"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mr. Geometry - Spending Treasure #4

Though I wasn’t in the mood to read any of the serious stuff, I decided to glance through the daily paper last night before I went to bed. I just wanted to peruse briefly to see if there was anything I wouldn’t want to miss. I often do that - just to catch the local stuff.  For me, the local paper is more often a way to connect with old friends and acquaintances than anything. It’s not often I find people and events of days gone by, but when I do it is such a treat. It’s simply a way to remember things the way they used to be in the town I grew up, and I like that.

I’m glad I looked through our paper on this day. Submitted under "Milestone Announcements" was a photo of my old high school geometry teacher and his wife. They had just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. I was so happy to have seen this. I had just been thinking of Mr. M. and wondering if he was still alive. I remember the exact class room he held his classes at the old high school. It is now a middle school, I believe. I remember the row I sat in, and the seat I called mine, directly across from the door. I must have been planning an escape out this door a time or two, to remember it this vividly. And I remember Mr. M. at the head of the class talking to the students as he looked out at us over his little black readers. I loved Mr. M. though I wouldn’t say he was one of the “popular” teachers in high school. He didn’t even get credit for being one of the “good” teachers; at least among the students. But he should have.

I was a whiz at algebra when I was in 9th grade. I don’t think I ever got a grade lower than 99 on my report card. I even once got a 100%. Obviously, my algebra teacher was a great teacher, too; but other than that, algebra just came easy for me. So because of my high grades in that class, I got put in the “high honors” geometry class in 10th grade. It wasn’t long before Mr. M. and I both knew I didn’t belong there. I hated geometry and I really struggled with it. I remember Mr. M. coming to me one day and saying he understood what had happened; just because I did well in Algebra didn’t mean I would do well in geometry. To Mr. M.’s credit, he told me he would work with me and help me whenever I needed it. He may have mentioned sending me to the lower level class - I don’t remember for sure – but I don't think that happened, because I’m pretty sure I sat next to the “smart girl” the rest of the year. Because of that slight memory, I think “we” (Mr. M and I) just toughed it out for the rest of the year. I ended up with grades in the low 80’s…may have hit the high 70’s one quarter, but I never failed, thanks to Mr. M.

Over the years, (It has been 40 since that 10th grade class!) I have periodically run into Mr. M.  My folks used to go to the same church he and his wife attended. And he would come into the art gallery where I worked from time to time. He always knew who I was, and he always had a little memory to relay to me. He would without fail, steadfastly try to talk me into coming back to our old church. I look at that photo today, and memories flood into tears. What a smile he has on his face! So happy he seems. That is exactly how I remember Mr. M. It may sound silly, but I’m proud of him! He is a wonderful example of a life well-lived and a job well-done and I treasure every memory I have of him. What a guy!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Emmanuel

I wanted to write a special Christmas wish for my blog on Christmas Day. Hopefully, what I have written will come across as that. It isn’t really about what it seems at first glance; ironically, it’s about how those that don’t yet believe, have helped us find Christmas by that which they themselves are seeking. I suppose it might seem a bit odd at this special time in the Christian’s calendar year, that I feel compelled to write about our Jewish friends. The Jewish people, through the centuries, have kept and preserved the Holy Scripture, knowing internally the importance and value. Of course by God, but through the diligence of the Jews whom God has chosen to use, we have the accuracy of the Bible intact.

The Jewish people pray every day for the coming of their Messiah. Every generation watches expectantly, knowing that this is the generation to whom their Messiah could be born. They read in Isaiah 7:14, a birth announcement, a prophecy of their Messiah Who is to come. “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

They know with great detail and incredible accuracy the One for whom they are waiting. They have searched the Scripture and they know He will be a Teacher, a Healer, One sent to bind up the broken-hearted, a Redeemer sent by God. They know He is to be born in Bethlehem. They know that though He is one Who has done no wrong, He is to be crucified as a common criminal. They know He will rise again 3 days after His death.

They have kept their genealogy accurate and safe, knowing their Messiah is to be “the Son of David” - born of the line of David. Because of the diligence in their preserving God’s message, and of course by God’s plan, we are able to see that Joseph was from the Line of David, through King Solomon; and Mary was from the lineage of David’s other son, Nathan.

There is only One that has fulfilled each of the prophecies given to us in the Bible, the prophetic picture of a Savior and King. But Isaiah 53:3 also tells us that He will be rejected by His own.

Today we celebrate the birth of a Child. It took 2000 years - from Abraham to the birth of this Baby - to prepare a people to welcome Him. More than 2000 years after His birth, Christians still celebrate in awe and wonder. He is Emanuel – God is with us; an extremely comforting thought as we celebrate the birth of our Savior this Christmas, but it is only the beginning of the incredible story.

Really, what I wanted to say in my Christmas message this year, is that Christmas is not just for those that have received a Savior; Christmas is for those that are longing for a Savior….for those of the Jewish faith; for those of a false faith; and for those with no faith at all. He was born to die, that man might live. Christmas is about God becoming Man – The Lamb that was slain - a pure, holy Sacrifice that we do not deserve. Christmas is in fact, about the Cross, and there is not a better time to accept His gift.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Wisdom from on high,
Who orderest all things mightily;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory over the grave.

