PERSPECTIVE

 

Oct 24th 1929 began the years of uncertainty, want, loss, starvation and struggle. Pennies and dimes were as precious as flour and sugar. Every hand worked and a well earned rest was put off to stay one jump ahead. Hardy pioneer stock was a close ancestor and that pioneer wisdom meant survival. Make do and make over. Save everything, pray hard and tomorrow? Start again. There was very little time to neighbor, but most shared as they could. You were wasting time and effort complaining, so most didn’t. Meals were scant. Dogs got what they could forage. Gardens were guarded and life saving, canned and dried. Beans n bread till the beans ran out. 10 very long years – stretching till your heart might break – each endless new day.

 

March 2020 began a wake up call, testing our outlook and fortitude. Testing our resilience, our health, our abilities to be sorely accountable for our home and household, foregoing those dependable schools, daycare, restaurants, shops and jobs in the name of social well being.  In a few short weeks we are whining and disobedient. Our prayers aren’t for thanks, for our blessings, for the luxuries helping us through. We are praying for an end to this inconvenience, praying for this virus to be gone, praying for a return to normal convenience and abundance. 

What in the world would we do with a real catastrophe? This is a drop in the bucket. Think about that……a single drop in a five gallon bucket……and we are complaining, whining, blaming, begging for relief (gov handouts can’t come soon enough).  

Here is the lesson. Really, this is a life lesson for learning and learning before there is a ten year lesson – a really big test, you wouldn’t want to flunk.

In no particular order, I recommend you learn this. NOW.

Start, today,  teaching yourself and your kids, life skills, with real tools. Teach all of you, self reliance. Teach kids to think, problem solve, read and evaluate. Teach them to self-teach and acquire a small library of actual books. (There is nothing reliable about electronics and the internet; nothing reliable about electricity, automobiles and on-demand inventory)

Start a home inventory of extra foods, staples, water, pet foods, cleaners,  safety equipment, first aid items, vitamins, hand tools, paper products etc. Should the need arise to begin using these things, your priority should be to cut normal usage in half. If you have enough for a month, stretch it to two. Ration ration ration.

How much, would even make a difference? As a 70+ year old couple, we stockpiled quite enough dry and canned foods, first aid and cleaning to carry us comfortably during this virus….. while living in an RV! YOU CAN DO THIS!

Aside from normal essentials, hand sanitizer is the current “short stock” item. We have 3 large bottles of peroxide and 3 of 70% rubbing alcohol, probably enough for us for a year.

 P R O A C T I V E. We have to be accountable for our house and it’s members. That’s all. If you can share, fine. If you can’t, also fine.

Teach your children discretion. If you stockpile for emergencies, that information and its details should not be up for public discussion. How much, where, etc is personal information.

Start now to accumulate a minimum of $2000. cash, in small bills, hidden securely, at home, by adults. This money is part of your home inventory – not for bills, not to keep the lights on, not for “anything” but the moment dire circumstances confront you. Use it for food and safety only. You think $2K is out of reach? It isn’t. Start saving change, then save single dollars, work your way up. JUST DONT TOUCH IT. $1K is a huge start…..keep going……more is always better. This money will be tremendous security if there’s a really big test. Also remember, if ever a time comes, barter can be as valuable as cash. If a necessity is not to be found, cash hardly matters. But if you bought 50 pounds of rice and repackaged into quart canning jars (I have), then bartering with food becomes a marvelous tool.

Collect garden seeds too, or at least learn how to do sprouts…..its fresh greens for your family for little time or dollar outlay.  Learn to make a loaf of decent bread, some biscuits and pancakes all from scratch. Build a family cookbook with your kids and teach them to cook. Teach them to do laundry, including the folding part. Teach them to clean a house. These are chores we all should be able to handle, but often can’t. Suppose a parent or guardian is very ill and kids have to step up – they need to be prepared – for health and safety and confidence. Be sure to let them practice these new skills now, before necessity drags them into action.  Now is a great time to emphasize the reasoning behind what you are teaching them and how receptive they will be. It’s hard to ‘pretend’ there is an emergency, but we are currently in a position to “show and tell”.  

Get help and advice from your Mom n Dad, Grandparents if you have them. They aren’t know-it-alls, but they probably do know-more-than-you-think!

This little test with Coronovirus is serious and a serious opportunity to make a plan to be better prepared for anything that comes along.  We can be grateful that no one is shooting at us. No bombs are falling. No one is herding us out of our secure homes at gunpoint.

No one has promised us all the luxuries we have. Who would have thought that being separated from loved ones would include, instant messaging, video chatting, emails, facebook and phones on our hips, with TVs and movie entertainment at our fingertips. We can’t make this serious issue anything more than life challenging – it could be so much worse.

We could all be politicians, for heaven’s sake!

JOHN’S STORIES

 

I could never get John to ‘write’, and his family history information is minimal. These are his favorite stories……second hand.

I married in 1994, the first born of George Irving and Carrie Emma Schmidt Schmalshof. John was followed by Sharon, then Carol and lastly Sandy. George worked for Gardner/Denver on the assembly line. Gardner/Denver built compressors for oil drilling. George also farmed, owned a feed store and with Carrie, they owned, for a time, the fore-runner of today’s 7-11, a gas station/café. Carrie surely had plenty to do with a tribe of four, but she also managed the cafeteria for Motorola in Quincy for a number of years. She had hens and sold eggs and did all the cooking at the station café. It was a time of doing all you could to make ends meet and provide for a young and growing family. In those days, kids were often left to their own devices, not through neglect, but through necessity, trust and even maturity.

The children went to school for a time in Peyson, riding the school bus back and forth. John thinks he was in the third grade on a brisk March day when the bus dropped them at home after school. The girls were complaining about the cold house and John had watched the many times George or Carrie got the big round WarmMorning coal stove going to heat up the house. He was pretty sure how the process went, so he added some coal which dropped into the smoldering coals in the stove. When all he got was smoke, he added a cup of kerosene and put the lid back in place. As the kerosene got to the coals, it ignited and blew the stove lid off AND the chimney pipe too. [The story at this point suggests that the pipe install was never secured with screws to the stove or to the pipe sections to anchor their assembly.] John says “when the folks got home, they weren’t impressed with the children’s efforts to clean up the suet and mess with cold water.”

