Monday, April 25, 2016

Those who act in haste, repent in leisure...

File:Amish Outhouse.jpg
Building Plans available
This example is in much better condition than the one at Grandma's house.
Following Halloween shenanigans, outhouse tipping continued. Every house built in late 1800 era sported an outhouse, a necessity for the pre-plumbing days.  Some were quality, meant to last for many years.  Others were built in haste and their construction showed rickety and rotting wood.  Easy pickings, they were targets of gangs of boys treading through darkness and, with little effort, tipping those over.

My Grandmother Amy lived in one of those old houses and had one of the latter outhouses.  This made her graying and rusting outhouse a frequent subject of the outhouse gang.

Each time Grandma Amy had to phone my father, who then drove through dusky hours to place the structure back over the pit. After almost every night's misadventures, Dad and Grandma devised a plan:  move the outhouse over into wild roses, leaving the pit open under a dark moonless sky.  While they waited in silence and darkness with an occasional smirk and giggle, these monsters approached through with giggles of their own.

Moments later screams and profanity were heard as surprised boys tumbled feet forward into the open pit, a not-too empty pit at that.

Grandma and Dad switched on the porch light, and armed with flashlights, they smiled down on faces of well-known-miscreant teenagers. What the.....get us outta here...damn you...

Grandma armed with a water hose and Dad with a rope managed to pull the three boys out.  A casual stream of water dripped down over the excrement covered boys, leaving a healthy amount of odoriferous matter behind.  Dad directed them to place the outhouse back over the pit, promising to inform the town's mayor about them.

Following the order of penance, grumbling in whispers, the boys settled every outhouse through out town, securing them safely and securely in place.  They even assisted my father in building a new outhouse for my grandma; they also dug a new pit for her outhouse, refilling an old full pit in with soil.

This was a memory that gave Grandma a source of giggles the rest of her life.  God Bless Her.

A few years later, an addition to her house included a toilet and sink.

Amy Lucy (Dolly) Nichols Peck
July 1970

Friday, April 22, 2016

Teachers who truly love teaching...

Built in 1917, I think, after country schools could no longer handle the growing numbers of High School students.  It became an elementary school when a new high school was completed in the county seat.

An elementary school located in small rural areas during the 1950s were a toss-up when it came to teachers.  Many elements affected quality and availability.

Teachers were often women during the 1940s who simply took a tests, demonstrating intelligence and understanding of teaching requirements.  After WW2 ended, some of these women returned home.  Others were of retirement ages anyway, they stayed for money's sake, but were required to upgrade teaching skills annually. Some were good and caring, but others rode broomsticks to school.

Our third grade class was blessed with one of a few very few special teachers: Mrs. Mary Ellen Willard.  Unusual in many ways, Mrs. Willard was well-educated, had a teacher credential, and much experience. Following our class, she taught for thirty-one years, mainly in our small rural town. 

Of the class of 15 students, there were three of us who whizzed through an entire year's curriculum in the first six weeks.  What to do with Scott, Patty, and me? So, what to do with we three?

Mrs. Willard, now I recognize in looking back, let us pursue our creative instincts.  She required spelling tests and math tests, but cut the string,  basically and silently gave permission to have at it.

Such set up a life-time of learning!  Think of all the other bright students who benefited with her approach to teaching!

May God bless Mrs. Willard and all other teachers who share her love for learning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sam Snail, a re-post from 2014

His folks had forced Sam Snail to attend the class on snail safety, where posters covered the room:

“An Informed Snail is a Safe Snail!”

“It’s not dandruff, you idiot!  It’s salt!”

Source: Wikipedia

“A stupid snail becomes escargot!”
Mr. Goo
Mr. Goo, the oldest snail in the community, scanned the adolescent snails with his antennae.  “Listen up, you slimy slugs!”

The snails convulsed with laughter---the slug joke was an old one. Then all became quiet as the spectres of snails long gone before filled the room.

They whispered, “Grass is good.  Sidewalks are bad….” 