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, Thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of Thy people be;
Before Thee rulers silent fall;
All peoples on Thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Unknown Author - Translated from Latin to English by John M. Neale in 1851
~~~~~~~~~~~

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.
Merry Christmas!!

Genesis 3:15; Deut 18:15; Micah 5:2
Isaiah 7:14 ; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 22:22
Zech. 9:9; Zech 11: 12; Zech. 12:10
Psalm 2:7 ; Psalm 16:10 ; Psalm 22: 7-8; Psalm 22: 14-19
Psalm 34:20; Psalm 35:19; Psalm 69:21; Psalm 110; Psalm 68:18
Isaiah 53

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thoughtful Surprises

Last week as Matt and his dad were preparing to leave for an event that didn’t include moms, I got a phone call from a friend. “I have an extra ticket to the Nutcracker Ballet in Spokane,” she said. My friend became ill and can’t use it. Would you like it?”

Oh boy, I thought. This was quite a surprise! I wondered if she knew I had wanted to go to this ballet for some time. “Yes!” I told her without reservation. “It is so nice of you to think of me!” This could not have been better timing. The guys were going to be gone on that evening, and I would most likely not have accepted had they been home.

When I got off the phone and told Matt about it, I could tell he was very happy for me. “Well, she said she would call me tomorrow to let me know for sure. We should pray her friend gets well.”

The next day, we were outside cleaning Skeeter’s stall when the phone call came. Her friend was still not feeling well and would have to relinquish her ticket. I hate being happy to someone else’s demise; and honestly, I would have been thrilled if she had gotten better and been able to use the ticket herself, but that was not the case…so “happy” (with some reservation) works.

When we got done with our chores, I went in to the house to decide what I should wear. Matt was still outside finishing up some work and I could see him from the window. Pretty soon, my phone rang; it was Matt. “Can you tell Dad to come out here?” he asked. “Sure,” I said, not thinking too much about it. Next thing I knew they were both coming back into the house, and I saw Matt go to the Christmas stockings hanging on the fireplace.

“There’s nothing in there yet,” I told him. I thought he was checking to see if he had any gifts, yet. To my surprise he pulled something out, and with a smile on his face he handed me a small wrapped package.

“We thought you could use this, today,” he said.

“But it isn’t Christmas, yet!” I argued.

“Well I want you to have a new dress to go to the ballet tonight, Mom. It’s a gift certificate.”

I could not have been more surprised! I didn’t argue anymore. I saw the thoughtfulness in his heart and it moved me to tears. I could not have been more proud of my son. This was a gift certificate that he bought with his own money for my Christmas present, but he understood the need of the moment. He had asked his dad, and his dad agreed and gave permission to give it to me early. This isn’t the first time my son has done something like that for me. I will have to write about the Alan Jackson tickets sometime. OH MY!!

This was looking like it was going to turn out to be a pretty special day. So I rushed to town to spend my gift and still be back in time to get ready for the ballet. I had no problem finding a dress and even bought some earrings, as well.

Pretty awesome…I’ve got shopping, “dress up” and a night out with the girls. And this all in one day! My guys are having fun on an adventure of their own; so, it’s all with out guilt! Well almost…if only the young lady hadn’t been sick!

As for the ballet – it was A-mazing! And the time with the girls, very special, indeed - they’re pretty thoughtful, too!  I'm feeling very blessed and a lot like Christmas.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Afternoon at Our House!

I was typing out a letter to someone I correspond with on political matters when we lost our electricity this afternoon. Actually, I had just sent the email to this unfortunate gentleman. He actually seems to be a very nice man, though I have never met him. Somehow he added me to his email list, and when he sends out a letter to his list, I almost never agree, and thus feel obligated to tell him my perspective. My email was a rather long one and honestly, I almost wish we would have lost power, before I hit send.

But in regard to the electricity, I always kind of like it when we loose our power. It slows everything down, makes us rethink our plans and revert to more old fashioned, healthier living. Instead of TV, computers, and radio, we dig for candles, bring in firewood and contemplate menu plans if it seems like it will be off for awhile. Today, I kind of had a feeling it would be a while.

It was a relatively clear day, with the sun trying to sneak through foggy clouds and it was actually quite calm, after last night’s strong winds. Really, there was no apparent reason for it to go out. So, I called the electric company to find out what was going on. Six thousand homes in our area had been affected the message said. A feed from the larger electric company into our electric system had been damaged, or needed work, or some such nonsense. I don’t listen very well on things I don’t understand. The only thing I knew is there was no time frame given, and the problem sounded difficult enough that I thought it might be awhile before it was fixed.

So we settled in. I read my book while there was still daylight, and Matt finished up his school work with daylight moving into candlelight. Sam was home today, so he made a fire and we all waited to see how long it would be. As it started to get dark, we lit more candles and decided we should play a game. We set up the card table in front of the fire and Matt chose a game from the closet. Really it is a shame we don’t do this more often and that it takes something like the electricity going out to motivate us that direction. We often play games at my folks or when there are other family members around, but when it is just the three of us, we just don’t seem to do it like we did when Matt was little.

It was about 3 or 4 hours that the power was out today, I guess. Just enough time to make me late in cooking dinner, but giving me plenty of time to beat Matt and Sam in the game we played by candlelight in front of the fire. It was a lovely afternoon. When the lights came back on, we ignored them and finished the game before blowing out the candles and before Matt went out to feed his horse, while I started dinner.
With dinner now behind us, this evening finds Matt playing Flight Simulator on his laptop, Sam playing Solitaire on the desktop, and me blogging while waiting to see if my political email pal will counter…I yi yi!!…but it is winter after all, and at least the fire is still crackling in the back ground.

Oh boy! Bingo!..There’s my buddy with his response to my email. He really is a faithful gentleman.  ;-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wreaths Across Our Corner of America

Today, we attended the ceremony for the “Wreaths Across America Foundation”. Our local Civil Air Patrol has spent the past 3 months selling wreaths to the community for this event. December 11, was the day scheduled across the nation to lay the wreaths.