That same year, the bus passed a local dump everyday on the ride to and from school. This wasn’t a designated dump site, just someplace that the locals decided was far enough from home to cart their trash. John had spied a big yellow Tonka truck at the dump and you can just imagine the pull that would have for a third grade boy. When the bus dropped them home one afternoon, John determined to walk the three or so miles back to retrieve the prize truck. He wasn’t disappointed with the truck! It even had ALL it’s wheels. Back at home, before John could return, Carrie got home and the girls didn’t know or say where John was. As parents, we can imagine the panic. Carrie called the neighbors, checked the pond, and searched all the out buildings looking for her missing boy. John says “the butt whipping was worth it for that prized truck!”

This story happened when John was in 7th or 8th grade. [He DOES NOT have the memory of an elephant!] As the story goes, the job for that particular day was castrating hogs, hogs that they had let get too big, which meant the job was going to be a ‘manhandler’ sort of job, when it should have been speedy and done. John’s Uncle had forgotten the knife and so he sent John to the neighbors to retrieve a couple of single edge razor blades. John went in a 1949 Chevy sitting at his home place. When he got to the neighbors, you topped a small hill and then drove down to their house. The neighbor was grinding corn with a belt and pulley system off the tractor, in the drive. As John topped the small hill and started down, he hit the brakes on the Chevy and they went clear to the floor – no brakes, nada, nothing but a bit more downhill speed. The decision was ‘hit the tractor’ or squeeze the porch to the house. He did, in fact, miss the porch, but his bumper took out 2 porch posts causing the porch roof to collapse against the house. This neighbor lady was as John says “a pretty natty housekeeper” and he said “the dirt fogged out the house windows when the roof slammed the house”.

Back in the day, most farm boys had a spell of trapping. My guess is the lure was some ready cash and wandering the woods, creeks and pastures. John and a neighbor pal set traps one year. The bounty was paid on the ears of the groundhogs trapped. He made enough money to buy a 3-speed Schwinn bike. One trap had been set under a grainery. After chores one evening, they went to check that trap expecting a coon, but they got a skunk instead. [He doesn’t seem to remember the outcome of that?]

Another incident during this time period found John raking hay for one of his Uncle’s neighbors, after which his Uncle would then bale. The neighbor had spied a ground hog’s holes in the field and wanted to eliminate that nuisance, so he blocked one hole and poured gasoline down the other opening. The ground hog came out on fire, running across the windrows John had raked, lighting most of them on fire. [No good comes from a bad deed?]

John’s Aunt and Uncle went somewhere in July or August, one year when John and his cousin were probably 14 or 15. The boys were supposed to do the milking, with the milking machine, while they were away. One big Holstein gave three or more gallons of milk, but she wasn’t the sweetest of cows. The anti-kickers wouldn’t fit, so they always tied the preferred kicking leg. This did nothing to stop the ‘tails in the face’ swatting as a substitute. John’s cousin found some sheers and trimmed down the tails to stop the swatting. He was, of course, back home, when John caught hell from his Uncle. That poor cow had no fly swatter for some time.

My favorite “John story” happened when the family was running the station/café. This business was as full service as you had back in those days. Carrie cooked a lunch meal to go along with the grill foods. Gas was pumped, oil checked, tires changed, all that could be managed to accommodate their local customers. On a supply run into town, John and Carrie were after groceries, when George gave Carrie a list of tires to pick up for the shop area. When they got to town, Carrie’s first stop was for the tires. They went in and were greeted by the tire shop owner. Carrie gave him a list and said they would stop on their way out of town for the tires. As they were leaving the store, the owner – reading the list – said to Carrie “we don’t have these, we don’t have these, we are out of these, etc”. Carrie, who was not one for nonsense and leisure, curtly replied “well, what kind of ‘blankety blank’ tire store are you if you don’t have what we need?” He casually laughed and replied “well, we don’t have any flour, we are out of baking powder, peaches are clean off the shelf”. Even Carrie had to laugh, she had given him her grocery list!

MY CARRIE story

We had moved to Georgia. My folks were gone and John’s father had died several years before I even met John, but we tried to go home to Illinois a couple times a year to see his Mom. We knew there would come a time, when we wouldn’t have that visit. Not unlike my Mom, when she and I were the only ones in my family within shouting distance, if my Mom shouted, she usually wanted me to DO something. Carrie seemed the same way. When we got to her house, she always seemed to have a few things John needed to do. We arrived on one trip and no more than hit the door than Carrie had jobs for John. I spoke up and said “Carrie, those can surely wait. Your son just drove 12 plus hours to visit with you. Sit and visit.” So we did and I thought nothing more about it. However, she had been thinking about it all along. A few hours later, she said to me “is it okay if I ask John to fix some things NOW?”

 

 

 

 

LOOKING BACK at SMALL TOWN USA

I was born in 1949. As I was growing up in a small farming community on the Illinois plains, you could truly live and die without leaving town and have everything necessary for a great life.

My community of less than 2000 people included:

Two grocery stores,  a bank, a  post office, a bakery, a dry cleaners, a funeral home, a dairy, a drugstore, a dry goods store, a feed store, a bowling alley, two doctors, one dentist,  Methodist, Christian, Catholic and Assembly of God churches, two cafes, three gas stations, a movie theater, a butcher shop, a farm implement dealer, two seed corn companies, a lumber yard, a hardware store, several hair dressers and a barber, three taverns, a library, a dime store, city hall, the local grain elevator, a community house, a 12K school, a city park, a greenhouse for flowers/seeds/plants etc, a piano teacher, a pool hall and a dairy queen.

I don’t think anyone in town lived too far to walk to town. You could for sure, bike from one end to the other. Everyone looked out for each other and if you misbehaved, your folks would know before you could get home with your side of the story. Every place in town was safe too. Like every small town USA, there were old fogeys and grandparent types, pleasant people and loners, and folks you just accepted as part of the fabric of hometown. You also knew that, above all, you belonged to this town.

I believe this same town now, in 2020, consists of:

The same library building, two cafes, a Casey’s [a7/11 type], one seed company, one implement dealer, the same four churches, a bank, a post office, a bowling alley, a butcher shop, an auto repair shop, a B n B, a funeral home, the elevator, one tavern and probably a couple of hair salons. I live 12 hours away and I may have missed a thing or two….or maybe I haven’t.

I doubt the people of this town know all the other people of this town. The 12k school is long consolidated to just a few lower grades and diminished for it, as well. There is nowhere to buy your prom date a flower. There are no more proms held in the same gym. The library hasn’t been the same since our loyal Lucille held court. The butcher shop is A#1 – best sausage ever and won’t be the same when Sharon and Rob give it up for Wisconsin or just plain fatigue.

I don’t know if a business could thrive to support a family if one spouse didn’t work away from town. Maybe the implement dealer employees could, but their clientele is far reaching and not dependent on just the very local farmers.

