, our nation went to war one day after a jarring wake-up on a peacefu...

A Day in Infamy

December 8, 2013––December 7, 1941

On a Monday, seventy-two years ago, our nation went to war one day after a jarring wake-up on a peaceful Sunday morning. PEARL HARBOR HAD BEEN ATTACKED BY THE JAPANESE--ships were burning–many were sunk--hundreds of men killed.
The far away tumult in Europe was no longer mere words in the semi-weekly newspaper. Our old battery powered radio brought the horrors right into our living room:

That Sunday had been turned into a very solemn  and thoughtful day, especially for my parents, for they remembered WWI. But all wars are different. Different circumstances, different rules, different means of killing….and being killed.

Monday  December 8 at 12:30, President Roosevelt addressed Congress in what has become known as his "Day of infamy" speech. It was brief, running to just a little over seven minutes, and was broadcast to the nation. At school we gathered in assembly to listen to the words that changed our lives

What a hornet's nest that attack had disturbed. Going to war meant winning the war, and that's exactly what we intended to do. Men 'joined up.' Women went to work outside their homes. We bought War Bonds to help finance it, and endured severe rationing in order to supply our troops. Old methods of manufacturing were trashed and the assembly line created. Classmates were drafted or volunteered. And before the year was over, we learned some would never return.

Those who were left on the home front listened to heavily censored news. Letters from servicemen had sections blacked out. The newsreels we saw at the movies (no home TV watching of an invasion) were horrible, showing burning convoys of ships, bombing runs and then the resulting devastation. There was an unspoken fear––were we going to be able to win this war?

Two years ago, I saw the faces of survivors of Pearl Harbor––old weathered and wrinkled faces of men in their late eighties and nineties. There were photos of the young men they had been and there were a few stories of their war years that followed. To see those old warriors, to remember the battles they fought for our country, should make us all stop and give serious thought to what we have––and why we have it.

I have some yellowed sheets of newspaper showing our county's young men who had gone to war. Many are now retired business men – and many didn't come back.

Now we are still at war–-often a forgotten war for those on the home front but still a deadly one for those who serve. The 9/11 attack also stirred up a hornet's nest of outrage. But it soon got diluted by uncertainty, delayed action, and a general muddle of unclear goals.

 On this 72nd anniversary of the events that changed the world, I hope our values and goals remain as strong as they were in 1941.

We mustn't forget.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Old Things – from the bottom drawer.


         What would we do without that seldom opened drawer, or trunk to dump thing in? Sometimes it becomes an entire room – and then a house, and that's when you rate TV coverage.
        Today's search was for an old postcard that I've kept since childhood. I didn't find it but spent several hours digging through valentines, report cards, and crumbly newspaper clippings. Some of the clutter seemed worth sharing.

       This little pamphlet explained all we needed to know about rationing of food, gasoline, and clothing. Books of stamps to be used for these items were issued. When the book was empty no more of these items could be purchased until the next book was issued. Are those days gone forever? We can hope so.

After graduation many things are not certain, but the boys in 1942 could count on receiving one of these–sometimes before graduation.

        Have you heard anyone complaining about the lack of  handwriting skills being taught today? Take a look at the goal we once had. I never conquered anything near these examples. My mother was taught by what was called the "Palmer method" and  she wrote very well until her eyesight failed. The edea was to not shaep the letters by a clenched hand, but to instead, roll the forearm on its muscle ad thus shape the letters in a rolling movement. Try it!

 A card game of the early '20's
called Finch, I think. There was also one
named Touring and I remember enjoying playing it. It's certain to be here somewhere.  Both wmiles and delay penalties, such as flats and out of gas, etc.
 Both , plus a set of dominoes, were old games of my parents.

 Later Chinese Checkers became the rage…and were affordable in those Depression days of the late '30s. May have cost 25¢.

Simple pleasures in simpler times. Please share your memories with us. It's fun.


                                                    " Come little leaves, said the wind one day…."
They'll soon listen to the call. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rocking Chair Journey: An Old Blog

Rocking Chair Journey: An Old Blog: Hello everyone, I'm testing my troublesome  blogging system by reprinting an old blog.This is a repeat of an old blog of over a year a...

An Old Blog

Hello everyone,

I'm testing my troublesome  blogging system by reprinting an old blog.This is a repeat of an old blog of over a year ago. Since August, 2012, when it was fist published, my sentiments remain the same. Although we have had our presidential election, our national situation seems to have worsened - but whether  or not the problems I fretted about then, are a contributing factor, is a question I'd like to have answered.