This is a nation wide program started in 1996 by one man, Morrill Worchester of Harrington, Maine. As a child he had observed an elderly woman placing a wreath on a veteran’s grave at Christmas time. It had a profound impact on him that stayed with him for a lifetime. When he took over the family business, Worchester Wreath Company, he founded the program that fulfilled his desire as a youth: to place a wreath on the grave of every fallen soldier in America. It was to become an extension of the wreaths laid at Arlington National Cemetery. His expectations were surpassed, as wreaths are now not only laid throughout America, but also in military camps in foreign lands where our soldiers have fallen.

It was a short, but moving ceremony. After colors were presented and 7 ceremonial wreaths were laid representing each of the military branches, the cadets went to work laying the wreaths through out the cemetery. The general public was also invited to help lay the wreaths. There were a few veterans and a few family members of the cadets that helped lay the wreaths.

Attendance was not the greatest, but this is to be expected for a first time effort in our area. With a goal to sell 1083 wreaths so that one could be laid on every veteran’s grave that is buried in our two local cemeteries, the cadets sold roughly around 240 wreaths. The caretakers at the cemetery had previously marked each veteran’s grave with a green flag, in order for the grave of the vets to be easily found in the snow. I heard several cadets say it was sad to not be able to lay a wreath on every grave that had been marked. It touched me to see such caring. Nevertheless, it was a fine tribute and I’m sure it will grow each year. I was impressed by the generosity of the community in donating to such a worthy cause, and I am very proud of our cadets.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Message from Pearl Harbor - Part One

Yesterday, December 7, 2010, was the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that propelled America into World War II.

I think that’s worth mentioning. I am reading a book by David A. Witts about World War II in the Pacific theatre; so perhaps it has been on my mind a little more than it otherwise would be. It is only coincidence that I chose to read this book at this time. I woke, yesterday, wondering if there would be any news coverage about that sad day. I was pleased to see Pearl Harbor was the lead story in our local paper. I know there were a few ceremonies around town to honor those that lost their lives there. There was at least one of my friends who posted on Facebook about remembering and honoring those lives. I intended to put a post on my blog about Pearl Harbor, yesterday; but I just didn’t get that far. Once again, I took inspiration from this friend to blog about something that I knew I should, but that I had simply neglected to get done… better late than never, as the saying goes.

If we forget our history, we will repeat our history. The book I am reading, Forgotten War, Forgiven Guilt is about how the war in the Pacific Theatre was often overlooked. The author goes into great detail about events and atrocities that took place, and how it is almost impossible to find any information about the Army Air Corps, 13th Air Force. My dad was a member of the 13th Air Force, so this is somewhat personal for me and I am totally captivated by this book. I highly recommend it. I will most likely do a “book report” on Witts' story a bit later. But for today, I really just wanted to pay tribute to a generation that fought and died for what they believed. To quote the author David Witts in Forgotten War, Forgiven Guilt:
"We entered Europe’s War at times and places of our choosing. The Pacific war came to us. The December 7, 1941 headline read: “Japs Bomb Pearl Harbor.” At that moment America changed forever. Outraged, we left plows standing in the field in a rush to enlist. We lusted for revenge against an enemy that stabbed us in the back. Volunteers stood in lines to join up. Women worked in factories. Mothers planted victory gardens. Children collected tin cans. Armies first clashed in hand to hand combat 5,000 miles away on a peninsula in the Philippines called Bataan and a rock named Corregidor."
A war for America began and ended in the Pacific. When it was over, a nation rejoiced. Victory was complete. Of course there would be sadness as well when lives were lost.  My own dad, said when he was on the island of Samar and heard the news, there was no great celebration by the servicemen as one might expect, or that we see in the movies...it was simply over; they had done their job; and they wanted to go home. For our nation, a time of prosperity was ushered in. It would be Baby Boomers, Bobby Socks, and Butcher Shops....blissful living and belated appreciation.
"When the War ended, we came home, went back to school and work. We were so busy trying to make up for those four lost years, we had no inclination to talk about our experiences. Our conduct was not original. It was traditional. It was a deeply shared national experience. There was no sneaking off to Oxford. Roosevelt’s four sons served in uniform. We dropped into the Memory Hole, still married to our first wives. But now, half a century later, there is a fascination about that War, its people, their agony and their ecstasy. Today’s interest in the War comes as a surprise to those who fought it. It’s good to know some people do care, realizing who paid the butcher’s bill for the prosperity they blissfully enjoy. Now that others want to hear our stories, they come as wistful goodbyes."

For myself, I'm not sure all the current "fascination" is good. Only because I am not sure there isn't an underlying political motivation behind it.  The "fascination" is only good if those interested get an accurate accounting. And as Mr. Witts says in his book, there has been much that has not been very accurate. But that is all for another post; today I want to say thank you.

To that generation, especially those that fought and those that died; I pay tribute. Thanks for the steak, burgers and prime rib, Daddy. I promise to learn the lessons you've taught, and keep our history pure.

“There are things worse than war, and they all begin with defeat.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NOEL

Thanksgiving is over and now we will begin to direct our attentions toward Christmas. I love this time of year. I’m sure most people do. This year, we put our tree up a little early. We do tend to be early birds when it comes to putting up our tree. When Matt was little, we almost always had our tree up by the first week in December. Sam was driving truck and we had to arrange things so that he would be home for the festivities. We wanted it to be a family affair to get out and cut a tree, and decorate.

Sam’s no longer driving truck, but this year we wanted to decorate early because we are hosting a Christmas party for Matt’s journalism class. We meet the first week of the month, so I wanted to be sure to have the house decorated for that party.

Because it is so early, we opted for our little fake tree that we used in our store.  It was so early a real tree would surely dry out before Christmas. In the back of my mind, I was thinking we can always do a fresh-cut tree a bit later; but in all practicality, that most likely will not happen.

