Tuesday, June 30, 2020

What Their Eyes Saw

Nestlé Food advertisement, 1915.jpg
baby feeding
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The time period for these children was early 1900s.

For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900. When you are 14, World War I starts and ends on your 18th birthday with 22 million people killed. 

Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until you are 20. Fifty million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.

When you're 29, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, global GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy. When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet.

When you're 41, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war and the Holocaust kills six million. 

At 52, the Korean War starts, and five million perish.

Approaching your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could well have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening.

At 64 the Vietnam War begins, and it doesn’t end for many years. Four million people die in that conflict.

As you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends. Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that? A kid in 1985 didn’t think their 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was. Yet those grandparents (and now great grandparents) survived through everything listed above.

Perspective is an amazing art. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Let’s be smart, help each other out, and we will get through all of this. In the history of the world, there has never been a storm that lasted. This too shall pass. - Author Unknown

What was your reaction when you read this? Did you know any brave people who experienced and survived such a large section of the 20th century?

My grandparents were part of all above. I did not ask them enough questions.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

He Ain't Heavy

I never really gave this song much thought, but could remember the first few words and then hum along with the rest. It was first sung by Neil Diamond. That basically how I do all songs.  Being a young adult and seeing nothing but the hopes, love and life ahead, this song didn't mean much to me.

I know this song has been done in different ways, by different artists. The recording and video below means more to me, at this stage of my life.

The lyrics? Can you hear them?  Understand them?  Here they are:

The road is long/ with many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where/who knows when.
But I’m strong/strong enough to carry him.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

So on we go/his welfare is of my concern.
No burden is he to bear/we’ll get there.
For I know/he would not encumber me.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

If I’m laden at all/I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart/isn’t filled with gladness
Of love for one another.

It’s a long, long road/from which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there/why not share
And the load/doesn’t weigh me down at all.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

He’s my brother…He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother...

What do you remember of the 70s or 80s, when this song was making the rounds? Did you know the lyrics then? Did this speak to you? 

Addendum:  This was a song for many when it was released in 1970. Vietnam took many of our local boys from small farming communities where I grew up. Some came back, some didn't. When I hear this, the senior HS  pictures come to mind of those boys, their names. My cousin Billy didn't return.

Repost from 2014

Thursday, June 25, 2020

When Summer Ends

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“This vegetarian lifestyle is against man,” Dina sighed, tugging at the weeds surrounding peas, tomatoes, and beans. Hot pain had formed in her lower back two tomato rows ago.

Dewy leaves now were dried in midday sun. Dina stretched, arching her back, standing to look around fields. People and friends just like her hard at work on summer harvest.  What life had been when all of this began…

Oh, the times Dina relished when she had whirled around nightly fires, sparks rising up into a black sky.  Fairies had danced upon her fingertips and elves had woven rainbows through her hair. Dina had laughed, swirling and loving all in a colorful world.

Now hippy life and love appeared less and less meaningful after three years. Totalitarianism ruled her world now, all black and white, with fires less,  and fairies gone.  Dropping the clumps of weeds to the ground and raising her chin high, Dina strode over the damp earth. I'm outta here.

All things come to an end.

This is a post from Summer 2015. Delores provided strange but challenging and fun words.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Who really cares?

A powerhouse
Eleanor Roosevelt was a powerhouse during FDR’s presidency. Her commitment to providing contributions to the military, their soldiers, their families should never be forgotten. 

She was active in securing in Women's Rights. She was an active part in working with League of Women Voters and the Women’s Trade Union League. She surrounded herself with politically astute women such as Molly Dewson.

You would not worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

Each person, at some time or another, believe that people are looking at them with negative thoughts.  Not for sure, but they have been examined and judged, maybe.

It works like this: the 20-40-60 rule.

When at age 20, you worry about everything.  Am I too fat? Am I wearing the right clothes? Am I scrawny and weak? What about my acne? ….

I sure had those thoughts.  And then, at age 40, you do not care about what others think about you.

Okay, I wasn’t all that sure. 

But when at age 60, a big revelation dawns on you: Nobody was thinking about you in the first place.

Well, it took me long enough.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Reel 'er in.

Need something to happen that brings joy into your life? God gives us children. including teenagers, but this little fisherman?  Joy abounds. Joy leaps. 

Find joy in the smallest of places, for there is where the greatest treasures lie (along with a fish).

“Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.”
― Emily Dickinson

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
Mark Twain

“Pan, who and what art thou?" he cried huskily.
"I'm youth, I'm joy," Peter answered at a venture, "I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
― Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła)

Where joy is found... site where thoughts about joy may be discovered.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Facing Down Evil

Dietrich Bonhoffer
Dietrich Bonhoffer
Face of Evil…those words present differently to everyone.

For a four year old? What does a four year old see as evil?  Maybe, just scary, which is plenty.