I’ve no idea how small town USA can thrive today. Who cares enough to be accountable to their neighbors and their community?  We have way too much ‘governing’ in our lives today – rules, regulations, bureaucratic red tape and leaders who want to ‘govern’ unleashed.

Small town USA doesn’t survive, because we have lost accountability. Accountability is what we need to thrive and grow. Communities must choose folks to lead, who want to be accountable to their neighbors, their businesses, their churches, their friends and their family. When that takes precedent over power and money, small town USA may see a resurgence.

It appears to be a long way off.

GROWING UP

65 years ago, my folks, I and my sister, went to live with Mother Gordon and her son, Uncle Edgar, in a house across from the park in Atlanta, Illinois.  I don’t know the particulars regarding the decision, but Mother Gordon was my Mother’s Grandmother, Edgar, Mom’s uncle. Mother Gordon’s name was Elizabeth Combs Gordon. She had married James William Gordon and they owned the house across from the city park, as well as a local hardware store. They had three boys, James Norman, William Gilbert and John Edgar.

The house sat on ¾ of a city lot which included a barn and a woodsy overgrowth of shrubs, trees and vines. The house had a nice front porch with lattice work, facing the street and the park.

In those days, the catalogs used to order merchandise for the hardware store were hardback, with pictures and descriptions, but no pricing. I’m guessing the prices were supplemental, so that the catalog could be used regardless of the price changes. When the catalogs were obsolete, Mother Gordon, in the days of “waste not, want not”, used them as her scrapbooks. She filled them with newspaper clippings, calling cards, recipes, pressed flowers etc. They were a treasure trove to me when I was a youngster.

Norman married Charlene Binns and they lived in New Holland, Illinois with their two sons, Bruce and Larry and later with two Dalmatians, Long John and Bismarck. I can’t remember what Norman’s job was, but they had a grocery store attached to their home, that Aunt Charlene operated. It was a fascinating place for a kid – out the kitchen and into the store – to play and fill a little sack with candy to take home. I usually got to spend a week or two with them every summer. She called Uncle Normal, Hi-Jim. He had a good sense of humor and I liked every visit.

William Gilbert married Elsie Mae Foote from Lawndale and they lived lots of places, including Atlanta, Chicago and Salem, Wisconsin – those being the only three I know of for sure.  They had a son and two daughters, William Martin, Shirley Rose, and Elsie Gilberta, the youngest and my Mother.  When my Mother was still in high school, they moved to Chicago to run a boarding house full of miscreants [I think] and left Mom to live in a rented room while finishing high school. According to her school and lifelong friend, she rented in two different houses before graduating. [Uncle Bill married Phyllis Chrisman of Atlanta. Aunt Shirley married Wayne Marvel of Waynesville, Illinois]

Gilberta married E. Bruce Young of Atlanta and two kids later they moved in with Mother Gordon and Uncle Edgar. Mother Gordon had had a stroke and was confined to bed or wheelchair, the very old cane woven wheel chair. She didn’t speak but she was an eagle-eyed participant. Edgar worked second shift as a machinist for Caterpillar in Peoria and I think we moved in to be there nights while he worked. As it turned out, I was five and in first grade at the time and we stayed until the end of my sophomore year of high school, long after Mother Gordon had passed away and long after the arrival of two more children.

The house included back to front,  a clutter-filled back porch, kitchen, pantry, single bathroom, back bedroom [Mother Gordon’s for her duration], Edgar’s bedroom, dining room, the reading room [also Edgar’s and a domain supposedly off limits to any and all children], a front bedroom, living room and the screened front porch with a porch swing. All the electric switches in the house were push button and the heat all came through floor registers. My Dad spent a good amount of time standing on the registers. Edgar, Mom, Dad and sometimes I, stoked the coal furnace. In the Spring if rains were especially heavy, the basement would flood as high as the 6th step of 9 and the furnace would be out till the basement drained. [They didn’t fix that.] The barn was also cluttered, filled top to bottom with barely a path through. A Willys-Knight was driven into the barn one long-ago day and never moved again. An issue of Popular Mechanics had plans for building a boat. Edgar started and got through the initial long thin frame and left it forever.  One small room was the cob shed, where a load of corn cobs was dumped periodically. Those were to start the coal and cob stove in the kitchen, through the winter. The main house was heated by a coal furnace in the basement. The basement could be reached by a door from the dining room or by an exterior side entrance we used sometimes. There was a coal chute into a large basement storage area. A delivery truck would bring coal about once a year and open the basement window to shovel the coal down the chute. By mornings in the winter, the furnace would have died down and so the kitchen cob stove kept us warm getting ready for school, until the furnace would probably begin to catch up after we were off.  I remember, the kitchen door didn’t have a latch [and heaven forbid, that anyone would just fix it], so we would close the door on a potholder to keep it shut and the heat in. Many, many winter mornings we kids dressed for school in the kitchen. This kitchen couldn’t have been more than a 12 foot square and included a wall of cupboards fronted with bead board, a side board cupboard, cook stove, cob stove, for a time a porcelain-top work table, pantry door, and a long sink. The sink had a pitcher pump on the right hand end for cold water and a single tap over the sink for hot water. Later the porcelain-top table was replaced by a real washing machine to replace the old wringer. There were clotheslines in the yard for the drying part.  In the center was the small eating table for all our meals. I remember that it had a short vase with a scalloped top in a red/gold patterned glass and all the teaspoons were kept in that vase.

Thinking back, when we first moved in as a family of four, I guess we all slept in the front bedroom or maybe a kid or two in part of the dining room? I know we didn’t sleep in Mother Gordon’s room and Edgar’s bedroom and reading room were off limits. Later, much later, the tiny 4×6 foot pantry was remade into my brother’s room. I wanted that tiny space desperately, being 5, 6 and 8 years older, but being the only boy, he won out. We girls had triple bunks in the front bedroom and other times, moved to the back bedroom, Mom would divide up the space with furniture to create sides. Our closets were about the size of today’s broom closets.  When we had the front bedroom of the house, there was a double doorway curtained off from the living room, usually with the piano blocking off the doorway, but if you had the top of a triple bunk set, you could peak through the curtain over the piano to watch late night TV.  After midnight, there was no TV, only pattern following the Star Spangled Banner. In that room there was a window to the front porch and often times the middle sister would climb out the window to sleep on the porch swing. After she put the window back down, she was out until someone in the morning unlocked the front door to let her back in. As a lifelong creative sleeper, not too interested in getting to school on time, that was probably where it all started.

