Saturday, November 30, 2019

News of Great Joy

Jones School Students Rehearse For Christmas Program, December 17, 1959 image

In classrooms throughout the nation,December marked frantic use of scissors, glitter, and paper in schools everywhere. Teachers reluctantly set out the peppermint paste, letting chaos take its course. And then...

Influenza and Christmas frenzy drove the pace.

Each classroom reflected garish joy and vacant student desks as days counted down to one big event: Annual Christmas Pageant.  If ever there were a bigger event, the community did not know of it.

The District Music teacher, Mrs. Harris, traveled to every school before settling on this one school to perform that year's pageant.

Mrs. Harris was relentless in her expectations and doling out various roles as fear hung in the air while performers marched to her music. Seventh and eighth graders became The Holy Family with younger students filling out as angels, elves, and sugar canes.

Influenza began wiping out the Holy Family and shepherds.  But Mrs. Harris did not break step or sweat; Mrs. Harris drafted the best of the next grade down.

In sixth grade, all girls were hoping,  Please oh please let me be Mary! Their hearts, minds and eyes pleaded.

Briefly, Mrs. Harris laid eagle eyes on a few, but moved on.  Those girls would remain angels that year.  The pageant took place with Holy Family intact, but still running fevers, while Angels waited in the wings, scratching silver garland halos. 

Day after Pageant Glory, angels' desks were vacant,  each absentee sick with influenza. A few elves were out as well.

I was always one of the angels, although I know I would have nailed Mary's character perfectly.  

Please note that this memory comes from a then 10 year brain.  I discovered that "Mrs. Harris" was kind and a very good teacher.  She taught us all how to read music, and as a result I learned to play the piano, due to her strong teaching.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A mouse? Roaring?

The Mouse That Roared. Tully Bascombe (Peter Sellers).
Peter Sellers in 1959

On a quiet night after kids were in bed, I was caught by a movie. Carrying a load of laundry through the room, Peter Sellers appeared on the screen and that did it for me. I sat down and started sorting socks as the movie unfolded.

The main characters are Peter Sellers (who plays three roles), Jean Seberg, William Hartnell, and Leo McKern, all talents in the English stage, TV and film. 

This is a standard movie trailer from 1959,

The 1959 movie, The Mouse that Roared leads the viewer through the country of Grand Fenwick, supported by its export of wine. A country the size of a town in Rhode Island, Grand Fenwick is a pre-industry state and darn proud of it. When California undercuts the product by selling its own wine, Pinot Grand Fenwick, the country is bankrupt.  

To save the country, Peter Sellers (prime minister, Count Rupert Montjoy) suggests that Grand Fenwick declare war on the United States. The thinking was:

"The surest way to wealth today is to lose a war with the United States, for that country's odd reaction is to pour aid, relief and rehabilitation on the vanquished."

But first, the Grand Fenwick army has to attack America. Twenty soldiers in medieval chainmail, carrying bows and arrows, catch a ride on a French tug. They arrive at the New York harbor during an air-raid drill, which confuses the heck out of the army since the streets are empty.

This is an image of Photograph & Poster of The Mouse That Roared 199102
Wandering through the streets of NY
The nervous army is mistaken for invading Martians (what?) and somehow a bumbling American general investigates. The Grand Fenwick army accidently shoot his tires out with bow and arrow. They capture the General and four NYPD officers. 

Meanwhile the G.F. army is frantically looking for a place to surrender. They somehow end up with the Q Bomb which is capable of destroying an entire continent. Beyond all expectations, G.F. wins the war.

The G.F. capture the scientist and his daughter, taking them AND the Q Bomb back to Grand Fenwick. When the conquering F.B. army returns to Grand Fenwick, things go a bit wild at this point.

It is exhausting to try to tell this story.  But  this is an English movie, crisp with tight dialogue, humor that threads through all the bumbling one can imagine.

Just watch it. It is a movie for a quiet night with a glass of wine or three, and no expectations. The socks can wait to be sorted.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

And the possible side effects are...

27 Funny Minion QuotesThey will be very surprised. Me, me, me…I’m dead. Why ...
My doctor has prescribed medicines for me that sounded good until I asked "What are the side effects?" And then the list comes forward. I have looked at her, saying that if there are even 1% to 8%, I will have them. She always smiles and even giggles.

Here are some that I remember: May cause exploding diarrhea, May cause gangrene in male genitals, May cause immediate and extreme weight gain, May cause suicidal thoughts...a plethora of a whole bunch of bad side effects.

Reading some of those crazy side effects is a bit scary. Be prepared.