For teens?  Evil?  Would they recognize true evil beyond “American Horror Story”?

Ah, but for adults…adults see evil in its many forms. Evil comes in the form of amoral, sociopaths, psychopaths, and every other “path” in the world. Adults have the ability to sense evil coursing about them. Some adults choose to shake it off while others turn to face evil in its face. 

This is a time of great evil. 

Watching the sincere protests in the streets following the horrific murder of a man pleading for his life raises anger, no, rage at the death of this man . 

And then to see the following senseless destruction of property and people livelihoods tarnishes and displaces the righteous anger all should be experiencing.  These have distinctly different goals. Confusion remains.

Confusion can't be disregarded, but it can be pushed aside to recognize the most important evil of all: ignoring the value of each life

Lives matter. All lives. Lives of Black, Mexican, Native American, Asian, White, and, especially, Blue--no matter the race, each life changes history in some undefinable way.

The lives that were taken, lives that have been ignored, lives that are discounted or seen as useless---these lives cross race lines and mix into the soup of injustice.

Face evil. See it for what it is. Face it down.

"He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Potluck in Old Walderren

potluck dinner
Potluck dinner in  some church, some where.

moratorium  now outlawed church potlucks in Old Walderren. The last one caused a flash fire when the Barbeque Pit exploded, sending miscellaneous pork bits and ribs, along with Bob’s Secret Ingredient (lots of whiskey) flaming sauce, flying over to Ol' Miz Guthrie’s tiny old house.

Ol' Miz Guthrie heard screaming coming her way, and then smelled the barbeque fire on her roof.  “Oh, Lordy, Lordy!  My house ‘s afire!”  As fast as a squirrel on a live wire, she scampered out the door, wringing her hands while the fire department extinguished the barbeque flickers of flame.

No damage done,  Ol' Miz Guthrie thanked everyone, shushing them away, and hurried back inside.  Looking around at her immaculate, nicely decorated home, she raced down the steps to her basement, which was packed with a fireproof chest of jewelry (oh, how she love nice expensive jewelry), and packs of one-hundred bills. 

Unbeknownst to the community, Ol' Miz Guthrie was quite a spendthrift made possible by her late husband’s last bank robbery in 1955 in Chicago.  I gotta out of this town.

The next day her brother Ralf showed up at night with a big van and they moved everything from the basement during the big school dance.  Just before she closed the front door, Old Miz Guthrie turned the old gas cooker on high, and tossed a burning dish towel through the door.
The town mourned for her. Damned BBQ sauce.

This is a repost from March 2015, Wednesday Words. Oh, Lordy, they are fun.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Time. Time. Time..

Passing Time
During these past almost three months, time seems to stretch from breakfast to dinner. Not that those two meals are just fine in themselves, but something to stimulate the sleepy, food-numbed mind would be nice.

Time. Time. Time.  That has a good rhythm and rhyme. Rhyme.

Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, WB Yeats, Maya Angelou, Carl Sandburg....and many other poets can provide creative thought during anything.

A poet's words can capture time and hold onto it just a bit. 

Time is the coin of your Life.

It is the only coin you have,
and only you can determine
how it will be spent.
Be careful
lest you let other people spend it for you. And when you spend it, spend it wisely so that you get the most for 
your expenditure.

Carl Sandburg

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. 

Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen. 
Mark Twain

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. 

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.
Leonardo da Vinci

The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I've got a magic charm
That I keep up my sleeve
I can walk the ocean floor
And never have to breathe.

Life doesn't frighten me at all
Not at all
Not at all.

Life doesn't frighten me at all.

Maya Angelou

Do not think that I am so brilliant and creative enough to hunt for all these and compile them. Heck, no. I just happened on to this site. Good thing to pass on.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Heading to Las Vegas

Old Time Religion by Ernest Watson

I will be kind…I will smile…were Brenda’s thoughts, as she sat in the family pew, hands folded in her lap, back straight, and eyes focused on Pastor Ben.  No one will know my thoughts.  No one will suspect what I am thinking.

On her left side, her father was ‘amening’ almost in a rhythm, and Brenda had to force her feet from tapping 1…2…3 and hold…1…2…  Her grandmother was waving her hankie in a show of agreement.

Show?  Brenda pondered that word, looking around at other old ladies with their gray hair and dressy hats.  They too were waving their hankies, and some even dabbed at their eyes.

All the other young people were sitting in the back, passing notes, and giggling.  Their heads were bowed, but Brenda knew what they were doing. She was not allowed to sit there, per Grandma's suggestion. The young families were in the middle of the church, with their children.  Brenda could smell the Cheerios and Fruit Loops.

Her mother sat, quietly folding and unfolding the church bulletin.  Fold...2...3..  Mom's hands were red and worn; she had to prepare another dinner for the pastor and family, as well as her seven children. Every Sunday, it was dinner for someone. 