As I mentioned before, Edgar worked second shift and his bedroom also had a curtained off double doorway. There were at least three of these doorways in the house. There were actually pocket doors for each that had been pushed too far or jammed into the walls and NEVER FIXED, no idea why? So weekday mornings, while Edgar slept, we were supposed to be especially quiet. That was probably impossible with 4 kids. His room was pretty messy – most of the time his work clothes hung on the curtain rod at his doorway. He had a brown metal wardrobe in the dining room for clothes, but if it wasn’t off limits, it wasn’t very interesting to us kids. He had two tennis rackets in the frames to keep them from warping, hanging on the wall. The park had a tennis court on our end and we did eventually get those tennis rackets. We used and used them. He kept change on his dresser – I liked to count it, my brother liked to swipe it, till he got caught. Edgar fixed his own black lunch bucket every day for work. He took two peanut butter sandwiches and 2 or 3 peanut butter cookies [they were store-bought, shaped like a peanut]. Mom would try to get him to take leftovers, or anything other than peanut butter, but he was firm in his choice and didn’t budge.

The dining room in the very center of the house, held a large ornate table with 2 extra leaves and 6 chairs with a couple more around the house when needed. Two chairs were armed, the table and leaves had heavy pads and there was a matching buffet with a chiming mantel clock. This table was used for company dinners, playing canasta or gathering clutter.  Every Saturday morning, just like ‘clockwork’, I was dusting that table, chairs and buffet. My mom was big, no not big, she was HUGE on chores. Life later became a long life of lists…….of chores.  Also in the dining room was the treadle sewing machine and a 3-stack of barrister bookcases, my favorite thing in the whole house. Most of the books weren’t that interesting, but I love books and reading and I loved the way the glass fronts opened and then slid away to reach the books. The bookcases and the reading room had that ‘old book smell’ about them. Bunny Rabbit’s Diary and a couple more books in the cases were mine to read anytime. I still have that one. I always expected that one day I would have those bookcases, but my mother gave them away after Edgar died, to someone else.

Between the bookcases and the doorway to the basement on the East side of the dining room, was Edgar’s reading room, as it was called. It was a room with bay windows and it was filled, again, with just a path. At the windows was a desk/table arrangement where Edgar kept his ham radio equipment. I can’t remember his call letters, but sometimes, if he wasn’t around and he got a call, I would answer. The room was also filled with a big china closet full of Mother Gordon stuff, lots of 78 records and several record players, maybe only one in working order. There were more books, newspapers and stuff. IT WAS A MAN CAVE!

The house at 700 NW Vine was exactly one block from the school.  Of course, we walked to school and when I was old enough to attend an evening basketball game, I could walk to school as long as an adult watched from the big tree till I got to the school and then to come home, I had to call ahead and they would watch for me to walk the one block home.

We had good neighbors while living at Uncle Edgar’s. To the East, was a  tiny home, where Mrs Hughes lived…alone AND in a wheel chair. On the corner to the North, lived Sam and Laura Bayless. He drove a livestock truck and Laura was a homemaker. West of the Bayless’, live Aunt Bertha McClellan. She wasn’t my Aunt, but that was how I knew her and she was a tiny and spry and bent old woman. West of us on the corner, lived Carl and Vera Lovin. Carl drove a school bus and Vera was a homemaker. She was a simple and very kind lady and she always offered us kids a stick of chewing gum. She kept a glass dish of sticks – I never saw them like that anywhere else. In the summer, Carl would often set up his telescope in the yard and if he had a white kitchen chair in the yard, it was a sign us kids could come and stand on the chair to look in the telescope while Carl told us what we swore we could see.  Across from the Lovins’ lived Mrs. Rousey, on a three cornered town lot. She was snow white-haired with a cheery round face.  All these neighbors were exceedingly kind and would welcome a little 5 year old any time her mother would let her go visit. They all got May baskets made from construction paper and filled with jonquils, dandelions or tulips every May 1.

I think Edgar liked having family grow up in his house. He never disciplined any of us that I remember and if he did, it must have been a pretty mild reproof. He was a tinkerer and built us toys out of metal and wood scraps around the place. He made a merry-go-round from two wheel rims. He made a doll carriage out of metal with the canopy that tipped forward or back. He made a teeter-totter that rocked on a roller from a wringer washer. We had a monkey bar and a salvaged swing set. Whatever he made was always painted with bright enamel multi-colors.

Edgar could play the piano [it had been a player-piano at one time], but mostly my Mom played when she took a notion. She had a grand intro to the Black Hawk Waltz and that was my request every time she played. We had a spiral-bound yellow music book and she would play all the Christmas songs from that book. She had lots of sheet music too.

In those first days of television, you ordered your TV from the TV guy. Our TV guy was Chet Hunt, who lived across from the community building. He delivered Edgar’s first TV, a big furniture piece of equipment and installed it in the living room. My first show on TV was Howdy Doody. We also loved Red Skelton, Mitch Miller, Lawrence Welk, Ed Sulllivan, as well as Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Fury, Circus Boy, Sky King, Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, The Rifleman, The Mickey Mouse Club, The Little Rascals and later, Andy Williams and Bandstand. We watched Ozzie n Harriett with sons, Rickie and Dave Nelson, Father Knows Best, I love Lucy, The Donna Reed Show, Leave it to Beaver, The Danny Thomas Show, The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock, Gunsmoke and Perry Mason. We watched Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole, Tony Bennet and Dinah Shore and Perry Como, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, The Wizard of Oz, Soupy Sales and cartoons like Yogi Bear, Roadrunner, Porky Pig and others I’ve forgotten.

When I was finishing my sophomore year of high school, my folks bought a house that had belonged to my Aunt Sally’s grandmother, Mrs. Loun.  My Uncle Kent, a builder had remodeled the house. It had 4 bedrooms and that was all I needed, to want to move. I cared not a whit for the rest of the house.

I wonder if Edgar was relieved to have his house to himself or terribly sad to come home to empty. Looking back, well, I just wonder….We continued to look after him all his life, but I’m sure it wasn’t the same and as kids, when did we even think about leaving him.  Rumor had it that he was engaged once in his life, but his mom told her she wasn’t good enough for him and ended things. I don’t know if that was true. I never knew him before he was probably 50 or older.

We never know the reasons for most of life, until we have the time to think. When things slow down and no one is needing us anymore, we finally begin to look back. We question, we reason, we resolve or we discard. Growing old isn’t bad, but it’s also not for the faint of heart.

 

TODAY I TEACH 5TH GRADE

[You may assume that I am preoccupied with education recently, but this post was actually written, for the most part, last year. Then I read some material and launched into a tiny tirade on the teaching profession in general, last month. Rather than just stopping, [no fun in that] this is something i think has merit and so I’m just laying it out…..maybe there is an educational fairy looking for a project?]