1. Severe blisters and peeling skin:  extensive skin loss over 30% similar to burns.

2. Toxic necrosis, death of cells spreading through the body.

3. Nerve damage, beginning in the hands and feet and later moving to the center of the middle of the body.

4. Hallucinations involving visual, smell, depression, sleep deprivation.

5. Priapism which is an unwanted, painful, persistent erection.

6. Birth defects

7. Compulsive behaviors, causing urges to perform a list of undesirable and intense excessive actions.

The list of medications and their horrible side effects is too darn long for this blog.

Lesson to be learned here is to read the information paper folded up in the box containing the possible effects. Lesson is to always discuss this with doctor and pharmacist. 

Seek possible holistic and natural aid.

Heck of a thing, isn't it? 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Time is the Fire is which we burn

Image result for star trek generations movie poster
from Pinterest
Time always propels us all, shoving us forward when we would be quite comfortable going backward. Because growing old(er) is so gradual at first, one day it is a bit of shock to find an old photo of ourselves and gasp.

Malcolm McDowell and Patrick Stewart confronted the issue in a Star Trek: Generations, one of Star Trek movies. Dr. Tolian Soran is seeking to connect with the Nexus, a spatial ribbon that would send him to the time to find his late wife (?). The rest of the plot can be expanded on plot summary

This movie unites Capt. James T. Kirk and Jean Luc to confront and prevent Soran from launching a rocket int this phenomena. 

The source of this exquisite quote is J.M. Willard, a pseudonym for a prolific brilliant writer, Jeanne Kalogridis. Her list of writings is varied, ranging from books, through a huge amount of tech, movies, and more.  You can find her on Wikipedia source.

She is the one who wrote the phrase Time is the fire in which we burn. If nothing else, this phrase resonates with its simplicity and honesty.

What do you see in this simple phrase? How would you respond if this was said to you?

YouTube, Key moment

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Wine and the Mind

The Balloon of the Mind
Hands, do what you’re bid,
Bring the balloon of the mind
That bellies and drags
In the wind,
Into its narrow shed.
Wm. B. Yeats

Color of wine
A Drinking Song
Wine comes in at the mouth
And Love comes in at the eyes.
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift my glass to my mouth,
I look at you and I sigh.
Wm. B. Yeats

William B. Yeats—always a favorite of mine.  Enjoy, follow the balloons. Sip the wine.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Fine Eatin'

Source + recipes
In the backwaters of Louisiana, the place to eat was at Kalper's Kitchen, where unique and delicious fare could be found. Food was prepared by the man, Kalper himself.  He was always the force blowing full bore around his kitchen, letting no one and nothing get in his way. No one ever knew his secret recipe for award winning shredded beef and smoked ribs.
Not an easy person to approach, his manic brilliance gave new definitions to Southern fried catfish and smoked ribs.  AND all who knew Kalper also understood to stay out of Kalper's kitchen during these hours of inspired creation.

After other sous chefs--Alvin, Sanders, and Simon--got fed up and left, a short new sous chef, Whittier, joined the staff. Whittier was missing some brain cells, and stumbled into the kitchen whereupon Kalper promptly skewered Whittier with his newest blade, a nine-inch Miyabi Birchwood.

squelched scream gurgled. Hearing the thud,  Kalper's three brothers rushed in to grab Whittier by his sneakers, and drag him to the freezer. 

One muttered, “Damn! That’s the third one this month. Damn shame.""

They tossed Whittier onto the heap of Alvin, Sanders, and Simon. Soon they would finally be allowed in Kalver's Kitchen.

Wednesday Words was started by Delores, who closed her site.  Elephant's Child and at River along with other bloggers are providing pithy challenging words.These words were from 2015.

I took these words and using a dark humor hidden in my brain, put this into a new and unusual short story.

Great fun. 


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Someone Else's Home

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A house that once was, Illinois

The most difficult experience of going home to the source of one's beginning is realizing just how much home has changed. Where and when my life began was now someone else's home.

Traveling and living away from the hometown area meant that returning was more of a sadness. It seemed to me that while I have changed drastically, those places should have remained the same as if under a big glass dome, frozen in time.  The people I knew then should be the same ages, moving around the county while continuing those same bits of their lives as if I had never left.

In America farmland, houses and barns are made of wood, well made. They were homes for maybe three generations and then no longer occupied. The photos below are of those in Illinois, my home state. 

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Family farms disappeared when cities held more jobs. Children who grew up in those farms moved away, leaving the houses empty. Empty houses fell down. Towns once busy and thriving failed when elderly died and their progeny traveled on.