Then Mr. Goo shouted, “If you are ever besieged by a bunch of birds, then kiss your shells good-bye.”

Intervals of laughter and silence of doom broke up the rest of the day.  Finally, class was dismissed.
List of Bizarre Championships: Snail racing - Start of the race
snail racing competition
Mr. Goo watched them in silence, Poor dumb Molluscan GastropodsHalf of them won’t even make it home.

Delores provided participants of the "Wednesday Words" with a variety of six words with which to play:  write prose, short fiction, non-fiction, poetry...Each week there was always a challenge.  
Delores has stepped back, and now a variety of Bloggers cover each month.  Check with Elephant's Child.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Green Grows the Grove

“These trees are old, really old, Aunt Celia!” Buddy whispered to the elderly lady holding his sweet hand.  “They’s older than you, even!”  He skipped to a hidden tune.

“Yes, little boy, I know they are old,” she mused, smiled down at the intense face.  “They were old when I was your age.”

His surprised face turned to laughter as he pictured this old woman skipping.  “Then you know all about the ‘sterious dis’pear’nce of Miss Cassandra!”

“Yes, my dear Buddy, but you tell me all about it, will you?”

Buddy flew into the story of the missing Cassandra, a story handed down to each generation.  Celia hid her chuckles as Buddy threw pirates and ghosts into the simple recounting of a young lady ran away on eve of her wedding with her fencing instructor, and her “’sterious dis’pear’nce”.  “You reckon Miss Cassandra’ll ever be found?”

When Buddy finished the grand story, both were exhausted.  “Come, little man, let’s rest here a while,” Aunt Celia indicated a bough leaning to the ground.  She perched on the lowest bend, just as Buddy’s dog came bounding by.

His question unanswered, Buddy took off after his pet.

Great-Great-Aunt Celia gazed at the ground beneath her feet, knowing that just a few feet below lay Miss Cassandra in her wedding dress. Oh, well, Cassie. These things happen. You should never had trusted me.

Celia smiled. Life has been good. 

This is photo prompt from Delores in 2012. I think this is from Atlanta, GA.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Discovering what was there all the time...

In my youth, country western music was the only music played on local radio stations. Lyrics were outdated and predictable; music was twangy and depended heavily on banjos.  

What about Janis Joplin?  Beach Boys? What about "She wore an itsy bitsy, teeny weenie, yellow polka dot bikini"?

Given my varied musical taste, rediscovering country western music is surprising. Sadly, some legends had already died, some dying young from various addictions or in accidents. Others died in the course of time. 

Hank Williams died before he was thirty.  Patsy Cline died at the same age.   Johnny Cash left in 2003 at age 71.  

Such is life.  And death.  I found their music empowers those who take the time to listen to words, which I finally did.

A rare clip from 1952 with Alice Carter and Hank Williams

Back in the days of black and white television...

Johnny Cash died in 2003 at the age of 71.  This video was the last he recorded. 

OOPS!  I somehow put two Johnny Cash (the same ones) up.  Don't know how to delete one.  Oh well.

Take the time to listen, really listen.  To the words, which say it all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

What's up with Education, anyway?

Education is confusing at any school district, State education departments, and Federal over-sight committees.  Questions range all over spectrum, based on political interest levels.

 All the issues in education are based on Politics, and who controls the money.  No, really, it is just about the money.

Call me cynical, but educational needs reflect political hormone swings, a pendulum of sorts. 

Language acquisition
For over a decade, bi-lingual education was the "flag pole to salute" (political term).  Teachers had the option to meet certification 1) take four college classes, or 2) take a test, essay and fill in the bubble.

This all earned the "B.C.L.A.D.**"certification. Not only that, teachers had a deadline of four years to complete this requirement, or face employment death. **Bi-lingual Cross-cultural Academic Development

It is very important here to acknowledge that the goal of every teacher, is to understand the needs of all students and meet them. 