Part of the decorating for me, is remembering where all the little ornaments have come from. Each year as we decorate, I tell Matt, “This ornament is the very first ornament all your own.” “This one is from Aunt L. and this one was from the first year you went golfing.” “And this one? Of Yosemite Sam? Why, we got that because all of Daddy’s friends used to call him Yosemite Sam.” I think it was the hair and beard, not just the name. “See this little angel? My mom gave that to me when I was little…and look she got one of the same style, for you - of a horse - when you were just a toddler.” So on and on, I probably bore my family to death with the same stories each year. Matt had surely better remember those stories though, when he takes all his ornaments upon leaving home…ha, not so sure his wife will agree. ;-)

The last ornaments that we put on the tree are the ones that represent the true meaning of Christmas. There is a little angel from Aunt K, and a glass ornament of the Nativity from somewhere in Sam’s past. A Bible, a Cross, a Baby Jesus; we try to put these on last, so that we will pause to think in spite of all the activity and hustle and bustle, just exactly why we do this every year.

I also have a couple of favorite decorations that I decorate the house with each year. One is little figurines each holding a letter that spell out the word N-O-E-L. These were my grandma’s and somehow I was the one that inherited them after she died. I love them; I have always loved them. I think I commented about that at one time and thus they are now in my possession. They sat on Grandma’s buffet, piano, or library table every year, and now they sit on my piano. I love taking them out of their box each year. They are still in the same box and wrapped with the same napkins that my grandma used to protect them. I know it sounds silly but that wrapping is almost as important to me as the little figurines. I guess because it symbolizes the love and care Grandma gave to this little set. It’s a reminder of the same love and care she showered on her kids and grandkids.

Another one of my favorite Christmas items, I received as a gift from my paternal grandparents.  It is a sand dollar that came with the story of The Legend of the Sand Dollar.  Many of you have probably read it.  I’ve posted it below.  Through the years my sand dollar has been stained by a coffee spill - or something equally damaging - and one of the little doves has been lost, and one broken, but the message is eternal:

The Legend of the Sand Dollar

That I would like to tell
Of the Birth and Death of Jesus
Found in this lowly shell.
If you examine closely,
You’ll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Roman’s spear.
On one side the Easter Lily,
Its center is the star
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.
The Christmas Poinsetta
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of His Birthday
Our happy Christmastide
Now break the center open
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread good will and peace.
This simple little symbol
Christ left for you and me
To help us spread His Gospel
Through out Eternity.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving - 2010

I am on Newt Gingrich's newsletter mailing list.  This message came just a couple days before Thanksgiving. Regardless of whether one likes, or approves of former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, (no one's perfect) this is a great factual summary of the history of our National holiday, Thanksgiving. 
I'm thankful for my family...

A Grateful Nation?  I believe for the most part we still are...

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~  

A Grateful Nation
by Newt and Callista Gingrich

The very first "thanksgiving" was celebrated in 1619, one year before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth by another group of English settlers. The event was held on the banks of the James River at what is now Berkeley Plantation, the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison, signer of the Declaration of Independence and father of the ninth President of the United States, William Henry.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Inexhaustible Mercy!

In my "in-box" this morning I received a special e-mail from my niece.  It was such a wonderful testimony of encouragement and love that I quickly e-mailed her back to ask if I could post it here. She sent me her approval, so I am very excited to share it with you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~          

Spending Treasure #3 - Remembering Moments

“We do not remember days; we remember moments.” I don’t remember who it was that said those especially poignant words. A friend from college days gave me a plaque as a gift with that quote scripted across a beautiful photograph of a little girl in a peaceful meadow picking wildflowers. I don’t remember the day, or the occasion, or the reason for the gift. I barely remember the moment. I mostly remember the person that gave it to me….and though the little plaque no longer hangs on my wall, I have remembered what it said for these past thirty-plus years…(ok, we don’t exactly need to go there).

I was never very close to this friend. He was simply a classmate, and he had received a full-ride scholarship for his basketball skills. I remember very plainly watching him on the basketball court. I can still remember certain moments…like his thick, blond hair freely blowing back as he ran down the court, with a grin on his face. I know he loved the game.

I don’t know why he gave me the plaque. I don’t remember him ever asking me out for a date, or anything like that. I don’t remember spending a great amount of time with him. I remember his Irish setter, Cisco, and I remember he liked to write poetry. I learned a few years after our college days were behind us, that he had committed suicide. I was deeply saddened by this, but it didn’t really surprise me. In spite of that grin, that was so often prevalent on his face, there was something very melancholy about Daryl. He was an oft-times deep thinker, and he sometimes seemed lost in a world he didn’t belong.

But I didn’t intend to write about this friend; I only intended to write about the message on the plaque. I have often thought about those words since receiving that gift; but since I have started this blog, I think about that simple quote even more…mainly because the little glimpses from the past - or moments of memory - are often times learning moments that I like to share. And I don’t mean that I only want to share those experiences with others; but rather, in writing about these moments, the lessons are cemented for me. Yes, they are already written on my heart, but sharing them in writing adds another dimension….like important thoughts written on a plaque that I am not likely to ever forget.

I wish Daryl knew his friendship has stayed with me for a lifetime. I wish I would have been a better friend to him. Maybe if I could be more sensitive to the thoughts of others, I would more frequently glean from each friend and also better share with them the important, treasured moments of life....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening


This is one of my favorite poems. 
I used to read it when I was little with pictures only from my own imagination; after Matthew was born, I would read it to him from a beautifully illustrated edition...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Stopping By Woods
on a Snowy Evening
 By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer     
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep;
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep.