It is inevitable that lives change, people find other opportunities. That would be me. But, in the places of those farms and homes, there are new homes and barns, just down the road. Their story is yet to be written.

Pike County, Illinois Courthouse. Stone masons had recently moved from England and settled in the county. Their skill built this building.

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Things change, but then things remain the same.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Wisdom from Sunshine

Philosophy talk

Yesterday I held a sick child*** for almost the whole day.  ‘Sunshine’ had been sick with fever and vomiting the night before, and was staying home from kindergarten.  She lay across my lap while we rocked, and I caressed her face and hair.  In my grandma kingdom, this was a great day.

released in 2009
We watched a selection of Disney movies, starting with “Dinosaurs”.  We have watched this movie many times, but I have never been plastered in the chair by a five-year old with a fever of 101 degrees.

Usually, when Sunshine and I watch a movie, she gives me a running commentary on the movie along with her own unique insights.  You would be amazed by the perspectives a kindergartner has about life and theology.

The plot is straight-forward:
A dinosaur egg miraculously escapes many brushes with crushing, ends up hatching in the tree occupied by a family of primates.  They adopt the adorable newly hatched dino and name him “Aladar”. Then the meteor strikes, blows almost all away (except..d) They run and manage to escape. After that, life is difficult, but Aladar (who is fortunately an herbivore) develops friendships and family. 

There are some universal truths conveyed in that movie.  Go with me on this:

Everyone needs to love and be loved.

Everyone needs to know they are not alone.

Everyone needs to make conscious decisions for good or evil.

Everyone needs to be believed in and encouraged.

Everyone can change and grow.

Everyone has the potential to learn and the capacity to give to others.

Everyone must take chances, to make ‘a leap of faith’.

Everyone needs to trust and believe in something bigger than themselves, something they cannot see.

Okay, these are not a profound revelations.  I have never evaluated a movie for universal elements before, and I was struck by the way the movie displayed these characteristics. 

Then we watched “Night at the Museum (has a dinosaur)”, and “Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure (no dinosaur)”.  We both nodded off before Tinkerbell was able to repair the moonstone.  


***This is a repost from 2010. Sunshine was 5 then and is now 13. She still has a unique perspective on life and would sit on my lap if possible. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Smoke always Rises

Wwi stereo195

Grandpa is old, real old.  

Nancy knew that because he had fought in a war called The Great War, the war he said was so big that it would end all wars.  Her dad went to fight another war.  War? What is war?

Nancy watched as Grandpa spread out his left hand.  He had big old wrinkly hands, with rough calluses and gnarled fingers, like any old man.  But she had never noticed the drawn white scars of burns, horrible burns. 
He lay a thin paper on the white scars, opening it with his other hand.  Again, she stared at it, in awe of the stripes and crude stitching it bore from wounds earned long ago.  Her four year old mind could not form any questions about scars, old and twisted.

Grandpa reached into the pocket of his flannel shirt, retrieving a drawstring bag.  Fingers moved slowly, easing open the drawstring, and then pouring a line of tobacco.

Copyright Susan Kane
Young man on his way the France

His hands never shook, not for one second.  They held steady and still as Grandpa licked the edge of the paper.  Hands so badly scarred had continued for fifty years, working, caressing, holding hands, living. Fascinated, Nancy watched as Grandpa placed the cigarette on a lip.  

Oh. Nancy gazed up at Grandpa, his creased face told nothing about the day. Grandpa was always silent around her, having nothing to say to a little girl.

He struck a match and lit up, breathing deeply.  She stared at his thoughtful expression and troubled eyes.

An old man walked by, tipped his hat to Grandpa.  Grandpa just nodded back, not even looking at him.  “Who’s he?” Nancy asked.

Grandpa blew out a ring of smoke.  “He’s a Goddamn coward.  His pa paid some other man to go fight instead of his own son.  Sonabitchgoddam coward…couldn't spit on his own shoe, and other words that Nancy did not understand.

“What’d you do in a war, Grandpa?” Nancy whispered, wide eyes searching for pale blue eyes staring off at the sonabitch.

He glanced sadly down at Nancy.  Turning his face away and  taking another deep drag, Grandpa mumbled, “I killed a whole bunch of men.  Lots of 'em…”

Nancy nodded.  The two sat there, one smoking and the other gazing as the smoke disappeared around them.

Copyright Susan Kane
Grandpa, age 60.
He died 14 years later when 75.
Grandpa had been gassed in trenches, and for such,
received a stipend of $25 each year. 