In less than a year, a growing bi-lingual program was dismantled. Teachers were aghast--killing the sacred cash cow? Money moved to other programs.
Bubble in
No Child Left Behind--a national test given faithfully and funded by National funds--was part of the GW Bush legacy.  With this Standardized Testing, districts forced "teaching to the test" onto each teacher.  Nearly every day, students took mini-tests which would hopefully lead to successful scores, making school districts showing progress.

Product Details
Available at Amazon
Here is a preface from an 1889 edition of Illinois and the Nation. This book itself is as dry as sand, but it is an interesting view of expectations in teaching:

So many opinions, disputes, and frustration accompany this topic.  What to do?  What to say?  What to believe? What next?

What do you think? Did education in 1905 go the right direction?
What should schools be teaching in this era?  Are students basically the same, or radically different from students way back when? What should be done now?

My posts nearly always contain some sort of graphic or whatever.  It breaks up the solid wall of words.  When a student faces this wall, shut down may happen.  So, throw in some photos appropriate to text and allow readers to process, then read on.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Welcome Home!

From Wikipedia
Such simple two word sentiment, yet this duet cries out with emotion and sincerity, hearts swelling with joy, and flooded by happy tears. 

Welcome home!

To return home after a long absence is framed by two words.  Memories of my parents opening a door and stepping out onto their porch remain strong long after those many trips back home have ended.

Welcome home!

When a carrier docks at port, Marines who been on tour for six, nine, or more months  race down the ramp to families holding a sign that reads "Welcome Home, Daddy/Brother/Son!" Hugs and tears mingle with confusion when Daddy picks up his little girl who was only three months when he left.
one-day-someday: “this is too perfect! she’s adorable. ”:
Welcome home!

Welcome home! You are loved and we missed you.

Welcome home! We lived for every phone call and letter.

Welcome home! Photographs of you and yours lay on almost every flat surface.  Photos are smudged with fingerprints and clear of dust.

Welcome home, followed by Come back!  One happens but the other may not.

       Live for the days of "Welcome home!" and rejoice.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Hotel Vienna Woods, Glanmire, Co. Cork

In "In Between Worlds", I wrote about walking in the woods and experiencing an ancient history and people. 

It occurred to me that our family's time in Ireland and our adventures had never been posted for bloggers to read.  It was an amazing few years where our children attended Irish schools (scoil) and studied Gaelic, where we lived on 20 acres of ancient forests, where we owned and operated a hotel (built in 1769 as a hunting lodge for an English lord, converted to a hotel in early 1960s).

Here are a few photos.

One of the 3 rooms used in weddings in the Hotel
Johnny in his wellies with his cat Midnight
Manor house of the Lord of Blarney-- house and creepy tree, 5 miles from us
Partial view of west side of hotel, 1985

Three milk stools found buried beneath refuse dating to mid-1800s
View of Glanmire, nearest town from the Hotel...Glassaboy tidal river
Erin and Johnny by a grotto built in 1780s for providing food and water for deer (which would later be hunted)
Mary by one of the huge trees in the woods
Later, Fitzgerald bulldozed and covered this part of the woods.
Bungalows, instead, were built.
Drive leading from Glanmire up to the hotel

Our woods.  I am in a white sweater with Johnny beside me and dog Buddy in front. Farther away on the trail are my daughter Erin and Patrick Kane. Behind us is a steep slope and in front is an upward slope.  The stone table is further up the path.

This was truly an adventure for each of us in different ways. For my children--those memories have never faded. It is the same for us, their parents.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Dinosaur Bones are the best bones.

"Sue," the Tyranosaurus rex skeleton, is one of the most famous exhibits at Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History
"Sue", Chicago Field Museum
From early excavations of large bones in England by Rev. Wm. Buckland and Dr. Gideom Mantell, begun in 1820s, to contemporary discoveries world-wide, dinosaurs have remained a fascination for people then and now.  My family are among those who gaze at gloriously articulated dinosaurs at museums in absolute awe.

When "Jurassic Park" was released in the early 1990s, dinosaur obsessed people were ecstatic.  When #2 sequel came along? Not so much.  #3 was better. Then there was "Jurassic World" which we have watched three times, and are up to another viewing.