Let’s pretend. Let’s pretend, that I am on sabbatical from being a 70 year old woman with no formal education beyond grade 12 and that I am not interested for the moment in anything approaching my own expertise [which would still be questionable] and so this is the first day of class for 22 students assigned to my 5th grade classroom.

My classroom is a typical room with 26 student desks scattered haphazardly about, one teachers desk, a single 4 drawer file cabinet, a stack of boxes in a back corner [our inventory] and the requisite chalk boards [be lenient here, it’s been a longgg time since I’ve set foot in a classroom] and a working time clock.

As the students enter, I ask them to sit anywhere they like and as soon as all are seated I begin.

“Good Morning, all of you were promoted to 5th grade. Today you are all equal and today we are going to begin learning about life as adults, spending our day as they spend theirs.  The first thing that follows education is work and this year marks a test run to really educate you regarding that adult world. This year of school is going to be your work. I am passing out job applications to each of you. They are pretty close to the real deal and in order to begin our work, we need to be hired for positions and responsibilities within our company. Job applications are handed to HR personnel at a company. HR stands for Human Resources, a department most businesses have at their company. There are many more departments and we are going to have these departments shown on the board: HR, Research, Development, Communications, Inventory and Accounting. As the teacher, my position in our company will be CEO/OSHA and Legal Affairs. Also on the board are the jobs each department is responsible for. HR will be responsible for hiring, promotions and payroll. Research will help determine classroom goals for different subjects. Development will design test questions, building blocks and projects. Communications will build discussions, topics, problem solving and interactions for classroom studies. Inventory will monitor supplies, order and design, handle room displays and coordinate with other department needs. Accounting will track promotions, grades, banking and benefits. All departments will work together and with the CEO, following OSHA and legal affairs guidelines.

You will punch a time clock each day, in and out of work. You will arrange the classroom according to departments that you hired into and you can work for promotions to other departments, pay raises, vacations, special assignments……lots of things that working adults do every day they are on someone’s payroll.  If our company is successful, some of you might become independent of the company and work as consultants or develop new and useful departments for our company. This job, this company is cutting edge and a test to show how adult life works and to give you a sense of how your parents, teachers, doctors, plumbers, janitors etc live the majority of their lives.

In many respects we are going to spend the year learning together. Adults do NOT bully, backstab, intimidate or diminish the work of their peers. [pause]  In fact, adults do all those things, but we are going to try especially hard this year to NOT be those kind of adults. We are going to learn about life together. Life is hard, even together. Life, as you know, is NOT all play, all fun, all happy, all games. Life is sometimes dull, monotonous, boring, very hard, unfair and lonely.

One thing to remember about our company during our school year….if you are bored, lonely, having a hard time, bullied or sad….we are ALL going to stop right then and together figure out a solution. If a company has good people, that is how they are successful. They stop and together figure out a solution.

Go home today and ask your parents to help with filling out your job application. Tomorrow will be job interviews – you must interview with the company to be hired and find the right position for you AND you must come to school dressed for an interview. Ask your parents to help with choosing clothes for your interview and ask for their reasons for the choices you make together. Everyone who is interviewed must come with a pen and notebook – remember this. If you don’t come prepared to take notes or with questions you might have already written down to ask, how can you remember when you are a bit nervous about your interview. I have a lady and a gentleman who actually work in HR at their companies coming to our class tomorrow do to our interviewing. This is like the real adult word. Welcome”

I would like to see the kids, by department, help to build the learning curve of the class. Learn how to make a test, take a test and determine outcomes. I would like them to create the classroom, it’s arrangement, it’s assets, it’s liabilities and change things as needed. I would like them to interact between departments [staff meetings?] develop programs, field trips, projects to reflect the classroom subjects. I would like them to interview working members of the public about their jobs, their successes and failures and how they measure job fulfillment. I would have them meet with other classes, teachers, PTA, school boards to interact about their progress and promote ideas. I want to instill in them the value of a work dollar- the hours involved to earn something they might take for granted. How much does your parent have to work to pay for groceries/a bike/ a vacation/a house? Exactly what is interest on a loan, how do you get a loan, why do you get a loan and how do you know if they are right for you. What does retirement mean and how do you prepare?

How are grades earned and can you change that through work? Who cares? Why should they care? What happens if you don’t work for someone; you work alone? What happens if you go to college and have they thought of how to pay. Can they have two jobs? School and a job? Where does the fun come in and how can a job be the fun?

Grades could be equated to pay and the accounting department could monitor banking. Without announcing private grades, grades could be converted to show the growth of the company. Kids could be taught to look for their strengths and weaknesses, not in a bad way, but in a measurable way.

Kids could learn their subjects in the context of a running company. I think that lots of educators are NOT familiar with the average working environment. I think that parents do not educate their kids about adult life, cause, hey- they want them to be kids, but I think, kids would do better and be more solicitous if they were given adult scenarios to try on before life is for real.  I also think this strategy could play into a better behaved, better interested student between 6th and 12th grades. I would hope they might think differently about their obligation to education and how their future is dependent on their input. It is time we put education into a realistic picture. Students need to realize the game of education is  NOT as baby sitters, it’s not about finding a job for  the education personnel. Education is actually ALL about them. It is about the real working world and where they are headed. I would like it to be a wake-up call that could promote better intentions in the years 6th thru 12th.  We aren’t teaching if our kids aren’t thinking through the outcomes of their input. It is time they really understood who will get the benefit.

 

Somewhere there is a better educated teacher who could write a curriculum on this premise, a person who might see the value in testing this theory. The need is there to encourage kids to engage in their own education. The need is there to reach them with a real world glimpse of ‘work’, in hopes that some will find comfort in what to expect and some will find the impetus to try another approach to adult life. Some might forego college and jump into a blue-collar field and others might decide to be teachers of real life?

E BRUCE YOUNG

Elmer Bruce Young, named after his father, Elmer Young, was a first son [of five children], born February 9, 1927. He lived on a tenant farm with his parents, first in the Mackinaw, Illinois area, then later in rural Atlanta, Illinois, where he also attended school.