Grandpa in 1952
My brother Robert and I are listening to his radio. He was
in his ?s.

This is a repost from 2013. War has led to war to war to war for the entire history of humankind. Will there ever be a time when there is no war?
Not until the end of our time on earth, Matt. 24: 4-7 
Wars and rumors of wars

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Christmas Now! Then!

A tree in our old neighborhood. For 11 months of the year if was ugly, but at Christmas?
It was stunning.
You might think that this post is a tad premature, but there is a reason: I want to celebrate Christ's birth, listen to music, decorate with every bulb and garland I can find, and remember every Christmas possible. Christmas cannot wait and neither can I.

Taken from our Chicago hotel room
after my son's wedding
Waiting for Christmas is and has always been the most intense, insane experience of anticipation of all the year. 
Standing in front of the tree and being mesmerized by the lights is the disco ball of the season. Then there was the dancing around the tree. Shaking the presents and guessing their contents is always be part of the game.  The small train around the base wears itself out by the Big Day, only too happy to be packed away for next year’s new batteries and another chance to whistle.

(That was a few years ago, going into the sixth decade of life. Then my granddaughters informed me then that I have to move away from the tree.  It was their time to do the dancing.)

Moving ahead some years and I would be found with the other delights: baking some, fixing meals, cuddling a baby, and moving furniture around to accommodate our grandsons BJ and Jim. (then almost 1 year old baby brother).
BJ 5th birthday, June 26, 2017

Jim at 6 months, June 22, 2017
I was waiting for Christmas, slightly removed from the tree’s perimeter to allow tween girls and a five year-old in pajamas to enter into the thrall of the tree. And now there will only be two girls in their teens. Sweet wonderful girls who are Irish dancers will be there.Christmas starts as a spark of joy, and then fills me all up.  Christmas is here!  Christ came into the world as a human, to experience the human pain and suffering.  Christ was crucified, resurrected, and ascended into heaven.   Christ dwells within me daily, reminding me that I am part of His family. 
This year I will think about those boys in their own home, dancing around their tree. 

In a running park 

This a repost of 2010.  I liked it, and juggled some words about to post it again in 2017. Now, here in 2019, I post it again.

Why is this post going up in early November, you may ask.  Christmas 2016 my husband's family went on a cruise because Mom Kane had died in February and none of us wanted to be home, without her.

It wasn't Christmas for any of us, we acknowledged it then and now.  Now, each year since 2016 we gather in one home or another and talk about times with Mom and Dad, and the joy they brought to Christmas.

This year, 2019 my husband and I will dance up a storm around the tree with our teenage granddaughters, laughing about all the other dances of the past. WE will stop our dancing after a few minutes while they carry away the night.

YouTube: Flash Mob, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Just take another tablespoon every four hours?

Found in our old barn's timbers

We like to think that life was good in the "old days", when our grandparents were young and WW1 was on the horizon.
Telephones that hung on the wall? Water hand pumped in the kitchen? Wood burning stoves?  

Some of those old days were good in the sense that social life was simpler. The old days were more community oriented. 

But medical care? My mom once told me how Dr. Wells performed her appendectomy on the dining room table. House calls were the only time most people saw the doctor. Prescriptions? Home remedies and readily available self-medications for the most part, although the doctor had some legitimate prescriptions at his home.

At the farm, our barn had been built late 1800s, and was leaning by 1970s When the barn was torn down, an untold number of medicinal bottles were found, all of which were long empty and those few still had small amounts of amber liquid, sealed in by caps melded to the glass. (owner of our farm was a doctor and had the liquid analyzed. It was alcohol.)

Original Heroin Opium Antique 1915 Pharmacist's Federal Medicine Order Form Johnson Pharmacy Mullen Haynes History Channel Henderson KY DEA on Etsy, $175.00
Order form

$95 · A rare (Heroin) original 1915 government issued "Order Form for Opium, Etc". A similar form from the 1920s was recently shown on the History Channel during a program on illegal drugs.

one dose should be enough
asthma cigarette - Google Search

Found treasure

We look at the contents of these cures for common colds and we are horrified by its contents. "Good old days" take on a new view when we think of people of that era. They must have felt pretty good/well after a few doses

 Doctors had absolutely no control what his patients took for what ailed them.
Did he have any idea about the contents? Did he even know the effects of the miracle tonics, elixirs?

What about the prescription below? Did Dr. George Nichopolous realize the results of the prescribed meds he gave Elvis Presley? I am betting he did.

Dr. Nick........ Medically Irresponsible or Misunderstood?