~~~~~~~~~~

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's the Soldier

I had a hard time trying to figure out what to write about this week. I had lots of topics that I wanted to cover, but most were political topics and I hesitated to do so. I am very politically minded, but I know I shouldn't bombard my readers with that very often. (Truly, I do know that!)  I also wanted to make sure to write a Veteran’s Day post, but somehow I just didn’t get that done. It wasn’t because I neglected to honor our veterans, or think about them. There was just sooooo much I wanted to say...and I know often times I get carried away...the task seemed like I could never say enough to honor our men and women that have served in harm's way.

I was very pleased however, that our local paper did a great job in honoring our vets this year. There were several articles and Letters to the Editor in honor of those that have served their country. The television media did a good job as well, it seems, in paying tribute. Locally, there were several ceremonies and a parade or two that paid homage to our vets. I attended one parade, and was very happy that I did. They had a special tribute to the "Spirit of ’45" which was especially heartfelt. Below are a few pictures of some that participated.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Morning at Our House

I'm the first one up as is usual.  Make the coffee, morning reading, turn on the computer and feed the animals while the computer loads. Yep, the computer is a bit slow and it does take that long to load. So anyway, there you have my morning "ritual".  Oh yeah, the morning newspaper is in there somewhere, as well, while I enjoy my coffee. My mornings are generally pretty peaceful.

The animals seem a bit confused this morning, though.  Tiger, the tabby cat, is sitting up on the gate of the fence and when he sees me at the kitchen window, he jumps down into the front yard.  What are you nuts, Tiger?  Bella is out there somewhere and I'm about to let Bullet out. They will share you as an appetizer. Seems like everyone is extra hungry this morning.

Skeeter is impatient this morning, too, because he thinks I am late.  He doesn't know about Daylight Savings Time and Falling Back.  To him, I am just waaaaayyy toooooo late; and he's mad. I try not to feed him when he is behaving too badly, because I don't want him to think that is ok.  But this morning, I am as anxious as he is to "get 'er done."  He is not nearly as much fun to feed as Lady.  I can't just love him and be myself as I did with Lady, I have to use tricks on Skeeter.  He's a bit of a bad boy, now and then.  For discipline, I force him to back up - which he hates - because it takes him out of control. But when I used this on one occasion, he got me instead because I wasn't properly prepared.  I hadn't taken the time to dress appropriately; I went out in my sweats (ok, it was my jammies) and slippers.  Yeah, shouldn't have done that.  He won that time.  But, I eventually got the better of him.  He follows me to the barn every morning, so I strategically put his grain bucket in a location where he has to back up for me in order for him to get to it. Ha, I still chuckle over that one.

Anyway, after feeding the animals, I always check my email to see if there is any news to start my day. All of a sudden Bullet is barking like he is "on hunt" or something.  But he isn't going toward the front door as is normal when something sets him to barking.  He is looking south out the living room window and going a little nuts.  Out the window I see two big dogs in the pasture: a rottweiler and a golden lab.  I'm not familiar with these two. Neither is our lab, Bella and she has property to protect. The two strangers don't back away but start running toward her.  Just as I am looking for shoes (or slippers) to run out and save Bella from what looks like a fight in-waiting, I see Skeeter run from his barn straight at those two troublesome canines. The two dogs don't even try to challenge Skeeter with a nip to the feet or anything else.  They just high-tail it out of here and neither of the dogs (nor Skeeter) stop until they get to the end of the pasture.

It was sooooo funny!  It was almost like Skeeter was herding them; he would get on the tail of one dog and then the other.  But he was serious. He knew those dogs didn't belong here.  I roared with laughter.  Bet those two won't be messin' with my bad boy again.