We have pictures of him at three years old, astride a big looking horse. As a toddler they would send him, horseback to the mailbox. Remarkable that he never slipped off and hurt himself or had to walk home. There are pictures of him with the livestock, one of him crouched down with a young calf. He grew up with a farmer’s heart. He grew up with a commitment to his Mom that thrived all his life. I think he was her favorite of the four living kids, though I have no particular reason to base this on. Their farm was a hardworking place, with room for church, 4-H, high school sports [ I think there is at least one picture of each boy in a basketball uniform] and family. There were hogs, chickens, milk cows, water tanks, corn cribs, first horses then used tractors and farm equipment. There was always an outside dog, some barn cats, sometimes a turtle in the stock tank. With three boys, there were always hands to the hard work and a dad known to ‘horse around’ with the boys [we have pictures of them wrestling on the ground to prove it]. Their Mom, my Grandmother, was the epitome of a farm wife, able to cook the best hearty meals, walk dinner to the field [I remember the walks personally], can and freeze everything that grew in a large fenced garden, dress chickens on a butcher day [I remember them running headless in the yard before collapse], separate the milk, from the barn, and rinse and clean the several hundred parts to the cream separator. She made homemade cottage cheese, homemade hand-churned ice cream, pies, every food that makes a house a home and sew in those precious free moments seldom found. She had a piano, but I only remember her playing her ‘recital’ piece, which would rouse Grandpa to any task she requested before she could play it again. [I don’t know why we had a piano, I would guess it was for my Dad’s sister. The ‘recital’ piece was just banging on the keys!]

My Dad, graduated high school. His senior picture shows him with combed hair and glasses. [I never saw him with any but a burr/flattop haircut and never any glasses.] He dated my Mom in high school and they married on June 11, 1948 at the Methodist Church parsonage in Atlanta. He wore a black suit and she wore a grey suit. Their first home was a rural country school. The blackboard was the headboard in the bedroom. He was what I recall as romantic all his life. We have pictures of them kissing next to the farmhouse in the country before they were married. He was never bothered about hugging and kissing her when us kids were around. It was just the nature of them.

He did lots of ‘work’ related things during his life. He worked for local farmers, he drove a semi for a time, he ran an Illico gas station in town, across from a rental house where we lived. He worked at the Stetson China Factory in Lincoln, Illinois running the paint department where all the paint for the dishware was mixed. I believe he WAS the paint department. He would have liked, in his heart, to be a farmer and live on a farm again, but his wife was adamant she would not live that lifestyle and he acquiesced. He always tried to ‘keep a hand in’, farming 10 acres on the edge of town, often with some pigs or sheep or ponies for the kids. [I hope that my heart for farmers comes naturally] He gardened. He hunted….just squirrels mostly [they are disgustingly hard to get buckshot out of. I know, because I had to help with the skinning and he and my Mom LOVED fried squirrel and gravy….ugh, ugh, UGH! There isn’t enough meat on a squirrel for more than one person – they shared!] He finally worked at Caterpillar in Decatur, Illinois. He car-pooled to work, worked overtime any chance he got and in my heart, i know it was a long way from the farming life he longed for. A wife and 4 children can quickly part a man from the longing of his heart and so it did my dad.  He was, even so, a gad-about-town. He worked a part-time job at the local Standard Oil Station, but in his little free time, he was having coffee at the local cafe. He always knew the latest gossip, who was sneaking about, with who and where and when. He visited his Mom at least three times a week or more. He was the one in town called to plow and disk gardens in the Fall and Spring. He kept a seed book with who had called and what they needed and checked them off as he finished their garden patch. The book shows what he charged [maybe $5 or $7]and whether they paid and even if they didn’t pay, he still plowed or disked the next year. He plowed all the drives he had time for when there was deep snow, especially older folks and neighbors.

You could take some of the farmer out of my Dad, but not all. He owned off and on, 3-4 used tractors at a time and a two bottom plow and a disk and a blade. Usually the tractors needed repair and he was a number one mechanic – cars, pickups, tractors especially.

If he got a really good tractor up and running, he might take it to his brother in Wisconsin who farmed. He was good for a quick run to Wisconsin on Friday evening and home on Sunday. When he was tripping,making good time was critical. No leisurely stops, no detours, no extra bathroom breaks….drive!

Leisure with my Dad was a rarity, but if he was inclined and if we passengers were able to behave, a Sunday drive might be in the works. We didn’t have a destination, ever. We just took a drive, I think now, to check the status of the fields. I didn’t know this at the time, but I liked driving in the country down roads new or familiar, zooming fast up a hill to make our tummies drop on the other side. I’m still a great rider on any drive.

I never spent much one-on-one with my Dad. I was the oldest with others to babysit. It was my job to see that coffee was ready when he came in the door from work [I still make the only coffee in my house with that same vacuum stove-top coffee maker]. On Wednesdays when he had 30 minutes home from Caterpillar before work at the Standard station, I had supper ready. Sometimes fried bologna, or fried potatoes and eggs among other things.

We never had pizza when Dad was home. He didn’t like cheese. We had fried liver and onions, more times than I ever care to remember, because he and Mom liked that crap and we kids had to eat a portion, even if it took all night. If we went to a family get together, either a holiday or reunion, Dad would pile the food on his plate, saying it was all going the same place anyway.

He had false teeth and delighted in sticking them out to tease me. I hated that look. It didn’t stop him.

He was not a great teacher. He would show you something and you were expected to ‘get it’ first try. I wanted to drive our column shift old truck for the first time to visit my Grandma across town. He told me if i got it out of the yard, I darn well, better get it home again. I only bucked for a couple shifts and got it home too.

When I had married, lived as far away as Kansas while my first husband was in the service and returned to Illinois, delivering my second child on the morning of October 15, 1973, my Dad’s Dr. diagnosed him with lung cancer. He was 45. I was 23. Misty was newborn.

They shouldn’t have told him, but they did tell him that he had about 14 months to live. [Unfiltered Pall Mall’s were his preferred choice, but he stopped right then.] On February 5, 1975, at the age of 46, just a few days from burying him on his 47th birthday, he died at Carle Clinic in Champaign, Illinois. That was when my children were almost 5 and 14 months old.

I never saw him in his casket, I couldn’t, but our large Methodist Church was standing room only for his service. He was that kind of man.

Today is my Dad’s 93rd birthday. He has been gone 45 years. AND YET, he has always been right here with me. Lucky me.

HARVEST CAN BE DANGEROUS

Guest Post By Rebecca Lindquist

[This post is a bit out of season, but i just received it in December and wanted to share. This outstanding writer is a first cousin on my Dad’s side. Her father, my Uncle Max, was one of the funniest people I have ever met and I met him when he was still in high school. He eventually married a gal from Carrollton, Illinois, who was an avid reader [all the books of Jalna] and loved the color lavender, and later they moved to Wisconsin. They lived near Richland Center, Viola, Hayward and other places in Wisconsin. He worked for Stark Nursery in Illinois, farmed in Wisconsin, worked on a mink farm once and I think at a cheese factory for a time. He had 160 acres at one time with 80 tillable and 80 timber. I can remember them picking morels by the bushel basket fulls. wow Wow WOW!  Rebecca, I think of her as Becca, is the next-to-youngest of his four and she works at a newspaper and obviously writes well! Enjoy.]