Here, in the "good new days", we are aware of contents and need. BUT, there are doctors who are on a paycheck from the rich and famous and who pull out that controlled substance pad.

No surgeries on the dining room table, I am guessing.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Memories will stay.

Some memories can never be replaced… #quotes
Never ever forget
If my head were ever hooked up to some machine that could access my strongest memory, the head scientists would be shocked.  “Well, look there, Dr. Fred!  Do you see that?! Who woulda thought?”  I can hear them saying that.

Most people would call up shared memories such as the birth of their children or maybe seeing a  parent after a long time.  No, my memory would be more plebeian and consequently more peculiar.

I would access the memory of an autumn day in my sophomore year at high school.  The bus had dropped me off in front of our farm house, and I walked beneath towering maple trees shedding their leaves.  My hand reached for the door, and I stepped into the warm kitchen, where my mother was washing dishes.  

 On the table, cooling from the oven was the entire head of a full grown hog.

Eyes, ears, sno
ut, bristled hair, and pink thick skin—all the distinctive features of a hog’s head that I had seen thousands of times, but those hogs had been alive.  Those 
hogs had been rooting in the mud and muck and eating from the feeder. 

big pig
Bonding time
You have no idea how awful this smells.

The remains of long dead hog was there and the head had just been roasted in the oven.  The rest of the hog was cut into various roasts and chops, wrapped in white butcher paper resting comfortably in the freezer.

In just a few words, Mom sensed my discomfort.  My mother was the ultimate pragmatist, which served her well throughout her life on the farm. 

She pulled out two very large crocks and set them in front of the cooling head.  “Wanta get a snack before you start taking off the meat and skin?” 

I indicated that I wasn’t hungry.  “Well, change your clothes and wash up.  You’re gonna strip the head of meat and put it in this crock.  Put the skin and what-not in this other crock.  Don’t mix them up.” 

She went on to tell me that this meat was for mincemeat pies, the great nummy pies for which she was so famous.  


Mom would take this meat, chop it up, mix it with God-knows-what-else-meat-discards and candied fruit, can it in quart jars, and set them in the pantry.  Then we would feast on mincemeat pie at Christmas time. Here is a recipe, but not my mom's:

Click on the above to access this recipe.
Mincemeat filling for pies homemade recipe
Well done!

Mom even sent a jar to my 7th grade teacher, who waxed eloquently about this hog-filled pie filling.  

I had never known what we were eating and enjoying.

Sooo, when I set to the task by tearing off the ears and then cutting off the snout and ears, Mom said, “Oh, put those here in this jar.  I will pickle those; your father loves that.”  I just about up-chucked. (apparently the hog's trotters had met the same fate.)

 It didn’t get much better as the process when on.  Poke out the eyes.  Tear off the jowl meat.  Strip the muscles from the back of the neck.  On and on.  I do not recall what she said to do with the brain; I was pretty numb by then.

The science part of my own brain appreciated how God put together muscles and ligaments, attaching them to bones.  The fifteen year old farm girl in me was on the verge of vomiting. 

All in all, it stands out as a strong, indelible memory, now nearly 50 years old. What is yours?

P.S.  I haven't eaten mincemeat pie for years.  But, the store-jar versions are meat free, fully vegan, so maybe now?

This is a repost of a repost, first in 2015 and then in 2017. Some bloggers will probably remember it. But I wanted others to enjoy the experience. Just writing and making some changes brings back all those memories with its smells, textures, and images.

I hope this can change your life. 

Friday, November 1, 2019

In Your Face

YouTube birthday at restaurant

This is my last day at this restaurant. LAST day. This thought ran through her brain as Meg poured a cup of coffee, as she delivered a children's meal, as she beamed at a generous tip left by an older couple. Those were the moments she would miss: the people who smiled at her and she smiled back.

And then there were the moments when she clenched her teeth as a ten year old threw ketchup-covered French fries on the floor and on Meg. The Mom said nothing. 

The final moment came as the last minutes ticked to a close: birthday time.

A few other waitresses brought out the requisite blue-icing covered cupcake with the requisite candle to the French fry table. Okay, let's get this over with. Here, Meg, this is your table.  Meg was handed the cupcake, lit it and they headed to ten-year old French fries table.

They sang the requisite hellish song as Meg glared at the boy. At the last moment, Meg blew out the requisite candle and smashed the blue icing cupcake onto the surprised face. Smeared it real good.

Taking off her apron, Meg sauntered away from the French fry air. The cries of the boy were tip enough from that table.

Monster, Parents, and Taken: ON SCREAMING KIDS
screaming kids in public places - Imgflip