                                                                       A Cynical Senior Citizen


     I’ve had all I can take.  The final straw has fallen upon my back. I’ve been beaten down beyond the point of fighting            back.  Almost.
     My problem? The news–the talk shows–the hypocrisy–the out-of-context quotes–the use of divide and conquer techniques, and the magicians’ tricks of distractions and delusions.
     Quiet a list, huh? Yet that’s what we’re being fed every day.
     Two days ago, I followed a link to an article reporting on the “lies” of a prominent politician. There were numerous quotes, each followed by a statement that this was “a lie.” There was no explanation of why that statement was labeled a lie. The truth was not explained. Therefore the politician has been branded as dishonest. Whether or not the reader believes these statements are the whole truth is not important. The tiny seed of doubt has been planted.  “Lies” has been coupled with a name.
     Recently, we have been shown that there are some very uninformed people running for public offices. People who are not even smart enough to keep their mouths closed about issues they know nothing about. And they expect to be a part of our governing establishment?  We are in deep trouble if the caliber of our potential leaders has sunk this low.
     Exactly, how do our leaders get chosen? We know that for most public offices the final choice is up to the voters–but who first supports or endorses these persons? What have they done to make them worthy of running our various governing bodies? And in today’s world of misinformation, what person wants to take the risk of having every misstep, from kindergarten forward, being publicized, exaggerated, and used as fodder for all the pundits’ high-paying shows?
     Even our heroes– our icons of accomplishments–are being destroyed. What is the point of pride in watching the gold medal awards of the Olympics only to find later the award is ruled to be undeserved?  Was it? Why this determined pursuit of winner who had followed all the rules and been declared a winner? Who appointed these judges and were they within their rights­–or was this a witch-hunt like those held centuries ago? And why is every word a sixteen-year old accomplished athlete speaks, examined so closely?
     We are facing some of the most important issues of our lifetime: How to handle our overwhelming debt; how to keep our freedom of choosing our lifestyle; how to be sure our children get a good education, and how to prepare for security in our twilight years. And to aid us in making our decisions we are facing political ads carefully crafted to influence our opinions. There are quotes from persons who may (or maynot) be qualified to judge the ability of their favored candidate–and there are our reporters, some of whom search for the truth and some who search for the scandalous.
     Last night’s late night coverage of the Republican convention seemed rather interesting until it veered off course and turned into an in-depth analysis of what was behind each sentence or why other words were not used; what was the motivation of the speaker and what was their personal agenda ––then it degenerated into a rather nasty round of accusations.  All it took was one small click and I put an end to the report.
     Despite all this, I will vote. And I will continue to fume over the pompous statements and opinions expressed by those who assume they know what is best for we ignorant peons. And I must remember, all politicians should not be painted with the same brush. Some deserve tar and feathering. Some merit a gold star.    
     When it all gets too tiresome, we need to remember our humorists from days gone by. They often spoke the truth  disguised as humor. From Mark Twain, Will Rogers and a former president, this one, attributed to Ronald Reagan, may best sum up the political game:

           “Politics is not a bad profession.
                If you succeed,
       There are many rewards
                               If you disgrace yourself,
               You can always write a book.”

Ho hum,

Yes. HO HUM.  Many of us have withdrawn from the news scene, and repeating this blog will probably accomplish nothing more than another attempt to successfully publish my blogs under this new system. Let's see what happens when I click on "publish."


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Rocking Chair Journey: Old Things

Rocking Chair Journey: Old Things: A recent Facebook posting called Old Dusty Things  caught my attention a few days ago, and after I skimmed through pages of old stuff memb...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

She's Home

      Woof, Woof! Woof, Woof! My Lady is home. I was so happy to see her that I was speechless. There was so much I wanted to tell her but all I could do was cry.
      I know, I know. A fellow like me that keeps the place free of those pesky grazing deer, shouldn't get all emotional like that, but those 3 weeks alone were sure worrisome.

      Of course, some of her human pack came by and took me for walks and put out food and water, but I could never understand why they took My Lady away. They  still have some 'splainning
to do.

I'm guarding her closely now so it won't happen again.When she came home I parked myself on her bed and watched over everything while she slept.
Sometimes she disappears while I'm napping, but it doesn't tale me long to track her to see if every thing is okay. I sure got scolded for not keeping her warm that morning she fell on the floor, but I thought it was a bit silly or her to lie there when there's nice soft couches and beds to lie on.

Hm-m...Maybe that's why she went away.

       I've learned something while My Lady was gone. I must be smarter than than this pack of humans. I can understand a lot of words - Maybe eight or ten. Now you stop and think a minute. How many dog words do you know?

Enough for tonight. I need to check on my Lady.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Old Things

A recent Facebook posting called Old Dusty Things caught my attention a few days ago, and after I skimmed through pages of old stuff members had contributed, I chased it down on google and discovered a bit more information. It dates back to 2011, and is also a selling site for those wishing to list-others simply share pictures of their treasures. I haven't discovered how because it gave me an idea of sharing a few of my old favorites on my blog.

To the left is part of my cast iron collection. I once had a piece similar to the center one, top row, that had shallow round sections. I occasionally used it to bake individual strawberry shortcakes...made the old-fashioned way out of a sweetened biscuit-type dough...with strawberries and real whipped cream.