The weather is getting cooler as the days get shorter. I get rather melancholy, because I know what’s soon to follow. At the same time, this time of year makes me so happy and reminds me of memories growing up and dropping by Grandma and Grandpa Young’s house.

Grandma and Grandpa always planted a huge garden….at least it seemed that way to me. Grandpa farmed until ‘retirement’, when he and Grandma moved into town. They had a house on two lots, with one lot covered with any kind of flower or vegetable plant you could imagine.

They had a couple cherry trees, a peach tree, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries and a grape arbor, which only consisted of a few grape vines, but when you’re little, it seemed to stretch for miles. The grape arbor is where Grandpa taught me to pick dew worms, or night crawlers, if you prefer.

My grandparents raised tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, green onions, rhubarb, asparagus, potatoes, carrots, dill and I’m sure, several other vegetables I have forgotten.

Grandma was always ‘putting up’ produce during the fall harvest: canning apple butter, various preserves, pickles, tomato juice and the tastiest relish ever eaten, which she served over cooked liver.

I was reminded of those great smells and the cozy warmth of Grandma’s kitchen, over the weekend, as I attempted to ‘put up’ my own produce.

A friend’s parents plant a huge garden every year and share their bounty with everyone they know.

You can tell by my size, I enjoy food immensely and I especially love vegetables. I was extremely blessed this year, to be gifted cucumbers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green beans and zucchini from this sweet generous couple.

I was beyond thrilled about the zucchini. I swear it has nothing to do with the fact it tastes heavenly as Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread [I’m lying…..it has EVERYTHING to do with that!]

I was given zucchini a few weeks ago, and instead of the normal procrastination as usual, I wanted to get it processed for the freezer.

I went to the cupboard to grab the grater and couldn’t find it. I searched everywhere it could possibly be and several unlikely locations, to no avail. Then, I had a brilliant [tongue-in-cheek] idea….I would use my old-fashioned french fry maker.

It cubes the vegetable, then I reasoned I could cut the cubes into shorter pieces, thinly slice those pieces, then finely chop it. In my head, it seemed logical. In reality, it took several hours, but got the job done.

With this batch of zucchini, I was older and possibly wiser and decided to purchase a hand grater from a dollar store. I bought one from there, mainly because I’m cheap, but also, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new one, when I know exactly where my grater is. It’s definitely, positively, somewhere on my property.

I was exhilarated as I used my ‘thrifty’ grater, which made the process much quicker. I was making exceptional progress until the first casualty occurred, as I banged the grater on the side of the bowl, for the first time, to remove excess zucchini and a piece broke off the bottom of the grater.

The next casualty was when i grated my knuckle, which, disappointingly, occurred during grating the first cup of zucchini. I think the piece that broke off the grater was just for aesthetics, as it didn’t effect how it worked in any way. It grated my knuckle just fine.

A person would swear I struck a major artery, as a projectile stream of blood geysered from the aforementioned appendage. I managed, in between frequently changing bandages, to put five quarts of zucchini in the freezer. That amount will make 10 loaves of Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread.

Do I really need that many loaves? Of course not, but I feel I should keep up my strength while my finger heals.

Apart from a total lack of kitchen expertise, I enjoy the harvest rewards, but between you and me, I’m rather glad zucchini season is over for this year. I think I’ll invest in a pair of steel mesh fish scaling gloves for next year’s grating session.

I fully expect to receive a Christmas card this year from Johnson & Johnson, as a major stockholder of their Band-Aid division.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI BREAD

4 c flour

1/2 c baking cocoa

1 1/2 c sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking power

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 c oil [kitchen, not motor]

3 eggs

1 1/ c milk

2 c [carefully] grated zucchini

2 tsp vanilla

1 c choc chips

Butter two 8×4 loaf pans. In large bowl, combine dry ingredients. In second bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Mix wet into dry. Blend well, add chips. Divide into pans. Bake at 350, about 1 hr 15 minutes, until test poke comes out clean. Cool ten minutes, remove from pan and cool completely.

Enjoy!

 

EDUCATION 101

This is going to be subjective, at best. I haven’t the continuing education to prove my theories, test them or even live long enough to see the outcomes.

My hypothesis is that STUDENTS CAN AND WILL LEARN by SIMPLE LANGUAGE, EXPLANATION, DEMONSTRATION AND REPETITION.  It is how we start them on the path to language as babies and unless there is a medical reason, all babies learn to talk, therefor, all children who can talk, can learn. [Of course, those who cannot talk, can also learn, with the right approach.] [Have you ever heard of Marva Collins, a most successful educator? Find and read her books.] I believe learning begets thinking.

Learning hasn’t changed.  Teaching has regressed.

Taking into account that “oldsters, like myself” have an innate sense of what works and what doesn’t and right and wrong and the good-old-days, I surmise that great teachers and good education may have begun and ended, on the prairie during the days of hardships, homesteading, pioneers and nation building.  People struggled to build a homestead and a family and to include a church and a school in their future. For the most part, schooling their youngsters was such a priority that parents took on the care of the teacher to facilitate the futures of their children. Kids in those days studied Math, Penmanship, Geography, History, Latin, English, Reading, and Science, among other subjects. Their Reading included the classics, something today’s college students may or may not encounter. School hardly lasted past 8th grade and teachers were students with another year or two of education.

Some two hundred years later, my schooling included all of the above, as well as office subjects and Home Ec or Ag [can you imagine those pioneer kids hearing about a class in “hard work”]. We did not have much reading of the classics, we missed ancient history details and many other basics,  but I feel that our education was comparable to the education received today in 4 years of college.

We have dumbed down our kids by not expecting more of them. Those pioneer families did not subsist on 18 years of childhood for each kid. Everyone who reached school age had become accustomed to contributing. They had chores, they had responsibilities, they had to help with survival and they were taught at home and then at school about the value and expectations of learning. By the time of my schooling, kids were still a bit self­-sufficient, contributors and we knew that school was necessary. College was becoming recognized as an opportunity for a better life or career.

Today’s kids are still kids at 18 or 19 or beyond. They expect catering. They expect rescue and special treatment. There is no accountability or contributions to the family unit. In that regard, today’s college is mandatory to finish what was started and NOT accomplished in 13 years of schooling.