Phewwww; fun.  Good start to the day. Good start to the week.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Heap O' Larnin'"


Sergeant Alvin C. York
I just finished reading Sergeant York and the Great War originally edited by Tom Skeyhill in 1930. Right from the “get-go” I have a confession to make: I had never heard of Sergeant York before I saw a movie about him. It starred Gary Cooper and was produced in the 1940’s. I am embarrassed by that fact, but I can probably top it. I didn’t know who Gary Cooper was either when I first found this movie. Matthew was just a little guy, at the time, so I think it was probably some time in the late 90’s that we first watched Sergeant York. I can’t remember how we came across it. It must have been on an old movie channel or something. But after the first time I watched it, it quickly became my favorite. I fell in love with Gary Cooper; and Walter Brennan had always been one of my favorite actors, as well. Though Brennan was just a young guy in Sergeant York, he played an elderly pastor, and he was fantastic in his part.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Country Music and Reality TV

I love country music. I always have. I guess probably because my folks listened to it when I was growing up. My dad’s favorite artist was Ernest Tubbs and my mom’s was Eddy Arnold. I loved them both, along with Marty Robbins, Merle Haggard and even Buck Owens and his red, white and blue guitar.

My love of country never left me. While there was a time I loved and listened to artists like, Bachman, Turner Overdrive and Creedence Clearwater Revival, because everyone I knew was listening to them, my true love was the country artists. As I got older, I realized I had to leave rock n-roll completely behind. I just couldn’t listen to it. In the 80-s, country saw a resurgence in popularity because of the movie Urban Cowboy, I guess. John Travolta must have made it cool. All of a sudden country music was popular, and Barbara Mandrel came out with the hit, I Was Country When County Wasn’t Cool. I could relate; that was me. There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t listen to country music.

I like the beat - the 2-4 time; I love the steel guitar and the mandolin. I love being able to understand the words the singers are singing and I love the down to earth message that most songs bring. Yes, even Toby! You don’t think Toby should be included in “down to earth” singers? Listen, again! He’s awesome.

But anyway, I was scanning the channels this morning for something to watch and I landed on GAC - Great American Country. A new artist was singing his newly released single. I had never heard of this guy before, but his song caused me to reflect on why I love country so much. I guess because it is just so “Real”:

Five-hundred channels and there ain't much on tonight
Except reality shows about some folk's so-called lives
A pretty girl cries 'cause she don't get a rose
But she'll find love next year on her own show

 And they call that real

Real is a hand you hold fifty-seven years
Real is a band of gold tremblin' with fear
It's the first long tear down an old man's face,
watchin' his angel slippin' away
His heart's so broke, it's never gonna heal

I call that real


Where I live, housewives don't act like that
And the survivors are farmers in John Deere hats 
Our amazin' race is beatin' the check
Prayin' that the bank ain't ran it through yet

Real, like too much rain fallin' from the sky
Real, like the drought that came around here last July
It's the dust, boll weevils and the market and the weeds,
the prayer they're sayin' when they plant the seeds
And the chance they take to bring us our next meal

 
I call that real

Real, like a job you lose 'cause it moves to Mexico
Like a mama and a baby with no safe place to go
Like a little dream-house with a big old foreclosed sign
Like a flag-draped coffin and a twenty-one gun goodbye


I call that real
Man, I call that real
Oh, I call that real


REAL- James Wesley

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Daddy and His Fish

“It was pouring down rain, but I knew we were going to be there awhile”, she laughingly told us as we talked. “I wanted to tell him to just cut the line because dinner was ready; but I knew he would never do that and leave that fish with a bothersome hook in his mouth.”

“We were absolutely soaked; it looked like we had been swimming and we were surrounded by darkness!”

My dad and mom, – ages 85 and 84 respectively - had once again taken their annual “steelheadin’ ” trip to the Lewiston area of the Clearwater River. Married for 60 years and steelhead fishing for close to 30 of those years, they were now at home again, eagerly sharing some stories with my sisters and me.

That fish that night was in the fight of his life, with a contender on the other end of the pole that almost always wins. As the old saying goes, “If one gets hooked on steelhead, it can be terminal.” Or at least something close to that. I have to admit there have been times with my dad, I did indeed wonder; this being one of those times.

Dad was just about ready to quit for the day when he “got a bite” as he fished from the bridge. While he held the pole and kept the tension in the line just right, he walked from the bridge down the bank so that he would be able to finish the fight and land this big guy. He could tell by the struggle it was giving him that this was a big fish and it would most likely take a while before he would land it. If he tried to rush it, he risked losing.

An hour and ½ later, in the drenching rain and October chill, Dad landed that steelhead. It ended up being the largest fish he caught this season, weighing more than 20 pounds. This was just prior to opening day, and while catch and release is allowed, keeping any fish caught prior to opening date and keeping the natives is not. Mom watched patiently as she held the flashlight, while Dad held the fish in the water, running it back and forth to be sure it was fully revived before releasing his catch back into the river. It wasn’t long before the fish was swimming away, and my folks returned to their camp; Dad satisfied with another successful endeavor at landing steelhead; and Mom shaking her head and kind of wondering about that “terminal thing”.

Dad caught 11 fish this trip, releasing 8 and bringing home 3 from their 2 weeks on the Clearwater River. The largest was the 20 pound Native that Dad caught and released that evening underneath the bridge. The smallest was a 15 pound female hatchery fish that he was able to bring home with him. In the picture below is an 18 pound 36” inch male hatchery fish that Dad landed on the final day of their trip.