The oval piece on the left is stamped "server", the center piece is not identified as to it use. The next one is called crusty corn cobs or tea sticks.On the right is an "egg skillet." The muffin pan has been called the best pan ever for pop-overs, and I plan to try it - so far I've had
decent luck with regular aluminum muffin pans. Next, right, is stamped
bread sticks, and in the forefront in a hefty griddle about 10"x 16".

This second picture is shown only because the lighting  was better. My other "cooking" cast iron pieces includes four sizes of skillets, one my husband and I bought at a junk store soon after we were married, seventy years ago.
Wow! I did mention I was showing old stuff, didn't I? The crusty corn cob pan has a pat. date of 1920.

 This old clock has always been called "my dad's clock." I don't know the maker, but a clock hobbits/repair person said it was a coffee premium - however that worked! Probably had to buy many pounds of coffee and save labels to get the clock. Of course it had to be wound every night with its brass key and when it began to lose time, My dad would take off the back, and with a chicken feather dipped in kerosene (called coal oil in those days), proceed to dust and oil its very simple moving parts. It is in need of another feather and kerosene treatment, I fear, because  today, it runs only a short time. Beside it must be hung perfectly level or the pendulum will quit swinging.
The numerals and pendulum are brass.      
 My mother did this watercolor when she was about nine, making it 117 years old, Of course the framing came many years later when her younger sister surprised her with the little picture as a Christmas gift. I wonder how it survived, but it seems to be a family trait to hang on to everything.

This lamp goes back to the beginning of the decorative hammered aluminum
production that started in 1930 and lasted into the '50s-'60s. As an avid collector of these wares,when a large collection went on auction in the '80s, I bid via telephone until my competing bider finally gave up. Some collectors accumulated numerous lamps, ranging from table lamps like this, to desk lamps, and a great variety of bank lamps which were combined wit pin and ink sets and trays for deposits slips, etc. More recently, I have added a torchere - lousy if you want real light but great for a quiet atmosphere. Collectors just keep on keeping on....

A better use.
 Back to cast iron. My Dad bought this grinder (he called it a grist mill) at junk store called Fry's, He thought he'd use it to grind his own corn meal instead of bringing his corn in to Mr. Brown's mill. This was in the late '30s, the midst of the depression, and if you could save a few pennies long enough, you might accumulate a dollar. In this case, Dad soon decided the hand turned grinder was a bad idea: he said the meal was much too coarse for cornbread but never mentioned the tiresome wheel turning! Anyway, he continued to be a customer of Brown's Mill.

Below right, another purchase from Fry's second hand store. This kettle sat on the back of Mother's old wood burning cookstove and furnished an almost constant supply of hot to warm water - if used sparingly and kept refilled. The cast iron cookstove plus the cast iron kettle retained the heat long after the fire burned out.

Rural areas did not have access to electricity until after WWII ended - at least not in this part of the country. President Roosevelt's administration had introduced the Rural Electrification Act, but the war put everything on hold for many years. A very few had limited electricity from a generator and some had propane for heat and cooking. Most rural homes had wood burning stoves and kerosene lamps with glass globes that soon smoked up from the wick being turned up too high. Or a puff of wind that made the flame flare up. Small hands usually had the chore of cleaning those fragile globes.

 Maybe I can find a few more oldies for sharing later. And maybe you can find some of your own to share. The memories are great - and check in to the Old Dusty Things site. I enjoyed the postings.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

To the dogs in our life:

Dandy on guard

‎"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love , his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion." ~~~ Unknown

Our dogs have so much to give, yet so many are neglected. They are left tied in the hot sun, often with no food or water. They are left to roam the countryside, or left behind when their family moves away. 

I have had only three dogs in my life, The first was a childhood playmate: the second, a family protector, determined to guard us all even after she was almost blind and crippled by old age. My third dog, the little fellow who is now sharing my life, has placed a new perspective on owning a pet.

My Dandy isn't a pet. He isn't a lapdog. The surest way to quieten him when he is wanting attention, is to invite hime to come sit in my lap. That simple invitation sends him to his favorite corner to take a nap. 

No lap sitting, please.

He has no patience with handshaking or kissey foolishness, and it has only since my most recent lengthly absence that he has volunteered a few loving licks. Yet, he has all of the wonderful virtues in the quote above.

Being home alone, stinks.
In my absences, he roamed the house hunting "his Lady". He welcomed me home with joyous howls and offers to share his squeaky toys. The second time I left, he jumped in the car, and laid at my feet until he was removed. When I returned, he had no howls of greeting - he simply whined and whined, and pranced along at my side as I walked down the sidewalk. 

So-o, thanks to Dandy for being my companion. And may all the others needing a forever home soon find one. Perhaps a card giving the quote at the beginning of this post would be food for thought for those planning to adopt a dog.