Her mother smiled at her, and briefly made eye contact. Mom never looks anyone in the eye.

That was when Brenda knew.  Her mother wanted to blast out of this church just as badly as Brenda. To escape.

What’ll we do?  Mom, what will we do? 

Her mother wrote a note to her father, which read about checking on the roast and get dinner ready for the pastor, and Brenda had to help.   Her father nodded, not breaking rhythm one bit.

They tore out of the parking lot.  As they drove past their house, Brenda turned to her mother.  Mom?  Mom?

Her mother smiled, lit up a cigarette, and sped up.  “We’re goin’ to Vegas, girl. I am done fixing dinners every single Sunday for each and every preacher passin' through town.”  Then they headed to the West, the whole 1,000 mile trip. 

Luggage in the back and radio cranked high with Janis Joplin, Brenda and Mom felt happy for the first Sunday in a long long time.

Dad would be at church for another two hours. Praise God.

I wrote this in 2013. This is pretty much the way Mom and I spent every single Sunday. With no help with cooking or cleaning up, she and I would gladly have done this. The memories repeated Sunday after Sunday are fresh, even 50 years later.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

The Journey to the South

Science is amazing, life is amazing. God, who created them all and set things in motion, is beyond amazing.

Snake migrating: A yearly gathering in Southern Illinois

Common names of some of the species you might encounter on or near Snake Road include:

Spiny Softshell
Northern Red-Bellied Snake
Spotted Salamander
Chorus Frog
Slimy Salamander

Broadheaded Skink
Eastern Hognose Snake
Red Milk Snake
Midland Water Snake
Western Ribbon Snake

Eastern Rough Green Snake
Eastern Garter Snake
Western Lesser Siren
Marbled Salamander
Small-Mouthed Salamander

Midwest Worm Snake
Central Newt
Zigzag salamander
Long-Tailed Salamander
Black Rat Snake
Cave Salamander

American Toad
Fowler's Toad
Blanchard's Cricket Frog
Northern Spring Peeper
Eastern Grey Treefrog

Black Racer
Green Frog
Southern Leopard Frog
Midland Brown Snake
Common Snapping Turtle

Stinkpot Turtle
Eastern Box Turtle
Ringneck Snake
Eastern Painted Turtle
Red-Eared Turtle

Northern Fence Lizard
 King Snake
Ground Skink
Western Cottonmouth
Five-Lined Skink

Western Earth Snake
Western Mud Snake
Diamond-Backed Water Snake

Notice that lizards and turtles are there as well, to snack on the baby snakes. Also, they would be lunch for snakes. 

My son is an entomologist who did his graduate work at University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana. One event he arranged for undergrads was to take them to view the "Annual Snake Migration in Southern Illinois". 

Sprout experience itenirary
I had never heard of the migration, thought it was something made-up. He described this with great enthusiasm and their one overnight campout went without any mishaps. 

He spoke of making another trip where hunters nailed dead squirrels on to  trees in this forest. This is now considered to be an urban myth, thankfully.

White oak snake, not poisonous

Snake migration is common in warmer seasons

Each of these videos is about 1 min and less. I hope you will take the time to see some slithering about.

Not every person shares an enthusiasm for such creatures. Fortunately, my son does and has taught us to appreciate them.  His primary focus is insects. He had two tarantulas which remained at our house for a few years. 

If a snake of any sort is within a few yards of me, I definitely would scamper away from it. Admire, appreciate, and wonder at snakes, I do. See them close up and personal, I do not.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Samuel through the Open Door

Nyce ZigBee Contact Sensor
The door swung open to Samuel's home, where his parents also lived. The Mommy dropped the groceries on the table and tossed Samuel into the playpen. “Be right back!” Mommy whisked out the door.

Samuel waited, listened. He had the time, the strength, and he could do this. Throwing the blue pacifier over the railing, Samuel hoisted his shwweet whittle weggies over the railing and did a practiced roll. With his hands up for balance, Samuel began the newly discovered walking power: stagger-stagger-wobble

‘Focus, man, focus!’ The words hammered in his 14 month brain. ‘Ignore the Cheerios under the couch!”

Samuel reached the spot where he nailed Grammie with projectile vomit. She was  saying, “Gwamma wuvs dose shwweeet whittle legees…” Blaaaagh, and she stopped. Good times.

Almost there, Samuel pictured the freedom:  chase the kitty, taste the flowers, squish mud. Such fine adventures, and he was almost there.

The Mommy swooped through the door and knocked over Samuel. She swept him up. “Mommy wuvs dose pwessus whittle laygees…”

Samuel tried to say, “Dammit woman! Can’t you speak the King’s English?” All that came out was a cry and some spit-up. The door swung shut.

Written 2012. Chronicles of Samuel blog site. 

Oh, how I love writing the unexpected.