 Have you ever just tried to lift one of those fish?!! I'd say that little statistic above is pretty awesome for an 85 year old man. ..and I claim bragging rights!  ;-)

My Daddy and His Fish


Sissie, Mr. Steelhead, and Dad


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Autumn

Boy, I am enjoying these beautiful autumn mornings.  This is the kind of fall weather I look forward to each year, but I was so afraid we weren't going to get it this year. I don't know why, but autumn has always stirred so many memories for me; it always feels like a time to reflect on my past.  That is not a bad thing, as long as one doesn't stay there too long.  I think it is the settling in feeling, but autumn always reminds me of my childhood and school, it reminds me of my first days at college when everything was new and exciting.  "Nature" always seems more intense in autumn; smells cleaner, air crisper, days calmer. It's a time of change, and it's a time of rest before the snows fall and the busyness of the holidays begin.

Another poem comes to mind during this time.  I love the diction and colloquialisms that James Whitcomb Riley chose to use in this poem. It's a part of our past, it's our roots; and it's charming. Our most educated language scholar could not even come close to capturing the experience and sentiment that Mr. Riley has captured in this poem.  I love it; I hope you will take the time to read it...then read it again.

When the Frost is on the Punkin
James Whitcomb Riley. 1853–1916

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best, With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me— 
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Autumn

September
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)  

The golden-rod is yellow;
The corn is turning brown;
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.

The gentian's bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.


The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;    
And asters by the brook-side  
Make asters in the brook,

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes' sweet odors rise
At noon the roads all flutter  
With yellow butterflies.      
                               
By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer's best of weather,
And autumn's best of cheer.

My fourth grade teacher  (See my blog: The Hug That Teaches - February - http://jan-butterfliesandrainbows.blogspot.com/2010/02/she-was-one-of-those-people-that-you.html ) made her class memorize this lovely poem and I think I have recited it in my mind just about every fall since then. Ok, well I only remembered verses 1, 2 and 5; I had to google the rest. And I didn’t remember it was Helen Hunt Jackson that wrote it. That fact I found very interesting after owning my book store and having some of her books in my stock. There are still two more verses to this poem, but Mrs. Hunter didn't require us to memorize the last two.  I agree with my teacher's decision. These 5 are the best of Ms. Jackson's poem.

While it is no longer September, I definitely woke up to that kind of day today; so the poem went through my mind once again. I think it is beautiful, so I wanted to post it along with some photos
from my yard that I took this morning….
I know! I will never be a photographer, but I had fun out there in the yard this morning trying to get some photos of the lingering effects of Mr. Frost's visit again last night. This visit was not at all unexpected, but 25 degrees? Ouch! Have mercy!!   ;-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Touched by Laughter

We always wonder: Does it get easier? Seems like that is one of the questions so often asked when one loses a loved one.

It has been 4 years ago today, that we lost our beloved Isaac. He was 14 years old. He was the youngest of my brother and sister-in-law's three boys. Matt - my son; Isaac’s cousin - was 13 at the time. I tend to go into contemplation mode about this time of year; and I know by recently speaking to Isaac’s mom (my brother’s wife - my sissie) that October is, of course, still a very difficult time for them.

Does it get easier? Well, in the sense that it is once again October 13th, some things are still the same. We are still trying to get school done, much as we were that dreadful day. The sun is shining again today, much as it was that day. But it is cooler this year, than it was on that Friday, 4 years ago. Matt is a senior instead of an 8th grader. In thinking about that question; I know it is easier, in a practical way. I know am not going to get a phone call telling me about the awful news. I am not crying out in despair and wondering how I will tell Matthew. I am not getting dressed to rush to the hospital. I won’t look at the anguish in my brother’s face and I don’t have to wonder if my sister-in-law will live. I don’t have to wonder what life will be like without Isaac. I already know all of that now. So, in that regard, yes; it gets easier. Yes; I guess we have all learned the answer to that question, these years later. But the greater - more in depth - meaning in that question is in realtity what people are actually asking. No, I would not say it gets easier. But rather than a raw, ripping emotion - what occurs, I would say, is a mature ache. That is the best way that I can describe it. It is pain that has come into maturity, much the same way we mature in anything - by simply living….but is it easier? No. I think one only learns how to live in it.

Isaac was an awesome kid. His name means laughter, and that is how we will always remember Isaac – laughing; making others laugh. One of the last of my memories of Isaac occurred on an afternoon when he came to stay with us for a week or so before school was to start in September. We were on our way to the fair, and Matt and Isaac were sitting in the back seat of my car. They were giggling only like two boys that age could…that is, only if they are family. I looked in the rear view mirror to see what was going on. “Watch!” they said. Matt had his baseball cap in his hand and he would slowly put it in front of Isaac’s face. When he removed it a second later, Isaac made a funny and unusual expression; different each time. That is, different and more funny each time the hat was removed and each time I looked in the mirror. It was enough to make us all howl in laughter.

Monday, October 11, 2010

G-Man!

It was a visit long overdue. Life gets busy and one often neglects to do the things one should. I won’t even try to make excuses; one often simply does what is expedient when there is opportunity to acquire the desired means an easier way. So though I see my sister and her family weekly, it has been three years since I have taken the time to visit them at their home. Eeek! I am ashamed to admit that.

I’m glad we finally went. I enjoyed seeing all the new things they have done to their home since I had last been there. I enjoyed seeing their animals and I loved being back at one of the places I have always said was one of the most peaceful places anywhere to visit.