Real joy is now seen in our 3 1/2 year old grandson, Benjamin.  His collection of accurate dinosaurs is enviable, and he KNOWS scientific nomenclature.

In Bern, Switzerland, where Benjamin and his parents--Richard and our daughter Mary--reside, life-sized dinosaurs have been relocated from a remodeled museum to family parks throughout the city.

Amazement and joy shown below:

Is this real?

It's bigger than ...

It's pooping on me, Mummy!

A good day to be parents

Joy captured.

Other dinosaurs are scattered through the city in neighborhood parks.  I can only assume that dinosaur hunting will be another day trip for Benjamin (and his parents.)

Benjamin "getting down" with my own personal collection of vegan dinosaurs

Monday, April 4, 2016

Nefarious, WY, a re-post from March 14, 2014

Town of Nefarious, Wyoming: pop. 4957 ---953

"Come Sick, Leave Healthy"

At the turn of the 1900s, Nefarious had been a boom town.  Seltzer Springs brought in wagons full of health seekers to use the springs, eat peculiar food, and spend money.

Alas, the Springs started to dry up along with the tourists.  Around 1993, the population itself dwindled.  Then one day, few boys were playing in the empty waterbed when they screamed in delight, ran back to the mayor, Ol' Doc Kinkaid, who confirmed their big find.  He took to kids to his house and locked them in a closet.  "I'll let you out when the city council men get here."

The council men came quickly as there had been little to do lately.

The boys told them and led them to the creek bed.  "Look, Mr. Jenkins! Look!"  And there it was: the bones of an immense prehistoric boa, 50 feet long with the circumference of 8 feet.  Silence fell.  There was more to be found as they walked along the dried stream, lined with dinosaur bones.

Source: Pin
In the quiet dining room of the widower Jasper Fillings way out of town, all men along with the boys sat around the dining table and a plan was hatched.  "In two weeks time, we must re-construct our miserable little town to make it look like it did back in 1890s.   Stores must occupy the empty old stores....and anyone known to be a gossip and who has relatives who are gossips must be confined." He paused and shook his head.  "How, I don't know."  

He continued. "Phones ripped out, Facebook and such shut down...secrecy is the key. Boys?  You wanta help or be locked up in the old boarded up classroom out in the Old school?"

The town without the gossipy group threw muscle into renewal.  Quilts were ordered from China, tags removed, with new tags added "Hand-sewn by Louisie May Smith".  Rusty tools and blacksmith shop were restored.  Jars and jars of jams, preserves, and candles were ordered.  The labels were stripped off, and new ones put on:  Mrs. Nefer's Homemade.... My...Oh, the work. Nefarious appeared to be frozen in the late 1800s.

The gossipy type were sent on a 21 day cruise to Hawaii on the Holland American vee Dam. 

Finally, the paleontologists were summoned.  Two wise men, then four, then more:  all agreed that this was the biggest titanoba ever found, and joy overflowed as they walked down the creek bed.

lackadaisical bearded old man was paid to sit in an old chair with his feet propped up on the sidewalk railing.  Curious tourists with full shopping bags asked him how long had he been there.

"Heck if I know,"  he answered and then aimed some tobacco spit at the nearby spittoon.  Sometime he hit the mark, sometimes he did not.

Please forgive me if there is a town/city named Nefarious.  I checked every where and this did not seem to be anywhere.  If there is, I do beg for ytsour forgiveness.

This is a re-post of Wednesday Words given as a challenge for bloggers to shake up their writing, to take a break from WIPs, try different genre.  A dear Blogger, Delores, started this challenge a few years back, passing the baton onto other talented bloggers.  Her computer betrayed her and she has taken a much-needed break from blogging.  A BREAK, Delores!

P.S. We visited Branson, MO, a few years ago.  Branson is famous for its quilts and homey products, I was eager to look at them.  They were lovely, but when I looked for the source, I found a tag, "Made in China".  Then I saw a sign which read, "Homey Quilts, made by Branson designs."