If you have to go to college to finish a basic education and you can leave with a bachelor’s degree to teach, you are, in point of fact, teaching with our 12K education. That leaves new teachers under  qualified to teach in today’s marketplace of education.

Would that it were a marketplace! [Off course, but if today’s education system were a marketplace, parents would be able to choose where their children would best be served and maybe even by whom. Good schooling, even great schooling would flourish. Good and great teachers would be sought after. Students would succeed and education standards would be served on a platter. Kids [and parents] who did not recognize their opportunities would be dismissed to find other educational options. [It might be amazing to see how things progress if a child was denied an education because of behavior or parental ineptitude. Lack of funds would always find a way for determined families, but families with children who have no incentives to learn or try, in our current situations, have bred more of the same. Kids and parents need accountability and consequences!]

Kids going to college would be prepared for advance learning and colleges would serve the same standards. You wouldn’t go to college to play sports and slide through the education.  Colleges wouldn’t be teaching remedial courses. College professors would be hired for teaching, not tenure.  I propose that tenured professors, or some like them, have denigrated our system from the top down. When you focus on research and your subject has been researched to death, you start fomenting ideas that are far left field and hardly beneficial, so then you dress them up in terminology to confuse and obfuscate to promote your superiority and you find changelings willing to drink your Kool-Aid, thereby justifying your ideas as post-modern and futuristic and innovative and as the Ferris wheel turns, more questionables join the ride and soon enough your ideas overtake common sense and simplicity. What are we left with? Today’s attempt to educate beyond the trusted values of SIMPLE LANGUAGE, EXPLANATION, DEMONSTRATION AND REPETITION.]

I am one of those people with just enough time to read, just enough, to formulate an opinion that aligns with my own theories and a blog to throw it out there. It is easy to criticize from my perspective. I don’t have any school age kids and my grandkids are in the system with or without parental involvement – I do not know.  I recently read the book THE FACULTY LOUNGES and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For by Naomi Schaefer Riley. I also read a blog post from BlnNews, a blog on the governmental workings of Bloomington/Normal, Illinois. This post included a pdf file of the ‘Unit 5’s Task Force Guide 2019-2020’ regarding Standards Based Learning and Grading.

From my uneducated guess, someone somewhere had way toooooo much time on their hands and no performance based job to attend to, so they have wasted hours and hours on a subjective proposition of no merit whatsoever, andddddd, sold it to some other inept time-wasting interloper who should NOT be in any position to influence education procedures.

This 47 page pdf, which I believe is a power point presentation, which I read word for word through a dozen pages before becoming mind-numbingly disinterested, included words like “summative [a ruse for the word accumulative] and rubrics [ another ruse for directions printed in red]” professes to preach an alternative system of determining student success or failure other than conventional grading. Hey, until you can TEACH, how is it that you can interpret? AND if you have teachers who aren’t capable of interpreting their teaching results among their students, maybe teaching isn’t their forte?

I would suggest that all this political mumbo-jumbo is someone’s attempt to interrupt actual teaching/learning while not having to get their own job as a school janitor.

Well learned doctrines still pertinent:

You reap what you sow!

Common sense isn’t common anymore!

Don’t get above your raising!

There is no I in teamwork!

The big picture is no selfie! [That one is mine]

 

THUMP – me getting off my high horse….for now.

 

 

NEW YEAR 2020

NEW YEAR

Here are some firsts today.  First year of my 70+ on this earth.  First year with no more regrets. First year with no resolutions and no intention of missing them.  First year of no plans ahead and no plans left behind.  First year of writing just truths, ideas, and opinions as they come to me.

I have no more interest in politics – I may vote – I may not vote.  Let those who will suffer or salute the future of America cast their own determining mark. I will leave the news and discord and confusion to John – I don’t think he will absolve his interest.

I have a deadline ahead of me – it has always been there, but it is certainly closer and I am markedly aware now.  I might have 10 years [so much for Eli, not so much for me], or just five or just tomorrow?  It isn’t such a matter anymore. I don’t know if that makes me wise or resigned. I don’t feel either. I think it makes me honest.  My Dad only got 47 years. My Mom, 72, Donald 91. My Grandmother lived to 77, my Grandfather to 92.  John’s Dad lived to 58 and his Mom to almost 90.  Once upon a time, those were big numbers, even the 47 and the 58. Now they are the days that were always numbered for them from their first breath. Mine are numbered also and I am content with that and sometimes even excited at the prospect ahead.

We don’t know what’s to come, but we have the abiding faith that it will be wonderful. I think life isn’t better than death. Life is just different from death. We are trusting what we know and trading for what is promised. And we never need to go alone – our paths are simply to follow in the footsteps already taken.

I marvel at the continuity of nature and revel in the simplicity and complexity, both on equal footing.

I want to see more of nature, more art, more talent. I want to taste new things, learn to cook more adventurously. I want to throw it out if it tastes bad and make it a dozen times in a row if it’s wonderful.

I want to laugh and laugh and laugh. Lord, Give me sunny days, momentous storms, loving thoughts, and smiles and laughs every day. Remind me Lord, each day, of the things I can do for you and the blessings you have placed before me.

Thank You to the followers who read my blog.

PS:  I am excited to announce that our Grandson, Jacob, will be a spokesman against suicide, and is joining Steve Fugate from Florida on his 9th walk across America. If you haven’t heard of Steve, please look him up on FB and read his book LOVE LIFE WALK. Steve has walked 43,000 miles across America after losing both of his precious children. I have sent my amulet with some of Jacob’s ashes to Steve and we hope Jacob will be a message for someone else. It’s a fine thing for Jacob to be a part of. I told Steve that if he should lose Jacob during their journey, not to be alarmed. It is just where Jacob decided he belonged. Their journey begins on Valentines Day, so appropriate for all the Love they will carry.

HAPPY  NEW  YEAR!!!!!

JANUARY 1, 2020

 

  1. That’s a big number, and a familiar number.

2020 – Perfect vision

2020 – John Deere tractor model

2020 – TV news program

2020 – An election year

2020 – Mars Rover spacecraft

2020 – 364 Days ahead; 25, 577 days behind.

25,577 days I have lived and wasted.  In the big picture, I haven’t served a great purpose.  I haven’t made great strides. I haven’t been a good and guiding person.   I haven’t loved enough.  I haven’t learned enough.  I haven’t given enough. I haven’t prayed enough.  I haven’t laughed enough.  I haven’t even cried enough.

What I really have is just today. One single day.

Today is my gift received.  My heart is grateful.