While we were talking, I noticed a photo of my nephew that appeared on the screen saver of my sister’s computer. It was such a wonderful picture of him, I had to stop mid-sentence to comment on this photo of her youngest son. “Wow, that’s a great photo of GM!” I exclaimed. “His smile just radiates! I can tell he absolutely loved whatever it was you were doing that day.” I commented to my youngest sis.

We continued our visit, and it was time well-spent. But today, that photo of GM is still resonating in my thoughts. The smile in the photo that gives away so much of GM’s heart, made me understand it was time to write about this nephew that is so very special to me. I’m not so sure he would be comfortable with that, so at least for this moment, I will refer to him as GM. I hear his mom often call him G-Man; and when he was just a tyke, I always referred to him as G….-baby. That name I know without a doubt is no longer acceptable; (he is now 21! LOL) but still, sometimes I have to stop myself from calling him the nickname I gave him as a baby. It simply slips out in love and affection.

Anyway, GM is an awesome kid that almost always makes me smile, merely at the mention of his name. He has been a wonderful friend to Matt as they were growing up, and I know the bond between them will always be very strong. With Matt being an only child, I am very thankful for that relationship.

For me, GM is one of those people that I trust almost without question, because I know he will always tell me the truth. That is one thing that has always been very important to me. My nephew is one of the people I am most comfortable with for that reason. I don’t like to have to guess where I stand with a person, or in any given situation…just tell me what you think; tell me your opinion; your likes; your dislikes, and I will be happy as a clam. GM and I have that kind of relationship, and it is really very comforting. Because of that, I will almost always trust GM’s opinion and listen carefully to what he has to say.

I love G because he cares enough to show me he is interested in me. I don’t mean that to sound selfish; but I think that is how relationships are built, by knowing the other one cares. There have been many times my sis and I will be on an afternoon drive somewhere with our sons, and we will be talking politics or current events while cruising in her Subaru. Though the topic may not be a favorite topic of G, he will always contribute to the conversation showing me he is listening. I love that he would state his thoughts, and I am often surprised by the wisdom in his comment. I don’t know why I should be surprised; I surely shouldn’t. Maybe it’s because sometimes I feel like common sense is pretty rare these days, but G-man often shows it.

He warmed my heart the other day, while at another family gathering. I was lamenting a mistake I had made. I don’t remember what it was specifically, but I do remember that my nephew piped up, (though I didn’t even know he was listening) … “Yeah, but you’re a great aunt, Aunt Jan!”

Yeah, ok, his was just a little comment, but it meant the world to me. How often does one hear something like that, anyway? Not very often, I would guess.

G likes to write, he likes to learn, and he is very computer savvy. He is thoughtful, gregarious and dynamic. For the most part, he is very content and his happiness is always contagious. Sometimes he just flat out makes me laugh when his excitement over something is unleashed. G’s life isn’t perfect; he has trials in life just like everyone, but that guy has learned how to handle them. And we rarely hear him complain. It’s amazing. I, for one, know I do not handle so gracefully the trials that life throws at me… unfortunately, I complain, I whine and I snivel. I need to take some lessons from my nephew, I guess.

It’s October; and October is a difficult time for my family having lost one of my nephews, 4 years ago this month. I’m sure I will be writing about this loved one in a day or two…and yes my thoughts are already there. With those thoughts on my mind and seeing that awesome picture of the G-man on the computer screen yesterday, I came to realize that I wanted him to know how much I love him…today.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Time for a Story


YOU HAD TO BE THERE
Written by: Kenneth Wright, Casey Beathard
Performed by: Tim McGraw


He sat down, picked up the phone and said, "Boy, I'm your old man."
He touched the glass between the two, as if to shake his hand.
The boy, he didn't budge, not even so much as a blink.
The man said, "Oh come on, better late than never, don't ya think?"

He said, "I read it in the paper, can't believe you're 21,
I can't believe some son of mine could do the things I hear you've done."
He went on like some big hero, who flew in to save the day;
And the boy said, "If your here, to steer me right, man, its too late."

"You had to be there, and I'm talkin from from day one.
Thats the only time a man should talk through glass to his new son.
And you'd have to go back, and teach me how when I was nine,
Cause my mama couldn't throw a ball even if she had the time.
I should have been learning how to fish, instead of learning how to smoke.
I bet if you'd of whoopped my tail, I'd never thought it was a joke."
He said, "Sometimes the will for doing wrong is way too strong for any mama's prayers,
You had to be there."

The man said, "Boy, I'm sorry that you hate me like you do."
The boy said, "Dry it up man, we ain't making this about you.
Its about a teenage girl, against the world, who was left there high and dry;
About a kid who might have stood a whole lot better shot at life, but
You Had To Be There

And I'm talking from day one,
That's the only time a man should talk through glass to his new son.
You'd have to go back and teach me how when I was nine,
Cause my mama couldn't throw a ball even if she had the time.
I should have been learning how to fish, instead of learning how to smoke.
I bet if you'd of whooped my tail I'd never thought it was a joke.
Sometimes the will for doing wrong is way too strong for any mama's prayer.
You had to be there."

Before the boy hung up the phone, he said, "They say I'm out of time."
And it hit the man, right there and then

"Oh man Son, so am I"….